It can be tough to imagine these days, but Sunseeker started out in 1969 as a builder of small, trailerable day boats. Nearly 50 years later, having been bought for more than £300 million by Chinese construction company, Dalian Wanda, it has become a world leader in the generation of custom and semi-custom cruisers and superyachts. Starting with the Portofino 40 and culminating in the colossal tri-deck 155-foot flagship, the Sunseeker fleet is now tightly associated with imaginative styling, dynamic performance and opulent internals. There have been a great many landmark boats along the way, but for me, the following 10 have done more than most to earn a place in the Sunseeker hall of fame.
Sunseeker Sovereign 17
Throughout the 1960s, the Braithwaite family operated a business dealing in imported leisure craft, but toward the end of the decade, they decided to build their own craft under the ‘Poole Powerboats’ umbrella. This elegant, sporting 17-footer was one of the very first to hit the water. The particular boat pictured here was launched in 1970 and restored in 2005 as a celebration of Sunseeker’s heritage. Fittingly, it was then used as a conveyance for Daniel Craig as James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ with none other than Robert Braithwaite CBE (Sunseeker President) at the helm. Of course, as a ‘Poole Powerboats’ craft, the Sovereign 17 isn’t strictly speaking a Sunseeker, but with classic lines and genuine sporting ability, this rapid little boat was central to the direction Sunseeker would take.
Sunseeker Daycab 23
In 1976, the Braithwaites introduced a 23-foot platform – the first under the new company name, ‘Sunseeker’. Available in two forms, the 23-foot Sports model was essentially a fast, Scandinavian-style two-berth cuddy, while the ‘Daycab’ model came with extra creature comforts, including a galley, a heads and a pair of double berths. It also featured a more luxurious fit-out than had been seen on previous craft and it was this early combination of sporting performance and genuine cruising ability that made the Daycab 23 such an important boat. It would be in production for less than four years before being superseded by the 235, but by then, Sunseeker had become an established name.
Sunseeker Offshore 28
The Offshore 28 was reputedly the first boat in Europe to use a hull specifically designed for twin diesel sterndrives. The larger, later Offshore 31 would also do its bit to embrace fresh technologies by applying Duoprop (counter-rotating propeller) technology. In both cases, however, Sunseeker’s Offshore models proved to be important stepping stones in the company’s progress and they fully warrant their continued status as icons of the brand.
Sunseeker Renegade 60
Sunseeker’s Renegade 60 was one of the first production leisure boats powered by water jets. Capable of shifting up to 145,000 litres per minute at full throttle, this bold new superboat immediately made a statement, courtesy of its rapid pick-up, agile handling and aggressive 45-knot top end. In addition to three staterooms and a couple of heads compartments, it also featured a deep, open cockpit and a big aft sunbathing section, making the Renegade 60 experience much like that of a small open sports boat, but engagingly amplified.
Sunseeker Predator 80
When it emerged in the mid 90s, this closed-cockpit, high-performance motoryacht made its name as a platform on which scale and luxury were combined with ease of use and high-end performance. Despite measuring more than 80-feet in length and weighing around 50 tons, it could achieve speeds in excess of 45 knots. Its dynamic, low-profile lines, retractable carbon fibre roof and panoramic, tinted hull windows also lent it plenty of aesthetic aggression. Happily, the modern Sunseeker stable continues to include an 80-footer in its four-strong Predator line.
Sunseeker 105 Yacht
In 2001, Sunseeker broke the magic 100-foot mark. Some say this is the point at which it became a true superyacht builder and the 105’s combination of internal opulence, design extravagance and sheer physical scale does a great deal to justify that claim. This four-stateroom, 26-knot, flybridge-equipped motoryacht quickly won a couple of international Superyacht Design awards, heralding the company’s modern push toward the highest echelons of the market.
Sunseeker Superhawk 34
Sunseeker has enjoyed quite a regular presence in 007 films over the past few years. We saw the Superhawk 43 and the Sovereign 17 in ‘Quantum of Solace’; the Superhawk 48 in ‘Die Another Day’; and the XS 2000 and Predator 108 in ‘Casino Royale’. Plainly, the boat chosen for the role needs to combine potency with style and the Superhawk (any of the Superhawks in fact) do the job quite beautifully. Okay, so these narrow-beamed missiles sacrifice accommodation in favour of pace and ride softness, but that’s why so many people continue to love them today.
Sunseeker San Remo
Designed by Sunseeker as “an icon of tomorrow”, this 51-foot sports cruiser is without doubt one of the most stylish craft ever produced by the company. It has also seen plenty of early success, scooping IPC’s 2014 award as ‘Best Sports Cruiser over 45 feet’. The use of Volvo Penta IPS Pod Drives generates a 30-knot top end and frees up some useful space on the lower deck for two extremely spacious cabins. The San Remo also features a very bright and expansive main deck with some useful alfresco lounging space.
Sunseeker Portofino 40
As the smallest boat in the modern Sunseeker fleet by well over ten feet, the Portofino 40 is an important craft - firstly because it provides a platform to which the general populace can realistically aspire; and secondly, because its modest scale and relative simplicity of form provide Sunseeker’s most convincing link to the lighter footed craft of yesteryear. It’s fast, it’s pretty and it’s British. Sounds like a Poole Powerboats Special to me. Read more about the Portofino 40 in our review.
Sunseeker 155 Yacht
And so we finish with the largest and most advanced vessel ever produced by Sunseeker. Launched in 2014, the 155 Yacht is designed to priortise space and style (no big surprise there then). But it’s also optimised for long-distance cruising, with a combination of the ‘latest generation’ hull and a 60,000-litre fuel tank generating a potential range in excess of 4,000 nautical miles. Built over three primary decks with expandable balconies, it is designed to accommodate 12 guests and 11 crewmembers – and while the exact spec is of course subject to customer requirements, Eddie Jordan’s boat contains, among other things, a nightclub and a panoramic viewing platform.
See more luxury powerboats in our feature 10 of the world’s most expensive superyachts.