Even though Sunseeker Predator 50 is the smallest boat made by the English yard, it isn’t worried by rough seas. It is not only safe, but also easy to handle. It’s a nice boat
by Niccolò Volpati
«YOU ARE LUCKY, MAN»SAID THE CAPTAIN. «Oh really, and why am I lucky?»I asked. He explained that the previous day the wind had been blowing at 58 knots, and the waves were three metres high. But that day, he said, the conditions were good. We were between Southampton and Poole, the home of saints, poets, sailors and, above all, shipyards. And we were on board the Sunseeker Predator 50, Sunseeker’s smallest boat. The sun was shining, that much is true, but what the captain called a nice day to go out to sea featured a stiff wind that never fell below 27 knots, and waves of between a metre and a metre and a half.
And, as if that weren’t enough, the channel outside the harbour was crossed by such a large amount of cargo ships that it felt like catching a train in the rush hour. It is an industrial area and, judging from the number of container ships that crossed our path, they produce cars, 4x4s and a lot besides. There are bow waves everywhere, and we are not talking about coastal shipping, but enormous vessels. The captain explained a few common sense rules to avoid getting swallowed up by the ships and invited me to open the throttle right up.
The boat is extremely comfortable. It moves well, and handles exceptionally in waves, regardless of the angle of approach. It isn’t troubled by a following sea, or 45-degree waves, or even on a head or beam sea. It is also manoeuvrable, despite the fact that it has straight-shaft transmission. There are two Volvo D8 engines of 600 hp each. That is the right amount of power, and gives the right balance, and indeed the yard doesn’t offer many other alternatives. I steered it around, and after I had had the helm in my hands for a bit, I felt I was ready to try to open the throttle right up to try to get to top speed. We did it, we got to 3,000 revs. The GPS showed that we were doing over thirty knots and the flowmeter registered total fuel usage of 244 litres an hour.
That was a good figure, especially since the conditions may have been good as far as the English are concerned, but a lot of us find them fairly difficult. The captain said I should turn around to try to get the boat moving with the current. And an ocean current is indeed completely different from those in the Mediterranean Sea. Going full out, the revs were almost the same, perhaps fifty rpm more, but the speed went up to 33.9 knots with the same amount of fuel used, so 245 litres an hour. So nearly four knots extra.
There are no gaps in the way it reacts to changes in the throttle. The engines respond immediately, and that means you can give it the just right amount of power on the waves. We managed to move comfortably without having to work too hard. We didn’t jump a lot, and it certainly didn’t thump against the water too much. That is also because of the waterlines, which allow the Sunseeker Predator 50 to sail safely, even in rough seas.
It isn’tjust comfortable, it also holds course very well. I went at around 25 knots and took the waves head on, and I didn’t need to manage the throttle to avoid having the waves crash against the hull, or to correct course with the helm. Forward visibility is good, thanks to lines that go down towards the water level and means you always have a clear view. In the conditions that we were in, we needed just over 15 knots to plane, and 114 litres per hour of fuel consumption, which I reached at 2100 rpm. At minimum planning speed, the boat seemed to be more heavily affected by the rough sea conditions.
It was perhaps between 20 and 28 knots that the Sunseeker Predator 50 performed best. Proof of that comes not just from the feeling that you get at the helm, but also from the data that you can see on the instruments on the control panel. Litres per nautical mile, for example, are more or less constant, and ranged between seven and seven and a half litres. That means that the hull is very efficient at those speeds, even though itis a fairly wide range.
The deck set-up is fairly traditional. I really liked the number of different seats in the cockpit, where there are two linear sofas facing one another, with a table which can be opened up between them. The sideways are not very wide, so as to give the dinette as much extra space possible, but despite that it is easy to get from the stern to the bow, because there are grab-bars just about everywhere, with some on the deckhouse, and on the rail.
Inside the Sunseeker Predator 50 there is a lot of natural light. That comes from the hard top that, as well as sliding, is also made of glass, and then there are the side windows and the large door into the cockpit. The galley is on the lower deck, and takes advantage of extra space in front of the sleeping quarters. Here too there is no lack of natural light because there is practically no ceiling, and so despite the fact that it is lower, it takes advantage of the light that flows in through the windscreen. There are two cabins.
The master one is amidships, and takesup the entire width of the boat. The only inconvenient thing is that the head of the bed is very close to the engine room. The sound meter showed some fairly high levels. If you are at cruising, or top speed, the noise comes in the 75 to 80 decibel range. Perhaps it would have been possible to do more to reduce sound and vibrations produced by the straight-shaft transmission. In the bows there is the VIP cabin, which has a versatile V-shaped bed, so you can have two single beds or you can move them to create a double one. For people who want it, there is another layout with a third cabin with bunk beds.
SUNSEEKER PREDATOR 50
PROJECT Shipyard technical department
HULL LOA 16.48m • Beam 4.48m • Draft 1.33m •Displacement 19,000 kg • Fuel tank volume 1800 l •Water tank volume 430 l
MAIN PROPULSION 2xVolvo D8-600 • 441 kW (600 hp) • 6 cylinders in-line • Swept volume 7,7 l •Bore&Stroke 110mm x135mm • Gear ratio 16.5:1 • Maximum rotational speed 3000/min •Dry weight 840 kg
EC CERTIFICATION CAT B – 12 people
PRICE 675,000 £, Excl.VAT
Sunseeker Italy Srl
Porto Turistico 52
I – 16033 Lavagna (GE)
T. +39 0185 305317
Sunseeker International Limited
West Quay Road
Poole Dorset – GB – BH15 1JD
(Sunseeker Predator 50, this is England – Barchemaghazine.com – Luglio 2019)