AN INNER SENSE OF LIGHT – GUNBOAT 68 INTERIOR

April 18, 2018

Leading up to the launch of 6801, we continued our series offering insight on the design and build of the Gunboat 68. Following articles about the exterior design, internal structure, and daggerboards, it may be surprising to learn that the interior presented some of the most challenging aspects of the project.

For the Gunboat 68, we set out to deliver an interior that marked a quantum leap in terms of design, integration, and construction. Building a carbon structure and installing systems is incredibly complex, but then seamlessly integrating a great living environment becomes the real challenge. For a jaw-dropping interior that also saves weight, we knew we were going to have to work harder and smarter from design through installation to deliver comfort, performance, and systems without compromise, for example by applying some expertise from the aviation industry!

Gunboat 68 Salon

SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT DESIGNER

“True to Gunboat we’ve continued the tradition of relentless innovation in this project,” says Gunboat’s Managing Partner Benoit Lebizay. “To create the interior, we wanted a designer who could match that passion and analytical nature, applied to everything from the overall concept to the smallest detail. We looked at designers well known for their work on full custom-build and superyacht projects but that reached a dead end when we found that they tend only to supply broad concepts and sketches, leaving the yard to turn them into reality.”

“We wanted a designer who would work with our team of engineers to create 3D models to make sure all the boat’s systems are fully integrated right from the start. Prioritizing systems is crucial to avoiding problems later, like complicated cable runs using hundreds of unnecessary kilos of copper wire, drilling holes in bulkheads for air conditioning ducts, or ripping out lockers to run deck drains behind them. Before we lay up a single sheet of laminate, we have to account for everything. Yes, we are asking a lot, but that’s how it is in this era of Gunboat.”

Christophe Chedal Anglay

Fortuitously, the right talent was looking right at us – Christophe Chedal Anglay. He was already working with Patrick le Quément on the exterior design of the Gunboat 68 so he knew us, he knew the brief, the project, and the Gunboat owners’ expectations. He was adding the finishing touches to a full interior redesign for Gunboat 60 MOONWAVE, and we were seriously impressed with his style and the sense of lightness he created. Further, his work as a professional product designer (Spinlock’s Deckvest and various Petzl mountaineering products among his many credits), demonstrated that focus on balancing engineering, ergonomics, strength, and lightweight in design.

OPTIMIZED WITHOUT COMPROMISE

“I’m basically a product designer,” says Chedal Anglay, “and there are two approaches to product design: industrial, and consumer. From an industrial standpoint, the components define the shape. The consumer angle looks at how the product is used and aesthetically what it looks like. When those two approaches lead you to the same place, that’s really good product design – and I love to optimize, but hate to compromise.”

Chedal Anglay brought fresh thinking to every aspect of interior design and engineering. Throughout the boat, the results are staggeringly detailed but appear so simple. For example, “Let’s focus on the master cabin,” he says. “Lying on the bed after a day of sailing and hot weather in the Caribbean, the owner will want to relax and cool down. A comfortable bed is a good start but you also need peace and quiet, so we designed a U- shaped headboard covered with upholstered fabric because upholstery is very good at absorbing sound. It also gave us somewhere to put outlets and USB points for charging devices.”

“Then we look at the lighting. You need reading lights but you also need light to create a relaxing atmosphere. Direct lighting is too harsh so we added recesses to create mood lighting. For the air conditioning, we wanted it fully integrated because usually, it’s an afterthought – the vents either blow cold air upwards or around your feet, never in the right place. For the Gunboat 68, we used the vertical lighting recesses either side of the berth as air conditioning outlets so that the cooling is delivered where it is needed. It’s not blowing directly onto you, which would be uncomfortable, but it surrounds the bed in slow-moving, cool air, which is the best way to do it. We’ll have done a good job if nobody notices.”

DESIGNING THE LAYOUT

First, we defined our list of must-haves for any Gunboat, for example including retractable rudders, a forward cockpit, and midships master berths. We decided on four-, five- and six- cabin layouts, with all cabins ensuite, and all four main berths have to be full queen-size. Big sail lockers must have deck access, and, where requested, a crew cabin for two crew needs through-boat and deck access. On top of that, we also want an interior that is as versatile as possible to offer clients a wide range of options without completely re-engineering the boat, and we had a breakthrough in how to achieve that.

Gunboat 68, 5-cabin layout

ENGINEERING ULTIMATE VERSATILITY

“Owners who want to race want to shed weight from the boat where cruising owners aren’t interested in removing things like furniture,” says Gunboat’s Head of Engineering Stephane Renard. “That’s why we created a highly versatile interior with furniture that can be removed easily but can also be moved, linked and locked in place to give owners several interior configurations.”

Race Mode

Lounge Mode

“In race mode the galley island, sofa, dining table, nav seat, all the aft cockpit seating and table, even the helm leaning post – all those pieces can be stripped out, saving hundreds of kilos in less than a day. In cocktail mode, you get the maximum amount of space to stand and move around. Then there’s lounge mode where the dining table lowers to create a day bed to watch movies, and dining mode, which creates a large dining table.”

OPTIMIZING SIGHTLINES AND CREATING THE RIGHT MOOD

The entire boat is designed to deliver perfect sightlines everywhere, and bring in a huge amount of natural light. In all cabins, you can sit up in bed and see the sea. For the aft cabins, this was achieved by adding a couple of steps up to get from the aft cockpit to the transom to preserve the 900mm we need above the aft berth to sit up. We looked at other options but this had the added benefit of offering more protection from following waves.

Often you get a lot of wash in the aft cockpit and it’s constantly wet. Just raising two small steps offers a lot of protection so it’s another win-win.

Above: Sightlines with ocean views from each cabin

Inside the cabins, Chedal Anglay uses a particular design technique to draw the eye towards key features: “Eyes are always drawn to light colors so we use those higher up. By putting black low down, it creates the idea of shadow, like it’s floating. We separate light and dark using wood, which brings warmth. Think of an expensive car, there is always a  little wood to make it somewhere you want to be. That simple contrast between light and dark is the canvas on which owners will express their personality. By changing the wood and the fabric, they can change the entire mood of the boat.“

“We have designed a few different moods to help owners with inspiration and choices. One is called ‘Heritage’ because it’s based on New England, the home of Gunboat. It features walnut and warm beige fabrics. Then there’s ‘Warmtech’, which is more contemporary and Scandinavian in style with natural fabrics, leather, titanium, and lighter wood. For a lighter mood, ‘Naturae’ is inspired by Caribbean beaches with washed woods and blue fabrics.”

Below: The Warmtech influence reflected in 6803

Above: The airy feel of Naturae on 6804

HIGH PERFORMANCE COMFORT

To add greater comfort and higher quality while reducing weight aboard in a way that optimized the $/kg balance, we reviewed many solutions and realized the answer could lie in the skies with the technologies used for aerospace interiors. We connected with a company that makes aircraft interiors using honeycomb cores with hot-pressed pre-preg skins and thin wood veneers to create panels that are very light and incredibly stiff.

“The quality is outstanding,” comments Gunboat COO William Jelbert, “and when we saw the numbers about the potential weight saving, they totally blew us away! We’re usually ecstatic to save 5-10%. The actual weight savings in all furniture represents a multiple of that – a game-changer!”

“At Gunboat, we feel like the interior is the one thing that is so different on this boat. It’s really making it distinctive,” concludes Gunboat’s Benoit Lebizay. “When people come aboard the Gunboat 68 for the first time they’ll know they’re on a boat that’s been conceived for both luxury cruising and stunning performance, the Gunboat experience taken to the next level.”

Article #4 in our series offering insight on the design and build of the Gunboat 68; Originally published Mar 2018 chronicling production stages of 6801, updated with additional build photos from the series in 2020.

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AN INNER SENSE OF LIGHT – GUNBOAT 68 INTERIOR
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