I spent yesterday cruising the docks at the show in Newport and was particularly pleased to have a chance to get aboard the new Gunboat 55. You’ve got to hand it to Peter Johnstone–he is not one to rest on his laurels. After sailing the Gunboat 60 last year at Annapolis, I was impressed by how willing he’s been to rethink what a Gunboat might be. Given the great success of the first generation of boats, a lot of builders would have been very happy to just do more of the same. The 60 is definitely a different sort of Gunboat, but the new 55, a very elegant open-bridgedeck design, is something else entirely.
As I’ve mentioned before, I really like open-bridgedeck catamarans. To me they are the distilled essence of what a cat is supposed to be. In this boat, Johnstone adheres to the simplicity of the concept, but takes it to a whole new level in terms of execution.
The open bridgedeck looking forward. This is the first Gunboat without an open cockpit forward of the house
The helm and controls are still right behind the mast. You can step right outside to the mast through sliding glass doors either side of the wheel if you want to, but in most cases you won’t need to. A big moonroof over the helm station gives you a clear view of the mainsail
The bridgedeck looking aft. This boat is all about the al fresco lifestyle. All the canvas back there can be quickly removed
Accommodations are in the two hulls, which can be sealed off with totally weatherproof doors, or with sliding screen doors, when all you want to keep out is the bugs
On this boat the galley is down aft in the port hull and is about as spacious and filled with light as an in-hull catamaran galley can be. Alternatively, you can order the boat with the galley up on the bridgedeck
House systems are controlled and monitored with this discrete touchpad located just off the galley
Each hull has a full-on stateroom with an athwartship double berth and en suite head and shower
All foils are fully retractable. The rudders slot into cassettes and can be pinned in place at different depths. The major foils are centerboards that can kick up without suffering damage when they hit something
The Gunboat 55, designed by Nigel Irens, is the first boat to come out of Gunboat’s new production yard in North Carolina. Production of the Gunboat 60, formerly built in China, is also being moved here.
Wandering over to the opposite end of the show’s new-boat spectrum, I was particularly intrigued by the Varianta 37, a very stripped-down version of the German-built Hanse 375.
This baby is as basic as a modern fiberglass cruising boat can be. You don’t even get a cove stripe!
The Varianta’s cockpit. That big wheel says “performance,” and in fact I do expect this boat to sail fairly well. In spite of having an all solid-laminate hull, so much stuff has been removed it’s about 1,000 pounds lighter than the 375, which is cored above the waterline
The barebones interior. There’s as little joinery as possible, canvas slings for storage, an uninsulated engine space, very simple systems, etc. Construction is also basic and robust, with seven bulkheads fully tabbed to the hull
Base price here in the U.S. is $153,400. The boat is intended for use in sailing schools, membership sailing programs, and charter fleets, but I imagine individual owners could have quite a bit of fun personalizing a “blank canvas” like this.
Like Varianta, Salona is another Euro-brand that has just migrated to the States. These boats are from Croatia, and I thought this 33-footer had a lot of style.
Base price is $150,736, including working sails. Properly equipped, the boat should make a comfortable/competitive cruiser-racer
As that big traveler suggests, this a boat for people who are into sail trim. It can be ordered with twin wheels, or with a tiller. It carries an aggressive T-keel that draws a full 7 feet of water, or 5’9″ if you opt for the “shoal” version. Either way, there’s a lot of keel down there for a boat this size
The interior is spacious, with a surprising amount of storage space. There’s full headroom for a 6-foot guy like me
And you needn’t worry about the keel falling off for no good reason, a la Cheeki Rafiki. There’s a beefy stainless steel grid glassed into the bilge that carries both the rig and keel loads
Yet another craft that caught my eye was this latest interpretation of what a contemporary C&C yacht should be. U.S. Watercraft has licensed the brand name from Tartan and is building this C&C Redline 41 in Warren, Rhode Island.
This is what I’d call a racer-cruiser, with a very business-like cockpit. Base price is $424,900
The interior is very civilized. Clean and functional for racing, but attractive enough to actually live in for a while
The saloon looking forward. The settee backs pivot up and can be hung from the overhead as an extra pair of berths
Of course, these aren’t the only boats in the show. These are just the ones that jumped out at me hardest. There’s still plenty of time for you to get down there and check out the scene for yourself. The show closes Sunday; be sure to tell them I sent you.