Say it quickly and the Predator 61’s price tag of $2.5 million rolls off the tongue with ease. Push the electronic throttle levers forward and the twin 800hp V8 D2848 MAN diesels rockets her 26,000kg bulk onto the plane and propel the 61 down the Sydney Harbour at close to 35 knots also with ease. There’s no denying that the Sunseeker Predator 61 is a big boat, but her long, sleek and stylish lines stir the imagination and please the eye.
But it’s her sportboat-like performance and handling that keep the Modern Boating team chaffing at the bit to get behind the wheel. And this boat was only fitted with a pair of standard 800hp MANs, but she still displays that now familiar Sunseeker acceleration and push you back in the seat performance. The last Predator the team tested was a mean son of a beast 68-footer, powered by twin V12 1300hp MANs. Now that was an awesome boat. But fully loaded she also weighed 6000kg more than the 61 footer and needs the bigger motors to get the most out of the hull. So, the drop in weight compensates for the lower horsepower.
The only real performance difference between the two boats is a 4-knot drop in top-end speed. That exhilarating jumbo jet take-off acceleration is still there. Anyone wanting to regain that extra 4 knots of top speed, and a bit more for that matter, should order the 61 with the optional V10 1050hp engines. This boat has the power and the handling to support her gutsy performance. The helm is exceptionally light and responsive. Like her bigger sister the 68 Predator turn the wheel a couple of centimetres and you can literally see the point of the bow move 2cm; the steering is that direct. And also just like her bigger sibling, this boat turns like an oversized ski boat.
Spin the helm and around she comes, displaying the handling characteristics of a much smaller vessel. Having her props in tunnels assists her handling greatly, ensuring the boat tracks straight even in a following sea and eliminating any tail slippage. Her 26,000kg displacement ensures she has the weight to iron out any lumps and bumps, as she slices through swells cleanly without any banging and crashing. In fact, very little running noise is transmitted through the hull. All Sunseeker Predator hulls carry their chines well forward, which aids lateral stability and throws any spray coming off the hull down and away from the boat.
Look at the running shots of this boat and you can clearly see that all the spray begins to rise well behind the helm station. No spray is blown back into the aft cockpit, even in a strong crosswind. According to the brochure, the Predator 61 delivers unprecedented flexibility of choice in almost every aspect of layout and design. It is entirely up to the buyer what engine options they prefer. As it is what interior layout best suits their lifestyle. Again the buyer gets to choose whether or not they’d like a garage for a tender or jet ski. It’s also their choice whether or not they’d like an open or covered cockpit.
The test boat featured a hard top with a retractable sunroof, which the team reckon is the way to go. Interior layouts are also flexible. For example, you may choose to have large staterooms both forward and aft, or two twin cabins aft. The test boat had a double bed in the aft starboard cabin and two singles in the port cabin. These cabins now also feature Sunseeker’s large rectangular windows that have become a trademark of the Predator range. They flood the cabins with natural light.
Like the staterooms, the main saloon is luxurious and opulent, featuring beautiful wood panelling and cabinetry, fine leather upholstery and longwearing, stain-resistant beige carpets. The galley stretches the entire length of the saloon on the port side and will keep any gourmet chef happy with its fitting, appliances and bench space. Yes, you will enjoy entertaining in airconditioned comfort below decks, but it’s in the main cockpit that most Aussies will prefer to party.
It’s enormous. Everything you need for entertaining is included. Icemaker, bar fridge, sink unit, whopping barbeque, removable table, wide-open teak deck and enough heavily padded lounges and sunpads to accommodate about 20 people. The swim platform is also like a dance floor, but this one lowers into the water to aid the launch and retrieval of a tender. In the lowered position, this platform also acts as a stabiliser when the boat is at rest. The helm station features a dual skipper’s seat and a single for the navigator. The dash has a burr-type walnut fascia, a wooden sport steering wheel, full instrumentation for the twin MAN engines and a top-of-the-line Raymarine electronics package. Even the most fastidious skipper won’t be left wanting.
All in all the Sunseeker Predator 61 is a well designed, good looking, beautifully finished, high performance motoryacht. She exhibits superb ease of handling from a combination of a racing-standard hull design and an excellent choice of engine options. Whether you wish to cruise Sydney Harbour or the Whitsunday Islands, this boat can handle it. And handle it she will in style and luxury.
Words by Ian Macrae