From Sunseeker and Riva Calzoni... a 60' jet that flies...

In seaboots, paint spattered corduroys and a thick woolen fisherman's sweater, Capt. John Clark stood at the helm of a brand-new Renegade 60, Sunseeker International Powerboats' newest, largest and most exotic creation yet.

It was an incongruous sight ... this huge, barrelchested Englishman, with the look of a square-rigged bosun, standing dwarf-like atop a high-tech, 22-ton agglomeration of fiberglass, MAN diesels and Riva Calzoni waterjets.

" Well," he yelled, in a broad Devonshire accent, tipping a weathered old cap proclaiming him a Royal National Lifeboatman. " I 'ope 'e catches e' plane, mate."

My cabbie, who was ushering me urgently toward the back seat of a Rover waiting on the quay, obviously hoped the same thing. He was fidgeting something wicked, shifting from one foot to the other.

Typical Boat Test scenario. Hour and a half to do a two-hour trip to the airport.

My cabbie also appeared to be at least as flabbergasted by the utter immensity of the Renegade as the rest of the spectators gathered around. The sideways, Twilight Zoney stare he'd locked onto the vast Italianesque dayboat was worthy of John Cleese and could scarcely have been more gawky had the QE2 somehow just materialized on the limpid gray surface of Poole Harbor.

The cockpit was bigger than the parking lot in front of the Lord Nelson Inn. The radar arch vied with the masts of a nearby ketch for supremacy of the leaden skies. The windshield was framed with enough stainless steel to build a couple of DeLoreans.

And, as Captain John gently backed the boat away from us, a voluptuous, burbly sound could be heard emanating from beneath the swim platform, augmented occasionally by a cheeky whooooooooooooooooooooooooosh.

''Awesome i'nt it," the cabbie said, as we sped away toward London

Sunseeker Renegade 60 Review Performance SpecsDELUXE LUXURY

The Renegade was a first for me. I'd never before handled a waterjet-powered boat, although I'd ridden some commercial types and motoryachts with the same power configuration. (Check out the sidebar accompanying this story for handling specifics, as well as the lowdown on waterjet propulsion and its idiosyncrasies, underway and dockside.)

Suffice to say, though, that doing a top speed of 53.8mph perched upon a 60' juggernaut displacing more than the combined weights of 14 mid-sized automobiles and pumping enough water to fill a swimming pool in 2 minutes, has a whimsical quality to it, like blasting past the Georgia Patrol on a Sunday morning in an M-1 Abrams tank with white gel-coat racing stripes and a radar arch.

Momentum wasn't the only mindblower. In keeping with its dayboaty essence, the Renegade emphasizes al fresco living and dining. The list of luxury items built into or around this theme is longer than Captain John's sideburns.

Astern, a raised, molded engine compartment lid doubles as a sunpad, a big one. When lifted via electro-hydraulic actuators, a dinghy is revealed, as well as a gangplank (with hoist), also electro-hydraulic actuated, that can be employed in launching the dinghy as well as going ashore when docked stern-to.

How efficient and practical this dinghy stowage system really is, I'm in no position to say, since it hadn't been fitted at test time. An optional scenario puts an inflatable and personal water vehicle under the pad.

Farther aft, the Renegade has a wide swim platform with stainless steel swim ladder, also electro-hydraulically operated. The molded compartment for fender stowage is mammoth.

In the cockpit proper, a U-shaped lounge with table on the starboard side opposes a wet bar containing sink, bottle and glass stowage, SuperCool electric icebox and U-line icemaker. A three-position helm seat faces an elegant walnutlaminated dashboard of the sort that, along with the lavish use of 316 s tainless-steel deck ha rdware topside and lacquered wood and ultrasuede upholstery belowdecks, has made elegance one of Sunseeker's trademarks.

One complaint. Most of the Sunseekers I've tested over the years (including the Renegade) have been outfitted with Morse throttles and shifts. They're good, but given the uppercrusty slot these boats occupy in the marketplace, I would much prefer to see upper-crusty engine controls adorning their helms.

An American vessel, Sea Ray' s 630 Sun Sport, when equipped with a set of Detroit Diesel 12V-92TAs and an inboard power configuration, sports a price tag of about $1,000,000. This makes it fairly comparable to the Renegade cost-wise, especially when you factor in the premium paid for waterjets on the British boat. What kind of engine controls does the Sun Sport have? Some of the slickest ever invented Hynautic hydraulic.

TOUGH STUFF

You can get a pretty good feel for the Renegade's layout and amenity quotient from looking at the pictures and drawings shown here. What you can't see is another Sunseeker trademark- straightforward, solid construction that's as simple and s talwartas a warm pint of English bitters.

The hull-to-deck joint is thoroughly glassed from inside the boat. As with other Sunseekers, Don Shead designed the Renegade's deep-V hull (deadrise at the transom: 20 degrees), which is laid up entirely by hand. Boot and racing stripes are part of the isophthalic gel coat. Carbon fiber, biaxial, unidirectional and various coring materials go into the hull and deck laminate.

Lacquer work is done entirely in-house, courtesy of an expensive abrasive planer, as well as an oven the size of a red double-decker bus and a couple of very talented guys, one of whom got his start spray-painting Morris Minors.

On the way up to London and Heathrow, my cabbie, being a "practi'ul sor' o' chap," as he said, asked me for a practical assessment of the Renegade's place in the world. How would such a boat be used?

Briefly, I explained to him about the Italianesque dayboaty concept of living life in an expensive bathing suit, bopping elegantly and speedily around the sunshiney Med or some such brightly lit and pricey locale, docking each night in a different spot. For want of a better term, I called it "Bopping and Docking."

"Well," the guy asked, scrunching up his face quizzically. " Would 'e think ' e sell many o' these boppers and dockers 'round these parts then?"

It was almost May, gloomily overcast, and we were driving through a cold rain that looked like it might last until September, next year. Coppertone ain't a big seller in England, believe me. "I think they export most of the big ones," I replied, which is indeed the truth.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL SUNSEEKER YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Boating Magazine, December 1991 and was written by Bill Pike. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: http://subscriptions.boatingmag.com/

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