95 Predator — By Richard Thiel
— October 2002
|There’s nothing on the water like the triple-engine Sunseeker 95 Predator.|
Comparison is an essential tool of good descriptive writing. Nouns and adjectives are valuable in their own right, but for helping a reader paint a picture of what you’re trying to describe, nothing beats a metaphor. But what do you do if there really isn’t anything to compare your subject to? How do you describe something that’s unique, like an Alaskan sunset or the taste of fresh pesto?
That’s the challenge in writing about the Sunseeker Predator 95. Really, there is no other boat like it in the world, not even another Sunseeker. Think I’m exaggerating? Name another vessel that weighs 150,000 pounds, is powered by three 2,000-hp diesels each turning a surface-piercing Arneson ASD 15 drive, has the accommodations of a large Manhattan penthouse and the sensual look of a Ferrari, and tops out at 47.3 knots. Oh, and also handles like a 35-foot sportboat.
You can dismiss some of this by saying the 95 simply has more of everything, but the Predator isn’t just an exercise in excess; she’s also a technical knockout. The triple-engine version (there is also a two-engine, V-drive model that reportedly does “only” 35 knots) has a remarkable electronic engine control system that makes manhandling those three DDC-MTU V-16s mere child’s play. Twin Mathers electronic controls operate the outboard engines, while a separate panel controls the centerline motor. When the center diesel is engaged in “follower mode,” it is automatically electronically synchronized with the slower of the outboard engines. (You can also use this panel to separately control the center engine in forward and reverse to 80 percent of its maximum power.) When the centerline engine is shut down, you can easily cruise the 95 on two engines or maneuver her at slow speed by working the outboard props as you would a regular inboard. Disengaging the center engine is crucial when docking, because with all three engines on line, the 95 idles at 10 knots. Standard 30-hp bow and stern thrusters controlled by a single four-position joystick ease docking, and when you finally succumb to the desire for speed, you need only activate the center engine via the panel, and you’re now controlling all three engines from those two Mathers controls.
The swim platform is nearly as impressive as the engine control system. Of course it moves vertically to make it easy to launch one of the two tenders (one on the platform, the other in the garage) or assist getting swimmers in and out of the water. But because it also covers the Arneson drives, when the platform is lowered for launching, three check valves in the Arneson’s trim system automatically open, allowing the drives to decline to provide sufficient clearance. Conversely, when the engines reach 1000 rpm, the platform—with tender, if necessary—inclines to keep it from being inundated by prop wash as the drives are trimmed up for maximum performance. A safety override ensures that the engines will not start if the platform is down.
This article originally appeared in the October 2002 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.