Sundeck 550 yacht test: Bespoke Italian trawler looks set to turn heads across Europe

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Sundeck is an unfamiliar name on these shores, but the high-quality Sundeck 550’s bespoke construction may turn the heads of those looking for a trawler

The wind is blowing old boots across the Bay of Cannes. The flags surrounding the marina are snapping impatiently at their masts and the boats are bobbing and weaving on their moorings in tune to the howling wind, which is gusting to over 30 knots.

Given the weather conditions, I am doubtful that my sea trial of the new Sundeck 550 I am here for will even go ahead, but the team from the shipyard are determined to show me what the boat can do in exactly the sort the sort of conditions this craft was built for.

Sundeck won’t be a brand that many are overly familiar with but at its base in Lavagna, Italy, the yard is building a small number of high-quality, bespoke trawler-style yachts to tackle the Azimut Magellanos and Absolute Navettas of this world.

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A single transom gate leads into the spacious cockpit

They build around 20 boats per year, and each Sundeck 550 takes four months to build. They’re ambitious, too – a glance at the website reveals plans for a Fjord-like 43 Open and a 38m flagship superyacht with a range of trawlers sandwiched in between.

First impressions of the Sundeck 550 are that it’s rather utilitarian. The entirely white superstructure doesn’t help, and nor do the blocky hull windows and upright front screens. What it lacks in charm compared to the Magellano and Sirena 56 it recoups in purpose, however.

The long flybridge deck is dazzling white, almost unbearably so in the bright morning sun. The deck, mouldings, upholstery, canopy and even the radar tower are bright white, so a splash of teak or an alternative cushion colour would be welcome to break up the white monopoly.

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The layout works well though, with a sizeable central dinette forward of the wet bar, which is mounted out back to keep cooking smells away from guests. Both helms are typically Italian in that the helm seat is half a mile away from the dash, so it’s a case of letting autopilot take the strain or standing to drive.

The solidity of the exterior is carried through to the interior where you are met with chunky cabinetry and plush square-edged sofas. There is a potent whiff of quality, but it does look plain without the touches of an owner.

The aft galley is almost completely hidden by substantial folding tops that lift to reveal a generous amount of workspace, the sink and an induction hob. There are four deep chest chillers opposite.

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The VIP ensuite cabin forward enjoys plentiful storage and natural light

Below decks, there are three generous ensuite cabins including a full-beam master cabin amidships, a double VIP forward and twin guest on the starboard side. Internal volume is key to the Sundeck 550’s charms and you feel it most in the accommodation where the cabins enjoy plentiful floorspace and masses of headroom.

The inclusion of three bathrooms is a plus point for a boat of this size and each one is roomy and fitted out to a high standard. It’s a no-nonsense type of boat, though there’s something of the battleship about the way you peer through three square panes of glass and sit behind an upright helm station that, due to the distance between the helm seat and dashboard, encourages you to stand at the wheel and pay attention.

Our test boat had the largest pair of FPT 570hp diesels – a leftfield option, but they are lovely motors. Part of Sundeck’s charm is that the boats are bespoke, so if you want different engines, the yard will, within reason, accommodate.

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A splash of teak would be welcome on the Sundeck 550’s long flybridge

The engineroom is lit like a surgical theatre, both the layout and installation making potential leaks or other issues very easy to spot and rectify.

In the spiky chop of the bay of Cannes, the FPTs provided ample shove and soon had the Sundeck 550 punching confidently through the worsening conditions. The vacuum-infused hull handled the challenging sea state with nonchalant ease without a hint of a slam or squeak.

That solid vibe when you step on board is transferred to the way this boat performs at sea and we have no trouble opening the taps fully and charging along at the top speed of 26 knots.

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There are a few too many sharp corners but the joinery is excellent

Throttle back to around 17 knots and you’ll see a return of 120lph, or bring it down to a displacement speed of 9 knots for a fuel burn of 20lph and a range of 900nm.

It’s a boat that feels comfortable trickling along at single-figure speeds, the optional Seakeeper 5 taking the edge off the swell, or cruising along in the early twenties, knocking waves out of its path.

This boat, for whatever reason, didn’t have the electro-hydraulic steering so it was a case of planning ahead and hauling the wheel from lock to lock. Most would spec the power steering, though.

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Price as reviewed:

£1,170,000 for ex. VAT

Verdict

There’s no shortage of competition for the Sundeck 550 but its bespoke nature and quality of build give it a certain edge. Whether it’s enough of an edge to persuade people away from better-known brands is another matter entirely, but with ambitious expansion plans, Sundeck certainly isn’t resting on its laurels.

Details

LOA: 57ft 1in (17.4m)
Beam: 16ft 4in (5m)
Draught: 3ft 9in (1.2m)
Displacement: 23 tonnes (50,700 lbs)
Fuel capacity: 2,500l (550 gal)
Water capacity: 900l (198 gal)
Engines: Twin 570hp FPT N67
Top speed on test: 26 knots