The Cat is Back
WORDS: Jack Gifford | PHOTOS: Michel Dupre & Patrick Condy
The insatiable desire for more than one hull continues unabated and whilst the industry seeks to meet demand, one yard at the sharp end of the market is already raising the bar.
(utilising race boat technology to deliver high performance in a high- end package. Gunboat are targeting their 68’, 72’ and 80’ models to fill a gap in the market by combining the generous square meterage of the cruising catamaran with the thrilling performance of offshore racing multihulls.)
The catamaran has long since been the mainstay of the charter market on both sides of the Atlantic, and with the associated benefits of accommodation and hospitality spaces, it is clear to see why.
The rise in popularity of the multihull is plainly visible whether in charter hotspots, hidden-away anchorages or walking the boards of the headline yacht shows. But aside from the disparagingly dubbed ‘condo-marans’, demand for cats is also coming from discerning and experienced owners who are keen to enjoy the cruising cat experience but without forgoing the performance they are used to: Enter Gunboat.
Managing Partner Benoit Lebizay has been taking me through the approach and process behind Gunboat, introducing me to their models and the exciting times ahead. It is a busy time for yard with Lebizay starting our interview by apologising for the background noise of building work as they currently expand their facilities.
Reincarnated in France in 2016, the eye-catching Gunboat brand already boasted several noteworthy designs when it was decided to bring onboard the team at VPLP Design; “The decision at that time was to consolidate the offering and focus on larger, higher end luxury vessels to offer a true multihull counterpart to the likes of Wally and Swan,” explains Lebizay. The design work of VPLP, with decades of experience in the offshore racing world, is key to the success of the three Gunboat models. Their nose for high performance and track record in producing winners brought the attention to detail and knowledge that the rejuvenated Gunboat needed to produce the world’s best cruising cats.
Once the preserve of heroic sailors and long-distance ocean races, performance multihulls are becoming commonplace in the cruising fleet. The evergreen ARC event now fields more multis than monos with brands such as Outremer taking line honours, offering greatly reduced passage times and all the fun that goes with it in a slick, modern package. This ‘best of both worlds’ combination of performance and enhanced accommodation when arriving at your tropical destination is proving understandably popular and, like many traits in yacht design, is trickling up.