Receiving an invitation to visit the World Headquarters of Sunseeker Yachts is not something you get offered everyday, so I was hugely excited to see not only the immense logistical operations at Sunseeker, but all the hard work which goes into making multimillion pound SuperYachts that are the envy of so many people around the globe.
By James Phillips for Luxury News Online
Manufactured in Poole on the south coast of England, Sunseeker employ approximately 2000 people and is represented on every continent by a network of distributors. Available from 40 – 155 feet, the Sunseeker range constantly set new standards and benchmarks. Never settling for second best, it’s this spirit of excellence that has driven Sunseeker to its pre-eminent position in the marine market today.
Travelling down the night before I stayed in the historical town of Poole, Dorset in the UK where Sunseeker have their World HQ. Travelling 1st class as you may expect, it was worth making the upgrade from London for the 2.5 hour journey.
My alarm sounded early, high protein breakfast, ready my camera equipment and away I went leaving the hotel behind me, turn around the end of the road and I was immediately confronted by the huge workshops of Sunseeker, with two beautiful Sunseeker
131’s out of the water and a superb 155 SuperYacht moored at the quayside undergoing final checks then sea trials before delivery to it’s lucky owner.
As I walked along the quay in a very cold wind, it was soon apparent that Sunseeker were running a massive operation in Poole. So much so they were covering several sites, their main office building further down the road was the destination. You could not miss it, several large yachts were out of the water and displayed out front.
A very warm welcome greeted me, with coffee and Danish pastries laid on by Sunseeker. The other lucky attendees arrived and the presentation began with a brilliant Sunseeker
video which really conveyed the lifestyle you could have and that Sunseeker could provide for you with SuperYacht ownership.
As the welcome video and Q&A’s finished we donned our VIP safety vests to board the Sunseeker Mercedes people carrier to take us to the Sunseeker Technology Centre and then onto the manufacturing facility spread over two sites.
I am unable to bring you any images from the Technology Centre as this is the facility where customers bespoke designs are conceptualised and new Sunseeker ideas are born. However to describe in words not only does this technology building house Sunseekers hugely talented designers, but also whole teams making leather interiors, beds, cabinets, complete wiring looms for all of Sunseeker’s yachts, to the helm units. In fact Sunseeker make almost everything for their yachts which is unique in the marketplace, from the highly polished hand rails to pop-up television cabinets. The craftsmanship is second to none, and just watching how wood is lacquered to achieve the highly polished wooden interiors of Sunseeker Yachts was fascinating.
Whenever Sunseeker build a new design, they first mock-up each interior space of each yacht, from the Galley to the bedrooms and toilets to ensure everything will fit together and to get a true look and feel before production.
Not a view of a SuperYacht you often see, the bare hull undergoing the layering and gluing process of glass fibre and carbon fibre to add immense strength to Sunseeker hulls by the highly skilled team. All of Sunseeker
yachts are completely hand built and to see this process from beginning to end was a fascinating insight into the multi-million pound world of super high-end luxury living.
In the very apt words of Sunseeker:
‘By using only the finest materials, modern building techniques and advanced composites, our expert design team ensure that Sunseeker remains at the forefront of technology and engineering excellence. Painstakingly handcrafted from bow to stern, no detail is too small. It’s this continued desire to excel that gives each Sunseeker its presence, performance and unmistakable quality.’
The line of Yachts undergoing different stages of construction. What an impressive facility.
We truly were given the VIP treatment.
The strengthening process is fascinating to watch. Building a Sunseeker may well start with hi-tech vacuum infusion moulding, whereby resin is injected in precisely controlled conditions, but it will invariably finish with classic cabinetmaking and polishing techniques. Through computer aided design to manufacture (CAD/CAM), lines on screen and paper become reality via high technology and advanced engineering, not to mention a great deal of help from traditional boat-building skill, using hand, eye, spokeshave and smoothing plane.
The bulkheads going in. At the ship and boat yards, predetermined thicknesses and weaves of glass fibre and carbon fibre are applied to the interior of the hull by hand with resin by skilled laminators to produce a quality of construction that no machine can replicate. The process of constructing the interior then continues in methodical fashion, from the tanks in the bilges to the radio antenna aloft, then from stem to stern to ensure that no completed section can be soiled or scratched once the gleaming decks and fittings are installed and hand polished.
Every hour of the construction process is logged, monitored and analysed in the pursuit of quality and efficiency; there is constant communication and collaboration between team leaders, production planners and designers to ensure that every single action involved in the construction is right first time, every time.
The sheer scale of the Sunseekers is really bought home when standing underneath one! The yachts are built from the outside in. Almost the whole yacht and it’s interior is manufactured by Sunseeker.
Here you can see just how thick the hull is. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) allows the designers to experiment with variations of hull shape, length, beam and deadrise angle before a single mould is made or five-axis milling machine programmed. They can then assess sea-keeping, fuel economy, and ride quality, try different drive systems and powering options many months before construction begins.
Sunseeker’s dedicated team manoeuvre this latest SuperYacht gingerly back into the shed.
As always with performance craft, quality of life and quality of engineering go hand in hand. Ride quality has long been a criterion for assessing the quality of a motorcar, now, with a Sunseeker, owners and guests can expect the same ride quality as that of the finest cars. No easy task when a 70-tonne Motor Yacht is moving at over 40 knots, but made possible by quality of design.
One day this seating area will be the focal point of this Yacht, with a dining table, champagne corks flying and luxury living at it’s best, today it is currently under construction!
Another view of a SuperYacht you won’t often see, the interior from the aft deck where the lounge area will fit.
manufacture all of their own wiring and wiring looms in Poole. The wiring in the most part is all the same white colour, confusing you may ask? Well each wire has printed on it exactly what it is, so there’s absolutely no doubt which wire goes where! This too is printed at Sunseeker.
Sunseeker also manufacture all of their own highly polished metal railings at Poole. A real craft and delight to watch, Sunseeker is all about the people who work there, and I must say walking around and meeting the team, they were full of smiles and were all happy in their work.
The amount of components that make up a SuperYacht is staggering.
Samples of leathers the same used by Rolls Royce.
All of the luxury interiors are lacquered at the Poole facility. The quality of materials that provide the sumptuous Sunseeker finishing touches are there for all to see – rich American walnut furnishings, the finest quality natural teak decks, embossed headlinings, high gloss lacquer bulkheads and plush fabrics and carpeting.
The Master bedroom under construction.
The iconic Sunseeker gate, all manufactured on site.
The equipment on site is amazing, and the biggest of Sunseeker’s
Yachts can be lifted completely out of the water. The yachts are then delivered to their destination ports by land or sea. With 99% of Sunseeker production destined for overseas markets, boat transportation has a dedicated logistics team to ensure that every boat is delivered in pristine condition and full working order. With the larger yachts, the Master and selected crew are welcomed to the shipyard as much as four weeks in advance of final handover for familiarisation and technical briefing, during which time they live aboard.
Sunseeker are a superb advert for British engineering and we should all feel justly proud.
Just an awe inspiring facility! Once construction and decoration are complete, finally comes the testing and handover stage. The seas around Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world, offer a variety of currents, winds, waves and conditions representative of just about any to be found where the boats are likely to be used – an ideal proving ground for the world’s finest motoryachts.
You can even buy a Sunseeker bike!
A huge thank you to Sunseeker for organising my visit, special thanks to Matt Stanton, Laura Harrison, Zazkia Jogner and all the team in Poole.
James W Phillips
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