As the judges stepped aboard the Gunboat 55, ducking out of a soaking rain during dockside inspections, Gunboat’s Peter Johnstone ushered them into the main salon, bone dry and balmy. The interior is one big dance floor, with a space age looking helm station at its apex. It’s a world cruising boat for a couple, said Johnstone, but he knows well t’s a raceboat, too. That’s what Gunboat owners eventually do once they get a taste of competition.
Aside from its construction, the big design difference in the 55 from previous Gunboat models is its interior winch island. “The problem with quick boats is you always have breeze on,” said Johnstone as a six-foot glass moon roof slid open with a push of a button (accompanied by a doorbell “ding-dong.”) “The apparent wind is in the mid-20s, so you need protection, but you still need to be able to see the sails and feel the elements.”
The exterior is plenty slick, with a low-profile and modern look, but the boat’s $2-million price tag lies beneath the paint: 110 layers of unidirectional carbon are infused into the thing. It’s a “ridiculously difficult boat to build,” said Johnstone. In regard to the Gunboat 55, however, the judges agreed: This is Gunboat’s crowning achievement. The look, the finish, and the sailing experience are all over the top.
“You have a few options in the interior, but essentially you’re getting a high-end production boat,” said Allen. “I’m not convinced a couple could take this on right away, but it’s a lot more manageable than anything they’ve done.”
“I have a lot of comments in my notes about how sexy it looks,” said Stewart. “There’s great styling, it’s comfortable to hang out on, and the build and paint work are spectacular. It’s an expensive boat, but it’s exactly what it should be.”
DESIGNED FOR: Fast passages, occasional class racing, and sailing off the grid
REQUIRED CREW: Five to race, two to cruise—with experience
BEST ATTRIBUTES: Best performing cruising cat of its kind; stiff, lightweight engineering, race ready, American built
PRICE AS TESTED: $2,100,000