The Gunboat 62 is the original performance cruiser from this iconic catamaran brand. This boat is well and truly cemented in our Classic Catamarans section. Let´s face it, this is the boat that has inspired a whole range of fast yachts from Hudson Yacht´s HH66 catamaran (designed by the same naval architects) to the Balance 526.
The first boat over the line when the starting gun was fired was founder Peter Johnstone’s Tribe, a Harvey Yachts, South African-built, Melvin & Morrelli designed cat that’s now something of a legend. The team later extended the boat into the Gunboat 66, but it was the 62 that set the standards for the brand.
Johnstone had spent time on some of the largest, fastest maxi-cats in the world built by the French yard Multiplast (eg Team Adventure) and Auckland´s Cookson Boatworks (PlayStation now called Cheyenne), so he was well versed in high-speed multihull sailing. When his monohull got too uncomfortable in a blow, he had his Eureka moment.
Johnstone’s dad founded J-Boats. How could he pull one over the old man? How about overtaking him in his performance monohull in a 60ft cat with a cold one in his hand?
The first 3 Gunboat 62s were constructed with epoxy and E-glass beefed up with carbon-fiber in the big bulkheads and stringers.
The fourth yacht was built entirely from carbon, with a taller rig and more sail area. There is Kevlar on the bottom and outboard sides of the hulls, and they managed to shave almost a tonne off the weight. The boom was extended by 2 feet, all the kinds of supercharged amendments that you can still order on a new Gunboat 68 today if you go for the regatta option over the cruising pack.
Let´s face it, if you are sitting on a Gunboat 62 at anchor, no-one else is going to match you, even on a 68. It’s the ultimate pose.
The 62 is still one of the fastest catamarans around, just ask anyone who has competed in the Voiles de St Barths. OK, you might just about overtake one in a Marsaudon Composites TS5 with a crack crew, but everyone will be looking at the Gunboat 62 crossing the finishing line anyway.
Gunboat 62s hold their value. There are only four of them, remember: these are the original luxury performance cruising catamarans.
This is subjective, but I’d say the 62 is the prettiest Gunboat. I like the shape of the 48 too, but that’s more of an E-Type Jag. The new 68 is more muscly and distinctive and a real head turner, but the 62 wins the beauty parade for me.
Technology has moved on since the 62s were launched. Granted, the boats have all been loved and nurtured, but you might find yourself spending quite a bit of money on upgrades.
The first 3 boats, in particular, weren’t designed to carry much stuff compared to later models. You’ll need to keep the weight off (but boy, it’s worth it). That´s why they extended to the 66.
There’s not as much room for solar on the 62. OK, we are clutching at straws here.
Gunboats are expensive to maintain. But come on, if you can afford to buy one, you can afford the maintenance.
For a multi-million dollar yacht, there isn’t a huge amount of living space. These early Gunboats were more business like. It was always more about the speed than the toys: the increased comfort came later. You can hardly call them spartan though, this is a luxury cat, let’s be honest.
People wanted to add more stuff, so the last boat they built (now Mach Schnell) was designed to be able to carry more gear. This way, you could have all of the toys and still outperform an 80 ft racing monohull on a beam reach, and that philosophy is still followed by the brand today.
All the 62s have a carbon mast, plus carbon-fiber compression posts and bow sprits. Some of the other innovations include round & parabolic hull sections to reduce the wetted surface area and minimise the “bite” in turns. The 62s have a a 48% beam ratio versus a more common 55% ratio. Retractable high aspect rudders and retractable dagger boards mean that you can sail into super skinny anchorages in the Bahamas and elsewhere.
The Gunboat is a 14 ton light ship that can sail upwind at 17 knots and pinch up to 30 degrees AWA. She will tack through 95 degrees alongside the best performance monohulls. Coming off the wind, the 62 can sail over true wind speeds in up to 20 knots of wind. This supercat sails comfortably at between 15-20 knots SOG and has notched up speeds of over 36 knots on a surf. Hold onto your G&T!
Johnstone proved that you could blast along in windspeeds over 40 knots and still have your smoothie on the table next to you while travelling at speeds up to 20 knots. In short, she moves.
The helm station was inspired by Chris White´s Atlantic cats, with a comfortable helm seat with 360-degree visibility and overhead hatches to check your mainsail. The galley is aft on the starboard side aft with plenty of storage, working surface and a bar. Down below in the hulls are the staterooms and heads, offices, stowage, and engines. The hulls are slender for speed, but this is still a luxurious space with 8 watertight bulkheads per hull. Each interior was custom made.
The Gunboat 62 is powered by 2 56 HP Yanmars. The twin rudders are retractable, giving this yacht a draft of around a metre or 3 feet.
Getting out on deck just involves stepping through the pilot house through a heavy glass door into the forward cockpit where all the lines for the headsails and main is to hand, plus the anchor, rode, and windlass. There’s an exterior helm as well, a wheel on the same axle as the main helm.
Like all Gunboats, there is plenty of space on the nets for hanging out, and aft things calm down with the big veranda outback, with the main traveler set on the aft crossbeam, and davits for a tender. Down below, the living space isn’t huge (this is a performance cat), but the finish is luxurious and it’s very comfortable. Up top in the aft cockpit and saloon there is oodles of space for lounging, cooking, dining and sailing of course. You can probably do 3 out of 4 of the activities at the same time.
Each boat was custom designed for their first owners, but typically there are 3-4 cabins plus heads and/or an office.
Like many of these performance cats, they will blast along at 20 knots and over in the right conditions, but if you are sailing on the limit, you need to be on your toes. If you feel the windward hull come up, then its time to head down hard or dump the main.
62-04 Mach Schnell (ex Elvis, ex-Looking For Elvis, ex-Icon)
How fast will a Gunboat 62 go?
Well, according to Johnstone, the top speed he saw on the nav console was over 36 knots with three reefs in the main and a storm jib up. Fast enough for you?
How many Gunboat 62s were built?
Four 62s were built- they are pretty rare, even rarer than the 48s. After a while, customers started to ask for more load carrying ability, so they lengthened the boat to 66 feet. The 66 isn’t as pretty, in my opinion. I expect the owners beg to differ.
Where were the Gunboat 62s built?
In Gunboat’s early days, they built their yachts in South Africa with Harvey Yachts. Interestingly, this has spawned a whole performance catamaran ecosystem in the country with the likes of Balance and Kinetic based there.
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