The Sunseeker 95 Yacht proves that the superyacht moniker has more to do with quality than boat length.
The term mini superyacht, for so long just a vague oxymoron to be dusted off and applied to any vessel that defied more rigorous categorization, seems to have acquired real meaning in recent years. Mini superyachts are a thing. They’re always less than 100 feet long, they generally feature a main-deck master stateroom and raised pilothouse layout, and they usually aspire to standards of quality and interior volume that simply cannot be achieved by mere motoryachts.
Sunseeker’s latest launch is a fine example of how that’s all done. With one eye, as always, on innovations from its principal Italian rivals, the British shipyard has built a yacht to take on two notable raised-pilothouse models that have made waves at recent boat shows. “We’re aiming for the Ferretti 960 and the Azimut 95—mainly the 95,” confirms Sunseeker cofounder John Braithwaite.
Based on the same hull design and propulsion package as the company’s highly regarded 28 Metre model, the new Sunseeker 95 Yacht is nevertheless a substantially different boat. “We always try to get two boats out of a platform—it was always the plan to develop the 95 from the 28,” says Braithwaite. “The main requirement is to ensure that there is a difference between them, and from other models in our range—you don’t want to be stealing market share from yourself.”
It’s these crucial differences, and one in particular, that underscore the 95’s qualifications as a mini superyacht: Everything stems from the raised wheelhouse. While this does add to the height and bulk of the yacht’s external profile, the advantages that it creates inside are immeasurable, with a main deck that carries right through from the transom to a spectacular owner’s suite. There’s a spacious central dining area with an optional balcony alongside, and a superyacht-style enclosed galley over to port. From its lofty vantage point, meanwhile, the wheelhouse offers an air of calm and secluded professionalism.
Such is the effect of this long sweep of deck, augmented by the size of the windows and sliding glass balcony doors, such that even if you hopped aboard a 95 Yacht straight off a 28 Metre, you might struggle to convince yourself that they were the same size. Walk forward, past the dining table, however, and along the corridor to the master, and you’re no longer in the realm of illusion: The 95 really does belong in a different league.
Like a split-level loft apartment in an expensive part of town, the owner’s suite is set on three levels, with a bedroom on the main deck, a full-beam, marble-clad bathroom below, and a dressing area on the landing. All are linked by two flights of stairs. The arrangement is both spacious and spectacular, and the glass balustrade, curving stainless steel handrails, and mirrored wardrobes bordering the landing lend the scene a delicious air of glamour.
This kind of design flair—creating something entirely unexpected out of an apparently familiar space—is what it takes to make a mini superyacht. Another trick learned from the Italians: Sunseeker’s 95 Yacht is nowhere near as big as its impressive interior would lead you to believe. The guest accommodations, accessed via the midships companionway to starboard, are arranged on a spacious layout of just three suites, with the full-beam VIP forward and a pair of guest cabins amidships, both with sliding twin berths convertible to doubles. Headroom here is a generous 6 feet, 10 inches, and large hull windows give everyone a panoramic view.
This first 95 was fitted out in wenge with a gloss finish. Black American walnut and white oak are available as alternatives. You can also choose the level of tint on the windows. Royal Doulton crockery, Dartington crystal glassware, and Robert Walsh cutlery are standard, along with a very fine selection of Robert Langford dining chairs.
As the market for boats like this has begun to expand from the traditional heartlands of Europe and the U.S. to the new money of the Middle and Far East, yacht builders have had to up their game. “The new yacht owners aren’t boating people,” Braithwaite explains. In other words, they didn’t grow up messing about in plywood dinghies, scrubbing the mildew off damp cabin walls during the springtime fit-out, and skinning their knuckles trying to persuade Johnson two-strokes to fire. “Their yardstick of luxury is hotels and apartments. They start boating by chartering a yacht, and base all their expectations on that unreality!”
As shipyards have strained to meet these market changes, there has been a surge in quality in both the design and construction of motor-yachts. The advent of the mini superyacht is no coincidence; it was inevitable. But true quality has to penetrate well below the surface, and on Sunseeker’s new 95, at the opposite end of the vessel from the outstanding forward apartment, lies an equally impressive testament to the yacht builder’s art: The machinery space is as roomy, as well organized and, in its way, as luxurious as that plush forward suite, with flat-mounted engines on vee-drive gearboxes, generators mounted outboard, hydraulics over to port, electrical panels neatly arranged on the forward bulkhead, and plenty of access room and overhead clearance. The stainless steel handrails around the engines are as beautifully welded and mirror-bright as their counterparts in the owner’s suite.
Our test boat was fitted with V-12 MTUs. Caterpillar C32 ACERTs are available as an alternative. On a balmy summer’s morning off the Dorset coast, we clocked a maximum two-way average of 26 knots, with a fair weight of fuel and water aboard. The 95 proved to be a docile and steady performer, with a quick and positive helm response and a tight turning circle for a vessel of her size. According to the Sunseeker technical crew on board, her optimum cruising speed in suitable conditions would be 20 knots, with all three sequential, two-stage turbos engaged, which would give a useful range of about 400 nautical miles.
For a vessel of this size and displacement, these would be pretty good figures. To match them to this caliber of accommodation would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Unrealistic expectations clearly have their uses—and the 95 is indeed no mere motoryacht.
NOTEWORTHY OPTIONS: Saloon balcony with sliding door ($74,245); wenge gloss paneling ($20,630); hardwood flooring ($14,250); AV equipment upgrade ($23,923); tinted film for side windows ($19,126); bed linen ($6,173); nav equipment upgrade ($22,821); bar stools ($10,515). U.S. options package including hardtop, AC, Sleipner digital fin stabilizers, fuel polisher, water softener, electric barbecue, underwater lights, CCTV, external covers, tender cleats, sprung mattresses, portable oil-transfer pump system, Miele washer and dryer and wine cooler ($551,364).
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 58°F; humidity: 68%; seas: 1'
Load During Boat Test
2,350 gal. fuel, 264 gal. water, 16 persons, 250 lb. gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,947-hp MTU 12V 2000 M96L
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF3050V, 2.75:1
- Props: 5-blade NiBrAl, 42.5 x 45
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.