Smart and Stylish

AS A SUN­SEEKER, ITS PEDI­GREE IS HIGH STYLE AND SO­PHIS­TI­CA­TION, YET THE MANHATTAN 52 IS ALSO A SEN­SI­BLE FAM­ILY CRUISER. BY ALAN HARPER

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE -

The Manhattan 52 from Sun­seeker com­bines high style and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, but her real charm lies in how her de­sign works as a fam­ily cruiser. By Alan Harper

Let’s be­gin at the end. The back end, if you don’t mind. Be­fore you step up into the cock­pit, have a look at this hatch in the tran­som. It re­veals a use­ful locker, big enough for plenty of lines and a cou­ple of fend­ers, stowed right where you want them. But now look up at the hatch lid: Yes, set into a plate of stain­less steel, that is in­deed a mixer faucet with the gen­er­ous, cir­cu­lar head of a fresh­wa­ter shower over­head. There is even a mir­ror.

Now step to your left. Those seams in the cen­ter of the tran­som also con­ceal a cou­ple of hatches, al­though—you’ve guessed right—they aren’t just hatches. The lower one turns out to be a small up­hol­stered seat. Who thought of putting that there? It’s the per­fect place to sit and watch your kids hav­ing fun in the water, or to re­lax with a cock­tail and drink in the peace of an evening an­chor­age. And above it, the other panel folds down to re­veal an elec­tric grill and a chop­ping board, for pre­par­ing and grilling the fresh­est fish your fam­ily has ever eaten.

Every now and then it’s good to be re­minded that for all the showbiz glitz of Sun­seeker’s boat-show events—which fea­ture its ev­er­ex­pand­ing range of yachts from 75 to 155 feet aimed at the world’s super rich—and even al­low­ing for its cor­po­rate self-im­age as a builder of high-per­for­mance sports ma­chines thanks to the speedy Preda­tor line, rang­ing from 57 to 68 feet, this Bri­tish boat­builder has been suc­cess­fully turn­ing out sen­si­ble fam­ily cruis­ing boats for nearly 50 years. The com­pany now builds four boats in the Manhattan line, from this 52 up to the new 66.

Prac­ti­cal touches like these swim-plat­form fea­tures are not gim­micks, but on their own, they’re nowhere near glam­orous enough to steal at­ten­tion from ri­vals. They’re just great ex­am­ples of cre­ative think­ing un­der­taken with a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the boat’s mis­sion.

So what was the mis­sion, I won­der? When you step up into the cock­pit, the an­swer seems pretty clear. A slid­ing door con­nects rather than sep­a­rates the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior spa­ces, and as you look for­ward you see a big, raised seat­ing area amid­ships, with so­fas on each side and a fold­ing ta­ble, while the busi­nesslike two-seat helm sta­tion folds for­ward to free up more sit­ting room. The gal­ley is aft, vir­tu­ally ad­join­ing the cock­pit, and spreads across the boat’s full beam. With the aft gal­ley win­dow down, the coun­ter­top there be­comes a so­cia­ble lit­tle bar on the port side of the cock­pit, com­plete with two fixed stools. Head­room is a gen­er­ous 6 feet 8 inches, both here and in the sa­loon. The win­dows are huge: Sun­light drenches the en­tire main deck, and the white color scheme, al­beit with con­trast­ing wal­nut pan­elling, helps to em­pha­size a lux­u­ri­ous sense of space. But this is not an area de­signed purely to im­press: It is a prac­ti­cal lay­out of hu­man-sized spa­ces in which you are never far from a hand­hold, a seat, or a great view of the water. If Sun­seeker’s goal was to cre­ate a fam­ily cruis­ing boat in which peo­ple come first, the de­sign­ers have pretty much nailed it. Head­room down be­low is al­most as good as on the main deck, and the three-cabin, two-head lay­out is com­mon to most yachts of this class. The mid­ships mas­ter suite is pretty im­pres­sive, with huge hull win­dows and mir­rors po­si­tioned to max­i­mize their ef­fect. A neat lit­tle dinette to port is an invit­ing spot for an in­ti­mate break­fast with a view, while the star­board side of the suite is given over to stowage. Up in the bows, the VIP state­room has a clear over­head hatch to make up for its smaller hull win­dows, and a good-sized head com­part­ment, which, with its dou­ble doors, also serves as the day­head. In both cab­ins the dou­ble berths might not be quite as big as the ones you have in your bed­rooms at home, but they’re still full-size, and even those in the third

cabin, with its win­dow and mir­rored wardrobe door, are 6 feet 4 inches long—al­though at 25 inches and 27 inches, they’re maybe not all that wide. Even so, the Manhattan 52’s up­stairs promise of bright, prac­ti­cal, and com­fort­able liv­ing spa­ces is ful­filled on the ac­com­mo­da­tion deck.

In the hun­gover af­ter­math of the Cannes boat show, with the ex­hi­bi­tion site look­ing like an an­gry ants’ nest full of car­pen­ters hard at work rip­ping stands apart while jagged edges and fork­lift trucks threat­ened to con­sign the un­wary to the ER, out on the water all was serene. There was barely a breath of wind or a rip­ple on the blue sur­face of the bay as the Manhattan surged con­fi­dently onto plane and ac­cel­er­ated smoothly through the teens and then into the 20s, top­ping out at 31 knots. For all its prac­ti­cal­ity and com­fort, the 52 also has plenty of power, and a beau­ti­fully bal­anced medium-vee hull with a 16-de­gree dead­rise at the tran­som. Han­dling was taut and re­spon­sive, throt­tle re­sponse quick and ea­ger—it was an ex­em­plary driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Trim tabs were not called for in the balmy con­di­tions we en­joyed, ex­cept per­haps to steady the ship when run­ning at its low­est plan­ing speed, which was around 15 knots. At all speeds from 20 knots up, the yacht felt sta­ble and con­fi­dent, and ca­pa­ble of cruis­ing all day. It is a sign of an ex­cel­lent mar­riage of power, cen­ter of grav­ity, and hull shape that push­ing the throt­tles to the stops in­duced very lit­tle change in cruis­ing ef­fi­ciency— there was al­most no penalty, in range terms, be­tween 20 knots and 30.

In its mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als Sun­seeker tags the Manhattan range with “space, grace, pace.” If that sounds fa­mil­iar it’s be­cause it was an ad­ver­tis­ing slo­gan used by Jaguar in the early 1960s. Of course, the as­so­ci­a­tion is prob­a­bly de­lib­er­ate, as there’s a bit of boomer-based nos­tal­gia go­ing on in the UK at the mo­ment (I can’t think why). Back then, though, Jaguar’s chain-smok­ing ad men had three cars in mind when they came up with the copy: the space of the Mark 10, the grace of the Mark 2, and the pace of the sainted E Type. Sun­seeker clearly feels that all three de­scrip­tors ap­ply to the Man­hat­tans, and in the case of the 52, they’re ab­so­lutely right.

The thrill of find­ing this kind of space on a boat—let alone a fam­ily cruiser that is eas­ily owner-op­er­ated—is why Sun­seeker suc­ceeds.

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