Sunseeker’s latest middleweight contender, the Manhattan 53, succeeds the popular Manhattan 52, a hard act to follow, but by adding a little hull length and a couple of inches of beam, Sunseeker has produced a boat that not only looks cooler and more modern but actually feels significantly larger.
Like her predecessor, the 53 is a three-cabin boat with two heads. The layout both on the main deck and down below now relies much more on straight edges and right angles, which is far more space-efficient than the curvaceous shapes they replace. The new dinette is up on the helm deck, so the saloon and cockpit—all on one level, thanks to a deep, grated scupper across the threshold—can now merge seamlessly into one entertaining space, with the longitudinal sideboard, straight sofa, and small coffee table inside communicating sociably with the cockpit seating and sunpad.
The 53’s extra hull length shows its best advantage in the third cabin, which has full-size berths rather than bunks, along with good headroom and useful floor space. Up forward, the VIP has been less radically redesigned, but like the twin-berth it too benefits from the extra length of hull, with a slightly larger head compartment and more floor area. And with its large hull windows and opening ports, the full-beam master suite, amidships, now features a more symmetrical layout to maximize its sole area, while the extra hull length has been invested along the port side in a larger head compartment.
The guest cabins, especially the one with the twin berth, lack stowage space. There is a big lazarette available in the stern, however—fitted out on this 53 as the optional crew cabin—useful for stowing cruising gear.
Another highlight was the hydraulic aft platform fitted as standard and intended as the tender stowage point, the flying bridge is given over in its entirety to the 53’s owner and guests, with plenty of seating and a big table for alfresco feasts. There is also space for sunbathers on the port side, where the helmsman can keep an eye on them.
Although conditions were distinctly uninviting—and a million miles from the Baie de Cannes—this was precisely what British cruising boats are designed for. Our Manhattan seemed to know that, shouldering the swells aside as we headed seawards past the iconic chalk stack known as Old Harry, raising great sheets of spray that descended with a kind of epic inevitability over the flying bridge. Downwind the Manhattan tracked like a steeplechaser, burying its fine forward sections in the backs of the waves and slicing through them. She handled the snotty stuff so well, I was dying to see what she would do in nice weather. Oh well, maybe another time.
: 60,389 lb. (half load)
: 580 gal.
: 165 gal.
: 2/715-hp Caterpillar C12 ACERT
: 2/800-hp MAN R6-800 diesels
: ZF 325-1A reduction gears, 2.037:1
: 8.8" x 28" 5-blade Nibral
Hydraulic bow and stern thrusters, black American walnut joinery, bow windlass upgrade, 2/stern windlasses, electrohydraulic gangway, ZF JMS joystick control system, bimini top.
63°F; humidity: 80%; seas: 5 to 6 feet; load: 290 gal. fuel; 95 gal. water; 4 persons; 100 lb. gear. Speeds are two-way averages measured with onboard GPS. GPH taken via MTU display. Range is 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Sound levels measured at the helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.