Sunseeker Manhattan 56

Sunseeker Manhattan 56 — By George L. Petrie February 2001

Wow Power
More than just a treat for the eyes, Sunseeker's Manhattan 56 is a treasure of pleasures.
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Sunseeker 56
• Part 2: Sunseeker 56 continued
• Sunseeker 56 Specs
• Sunseeker 56 Deck Plan
• Sunseeker 56 Acceleration Curve

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Completing our sea trial of Sunseeker's new Manhattan 56, we had just cleared the inlet at Lighthouse Point, making our way down the Intracoastal, back to the marina in Pompano, Florida. As we waited for the 14th Street drawbridge to open, an express cruiser idled up alongside and I heard a feminine voice onboard that boat exclaim "Wow!" From atop the flying bridge, I turned toward the sound and was pleased to see that the voice belonged to a fetching female sunbathing on the stern. My ego sank, however, as I realized it was the Manhattan 56 that had caught her eye.

It's no surprise the 56 is an eye-catcher. Like others in the Sunseeker line, she exudes contemporary styling with sweeping windows and a curvaceous profile. However, as Sunseeker's founder and managing director Robert Braithwaite explains, "Despite her modern lines, she is rather traditional in her proportions, with a big, wide hull that somewhat dominates a relatively smaller-looking superstructure." His point is valid: The yacht has a well-balanced profile, avoiding the top-heavy look that characterizes many contemporary designs.

But good looks are just part of the picture. What matters more is performance, and here, too, the Manhattan 56 impresses. With optional 800-hp Caterpillar 3406E-TA diesels, our test boat clocked a top speed of more than 36 mph at 2300 rpm. Even after I cut the throttles back to a more economical 2000 rpm, the 56 maintained a respectable 30-mph cruise speed, while burning less than two gallons per mile.

After running the numbers in one- to two-footers, we took the Sunseeker offshore, where the moderate breeze had kicked up the waves to a height of about three feet, with a foot or so of underlying cross swell. The ride was smooth even at top speed, thanks to a modified-V hull form that carries a full 19-degree deadrise back to the stern, with steep convex bow sections and a fine entry forward. Due to its high angle of deadrise, the hull banks like a runabout in a fast turn, which is not what one first expects in a 56-foot yacht, but she tracked straight and true with little rolling, even in beam seas. Running trim was relatively flat, even without using trim tabs, perhaps because of the extra lift provided by the faces of semirecessed propeller tunnels.

Back at the marina, taking a close look at all the features the Manhattan 56 offers, I even found myself saying "wow" on several occasions. Though she's the smallest in the Manhattan line (joining a 64 and 74), she's comfortable and offers a lot of versatility. For example, the aft seating area on the flying bridge converts to a sunpad, and a removable table stows under the forward seats, so the spacious bridge can be transformed to suit the needs of the moment.

Next page > Sunseeker 56 continued > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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