Out from the Crowd
The Sunseeker Manhattan 66 is different by design.
They say that good design is design you don’t notice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that design you do notice is bad. Sunseeker’s brand-new flybridge creation, the Manhattan 66, has clearly enjoyed the attentions of a studio full of talented designers who wanted this model to be unique.
The first thing I noticed was how big she is. We were in Mallorca’s swish Port Adriano marina, which has been carefully over-designed by none other than Philippe Starck, with streetlights like enormous standard lamps, trees in giant flower pots, and mooring bollards that will slice through your warps in a week. Moored next to older Sunseeker models, it was clear that the new Manhattan is both wider and taller than its earlier siblings, but there is nothing forced or bulky about its look. Those dramatic window shapes are more than a distraction for the eye, for they effectively reduce the yacht’s apparent height while also toning down an acreage of white fiberglass that could otherwise be deafening.
Height and width are tricky to handle if you’re trying for a sleek and sporty look, but once inside they are exactly what you want. It is much easier to create a spacious interior if you’ve actually got some space to play with, and the 66’s vast windows on both decks and 6-foot 8-inch headroom through the saloon and galley will make you think you’ve strayed aboard a 75. Of course, there are elements of expectation management, but they’re subtle, like the low-profile furniture on the main deck to maximize sightlines, and the berth in the master—if it were any wider than 5 feet it would start to get in the way. And although the guest singles might also be narrower than the ones you have at home, they’re still a full 6 feet 4 inches long. You shouldn’t get any complaints.
It is a yacht full of clever design. There is the “beach club” first seen on the Sunseeker Manhattan 52 (read the test at pmymag.com), where a bench seat, a barbecue, and a full-height freshwater shower fold out of the transom and turn the swim platform into another sociable guest area—once you’ve launched the tender, of course.
The cockpit doors look conventional enough, but the way in which they are assembled in three relatively narrow sections allows them to slide completely out of the way behind the flybridge steps, adding greatly to the sense of space on the main deck, and making the most of the fact that the saloon and cockpit soles are on the same level. With the optional cockpit bar fitted, the whole main deck area works as a practical yet luxurious living space, with the galley at its center.
Two lower-deck companionways, one to the midships master suite and the other leading down forward to the VIP and guest cabins, play an equally important part in the success of the lower-deck layout. With no need for a central corridor leading aft to the master, each twin-berth guest cabin gets an equal share of the yacht’s substantial beam.
And there are lesser, but equally pleasing design features. The inside helm seats not only slide fore and aft but also sideways, to ease access to the side door. Up on the flybridge, the helm station benefits from a neat little acrylic windshield that slides out of the top of the instrument console. Back down at the lower helm, deep side windows provide a little extra downward view that proves surprisingly useful when bringing the boat alongside the dock.
The seats on the flybridge also testify to the amount of thought and experience that went into planning Sunseeker’s latest model. The aft set, for people sitting around the table, are narrower than the forward set, where guests will want to flop around in more relaxed attitudes. The difference is minimal, and virtually invisible
until pointed out, but it still makes its contribution to the comfort of those on board. If good design is design you don’t notice, then this is about as good as it gets.
Other elements of the Manhattan’s design make a less positive contribution. All boats are a collection of compromises, of course, as designers and builders attempt to create something that fulfills the brief while wrestling with disparate and contradictory laws of physics, economics, and aesthetics. So, V-drive transmissions make a lot of sense if you want to install the engines more toward the stern and create more space for accommodations. They certainly add a lot to the 66. Putting the tender on the aft platform is also a cool idea, as it frees up the flybridge for sunbathers, saves the effort and expense of the crane that would be needed to haul it up there, and lowers the yacht’s center of gravity. And as for the telescopic passerelle, how else do you plan to get ashore?
This combination of features would have probably passed unnoticed, but for the fact that neither the tender nor the passerelle, which together weigh well over half a ton and sit right over the already loaded stern, had been installed on the boat when Sunseeker did its performance tests at the shipyard in Poole Harbour. Sleipner fin stabilizers, which for all their curvaceous cleverness and vaunted lift-generating properties wouldn’t actually work if they didn’t generate a fair amount of drag, had also been added since its delivery to the dealer. All this meant that the engineers’ confident prediction of 32 knots or more at 2300 rpm during our sea trial off Mallorca’s southwest coast actually turned out to be 30.5 knots at 2200, which caused a few red faces. Of course, none of this represents an especally significant problem, as it will be easily rectified with a change to finer-pitch propellers. But it does illustrate how finely tuned the design parameters are for the modern planing motoryacht.
Our test boat, the second off the line, had the 1,200-horsepower MAN engines, which might prove to be a better match than the 1,000-horsepower option if you plan to load the boat up. Volvo Penta’s 900-horsepower IPS1200s are also available. The Manhattan handled like Sunseekers are supposed to, with an easy heel into the tighter turns, a positive feel at the helm at all attitudes, and a lively throttle response for a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience. We would probably have noticed the missing 100 rpm, but I doubt we’d have felt the top speed to be worthy of comment: 30-knots-plus for a boat of this size with a heavy load is eminently respectable, although fitting the correct props should make her more fuel efficient at cruising speeds.
Sunseeker’s new Manhattan 66 works on pretty much every level. As an example of the strength of modern motoryacht design, it can hold its head up with the best. As a comfortable cruising machine, it offers excellent entertaining spaces and good sleeping arrangements for eight, while as a driver’s boat it doesn’t disappoint. It’s not only designed to be noticed, but worthy of such notice, too.
NOTEWORTHY OPTIONS: Transom ‘beach club’ package; hardtop; nav upgrade; Xenta joystick system; crew cabin; AV upgrade; Sleipner fin stabilizers; Besenzoni telescopic gangway; teak side decks and foredeck; KVH satellite system
Warranty: 5 years on structure and gelcoat blistering; 2 years on components other than powertrain, gensets, tenders, and PWC, which carry their own warranties.
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 68°F; sea temperature: 63°F; seas: 1-2'; wind: 5-10 knots
Load During Boat Test
790 gal. fuel, 238 gal. water, six persons.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,200-hp MAN V8-1200
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF 500-11V, 2.2:1 gear ratio
- Props: NiBrAl 5-blade, 30.7 x 49.6
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.