- This is the ultimate dayboat, built without a hint of compromise and labelled with a price tag to match.
- Though offered with other engine options, the 400hp Verado is very much part of this boat’s soul.
- I have been out in rougher weather, but I have never driven a boat at 50 knots into such short, sharp chop with such ease.
How well does this Hawk fly? Greg Copp takes to the Solent in an ideal-for-testing 27-knot south-westerly to trial the latest offering from the Sunseeker stable …
Sunseeker’s new 62-knot Hawk 38 is very much part of Sunseeker’s DNA ‒ even its name hails back to this yard’s early history. The Hawk range, spanning from 27 to 50 feet, put this company on the boating map in the 1980s, with a line of deep-vee powerboats whose looks and performance eclipsed the competition. The bigger Hawks, namely the Thunderhawk 43 and the Tomahawk 37, were closely based on a race-winning powerboat driven by Sunseeker’s chief designer Don Shead, and to this day they are still impressive boats to drive.
The new Hawk 38 is very much a Hawk, this time designed by powerboat racing icon Fabio Buzzi. If you are familiar with FB designs, you will probably be thinking Sunseeker XS2000 when you look at the rakish lines of the Hawk. And you will be right, as it is closely based on the XS2000, which Buzzi designed some 20 years ago. Like any good hull design, it has an ageless quality, which in its latest incarnation Buzzi has tweaked for further perfection, as well as giving it three hull steps instead of the original twin-step design of the XS2000. Power is now from two 400hp supercharged Mercury Verado outboards, instead of twin 420hp Yanmar diesels driving through twin-speed Trimax surface drives, which pushed the XS2000 to 60 knots. Big outboards are becoming increasingly popular compared to diesel engines ‒ and make good sense for the 5-tonne superslim Hawk. As Sunseeker’s presentation team put it, the cost and ease of maintaining and servicing outboards compared to diesels overshadows any fuel savings diesel offers. They are also much more user-friendly to drive than surface drives, which fits with Sunseeker’s aim of providing a boat that will appeal to hardened helmsmen as well as new boaters.
Though based on the XS2000, the Hawk has a new FB Design ‘patented structural foam core hull’. Its strength comes from deep longitudinal stringers bonded to one-piece aluminium runners, which, sitting on top of the stringers, are then bonded to the composite deck above. Lateral stringers are constructed in the same manner, between the longitudinal stringers and the hull. This rigid lattice-like construction is built to fit exactly around any below-deck components, like the fuel tank, and then the cavity sections are subjected to high-pressure foam injection to create a supertough unsinkable hull. This design also reduces vibration and noise to a minimum. To reduce lateral pitching and increase comfort and safety while running at high speed, inflatable Hypalon 866 stabilising tubes are fitted and provide the added benefit of built-in fendering for easy boarding and stability at anchor.
For those looking to soak up the sun, the foredeck is complete with a sunbathing pad with elevated fixed headrests, and an optional foredeck sun canopy. Beneath there is a cavernous stowage locker accessed via a carbon-fibre lid. This can be utilised for various toys, including two Seabobs with dedicated bulkhead-mounted charging units. The self-draining composite teak-effect platinum decking with white corking has stowage beneath ‒ courtesy of a large central deck locker forward of the console ‒ that can hold a life raft or inflatable paddleboard. Aft-facing U-shaped seating on the foredeck is centralised around a quick-release table.
The helm station is shielded by an integrated double-curvature ventilated glass screen, with a carbon-fibre hardtop and side screens. It has been designed with flow dynamics software to provide perfect aerodynamics and wind deflection for crew comfort. Fitted with a Simrad navigation system, the console houses a 16in Evo3touch screen multifunction display with GPS and Wi-Fi capability. This display gives access to the DC switching system allowing integrated control of all essential systems, including lighting, batteries, pumps and LED navigation lights. In addition, the Lumishore LED lighting package is controllable from the Evo3via a smart lighting application to offer a spectrum of colours and effects. Just to make things that little easier, the leather-trimmed tilt steering wheel also offers full control of the navigation system. Positioned under the helm is the toilet compartment, complete with vanity unit, stainless steel hand basin and a skylight.
Aft of the console are four shock-mitigating FB Design racing seats, provided with a 120mm stroke to soak up the hardest of impacts. Electrohydraulic actuators and electric bolsters enable the occupants to either sit or stand with a substantial degree of comfort and safety. At the stern, there is a triple bench seat with the option of two drawer fridges beneath. In the middle of this bench seat a hinging section gives access to the large technical compartment beneath. This area is home to a myriad of heavy-duty cabling, circuit breakers and four batteries (two domestic and two engine), and sensibly you actually have enough room to get in and get to grips with these crucial systems should you need to.
Virtually every detail in the boat has been designed with performance in mind, down to the carbon-fibre grab rails, retractable cleats, compression latches and a custom audio system with polished stainless steel speaker grills. Pretty much the whole process, including the fitting of the console, seating, upholstery and all trimmings to create a finished unrigged bare boat, is completed by FB Design in Italy. Following this, the Hawk is then shipped to Supermarine Powerboats in Lymington. Owned by powerboat racer Simon Wood Power, Supermarine are well qualified in rigging and setting up the Hawk 38 to perfection, with whatever engines the customer chooses.
Driving the Hawk 38
It is not often you get weather conditions tailor-made to suit the boat, but the 27-knot south-westerly blowing against the tide in the western approaches of the Solent fitted the boat perfectly. The boat in question was RB001 ‒ boat number one (the prefix RB in honour of the late Robert Braithwaite CBE), and is the first of 10 boats to bear this prefix. I got a good chance to drive the Hawk as it was designed ‒ and considering the conditions, I have no doubt it does what it says on the tin and more. I have been out in rougher weather, but I have never driven a boat at 50 knots into such short, sharp chop with such ease. The upwind ride is simply outstanding, as it just cleaves its way through every ridge of water with impunity, and with the sea seriously heaping up towards the Hurst Narrows the Hawk just kept going without complaint.
The pickup from the two 400hp supercharged Verados is pretty much instant, so if you feel the need to work the throttles to drive up and over the waves you will easily get into a responsive rhythm. Normally you would feel obliged to keep the bow trimmed down in such conditions, but Sunseeker’s skipper advised me to trim out a few bars. The boat can take the weather on the nose with some degree of bow-up attitude without complaint, while piling on extra knots as a result. Though it picked the bow up into strong headwind, the Hawk showed no tendency to reach for the sky. Downwind it is a case of trim out further and go, as the boat’s engines mercilessly reach towards their 7000rpm redline with the GPS trying to catch up. It is advertised as a 62-knot boat out of the crate, which, having seen the plotter easily hitting 59 knots with something left, I don’t doubt.
Though it is offered with Buzzi trim tabs as an extra, I am told he does not consider them necessary, and I am inclined to agree. If you intended to steer on a constant course in a strong beam sea, the tabs would be a bonus but not crucial. In this department the tubes come into their own, as not only do they dig in on hard turns, giving you a feeling of security in the tight turns that this boat excels at, but to a point they counteract heeling. They are marketed as being a permanent fender, and they certainly provide the crucial stability at rest that such a rakish boat needs. If you are using this craft for water sports, you will appreciate them. Reassuringly, the occupants are not forgotten ‒ with Buzzi’s superb shock-mitigating seats and the electronic race throttles that sit just where you want them.
This is the ultimate dayboat, built without a hint of compromise and labelled with a price tag to match. Every detail ‒ from the superb helm ergonomics that enable the helmsman to be as one with the boat to the heads compartment door that shuts with the precision of a watertight hatch ‒ tells of a labour of love. Though offered with other engine options, the 400hp Verado is very much part of this boat’s soul. On this matter, I have heard a rumour that a more powerful Verado, likely based on Mercury’s new 4.6L V8 block, may at some point release the full potential of this superb hull – should you feel the need.
What we thought
- Incredible upwind ride
- Super-soft-riding bulletproof hull
- Blinding performance
- Great seats
- Outstanding finish
- Attention to detail behind the scenes
- Such a boat is unrealistic in bare boat form, so many of the extras should be standard.
- LOA:11.85m (38ft 11in)
- Beam: 3.01m (9ft 09in)
- Beam (deflated tubes): 2.32m (7ft 08in)
- Draught: 0.80m (2ft 07in)
- Transom deadrise angle: 24 degrees
- Displacement: 5000kg (half load)
- Power options: Twin 400hp supercharged Mercury Verados or twin 425hp Yamaha F425s
- Fuel capacity: 700 litres (154 gallons)
- Water capacity: 100 litres (22 gallons)
- RCD category: B
- Test engines: Twin 400hp supercharged Mercury Verados
As tested: £642,000 (inc. VAT)