XS 2000 — By Capt. Bill Pike — April 2000
Born to be Wild
|Part 2: Zoom!|
Slipping out lines, we headed out of the facility. Beyond Poole Harbor, the English Channel was rolling with frosty, brown four-footers. I scrunched my body as tightly as possible into the standup bolster at the wheel, ducked my head behind the smoked-plexi windscreen, aimed the bow at the Isle of Wight several miles away, and hit the throttles. My first impression firmed up in a hurry. Unlike many other V-bottom racing boats I’ve driven, with stern-heavy, nose-high running attitudes coming out of the hole and high-strung surface-piercing props that are slow to bite, the XS promptly gained plane after only momentary bow rise. In fact, the effect was so striking that I forestalled the test drive for a bit so Matt and I could time several acceleration runs to get an average time to plane. The result: seven seconds.
The reason? The XS is light. With a dry weight of roughly 8,800 pounds, she’s a good 1,400 pounds lighter than a traditional American-built speedster like the Wellcraft 38 Scarab. Sunseeker produces such lightness with a multiplicity of things, including the comparative narrowness of the XS’s hull, spartan interior outfitting, and the use of lightweight Kevlar and Baltek AL 600 balsa coring in both hull and deck laminates. Aiding this are others factors, like the planing leverage inherent in a double-stepped running surface, the comparatively high power-to-weight ratio of Yanmars, and of course the two-speed ZF/Hurth transmissions. Want a high-torque hole shot and a powerful, wave-blasting rough-water cruise? Select the low (1.2:1) ratio. Want maximum top speed? Flip the helm switch to the direct drive (1:1) position.
With just a bit of tab on to thwart the bow-tossing effects of the head sea, I again hit the throttles. In short order we were doing a 50-mph cruise that was steady, exhilarating, and freaking cold. But hey–going fast is good. When the engines reached 2700 rpm, I shifted gears, and as my head snapped back, I firewalled the Gaffrig sticks, feeling the whine of two big, bypass-equipped turbos spool up my spine.
Zoom! Throttle-chopping on the longest airborne lunges, I hammered the boat up-sea, then down-sea, tightening the turns and pulling back to two-thirds throttle during each one. Handling was uniformly smooth thanks to our Trimax’s hydraulic steering. Ultimately the average WOT speed I came up with was a ferocious but balletic 76 mph. Not bad for a couple of diesels.
Heading back to Poole and the Sunseeker facility there after a couple of hours on the water, Matt asked me what I thought of driving the new Sunseeker XS 2000.
“Hot boat,” I replied, “cold climate.”
Sunseeker USA (954) 984-2911. Fax: (954) 984-2913. www.sunseeker.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.