WORDS + PHOTOS: IAN MACRAE
One ride and you’ll be singing its praises.
It’s been almost two years since the first Sunseeker Manhattan 66 graced our shores and the Modern Boating team was given the chance to put this beautiful vessel through her paces.
Back then I was truly impressed by the performance and agility of this 72ft 6in vessel. If I remember correctly, I commented something along the lines “that a top speed of 30 knots may not sound that impressive to someone used to flying around in a 1900kg bowrider capable of doing almost double that speed. But put it in the right context, (a Manhattan 66 Flybridge weighs almost 40,000kg), this boat displayed awesome power”.
So it was with great interest that I revisited this latest version (the sixth 66 to be imported to Australia) and I wasn’t disappointed. This time I actually squeezed another knot out of her with the twin C18 1050hp Caterpillar diesels, which top out at 31 knots pulling 2350rpm.
But for mine it isn’t her overall top speed that truly impresses in the performance stakes, it’s her ability to manoeuvre at speed. There aren’t too many almost 70 footers out there that you can throw into a hard turn (and I mean hard) at 30 knots with only one finger on the helm that’ll come around smoothly, without protest or fuss. In fact, if you were to compare the 66’s turning circle with the turning circle of a 22ft ski boat (relative to the two vessel’s overall length), I’d say they’d be on a par, or close to it.
Performance & handling
Obviously, you won’t normally drive a vessel of this class in that fashion, your fuel bills would be horrendous, but it’s good to know what she can do. Pull the electronic throttles back to a casual 24-knot cruise speed at 2000rpm and her quoted 300 nautical mile range is quite achievable. Drop back to 16 or 17 knots at 1600rpm and the run from Sydney to the Gold Coast is definitely on the cards.
Looking at the sleek design of the 66’s hull, some may think this is a boat more suited to the Greek Isles than the sometimes-testing waters off the Australia’s east coast. Wrong. While her bow doesn’t feature the classic flare many associate with good blue water boats, modern design allows her to handle the rough stuff with consummate ease.
Obviously, there is a certain amount of flare in the bow, but it’s the boat’s extremely wide and aggressive chines, which she carries well forward, that throw waves and spray down and away from the boat. Her beamy amidships section also helps by forcing water away from the hull, so spray is not thrown, or blown, into the aft cockpit.
Like her sporty stablemates in the Predator Series, the Manhattan 66 has her twin FP props mounted in mini tunnels, which gives them a positive ‘bite’ on clean water. This set-up aids her ability to turn without any loss of forward momentum. Her extra beam and massive chines also allow the hull to plane quickly and cleanly, which increases fuel economy.
When I entered the first 66’s main saloon a couple of years ago, it felt like I was walking into the foyer of a five-star hotel. Nothing’s changed. Again I was embraced by the luxury and my senses succumbed to the opulence. Highly polished timber, plush leathers and deep-pile carpet surrounded me. The saloon on this latest boat is also quite open-plan. There’s a straight lounge along the cabin wall, opposite the impressive galley. The pop-up plasma TV has been moved from its previous location, under the internal stairs, onto the port dash area. This widens the walkway between the dining area and the port lounge. These are only small changes, but it’s surprising how much more open it feels.
It’s a step up to the dining level behind the helm, which features two large, curved lounges that add an extra sense of class and style to this area.
The helm station is built to Sunseeker’s usual high specifications and includes the top-of-the-line Raymarine E120 chartplotter/sounder/radar packages to its full array of instrumentation. But it’s at the helm I found a problem; visibility behind is obstructed by the flybridge overhang when underway. It’s one of my idiosyncrasies, because I like to be able to see well astern before making a turn, but it didn’t seem to worry the rest of the team and besides, you normally drive from the flybridge anyway. Forward and side visibility from the lower station was good.
As you’d expect, the opulence is carried into accommodation areas and the owner’s amidships stateroom and en suite is to die for. It occupies the hull’s full beam, has excellent headroom and features walk-in wardrobes; a flat plasma TV with surround sound; a writing desk; a two-seater lounge and a massive king-sized island bed. This stateroom truly is fit for a king. Guests are equally well catered for in the forward stateroom. It’s only slightly smaller than the owner’s cabin, boasts all the luxurious fixtures and fittings and also has an en suite.
The third cabin has twin bunk beds that have an infill that converts them into another double. The 66 now also has a Pullman cabin option, if more accommodation is required, which increases her sleeping capacity to 10. The Pullman cabin can be sited in the laundry alcove to port, opposite the day head. It features two single bunks and is a bit squeezy, but it’s still useful as extra sleeping accommodation and the kids won’t mind.
A crew of two can be accommodated in a largish cabin under the aft cockpit. It has port and starboard single bunks, hanging lockers and a separate shower and toilet.
Topside might be the best place to drive from, but it’s also an entertainer’s dream. It’s open plan, with plenty of seating and an excellent barbecue, making it a great place to crack a few ‘Crownies’ and drink the odd glass of ‘champers’ as you watch the sun go down over calm seas.
With her flowing lines, perfect proportions and intersecting curves, the Manhattan 66 heads up Sunseeker’s flybridge range. And she does it with all the style and elegance boaters have come to expect from a Sunseeker.
But there is another side to this boat potential buyers may not realise, something that was also quite apparent when we tested the original 66. Even though she has a waterline length of 69ft 9in and an LOA of 72ft 6in, a couple can easily handle her. No skipper is required, unless you want one. Her super smooth and responsive electronic throttles and gearshift levers, coupled with the electric bow thruster, make slipping this girl sideways into even the tightest berth a breeze. And after you’ve watched the guys from Sunseeker do it a few times (by themselves), you’ll realise just how easy it is, with practice that is.