From the outset, our only GUNBOAT 90 was designed to tread the narrow, yet vaguely defined path of the “performance cruiser.” Whereas the monohull market boasts many successful examples of such designs, the balance is a lot tougher – impossible, if you believe some leading naval architects – to reach on a cat.
The GUNBOAT 90 was built and launched in Cape Town, South Africa, by Gunboat International. The interior cabinetry was constructed by Tremont in Canada and shipped across to South Africa. The interior textiles were shipped in from various countries by Rhodes Young and locally upholstered in Cape Town.
The uncompromisingly plush Rhoades-Young interiors were forever pushing the acceptable deflection limit of the mainsheet traveller beam. The spacious open plan galley to starboard and the rigorously symmetrical dining area to port only became feasible after the design of fully asymmetric engine rooms and drive trains took shape. It took three full design cycles to prepare the wing-deck structure for the helm and the saloon forward bulkhead. The result is a helm station that befits a futuristic space odyssey. Throughout the project, the architects at Morelli-Melvin never got an easy break. The usual solutions were not sufficient; key design variables were forever growing. On the outset, this was an 80’ cat. Then the sail plan started to resemble that of a record challenging maxi-cat, complete with a 60deg rotating, high modulus, wing mast with carbon fiber rigging. Hull length increased, loads increased, and safety margins pointed from cruising to racing. Carbon and Nomex honeycomb were the only choices to stay inside the design displacement and hope to hit the 30+ knots shown on the polars.
To harness the loads, a complex hydraulic system was locally outsourced. Four PTO pumps, one 16kW power pack, and one hydraulic oil intercooler later, you have a combination of push button and winch controlled sailing that a crew of 2-3 people can manage. But the systems spec don’t end here; she is a day-sailer. A hard-working, partying, day-sailer. External audio, entertainment, and lighting consultants conspired against designers to drain an originally conservative powering estimate. The design team and client responded with hi-tech LED lighting, the latest generation lithium-ion batteries (boosting power density), and two identical 15kW gensets. Systems management, electronics, and entertainment are all integrated to a modern canbus system, saving valuable weight in otherwise redundant electrical cabling.