Sunseeker Predator 57

The fastest-selling cruiser.

by Craig Ritchie
The celebrated British yacht builder threw out the rulebook when it created the innovative Sunseeker Predator 57. That fresh approach made this new yacht the fastest-selling model in Sunseeker’s history. So, of course, we couldn’t wait to take it for a spin.

Specifications

  • LOA: 59’10”
  • Beam: 15’5”
  • Draft: 4’3”
  • Weight:
  • Fuel Capacity: 581 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 158 gals.
  • Power: 1,600 hp
  • Price: Contact dealer

www.sunseeker.com

When Robert Braithwaite started the engine on a small, open-cockpit speedboat nearly 50 years ago, it wasn’t just the engine in his Hostess 17 that sprung to life. Although Braithwaite probably didn’t realize it at the time, that moment marked the beginning of a new order in yachting. It was a clear announcement to every yacht manufacturer in the world that there was a new standard to emulate.

Fast-forward to the 2015 London Boat Show, and the company Braithwaite founded, Sunseeker, once again raised the bar for all that follow. In unveiling its all-new Predator 57, Sunseeker sent ripples across the luxury yacht market all around the world. Now, just a few months later and with 75 firm orders on the books, the Predator 57 has become Sunseeker’s fastest-selling model ever.

The excitement around the newest and trimmest member of Sunseeker’s acclaimed Predator family is easy to understand once you see it up close. While the brochure photographs tell part of the story, the Predator’s charms draw upon all of one’s senses in a way that has to be experienced to be believed.

Built for fun

For all of its sophistication and refinement, the one key element that Sunseeker never lost sight of in designing the Predator 57 is that this is a boat built for fun. That’s clearly evident as you step onto the massive, hydraulically-operated rear swim platform — just touch one button and the entire structure can be submerged up to about 18 inches below the water surface.

“You would normally lower the platform in order to launch or retrieve the tender that’s housed in the transom garage,” says Ron Montoya, of Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales, St. Clair Shores, MI (866-490-5297; JBYS.com). “But on a hot day you can put a lounge chair on it and stay cool in the water, or use it instead of a ladder to get in and out of the water when swimming.”  

Centered across the stern, a large, hydraulically-activated door lifts at the touch of a button to reveal a neatly concealed tender garage, which is spacious enough to accommodate a Williams 325 or other jet tender to around 10 feet in length. With the swim platform lowered, an electric winch makes launching or retrieving the tender quick and easy. Close the garage and you still have full use of the platform.

“It’s really great,” says Montoya. “It’s so much easier and so much neater than having the tender mounted on a davit, where you lose the use of the swim platform when it’s stowed.”

As you enter the aft salon, the large, upholstered sunpad that sprawls over the garage invites you to climb aboard, stretch out and work on your tan. It fronts onto a plush, wrap-around settee that stretches across the stern and forward up the port side of the boat.

Sunseeker’s emphasis on having fun is apparent again in the aft cockpit, where entry is via a stairway at the starboard side of the swim platform. The settee surrounds a beautiful teak table with integral beverage holders, which can be flipped open to create an even larger table for lunch. Overhead, the hard top conceals a retractable panel that can be extended all the way back to the swim platform if needed, allowing any mix of sun or shade in this area. An attractive cabinet along the starboard side wall opens to reveal a fully equipped outdoor galley and refreshment center — complete with a BBQ grill, cool plate, sink with faucet, refrigerator and an icemaker.

Inside out

Heading forward, an innovative, sliding rear cockpit door speaks further to the Predator’s focus on fun. Slide the door open, press a button, and both door and portside rear glass disappear into the floor, turning the Predator 57 into a wide-open boat with a single, full-length salon with 360-degree views. Only a small step up into the main salon provides any hint of where the rear wall once stood. This feature is a first for Sunseeker, and it completely eliminates the need for owners to have to choose between an open or closed boat.

“The ability to open the boat up is one of the design elements that really makes the Predator 57 stand out,” says Montoya. “On some yachts you step into the salon, or you step outside, and either way you leave half your party behind. Not so on this boat.”

As if to further prove his point, Montoya took a few steps forward toward the helm, pressed another button, and smiled as the entire main salon ceiling began to retract. Almost the entire fiberglass hard top from the windshield back slowly disappeared rearward, bathing the main salon in sunshine.

“To fully open the boat up like this used to require a fabric roof,” explains Montoya. “Sunseeker has developed the concept and taken it forward to the point you can now enjoy the same open-air experience with a hard top. With the large, continuous side windows, it’s just tremendous — there’s really nothing else like it.”

Built for drivers

The helm’s overall clean look is achieved through the widespread adoption of cutting-edge technologies, including automotive-inspired keyless ignition and a fully digital vessel monitoring system. A pair of large, side-by-side, multi-function touch-screen displays dominate the upper dash panel, while below a large chart table sits to the left of the exquisite, six-spoke chrome-on-black leather steering wheel. To its right, and positioned within perfect reach, our review boat featured a Volvo-Penta EVC twin control and joystick. The Predator 57 was designed from the outset to be built with either shafts or pod drives.

The driver and companion receive special attention, enjoying twin bucket sport seats that look and feel like they came straight out of a Bentley, with neat, double-diamond stitching and integrated, flip-up bolsters. The styling of the helm and positioning of the seats combine to provide outstanding visibility while underway, while a power-down window along the starboard side provides exceptional convenience when docking.

The great indoors

A few short steps ahead and down from the helm takes us to a bright and surprisingly spacious galley, with more counter space than some homes. Open above to let the light shine in, the galley is centered around a ceramic top four-burner range, which floats over a beautiful granite countertop. A vast amount of overhead storage makes maximum use of the space and allows for the preparation of even complex meals thanks to the galley’s thoughtful appointments and generous proportions.

Opposite the galley to starboard, a comfortable breakfast salon provides more private dining quarters when you’re not yet ready to venture onto the main deck.

Forward of the galley, on the port side, is the day head, complete with a lovely full-size countertop sink and a full stand-up shower. A pass-through doorway provides en-suite convenience to the VIP suite in the bow.

The VIP suite is spacious enough and so beautifully appointed one might easily confuse it for the owner’s accommodations. The bright suite includes opening portholes set within its large windows — a unique and elegant touch that sets this boat apart.

A second guest cabin, located just aft of the breakfast salon, accommodates twin Pullman bunks. This space can also be outfitted as storage, says Montoya, or used to accommodate a washer/dryer for owners who enjoy extended cruises and who don’t require the additional sleeping accommodations.

The owner’s suite is positioned mid-cabin in the Predator 57, making the most of the yacht’s 15-foot beam. A wonderfully inviting seating area with a breakfast table to starboard of the queen bed is the ideal spot for that first coffee of the morning, inviting you to rise slowly and ease into the day. Large windows with opening inset portholes provide plenty of light and fresh air. The large en-suite offers a remarkable amount of space for storage and a full stand-up shower with its own porthole (tastefully frosted for modesty).

While there’s no question that Sunseeker’s Predator 57 is a beautifully appointed yacht, I was itching to find out how it performed underway. I was not disappointed.

The strong, silent type

With a pair of Volvo-Penta IPS950s housed in its spacious engine room, the Predator 57 accelerates smoothly out of the hole and settles on plane without fuss or fanfare — exactly as a sport yacht should. With four of us aboard on a warm September morning, our Predator 57 (with a half tank of fuel and a half tank of water) cruised across Lake St. Clair’s calm surface effortlessly at 30 knots, with an indicated fuel burn of 46 gallons per hour. Montoya notes that with its speed and 250 nautical mile range, the Predator 57 is an ideal sport cruiser, able to reach any corner of the Great Lakes.

Being well-acquainted with Volvo-Penta’s IPS system, the Predator 57’s smooth handling wasn’t really a surprise. But what was shocking was how quietly the boat ran — even at 30 mph with both the salon roof and rear cockpit closure wide open. The aggressively raked windshield does a superb job of keeping both wind and noise out of the boat, while Volvo’s IPS system is said to generate half the noise of traditional shaft drives. I would believe it; skating across Lake St. Clair at near full throttle, our conversation level remained at normal volumes. It was only when we moved from the helm to sit outside in the aft cockpit that Montoya and I really noticed the breeze or felt the need to speak up. That is quite extraordinary, even among luxury yachts designed first and foremost with comfort in mind.

Sleek and sporty, Sunseeker’s Predator 57 is a revolutionary sport yacht that perfectly balances style with practicality. Little wonder it has quickly established itself as the fastest-selling model in Sunseeker’s history, and become a coveted prize not just here on the Great Lakes, but all around the world.

 

 

 

 

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