Predator 61 — By Tim Clark
Thrills & Chills
|A hot express cruiser proves herself in frigid waters.|
We were duped! It was late March in the Northeast at the end of one of the mildest winters on record. A week before the test, Jim Ross, director of the Sunseeker Club in New Rochelle, New York, had joked that he shouldn't have gone to the trouble of decommissioning his inventory in the fall. Then our day rolled around, and it was one of the coldest, meanest of the season--28ºF with gusts to more than 30 mph. I was so incredulous that I headed to Sunseeker anyway, at least to look over the Predator 61 before rescheduling. But I found Ross in his office at the ready. He threw a leather jacket over a thick sweater, and we headed down to the boat, whose 1,050-hp MAN D2840LE403 diesels were already running. If Ross's willingness to accommodate me--with no guarantee I'd have anything approving to say about the 61--is any indication of the way he treats his clients, I can't plug him enough.
In such outrageous weather it was almost surreal to step aboard a yacht so clearly designed to transform sultry summer days into pure pleasure. To port just aft of the navigator's seat, there is a four-foot-long wetbar furnished with both an Engel refrigerator and a Raritan icemaker. Under its full-length composite lid, a De Dietrich electric griddle flanks the sink; I momentarily considered firing it up to warm my hands. The bar's generous size and top-notch standards make sense. With two L-shape settees--one with a height-adjustable teak table--kitty-corner port and starboard, an aft sunpad, and seating on the bridge deck, you could entertain a dozen guests here. It's a credit to Sunseeker that while shivering in six layers of winter clothing I had no trouble picturing the kaleidoscope of bikinis and bermudas.
After letting go the lines, we made our way out of the marina toward a stretch of protected waters mercifully nearby abeam of City Island. The sun was shining, but apparently for no other reason than to mock us, and needless to say, we kept the electrically retractable sunroof closed. There was a chop of about two feet, kicked up by gusty winds out of the Northwest, that viciously invaded the bridge from astern when we traveled at slower speeds. But once Ross opened the Predator up, both the chop and the wind were pummeled into insignificance. Again, no effort was necessary to imagine the 61's appeal; you don't need a balmy day off south Florida to admire certain features of this big express.
I was especially impressed with the 61's transition onto plane and subsequent running attitude. With trim tabs fully retracted, she climbed out of the hole in one efficient motion, during which her running angle never exceeded 3.5 degrees. Once she was at speed, still without tabs, her inclination was just one degree. When we did adjust for trim, it was only to correct listing due to wind.
The excellent running attitude keeps the prospect from the helm reasonable. A man of average height can glimpse the bow and have a good view of the starboard quarter. The largest portions of the severely raked side windows are logically even with the helm seat. Astern, the horizon is unimpeded, and when standing you can even see a starboard section of the swim platform.
The 61's deep-V, hand-laid FRP hull also maneuvered with agility. With its deep, sharp forefoot and transom deadrise of 22 degrees, its banking attitude at speeds exceeding 30 mph was dramatic but stable and untroubled by the chop. The only water we shipped was a little wind-borne spray as the MAN diesels took us to a top speed of 42.1 mph (at 2375 rpm) within about 20 seconds. At 2000 rpm we made 36.2 mph for a range of 361 miles. I shot speeds with a radar gun trained down the 12-inch side decks outboard of the cockpit enclosure. Later I calculated the wind chill factor on my ungloved hands to be -8°F.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.