Casino Royal - Sunseeker Predator 63
When you first set your eyes on a Sunseeker Predator it isn't difficult to see why its the preferred choice of a James Bond villain. Sleek, fast, powerful. Everything a private banker who finances terror could want in a vessel. And if you are a mariner who doesn't own a fishing rod, its everything you will want in a vessel too.
A keen eye will notice that this Predator 63 isn't the same as the Predator 108 used in the 2006 adaptation of Casino Royal, and an understanding of the Arabic number system will tell you that 63 is much smaller than 108. However, this Sunseeker 63 has every right to the "Predator" namesake.
Starting in the 90's the Sunseeker Predator model has been home to their line up of large, fast, low profile vessels. Still in production today, the Predator name comes in sizes ranging from 55-74 feet. Key features of this lineup include express style designs, convertible tops, and enclosed stern garages. Ohh and we can't forget horsepower. Lots and lots of horsepower.
This Sunseeker Predator 63 is from 1996 and is powered by twin Man mechanical engines that produce 1100HP each. They are attached to ZF V-drive transmissions that direct the power to the shafts that run back under the engines to allow for placement of the motors further back in the vessel. These engines sit underneath the stern garage and tender. Allowing for more complete access to the engine compartment when the tender is out and the floor to the garage is lifted.
Accompanied with a deep V hull this design allows the vessel to reach advertised speeds up to 41kts! A number that after our testing appears achievable. With full fuel, water and tender on board we were able to reach a speed of 36kts 26 years after production.
This performance does come at a cost though. The vessel becomes quite thirsty at its cruising speed of 1750rpms. Drinking an average of 86gph at a speed of 26kts. To be expected though when moving 49 net tons of boat.
The vessel has a beautiful interior with REAL wood throughout. A luxury in todays day and age of plastic and composite boat design. Modern boat builders want to save weight and create more efficient vessels but it is tough to beat classic wood design on vessels. A feature becoming more rare by the year.
The main salon is centered midship with a wrap around couch and entertainment system. Attached is a galley with a folding table top to hide the sink, freezer and stove when unwanted. Adjacent to the galley are the twin subzero refrigerators that combine to allow for the same refrigeration space as a typical home.
Off the salon you have a bunk room/office combo, a VIP cabin with shared day head access, and a forward master V-Berth with its own head. All incredibly comfortable spaces with their own amenities such as A/C and television. It is unfortunate that nobody is going to spend much time in these areas while underway because the cockpit is the star of the show.
Above deck behind the helm is the cockpit and lounge area. With a full-sized sun pad on the stern with enough space for 3 adults. The cockpit also consists of a wet bar, fridge and my personal favorite... an overhead misting system for those hot days in Miami Beach.
All these features combine to create what is possibly the best all around entertainment space in the boat industry. However nothing compares to the joy the skipper gets from driving the vessel. At cruising speed with the convertible top up it feels as if you are piloting an aircraft on a mission. Thanks to the deep V hull design, wind chop on the water barely effects the experience. There is no rattling or shaking when the hull clips a white cap or goes over another vessels wake. Its smooth sailing even when the weather misbehaves.
But if you ever get bored of the excellent handling (you won't). You can anchor up and drop the jet tender. Built specifically for these vessels the jet tender fits perfectly inside the garage of the boat and is designed to mimic the looks of the mothership. In our instance the jet tender had been repowered with a 200hp Mercury two stroke engine that screamed like a banshee as it flew over the water.
Now if for some reason you forget how much fun this boat is, there are a few small faults in the design. Most of which have to do with the age it was built. For example, the MAN engines like to move some exhaust and if you are just trying to have a nice cruise down the coast at slower speeds you do notice the smell creep back into the cockpit. This problem is partially nullified by a couple windows and the convertible top, but if you have the top closed to hide from the sun it can become irritating.
My only other complaint is also with the top, or more so the height of high in terms of visibility. When the top is open and the weather is nice, standing up to have your head above the windshield is an unreal experience. However, when the weather is bad or on a long trip when the sun gets to you, it is rather difficult to maintain proper visibility just through the windshield. I took this vessel on a couple long trips above 100 miles and you do get used to the height of eye through the windshield, however over a long period of time the strain is just a bit too much to be completely comfortable driving with the top closed.
With those points aside, buy it, drive it, run an international money laundering scheme from it. Because it is sleek, fast, and dominates its market segment in quality and fun. The Sunseeker Predator name is a staple in the boating industry and there are few boats I would jump at faster to Captain than the Sunseeker Predator.