- Should you be in any doubt as to the engines’ credibility, then consider having them rebuilt by an independent engineer with knowledge of these engines.
- … if you are up for something a bit different, and cost-effective, that will always catch somebody’s eye, then an older Sunseeker could be the way to go.
Sunseeker Hawk 27
Greg Copp takes a fan’s-eye peek at a classic Sunseeker to see whether it has stood the test of time …
Being a fan of the classic Sunseeker Hawk range, I could not fail but be impressed by this pristine example I found sitting outside Offshore Powerboats in Lymington. Its splendid condition goes right down to the keel line of its unmarked-gelcoat hull. Very few boats of this age escape the dreaded touch of antifouling, but this Hawk 27 has spent its recent life on a hydrodock, and prior to that either on a trailer or a dry stack.
If you know the Hawk range you will know it goes up to the 50ft Superhawk and down to this rakish 27-footer. They are all the work of Don Shead, Sunseeker’s long-standing chief designer, whose designs originate from his Cowes–Torquay race boat, which subsequently inspired the launch of the formidable Thunderhawk 43 in 1987. The Hawk 27, like the Mohawk 29 and the Tomahawk 37, were all smaller versions of the Thunderhawk. They all had narrow deep-vee hulls, two engines, a low cabin with a convertible dinette, a small galley and a heads compartment. They were all built as sports boats first and foremost, and were all very capable sea boats.
The Hawk 27 is the rarest of the range, probably because it was overshadowed by the Mohawk 29, which had just a little bit more internal space, and the hard-core option of twin 330hp 7.4L V8 petrol engines. However, the Hawk 27 in today’s more fuel-conscious world makes better sense. This boat, with the biggest engine option of twin 210hp 5.7L V8 petrols, is a 45-knot boat, and is light enough for these motors not to have to work hard to produce a lively pace. The Hawk 27 steers with sure-footed precision, is hugely capable in a head sea, and with a 23-degree transom deadrise produces a soft ride in most conditions. Every time I drive an old Sunseeker, I wonder whether hull design has actually progressed much in 30 years. There are differences, of course: the lighter and stronger construction and the use of stepped hulls come to mind, but in terms of bang for buck, a well-maintained Hawk is hard to beat.
Some of the Hawk 27s were ordered with twin 175hp 4.3L V6 Volvos or MerCruisers. There is no advantage with the smaller engine, as the 5.7L V8 is more reliable, and although you may not think it, there is plenty of room in the engine bay to get around a pair of V8s, even with a 2.7m beam.
Life in the cockpit is typically sports boat, with a single bench seat and two rotating helm seats, which have no height adjustment. The upholstery in this boat is as good as the gelcoat, and without a shadow of a doubt has been replaced recently, in the original style and colour.
The decking is synthetic teak, which is fairly new and of course does not age like the real thing. Internally, do not expect to spend long weekends living aboard, as you do not get full standing headroom, and the galley is really just a sink and a fridge. The heads has a proper sea toilet, but is naturally cramped. Overnighting is fine, but you will simply be sleeping and making a morning brew.
There is one problem with a 1989 boat and that is that the dash was never designed to cater for a chartplotter. With the bigger Thunderhawks and Tomahawks this was easily overcome, as there is room to retrospectively squeeze an 8″ plotter in. With this boat the dash would have to be redesigned, losing the elderly and bulky Stowe logs that sit on either side. A new dash could then be designed and cut, providing space for a 7″ plotter (or thereabouts) in the centre, and the tachometers on either side.
So if you are up for something a bit different, and cost-effective, that will always catch somebody’s eye, then an older Sunseeker could be the way to go.
Points to Consider
This boat has twin 210hp Volvo AQ211 V8 petrol engines, driving through duo-prop 290 sterndrives. These engines were built between 1986 and 1989 so are pretty old school in terms of petrol power. They are simple and have no electronics, but will need to have been well maintained through their life to still be reliable today. If that is the case, then it is worth investing some money into them to keep them running in the long term. Parts for old petrol engines can be cheap if you shop around, with the various online stores selling spares for older Volvos and MerCruisers.
Should you be in any doubt as to the engines’ credibility, then consider having them rebuilt by an independent engineer with knowledge of these engines. This will be a case of word-of-mouth references to find the right person, but it is worth it, as in terms of horsepower for money it will be the best option for having over 400hp in the engine bay. There is the option of repowering, but the cost will far outstrip the value of the boat.
Hawks fitted with Volvo AQ211 engines will have duo-prop 290A sterndrives. Efficient for an old duo-prop sterndrive they may be, but they suffer from wear in the steering linkage. This is easily identified when the boat is ashore by trying to wag the sterndrives from side to side. It is not a fatal problem as many boats with 290s are being driven about blissfully unaware of this issue. However, it is relatively costly to fix, requiring the engine to be removed as well as the sterndrive, in order to rebush the part of the transom shield that houses the steering yoke.
This particular boat has no evidence of external stress cracking, which is easily ascertained as it has no antifouling. However, these boats are likely to have had ‘spirited use’, so a survey would be advisable, especially in the case of a boat with antifouling.
Hull type: Deep vee
RCD category: Pre-RCD
Transom deadrise angle: 23 degrees
Length overall: 8.23m (27ft 2in)
Beam: 2.7m (8ft 10in)
Draught: 1.0m (3ft 3in)
Displacement: 3.3 tonnes (dry)
Fuel capacity: 320 litres (70 gallons)
Cruising range: Expect 120 miles with a 20% reserve at 30 knots
Current value: £20,000 plus