When Gunboat, the US company that created the luxury super-fast carbon catamaran range, went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, there were big questions about the future of one of sailing’s most daring and innovative brands.
In May of 2016 the rights and assets of the company (excluding the G4 foiling catamaran) were bought at auction by French company Grand Large Yachting, which is behind the Allures, Garcia and Outremer catamaran ranges.
The new owners began by consulting existing Gunboat owners and skippers to find out how to develop and improve the range, then turned to multihull masters VPLP for the new design.
The new Gunboat 68 design was unveiled in Annapolis in October. This is a yacht designed to gobble up 500-mile days and take part in one-design fleet racing and it boasts a host of clever and forward-thinking ideas.
The lines manage to be both sleek and aggressive, with reverse bows inspired by VPLP’s record-breaking 100ft trimaran MACIF. One neat idea is that the modular saloon interior is fully demountable. The company knew that racing owners stripped out their boats for events, so decided to design a modular layout.
The fixed roof will support an array of solar panels and the aim is to equip the new Gunboat 68 with sufficient green power to do without a generator. There is a ‘semi-walkthough’ cockpit and tillers and bucket seats for outside steering as well as Gunboat’s customary inside steering position. There are a large number of performance options: curved asymmetric or symmetric daggerboards; a long or short longeron (midships beam and bowsprit); long or short boom; rotating wingmast or fixed rig.
There are “over 80 [interior] permutations in a production setting,” says Lars Erickson, who previously ran Gunboat 62 Zenyatta. “This is a sophisticated and sexy boat that is grunty and offshore competent.”
Gunboat 57: first look
At Annapolis another new Gunboat was on show. When the company went bust, the owner of VaiVai, a Gunboat 55, rescued his part-built boat from the Gunboat premises and turned to designer Nigel Irens to tweak it before organising the completion of the build himself. This has now been relaunched as the Gunboat 57 and adopted into the new Gunboat range.
Elongated at the stern, the new 57 has a revised and improved steering system with more performance-orientated lifting daggerboards in place of the original pivoting centreboards.
“The daggerboard installation did require a cabin redesign, which in turn allowed the engines to be repositioned amidships to lessen the pitching moment and improve the trim,” notes Irens.