Written by Charlotte Thomas
06 July 2022
It’s hard to grasp as we cruise off the cliffs of Swanage near the Sunseeker yard that it’s been over a year since the first 90 Ocean hit the water but, thanks to successive boat show cancellations and other pandemic-related restrictions, access has been limited.
There was an official launch at the Palma Boat Show last June, and there was a 90 at the Cannes show in September 2021.
She’s not your typical Sunseeker. Sure, there are design cues that speak to the family DNA, but her bluff bow and big 7.16-metre beam (some 0.7 metres wider than the new 88 Yacht) mean she’s a far cry from the sleek, sport boat models we’re more accustomed to.
Her sales numbers, however, suggest the Sunseeker design team must have got something right and, once on board, it’s easy to see what: space, and lots of it.
“The 90 appeals to those who are real water users,” offers Mark Chinery, Sales Manager at Sunseeker.
“People have bought them for the whole stern area – once the tender is in the water, it becomes a real family social space, which we’ve never done before to that level.
“And the flybridge is enormous – it’s actually bigger than the 100 Yacht’s flybridge – and the open-plan space means clients can furnish their boat exactly as they want.”
Started by the late, great John Braithwaite, the 90 began as a concept for an 87 Yacht and resonates as his last project. “It was all about maximising the interior volume,” says Chinery.
“We changed the stem to maximise the forward VIP space, and when you run the beam (which is only six inches less than that of the 116) through the length of the yacht, the increase in volume is quite significant.”
The effects are immediately evident – this boat feels huge. There are views from aft all the way forward to the windscreen, which adds to that sense of space, and stepping inside the main saloon is slightly disconcerting; having just stepped off the 88 Yacht, it’s like someone has taken the 88’s saloon and just added three feet to one side of it.
“Most people refer to it as like an apartment,” Chinery smiles.
“For one 90 client, it’s his 17th Sunseeker. Downsizing from a 30-metre from another brand because he didn’t want such a large crew, he said this gave him such open space he furnished it with Minotti, just like his house.”
For this boat, hull #10, the loose furniture comprises a generous, L-shaped lounge to starboard opposite a television mounted on the moulding that houses the external stairs.
A large dining table forward of a low sideboard links to the transverse galley located behind the helm, which also separates the helm from the main social area.
The galley’s aft countertop can be used as an eat-at bar or a pass for the dining table, while sliding screens can close the galley off from the saloon area – useful if you have crew and want privacy.
Appliances and electric cooktop come from Miele. Decent drawer fridges and upright fridge-freezer units, along with wine cooler, ice-maker, dishwasher, oven and combi are all finished in pro-looking stainless.
The galley also gets a door to the side deck – another important feature for bringing victuals in and taking trash out.
The helm is well equipped with large Simrad screens. Visibility is good, although having a spotter in the seating area to port might be handy for left-hand-down turns on busy days.
The coachroof here features large glass panels for added daylight. The aft bulkhead shows the right-angled inlay pattern that will become a recurring design theme of the expanding Ocean line.
Stairs forward lead down to the VIP in the bow, which offers a large island berth, robe, decent ensuite, flexible lighting and good strip windows in the hull for a view across the water.
The ensuite also gets a window and all feature opening portholes for fresh air. Headroom is decent at around two metres.
The full-beam master suite with centreline king and two guest cabins with transverse beds can be found amidships, accessed via a spiral stair from the saloon.
Both guests have robe space, an ensuite and hull windows with opening ports in both cabin and head.
The master is generous and offers a bench lounge to starboard and a vanity with drawers to port, plus a decent wardrobe and an ensuite with a large shower and his-and-hers sinks.
Headroom is also good down here, and the fit and finish is a good standard throughout. Additional storage for towels and bedding can be found at the end of the guest passageway.
Aft, the crew get reasonable quarters with berths for up to four along with a small mess, laundry and direct access aft to the engine room that contains a lot of equipment but retains a big-boat feel.
Interestingly, Chinery says the 90 slides into that bracket between fully crewed and owner- only. “We’ve still got a very high percentage of owner-drivers at this size,” he explains.
“It’s at that threshold where once you go bigger, you need the crew for upkeep, maintenance and guardianage. That said, we have a 90 owner who has a captain to take over when they get bored and looks after the boat back in port.”
Handing the reins over to your designated driver would also mean more time to enjoy the vast exterior spaces.
The giant sundeck features a full helm forward to port and sun pads to starboard, while under the opening sunroof of the large hard top, there’s a long grill-cum-bar counter with fixed bar stools opposite a long dining area and U-shaped seating to starboard.
The vast yawn of the aft deck area is left clear for loose furniture and therefore hugely flexible.
The foredeck takes advantage of the bluff bow. With sun pads and bench settees plus tables, it’s an eminently usable space to socialise, relax or enjoy an outdoor cinema. Drawer drinks fridges at ankle level in the coachroof moulding are a nice touch.
The pièce de résistance, however, is the aft deck. Sunseeker’s X-Tend system was originally designed for the 90 and is used to full effect here.
Essentially, the transom hides a horizontal bi-fold mechanism that either lowers the transom flap to reveal a giant seat-cum-sun pad for the aft deck area, or it lifts the whole transom up to create the same giant seat facing forward level with the cockpit, with storage for water toys revealed behind it.
The aft deck glass gates then concertina to join the X-Tend to the aft deck, where the loose furniture suddenly makes sense.
A high-low platform aft means not only easy tender and toy launching, but also completes the water-lovers’ connection with the sea, making this a generous and interesting hub for friends and family that can be quickly reconfigured depending on the time of day or activity.
This is not to say that the 90 will appeal to everyone.
“The 90 is a very Marmite boat, but we’ve found it’s a very successful boat in its own right,” says Ewen Foster, Sunseeker’s CTO.
“Dynamically, it’s excellent. Even though it’s a vertical bow with some explorer styling, under the waterline it’s basically a Sunseeker deep-V hard chine hull – we haven’t gone too far off what we know and trust.”
Our trial boat was fitted with optional twin MAN 1900s. She accelerates well and slides easily onto the plane, with a fast cruise of around 21 knots.
However, push the sticks down hard and she tops out around 28 knots for a 370-litre- per-hour drink. Pull back to displacement speeds and Sunseeker says she’ll carry you up to 1,800 nautical miles.
I spin her round to play in her own wake, which doesn’t faze her. She doesn’t offer the tightest turning circle and the CMC electric stabilisers stop her leaning too hard into the turns, but the 90 wasn’t designed as a hard sport boat.
Instead, she feels solid, predictable and comfortable. With speed bleeding down to hold at a steady 22 knots with the wheel hard over and throttles pinned, she offers a lot more performance and control than I’d expected.
The base configuration is a pair of MAN 1650s, but so far the 1900s have proven most popular.
“We did have one client who wanted to maximise performance, so we fitted the new MAN 2000s,” adds Chinery.
“He gained a knot and a half over everyone else, which he was happy with.”
If you’re not constrained by beam in your berthing and like the flexibility of big deck areas, the 90 Ocean is one to look up.
It’s not the only model to have launched in the past 12 months that is looking to rethink the looks and functionality of a yacht at the top end of the owner-driver spectrum.
It stands up well to the alternatives and, as long as you don’t expect hyper-responsive, tight-turning, sport- yacht handling, should be pleasurable to drive in most conditions and could make the perfect boat for cruising with family and friends.