Sunseeker 82 Yacht — By Alan Harper —
Driving is Believing
|An 82-footer that handles like a runabout? This editor scoffed at the idea until he got behind the wheel.|
It was an unusual situation, but this is a highly unusual boat. We’d run the numbers and logged the speed, fuel, trim, and decibel readings and now were at the fun part of the test: handling. On an 82-foot, 60-ton yacht this isn’t always the fun part—I’ve tested boats this size that couldn’t out-turn the U.S.S. Nimitz—but this was different.
At somewhere between 25 and 30 knots, I cranked the wheel hard to starboard and passed control to the skipper. “Just going below for a second,” I told him. “Keep her on this heading.” Our “heading” was a turn so tight we were in danger of catching ourselves by the tail, but the skipper obliged with a knowing look, and I made my way down to the amidships master cabin. There, just outside the starboard hull windows, was a maelstrom of solid salt spray—no sea, no sky, just a chaotic wall of white water whooshing past the glass as the yacht dug her chine in and hurled herself around the turn, heeling over at an angle that would be considered dramatic in boats half this size. It was exhilarating, hugely silly entertainment, and given the hushed and opulent surroundings, strangely surreal. My brain was unwilling to believe what my eyes were seeing.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Sunseeker is immensely proud of its sporting heritage, and even with a tall, beamy motoryacht as voluminous as the 82, its design team can’t seem to resist reaching back for it. Like a modern Jaguar that has nothing in common with the company’s Le Mans winners of the 1950’s, the name nevertheless sets up expectations: Customers who’d balk at the thought of skirts and spoilers nevertheless want the feeling of willing horsepower and taut handling, reminders of the history they’re buying into.
Sunseeker bought into history when it called in Don Shead in 1979 and started writing its own. This relationship has become one of the industry’s great partnerships. For years Shead has maintained a fully staffed drawing office at Sunseeker. His designers and engineers are completely integrated with Sunseeker’s—the companies are inseparable—and the boatbuilder’s ambition is the perfect foil for the designer’s experience. Megayachts, raceboats, production cruisers, gas turbines, surface drives, waterjets—they do it all. So whether the builder wants a new 37 Sportfish or a 140-foot megayacht, it’s all in a day’s work for the Shead-Sunseeker team. And as for a 60-ton 82 that thinks she’s a sportboat, well, that’s second nature.
Although all owners of a boat like this wouldn’t necessarily expect such handling, most would demand a choice of layouts, and there are several. Three basic configurations are available, and within those a number of options. All offer four cabins on the lower deck, with the owner’s stateroom amidships and the VIP all the way forward. Our test boat’s layout carried the title “master junior suite and port twin guest with en suite head,” and places the owner’s berth against the aft bulkhead, with heads, dressing room, and shower helping to insulate the cabin from the engine room.
A symmetrical pair of roomy twin-berth cabins, both with en suite facilities, lies to port and starboard. The double guest stateroom forward features a good-size head and shower compartment to port and a dressing room to starboard, which the owner of our boat, who intends to operate her without crew, had converted to a laundry room.
This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.