XS 2000 — By Capt. Bill Pike
— April 2000
Born to be Wild
|Looking for a one-of-a-kind speedster? Sunseeker’s XS 2000 is the answer.|
I pulled the curtain back and peered out. If ever there were a day to stay in my room at the Mansion House and read British yachting magazines, this was it. Christmastime in Dorset, England. And cold. Two floors down, people scurried past on the streets of Poole wearing woolen coats, scarves, mittens, and the stolid, stiff-upper-lip looks of British citizens dealing with adversity. I checked my watch. It was 7 a.m. Time to head over to the Sunseeker facility on Poole Harbor and see about test driving its latest creation.
On arriving at the marina, I was met by young Matt Higham, Sunseeker’s boat test honcho, who seemed to be having just a little trouble getting into the cockpit of one of the wildest looking speedsters I’d ever seen in my life—the 39-foot Sunseeker XS 2000.
“Broke me knee, I did, doing motocross,” he offered. “I’m into such things as goin’ fast.”
While pondering that, I walked up and down studying the boat from the dock while Matt raised the engine hatch. Hmm. The squarish bow was strikingly unusual, a state of affairs undoubtedly attributable to Sunseeker’s partnership on the XS project with Italian boat racer, designer, and engineer Fabio Buzzi. The reason for the snub-nosed look lay just below the edge of the deck: a set of dramatically flared, molded bulges on either side of a fiercely raked stem. They’re Buzzi’s way of adding buoyancy to cut the chance of stuffing the nose into a wave at high speed.
The on-deck layout is extraordinary as well. Between the forward anchor locker and the cockpit is a nearly full-beam fiberglass hatch riding on gleaming stainless steel tracks. Matt explained that after the finishing touches would be put on our prototype over the next few weeks, the hatch would ultimately slide forward via electric actuators to reveal a small “forward cockpit,” with opposed benchseats, as well as a cuddy fully forward containing a Porta Potti and berth. Of course, with the area not even roughed out, I couldn’t form an opinion as to its practicality, but versus the airless, squat, tubular interiors I see in most performance boats these days, the idea of a convertible-type open-air lounge area on deck seemed like a good one.
The cockpit arrangement is spare and business-like. I liked the matte-black centerline steering console, the contrasting, white Gaffrig throttles and shifts, and the carbon-fiber wheel with mahogany inserts. Just over the top of the latter component is an impressive array of Gaffrig II gauges with hooded, brushed-aluminum bezels and a big, easy-to-read tab indicator. A Simrad VHF and a Northstar 951XD GPS/plotter were flush-mounted in the molded dash, above and to the left of the Gaffrig sticks. One especially interesting control component I missed at first glance was a small but significant toggle all the way to starboard, just under the wheel–the switch for the dual-speed ZF/Hurth HSW 110 GT transmissions Sunseeker offers as an option on the XS.
I climbed into the cockpit and watched as Matt checked the oil in the twin 420-hp Yanmar diesels that were snugly ensconced in the XS’s gelcoated machinery spaces. A couple of things were different here, too. First, both exhaust headers are routed through the bottom of the boat to exit just forward of the props, a particular feature of the Trimax system. Along with hoses from on-deck air intakes, they induce slip at low speeds so the engines can gain rpm and horsepower more quickly. The second unusual feature is the special “bustle” molded into the after sections of the boat. Another of the characteristics of the Trimax system is the need for a false or secondary transom to accommodate a drive configuration that includes large, long trim tabs as well as rudders (see diagram on page 61).
“Not much in this engine room but engines, mate,” grinned Matt, wiping a dipstick approvingly on the arm of an insulated jumpsuit. Except for wraparound sound insulation, batteries concealed in fiberglass boxes on either side of the engines with vent hoses terminating on deck, and trim tab rams mounted inside the 39-footer’s hull to protect them from saltwater corrosion, he was right.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.