I was more excited than usual as our crew cruised away from Sunseeker’s site at West Quay Road. I have done this run many times, and it’s invariably a joy, but this time, I was aboard the builder’s Superhawk 55. It’s the first open cruiser the British yard has built in ages, and it’s a return to what made Sunseeker world-famous.
Beyond being home to Sunseeker, Poole Harbour’s claim to fame is being Europe’s largest natural harbor. That morning, it felt like it. We chugged out through the navigation channel traffic, past the majestic Brownsea Castle, and past the sloping lawns and exclusive terraces of Sandbanks, some of the most expensive real estate in England. Finally, we reached the Poole Bar Buoy and open water.
Throttles opened. Worth the wait? Absolutely yes.
The twin 725 hp Volvo Penta IPS950-D11 diesels max out at 2,550 rpm, which, during my runs at about half-load in a gentle breeze and very little swell, gave us a top-end speed of 37 to 38 knots. Sunseeker says the hull form is completely new. It strikes a great balance between planing efficiency and a rewarding driving experience. The Superhawk 55 easily sliced the wave crests we generated, and the yacht heeled satisfyingly into the turns, especially with the wheel hard over. Having the driving position on centerline is a definite bonus.
Allowing for a 10 percent reserve, expect a range of 200 to 225 nautical miles. According to my numbers, this yacht will run all day at 2,000 rpm and around 25 knots.
And the Superhawk 55 will look great doing it, outside and inside. Despite its considerable volume, this yacht still looks long and low, from the swim platform to the bow, probably helped by what appears to be one continuous hullside window to break up the freeboard. Note too how the superstructure sits within the hull rather than on top of it.
The cockpit occupies the full 16-foot-2-inch beam aft. Side decks are accessed via a pair of pantograph doors that flank the helm. Those side decks run forward from just abaft amidships, and they include three shallow steps to reach the foredeck terrace. The 54-square-foot windscreen is an impressive single pane with double curvature. The standard open layout includes just the arch mast, but as of this writing, all but one owner has chosen the hardtop option.
The cockpit layout is intended to be versatile, making the Superhawk 55 a weekender or a party boat. The essentials include a sofa-sun pad and a table with leaves aft. There’s a wet bar abaft the triple-seat raised bridge. A pair of L-shaped sofas can slide back and forth, or in and out, on rails. That means they can be pushed to the sides when more room is needed, or closer together for meals at the table.
Another dining spot is belowdecks. The lower deck has an amidships salon with a galley to port and a dinette-sofa to starboard. There are doors to the two en suite staterooms, one each fore and aft. The headroom in the main salon enhances the perception of luxury. While the headroom is better in the forward stateroom than in the aft one, both staterooms are broadly the same in terms of space and views.
As for decor, Sunseeker offers five veneers and a dozen lacquers. The Superhawk 55 I got aboard had what felt like a darker vibe: piano black and stained oak.
No matter the interior styling, this is a relatively quiet boat. While running the yacht flat out, I recorded 73 to 75 decibels at the helm, in the salon with the cockpit hatch open, and in the aft stateroom. Sixty-five decibels, which I recorded in the forward stateroom, is the level of normal conversation.
For heading ashore, a garage is aft, big enough to hold a 9-foot-2-inch Williams MiniJet 280 tender. A drawer above the garage could hold underwater scooters or fenders.
The first Sunseeker Superhawk 55 was unveiled at Boot Düsseldorf in January, and Sunseeker expects to deliver 25 to 30 of these performance boats this year alone. Apparently, I’m far from the only yachting enthusiast who has long been waiting for this model.
Sunseeker’s first real “hawk” was the Tomahawk 37. Then, in no particular order, came the Thunderhawk 43, Hawk 27, Mohawk 29, Hawk 31 and Tomahawk 41. Over the years, there also were several Superhawks, namely the 34 (famous for the River Thames chase sequences in the James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough”), the 40, the 43, the 48 and the 50 that had surface drives and topped out around 50 knots. There’s also the current 60-plus-knot Hawk 38, which is a dayboat with a center console and outboards. Most of the older Hawks topped out at 40 to 46 knots.
That’s Not Teak
Sunseeker has virtually stopped using wooden decking. This Superhawk 55 had a light surface made of Sikafloor Marine-595 Antarctica throughout the main deck. The mock white caulking creates striking patterns.
The Superhawk 55 has Union Jack homages in its transom gates, in the LED framing in the skylight between the salon and windscreen, in the salon’s headliner and in the stitching on the back of the pilot seats. A similar tribute is in the taillights on newer British-built Mini Coopers.
Take the next step: sunseeker.com