Gunboat has had its ups and downs – just like their yachts, the company has lived in the fast lane since it was launched by the original founder Peter Johnstone.
The US company that created the luxury super-fast carbon catamaran market segment, was purchased by Grand Large Yachting, the people behind Outremer, in 2016. And so the latest chapter of this famous brand began…
They have since launched the Gunboat 68 with multihull design gurus VPLP on the design boards, and the brand is well and truly back.
Designed by Morrelli & Melvin, this is the series that launched the Gunboat catamarans brand. Read our full Gunboat 62 Reviewhere.
In 2001 they designed a pair of 62′ performance catamarans for Clint Clemens and Peter Johnstone. These two yachts were built by Harvey Yachts in Cape Town , South Africa .
Peter Johnstone subsequently formed a company called GUNBOAT to produce the boats and 2 more 62’s were built by Jaz Marine in Cape Town .
Light, simple, and fast, the GUNBOAT 62s set new standards for multihulls and carved out a luxury performance cruising category of catamarans the world had never seen before.
The original Gunboat! This trailblazer is an icon and reset the bar for the luxury performance catamaran market. Chris White was the first out of the blocks with his Atlantic Cats, but the Gunboat 62 sets the standard for luxury and innovative construction techniques.
Built by Harvey Yachts in Cape Town.
In 2014 Cruising World named TRIBE as one of the “40 Greatest, Most Influential Cruising Boats of All Time” and Yachting World in 2016 ranked TRIBE as 6th among “50 Yachts That Changed The Way We Sail.”
62-02 Chim Chim
(ex Cucu-Belle, ex Safari)
Built by Harvey Yachts in Cape Town in 2002.
(2003 ex-Prana, ex-Lickity Split 2)
Zenyatta is available for charter. Head to Zenyatta62.com or contact us for further information. She was built by Jaz Marine in Cape Town in 2003.
62-04 Mach Schnell (ex Elvis, ex-Looking For Elvis, ex-Icon)
Gunboat 62 Mach Schnell is owned and skippered by Kent Haeger. She took first place in the multihull class in the Nanny Cay Cup in the 2019 BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. Mach Schnell finished in a time of 0:02:00:39, beating Triple Jack’s 2015 race record around Tortola.
She was built by Jaz Marine in Cape Town.
Gunboat 48 Malolo, photo instagr.am/malologunboat
A very successful range built from 2004-2009, again designed by Morrelli & Melvin. My only problem with these boats is that they did not build enough of them! Head to our Gunboat 48 catamaran page for further details on this boat.
The 48s feature three queen berths, an office (or 4th berth) and two heads.
The living area is simple and well ventilated with the salon, helm and galley all inside on the main deck. She has a well protected, cosy aft cockpit and the whole idea behind the design is for simple handling for short-handed crews without compromising on the performance.
48-01 Cream Built in the Gunboat Yard, Cape Town, South Africa. 2005.
48-02. Dancing Bear
(ex-Lickity Split, in Finland?)
48-03 Traverse Registered in Key West
Now owned by surfer John John Florence, based in Hawaii
48-06. Spirit of Africa I saw her in Vilanova in Spain where she was for sale I believe.
Customers wanted to add more interior volume and kit to the 62s, so the original Morrelli & Melvin design was lengthened to 66′ and the GUNBOAT 66 was born. Morrelli & Melvin fine-tuned the structures, rigs, and layouts to optimize this design from 2006 to 2012.
(ex Flash, (ex-Panthera, ex-Mayhem, ex-Sugar Daddy first to circumnavigate)
(ex Tiger Lily, ex-Gazelle)
(8/2012 – finished at Jaz Marine)
66-07 Extreme H2O
(finished on West Coast at Westerly)
Gunboat 60-04 Alaia
The Gunboat 60, designed by Nigel Irens, evolved from the 62 and 66. Electric quick sailing performance with an all carbon and epoxy construction, she set new standards in luxury.
Read our Full Gunboat 60 Review.
Production moved to Hudson Marine in China – a relationship that ultimately turned sour as there were multiple warranty claims on the boats, mainly concerning the new centreboard design. Peter Johnstone accused Hudson Wang of inferior manufacturing quality, and Wang then counter sued saying that the problem was with the original design.
Johnstone then accused Wang of ripping off his designs for his own range of performance catamarans. Hey ho. Well, in hindsight, we do now have an HH55 and HH66 on the market. A whole range of HH Catamarans have been launched since, you could say they were inspired by Gunboat!
The 60 was designed as the maximum size for an owner-operator on a long term cruise.
60′ is the sweet spot for many features: a smooth motion, lots of space and the ability to devour 300+ miles in a day in the right conditions.
The Gunboat 55, designed by Nigel Irens, was the last model to come out of the Peter Johnstone era before the marque was auctioned off. Following the problems in China, manufacturing was moved to the US at a new Gunboat facility in North Carolina.
The 16.76m 55 was created to offer the ultimate performance catamaran for owner/operators by maximising the living area. She has two superyacht style double cabins. Check out our full Gunboat 55 review where we go into more detail.
These Gunboat catamarans are aimed at warmer climes like the Carribbean with a wide open-plan central deck with plenty of protection at the front and sides around the enclosed central helm. On cooler evenings and in higher latitudes the whole area can be closed off with removable screens.
(dismasted in a 70 knot squall, abandoned & adrift, later salvaged. Multimarine in the UK relaunched her as a 64′ powercat
Became Gunboat 57 “Vai Vai”, see below
Custom finished in 2017 by Crosswait Composites. With two builds under their belts, there are still a couple hulls out there awaiting ownership.
55-10 to 12
And so we get to the latest model of Gunboat – the 68 – which was designed in conjunction with VPLP and The new owners of the brand: Grande Large Yachting Group, the yachting company behind Outremer. You can read our full Gunboat 68 review here.
68-01 Highland Fling (ex Condor) Launched Jan 2019. Now with aft helms as well as the forward helm.
68-02 Dash Launched Jul 2019
68-03 Sea Tilt Launched July 2020
68-04 Tosca Launched Jan 2021
68-05 Break Free Launched Apr 2022
A larger model was announced by Grand Large Yachting following on from the 68: the Gunboat 80. This yacht has been designed to sail faster than the wind in anything over 5 knots, with super efficient systems and lots of solar power.
Like the 68, this is being designed by VPLP. Crew will be needed I suspect!
A Gunboat with a Flybridge? You’re kidding me, right? The company announced this model in 2021 and they took some heat on social media!
It looks pretty spectacular, and I understand why they have gone down this route as the kind of people who are spending this kind of money love to look down on the rest of us 😂. I can imagine they were getting requests for this feature from customers who ended up drifting to McConaghy.
But if it was me, I would have launched another brand like Vantage (by Gunboat), or something. That Gunboat brand is worth too much to mess with.
Still, it’s an impressive piece of kit, ….just doesn’t look like a Gunboat IMO.
The following Gunboats are all one offs. We’ve included the 57 in here as it was finished off after the company went into Chapter 11 and before the brand was relaunched by its newer owners.
Gunboat 57 Vai Vai
The Gunboat 57 was launched after the previous Gunboat Company went into Chapter 11. 55-05 was finished by a team of specialists who constructed a high performance boat that could be de-powered for short-handed sailing. The 57: Vai Via, was re-engineered and custom built for performance.
Adjustments were made to the machinery, appendages, steering, rudder bearings, rig, sail and deck plans, all with weight saving and efficiency as key goals.
Gunboat 57-01 Vai Via
Gunboat 78 My Cat
What do you do when all of the Gunboats on the market are too small for your needs? Build a custom one that’s longer, of course, and that was how the Gunboat 78 “My Cat” was born in 2010.
She’s unique: a custom-built, optimized cruising performance cat that was designed by Nigel Irens and launched in 2016. With lightweight, all-carbon construction and Gunboat performance, and a huge luxurious interior.
Her 2 hulls are home to 4 guest cabins with their own separate heads, plus a fully equipped galley, crew mess, and cabin. The galley is in the down configuration with the crew quarters so that open living space in the salon is enormous. Launched in 2016, she has been meticulously maintained by her owner and professional captain and crew.
All that extra space on the Gunboat 78 means that there is plenty of room for all of the toys like water scooters, SUP’s, and scuba.
This is a Gunboat with extra WOW factor.
Gunboat 78-01 My Cat Currently based near Barcelona in Spain.
How big can Gunboats go? Welcome to Sunshine, the one and only Gunboat 90. This superyacht was launched in 2010 and was designed by Morrelli & Melvin.
Gunboat 90 Sunshine
Photo: Tim Casey instagr.am/case_a7g5t901x
The Gunboat 90 is the largest of the Gunboat fleet: she was built and launched in Cape Town, South Africa by Gunboat International in the Peter Johnstone era.
She comes fully loaded with a 60 degree rotating, high modulus, wing mast and carbon fiber rigging.
Carbon and Nomex honeycomb was used in the build with a design brief that aimed 30+ knot speeds.
Despite being 90 feet long, her draft can be reduced to less than 2 feet thanks to those retractable rudders and daggerboards.
This 90 footer set the bar for multihull superyachts.
Gunboat 90-01 Sunshine
The one and only.
Which Gunboat Model is the Fastest?
A tricky question, as I don’t believe all of the models have raced each other. At Les Voiles de St-Barth, Phaedo, a Gunboat 66 has done well over the years, but then Flow (a Gunboat 60) won the race in 2018.
I would bet that it comes down to the Gunboat 68, the 66 and the 78 based on LOA. You’d have to bet on the boat with the latest technology: the 68.
When the Gunboat 80 launches, well that will probably take the Gold medal.
Which is your favourite Gunboat?
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of this brand. Who isn’t? If I was to choose, it would have to be the original 62. Morrelli and Melvin nailed the look on this model. But the 48 comes a close second.
Will Gunboat Launch a 40-50 foot Catamaran Again?
Well, I think they would be crazy not to, as the demand is there for an Owner Operator Gunboat. Gunboat is part of Grand Large Yachting now, so I guess they are worried about cannibalising on Outremer sales which is heavily in this market segment with their 4X and 5X cats.
For now, they are concentrating on the super luxury segment with big boats like the Gunboat 80. Who knows? We are keeping our fingers crossed.
Where are Gunboats built?
Gunboats were first built in South Africa, China and finally the United States. Since the brand was acquired by Grand Large Yachting, these catamarans have been manufactured in La Grande Motte in France, in a dedicated yard.
If you enjoyed this history of Gunboat, have a look at these other multihull histories:
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