Sunseeker 95 Predator — By Richard Thiel — October 2002
|Part 2: Despite all the engineering brainpower invested in her, nothing compares to the feel behind the wheel.|
The second-most impressive aspect of the Predator to me, however, is her engine room. How Sunseeker's design team managed to fit three behemoth diesels, marine gears, and jack shafts for the Arnesons into a space that is also occupied by a sizable separate garage is not what's most remarkable. What is: access to everything, including the two standard 28-kW gensets, is excellent. Part of the reason is that the centerline engine sits well below the outboard engines, but part is also due to just good design work. The space is huge--there's more than 12 feet of headroom in places--yet it's integrated into the design so well that the 95's profile remains low and sleek.
The exhaust system is as beautiful as it is complex. As you can imagine, routing six large manifolds to the outside in an orderly and efficient manner is no small task, but the job is somehow accomplished with minimal intrusion in the engine room. The outboard diesels each exit to their respective side, while the center engine goes out the transom. All three systems have four-inch bypasses that allow the engines to breathe even when the 95 is planing. They also produce a pleasing aggressive rumble.
So what was the most impressive aspect of this yacht? Despite all the engineering brainpower invested in her, nothing compares to the feel behind the wheel. Everything about the 95 is effortless, from throttling her engines to trimming her Arnesons to turning her power-assisted wheel. She planes amazingly quickly--about ten seconds--with little bow rise. While I didn't have an inclinometer on board, I'd guess a maximum of four degrees. Once she's trimmed, it's just point and shoot--she'll do pretty much what you want her to. Crank her wheel all the way over at WOT, and she just leans in and carves--and still makes 38.5 knots. She can cruise sedately, too, if that's your pleasure: Drop the three V-16s to 1500 rpm, and the 95 still does 25 knots.
With performance like this, it's hard to remember you're on a yacht that's 94'4" long by 20'8" wide and fully equipped in the truest sense. Her lower deck is available in a variety of configurations, but all have a midship master with large en suite head and three forward staterooms comprised of a VIP and two guest rooms. Between them is the saloon with port-side galley and dining island (with knee-level microwave oven) and a starboard settee that can easily seat a dozen. A large Panasonic flat-screen TV graces the forward bulkhead, and fixed ports just above the waterline on either side brighten the area. Crew's quarters are aft and to port in two configurations; the two-engine version offers a smaller port-side garage with starboard crew quarters.
The main/bridge deck is eight steps up and includes what Sunseeker calls a second saloon, basically a large enclosed living and eating area capped by a hardtop with four skylights. The area, fully air-conditioned, is so comfortable and well-appointed, you can't help but wonder why anyone would want to be below, unless it's to cook or sleep. For the ultimate in fresh-air fun, the entire front half of the overhead slides open at the touch of a button. The helm offers superb sightlines from four Besenzoni leather pedestal seats, aft of which are a bottle chiller and glass stowage. Port and starboard watertight doors give ready access to generous side decks, and aft, a big, U-shape settee to starboard offers the perfect vantage point from which to view a second large Panasonic flat screen to port, flanked by two occasional chairs. Being a Sunseeker, everything here and below is clad in flawless lacquered cherry and leather.
Abaft an elegantly curved sliding glass door is the alfresco portion, with a curving port-side stairwell leading down to the crew quarters (except for the two-engine version, in which access is from the swim platform), a wet bar with ice maker to starboard, and port and starboard seating aft of this. An awning that electrically extends from the hardtop can protect this entire area. There's yet another large benchseat aft not covered by an awning that electrically retracts into a monster sunpad to provide more space for guests. Stairwells on either side of the sunpad lead past Simpson Lawrence warping winches down to the platform, which has a turntable to ease launch and retrieval of the tender or PWC. All decking here and on the main level is teak.
You can find things like teak decks and a lot of other amenities on this yacht on other yachts. You might even find one with triple engines. But you won't find one that offers the unique combination of luxury, amenities, performance, and sheer pleasurable driving that the Predator 95 has. There is just nothing like her afloat.
Sunseeker USA Phone: (954) 984-2911. Fax: (954) 984-2913. www.sunseeker.com.
This article originally appeared in the October 2002 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.