Photography by Sunseeker
Sunseeker has had a lot to celebrate in recent weeks: The British company, which builds a range of sports cruisers, flybridge motor yachts and superyachts from 50 to 155 feet, won the manufacturing award at the Walpole British Luxury Awards in London, 14 November. Then a few days later, 17 November, founder Robert Braithwaite was presented with Lifetime Achievement Award at the Boat Builder Awards in Amsterdam.
In addition, the company revealed plans to launch the new Manhattan 66 at the January London Boat Show.
The Walpole British Luxury Awards honours those who demonstrate excellence in the luxury sector within Britain. Judges recognized Sunseeker as the champion of British manufacturing in considering its manufacturing base in Dorset, where it produces around 150 boats every year. With demand for the company’s luxury models growing year-on-year, Sunseeker launched five new models in 2016 including the 131 Yacht, 95 Yacht, 116 Yacht, Manhattan 52 and Predator 68.
Commenting on the award win, Phil Popham, CEO of Sunseeker International said: “This award is a tribute to the skill and dedication of our 2,000 employees in Dorset where we have meticulously manufactured award winning luxury performance motor yachts for 50 years. To be honoured amongst other prestigious British brands such as Jimmy Choo, Tate Modern, Stella McCartney and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is a hugely rewarding experience for the whole team.”
The man leading that team is Robert Braithwaite CBE (pictured above), President of Sunseeker International, who was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award just days later. The Lifetime Achievement Awards recognises a boat builder who has made a lifetime’s contribution to the industry in terms of establishing a world-renowned brand which is a leader in its segment.
Braithwaite did just that. He transformed what was a small boat dealer on the UK’s south coast, going by the name of Poole Power Boats in the late 1960s, into one of the largest global boat brands that today employs 2,200 people with a turnover forecast for 2016 of approximately £240 million.
Award organiser, International Boat Industry (IBI) magazine’s publishing director Nick Hopkinson called Braithwaite a “boating visionary, someone who understood the potential power of a brand from early on.” Unable to attend the dinner in person, Braithwaite was presented the award by IBI’s Nick Hopkinson at Sunseeker’s Poole UK facility just prior to the event. Via a video link Braithwaite thanked the judges, gala dinner audience and Award organizers IBI and METSTRADE for the honour of the prestigious award.
This award means an enormous amount to me because it shows you have succeeded in what you set out to do. That is very important to me," said Braithwaite. When asked about a 'standout' boat in the builder's history he added, "I think probably the first 17-footer, that's when we started in the early '70s. There were seven of us working then. Now there are over 2,000."
Just prior to the spate of awards, Sunseeker International revealed plans to launch the new Manhattan 66 at London Boat Show in January. The new model follows the success of the Manhattan 52 which has so far secured £30 million worth of retail sales since its introduction.
The 66 is designed to maximize entertainment options with panoramic hull and saloon windows providing light-drenched living spaces throughout. Its deep V hull offers signature Sunseeker performance and impeccable seakeeping whilst its open-plan layout provides enough space on board to rival much larger yachts.
Throughout the main deck there is a strong focus on creating generous, useable sociable spaces. Her exterior lines flow from the Portuguese-bridge bow seating and sunbathing areas to the expansive cockpit adjoining the well-equipped aft galley and saloon on the main deck. Optionally, the galley can be specified below creating even more entertaining space in the main saloon.
The newly configured flybridge also creates the feeling that you are on board a much larger craft. A large sunbathing areas forward and a well-equipped wet-bar. The sociable layout continues through to the wide bathing platform (capable of launching a Williams 385 Jet RIB) and transom ‘beach club’ where there is an optional barbecue, fold-away bench seat and overhead ‘rain- shower’.
The twin berth crew cabin, with private access through the transom, enjoys a dedicated en-suite and ample stowage. Thanks to the galley being situated on the main deck, there is room enough for four very spacious cabins below including two large twin cabins, a forward VIP suite and standout full-beam master cabin with its own private stairway access from the saloon; a first for Sunseeker in this size range.
Powered by twin MAN 1000hp/1200hp engines on shaft drive or Volvo Penta IPS-1200, the Manhattan 66 can cruise comfortably at 25 knots or achieve an exhilarating 34 knots at full throttle.
Sean Robertson, Sales Director at Sunseeker International said: "We’re really looking forward to launching the all new Manhattan 66 which is already generating substantial interest. Following the success of the Manhattan 52 which was the first in a series of new Manhattan models, it underlines our ability to keep giving our customers the best in class across every segment we operate in.”
The company recently announced that it will make a massive £50 million of investment in the next five years, spent across new products, improved shipyard facilities and the continued recruitment of people, with 225 joining the team in 2016. Multiple model launches are set to continue as part of a long term product plan that will see new model introductions across the size range over the next five years.