From family business to global icon, Sunseeker celebrates 50th Anniversary
2010 is a major landmark for Sunseeker and will mark the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of Friars Cliff Marine Limited, the company from which Sunseeker International was developed from a dinghy and outboard sales company, to one of the world's leading luxury motoryacht brands. Sunseeker's founder Robert Braithwaite CBE has been there since the start and has, over the years, helped steer Sunseeker through numerous changes and challenges, not least the recent economic downturn.
It was in 1959 that Robert became a salesman at Friar's Cliff Motors, a Ford motor dealership owned by John Macklin, a friend of his father. The dealership did a sideline in boat sales - one which was to grow beyond all expectations. In 1960 Friar's Cliff Marine was incorporated.
During the 1960s, while the company still sold boats built by others, Friar's Cliff Motors morphed into Poole Power Boats after a move into the town. It was shortly after, that a dramatic turn of events changed the direction of the firm forever. In 1969, the American boat builder Owens (whose yachts Poole Power Boats sold) decided that they would no longer distribute to Europe and announced their decision to close the UK operation down. With the blessing of others, Robert Braithwaite raised some cash, drove to the Owens' offices in Arundel, negotiated the deal, and acquired their mould. Having never built any craft before, Poole Power Boats embarked on the business of boat building. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today Sunseeker builds some of the most luxurious semi-custom motoryachts in the world. These are vessels with a global fan base, craft known for their effortless combination of heart-pounding performance and jaw-dropping beauty.
A perfect example of this is the Predator 130, a boat that seamlessly accommodates 10 guests in utter luxury yet can, depending on engine options, reach a maximum speed of 27 knots. Another groundbreaker is the current flagship, the Sunseeker 37 Metre Trideck Yacht, which was launched in 2007. An unprecedented achievement in terms of design and construction, the 37 Metre Yacht combines all the elements that place Sunseeker in a class of its own: unsurpassed luxury, enviable performance, unmistakable style and the freedom to customise the interior. For the owner's party for up to ten there are four lower deck guest cabins plus a full beam main deck master suite.
The yacht was a bold yet confident step into the superyacht league for Sunseeker. Given Sunseeker's tendency to constantly pursue ever greater achievements, it will come as no surprise that larger yachts are now in construction. In line with this, the firm has announced an exciting new venture - the Zeus range. With Zeus, Sunseeker crosses the 150ft (46 metre) threshold. Though series-built, Zeus yachts will have only one fixed aspect - the base hull construction - giving owners unprecedented opportunities for personal customisation of the rest of the vessel.
From humble beginnings 50 years ago, Sunseeker has positively flourished. Under the exceptional leadership of Robert Braithwaite CBE, the firm looks to the next decade with order books full and an export market that spans the globe.