At the vanguard of Sea Ray’s offensive against the European heavyweights – Princess, Sunseeker and Co – is the $2.6million 60 Sundancer, which was unveiled at this year’s Sea Ray Rendezvous. Under the longing gaze of an appreciative audience, it stood as the true master link in the chain. Lord of the ring.
When designing the super-sized Sundancer, the architects apparently began with a blank sheet. It appears, however, they’ve taken several leafs out of the European style manual, toning down the audacious curves seen in some previous models.
In its quest to be different, Sea Ray had previously staggered from bold to brash, but the 60 brings it back on course. It is the template for future models, I’m told, suggesting a realisation that Sea Rays must embrace the world market.
Where Florida-built boats often have an edge (from Australia’s perspective) is in their appreciation of the alfresco lifestyle. Designed for similar climatic conditions to ours, they offer spacious cockpits and large foredecks with good side-deck access. The 60 Sundancer ticks off all these boxes.
Its so-called ‘sunroom’ opens via substantial curved companionway doors that have a counterbalanced sliding mechanism – open one and the other moves automatically, eliminating the potential for slamming if the boat rocks.
Incorporated in the fibreglass hardtop are two independently-actuated sunroofs, while large cabin windows emit ample light.
To starboard in the sunroom is a three-seater lounge, classically constructed with timber armrests and ultraleather fabric, smooth as a baby’s bum. Opposite are two single seats flanking a coffee table and entertainment centre. The flatscreen television lowers into its own recess.
In the great American tradition, every cabin – save for the ensuites – has a TV; even one of the Raymarine repeater screens at the helm station had Video Hits blaring.
Conspicuously absent from the dash console was the customary barrage of gauges. The plotter/sounder/radar (cum TV) screens take centre stage. Multi-function monitors for the MAN diesels are mounted overhead. Throttles, thruster and microphone – the essentials – are all close to hand. The result is clean and functional, rather than flashy.
A seamanlike approach also applies to the helm seating arrangement, the skipper getting a single, sturdy pedestal-mounted chair. Adjacent is a double bench, also pedestal-mounted. Both can be swivelled to join the sunroom party.
Close to hand is a sink unit, beneath which is an optional glass-fronted wine fridge. In the test boat’s case, it was brimming with Moet and Veuve Clicquot; none of your Angus Brut or VB longnecks, which says much about the prospective clientele’s champagne taste.
Should the young (at heart) wish to indulge in a single malt scotch or an after-dinner ‘sticky’, six teak stairs and a substantial handrail lead them down a gentle slope to the mothership’s central hub. Here, a port-side settee and accompanying coffee table will be home to intimate conversation.
Immediate impression of the saloon is one of country club cosiness; not the crassness associated with some US vessels. Simply, the 60 doesn’t try too hard to impress, allowing its ambience to be imbued with warmth.
Natural light bathes the cabin via three topside ports and a battalion of halogens supplements it. This, in turn, creates a bright and airy working area for the galley, located to starboard. If “galley” suggests ‘pokey,’ then “kitchen” is perhaps a more apt description, because you could whip up nourishing meals, not merely a token cheese platter.
There are twin benchtops affording exceptional preparation space and, as with the helm station, priority goes to key facilities. The three-ring stove has an exhaust fan; a Sharp microwave is at eye-level and twin stainless steel fridge and freezer units reside below the bench. But, alas, a dishwasher is not on the standard equipment list.
The 60 has the highly-sought three-cabin configuration, providing compact guest quarters with a double bunk, a vee stateroom with island double bed and ensuite access, and the master bedroom amidships. For professional crew, or unsociable teenagers, there’s a fourth cabin incorporated in the transom moulding and accessed from a stern hatch.
The owner’s cabin lures with a queen-size berth, two-seater lounge and a varnished dressing table/desk. Headroom is just shy of two metres and the cabin enjoys full use of the beam, with triple hull windows either side affording glorious water views. The ensuite is 5-star, with separate cubicles for the shower, head and vanity. Also, not only is there the customary TV, but a bar fridge as well.
In the corridor leading to the master suite, a washing machine and overhead spin dryer are mounted. The all-important Onan 19KVA genset is housed in the engineroom, along with five air-con units. Access is through a cockpit hatch.
Two handsome V10 MAN diesels, generating 1100hp apiece, spin the props with gusto. Being mounted well aft, the motors operate via vee drives, and the underbody incorporates prop tunnels.
Such is the inherent power and efficiency, that 25 tonnes of boat can maintain a minimum plane at 12 knots. A comfortable cruise speed comes at 25 knots for 1850rpm, and the revs can be wrung out to 2300 for a maximum speed of 36 knots. At this rate, a total of 380 litres of fuel is consumed each hour, which is good for a craft of this size – your mates would drink that much in Moet. Cruise speed sees 220 litres per hour.
As silly as it sounds, the Sea Ray represents solid buying at $2.6million. General consensus at the Rendezvous was that you get a lot of boat for the price, a fact confirmed by Andrew Short. “Before I ordered the 60, I did some homework and most of the opposition are priced around $3.6million,” he said. “It’s because the American dollar is so good compared to the Euro.”
At their current ‘exchange rate’ it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cliff and Simone Hoyle (see Group therapy following page) at the 60’s helm by about next April, but Cliff laughs off the idea. “Yes it would be nice … but we only have so many dollars.”
SPECIFICATIONS SEA RAY 60 SUNDANCER
LOA: 18.75 metres
Beam: 5.11 metres
Draft: 1.27 metres
Dry displacement: 25.3 tonnes
Power: 2 × MAN V10 1100hp diesels
Deadrise: 17 degrees
Fuel: 3400 litres
Water: 760 litres
Base price: $2.5million
For more information, contact Andrew Short Marine on (02) 9524 2699.