Newport News: Sneak peek at the Gunboat 55

Some have called me the master of the obvious but I’m going to say it anyway…there’s just nothing like a Gunboat. Period.

But, you may not know that the new Gunboat 55 I recently toured with company founder/visionary Peter Johnstone at the Newport Boat Show is not just unlike any other’s unlike any other Gunboat. And yes, forgive me if I restate the obvious, but, for those of you that may not know, Johnstone’s all-carbon/ultra-sexy/badass-fast Gunboats have been redefining the meaning of “performance cruising catamaran” for years now.

I mean look at the entry on starboard bow, for cripes’ sake. Have you ever seen a finer entry on any boat—not to mention a 55-footer that’s capable of crossing oceans with blistering alacrity? You could cut a tomato on that thing! It doesn’t just pierce the waves. It slices through them like a sushi knife in the hands of a master.

But all you smart and knowledgeable people know that bows with ultra-sharp entries are nothing new to Gunboats either. Meanwhile, the photo above shows where the revolution (not just evolution, but revolution) is happening on the 55. As you can see, all the controls—the nerve center of the boat—are located here. And what’s so cool about this—the winch pit that’s essentially the same as what you’d find on a TP52—is that unlike previous designs, the 55’s winch pit is inside, completely protected from the elements, just in front of the helm station. But Peter is actually much better at explaining this new boat and new direction than I am. He took some time to talk to me at the show.


So, the winch pit has moved inside while the whole interior layout has accomplished the very difficult task of providing fantastic protection from the wind and spray while at the same time, as Peter says, being “a true indoor-outdoor boat.”
This photo only begins to illustrate the space and the airiness of this new design, but it does give you some idea of where Gunboat is headed. You’ll see that instead of being enclosed in a rigid structure, the back side of the enormous bridgedeck saloon can be easily closed up in bad weather, and just as importantly, fully opened up in good weather. Can you just picture how awesome it’d be to be watching the 55’s rooster tail on the ultra-comfy couches with the stern area open as you blast along at 20 knots? Or maybe sipping Sundowners in the Med or the Caribbean? I can.
And Peter makes a lot of sense when he talks about airplanes and cars that were all controlled from  “outside” steering stations at one time. Check it out in action.

And be sure to check back soon for more info and hopefully a firsthand account of what it’s like to sail this bad boy.

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  1. says: Anonymous

    While not at the same level of technical sophistication, the U.S. built Manta Catamaran offered the same concept of “sailing from inside” starting in 1993. For almost a decade it was the only production cruising catamaran to lead all sail handling to an electric winch at the helm position that offered push button single handed sailing and 360 degree visibility, in a cockpit completely protected from the elements. I am glad Gunboat has made the change I was never a fan of the unprotected forward cockpit in their earlier designs.