New Boats: Gunboat 68, J/121 & Azuree 41
In the world of multihulls, no brand had come so far so fast on the back of so few boats as the Gunboat line of high-performance luxury catamarans before the factory went under in late 2015. Built up from nothing by Peter Johnstone, Gunboat attained cult status for its hard-charging designs from Morrelli & Melvin and, latterly, Nigel Irens.
Now in the hands of France’s Grand Large Yachting, whose portfolio includes the Outremer performance cat line, Gunboat lives on; the builders are currently tooling up to produce a gorgeous new design from multihull wunderkinds VPLP. It was no easy task to come up with a look that is both distinctive and true to the Gunboat heritage, but in tandem with styling gurus Patrick Le Quement and Christophe Chedal Anglay, VPLP has done an excellent job with the new Gunboat 68.
Already, orders have been placed, and hull #1 will be launched at the Outremer facility in La Grand Motte, France, in 2018. Mindful of the American connection to the brand, Gunboat has established a new sales and service center in Newport, Rhode Island.
After a few years of concentrating on smaller designs, J/Boats came roaring back last year with the successful J/112E, and this year will see another new launch, the J/121. A 40ft sprit boat with a powerful yet easily handled sailplan and a sweet-looking hull that’s unblemished by chines and sports a single rudder, this boat makes no concessions to design fads; it’s a J through and through, although it does have twin wheels.
The Al Johnstone design can be raced by a crew of five and daysailed by one or two. It was designed for distance and one-design racing, with headsails and downwind sails all on furlers to lighten the crew’s load. Electric winches are optional and will be class-legal. Integral water ballast tanks make up for the lack of rail meat.
J/Boats has always put sailing ability ahead of volume belowdecks, but the 121’s accommodations look generous enough. It has an L-shaped galley, large nav station, a double cabin aft with the option of a removable V-berth forward, two berths in the saloon and a large head/shower.
Some time ago I had the privilege of test-sailing the Azuree 46, a Rob Humphreys design built in Turkey by Sirena Marine. It was a well-built and nicely finished boat that also sailed well. The second Humphreys design in the Sirena lineup was introduced late last year. Like her big sister, the Azuree 41 is a pretty cruiser-racer in the European mold—twin wheels, a beamy stern, twin rudders and hull chines for stiffness and to improve accommodation aft. They also aid tracking when heeled.
The 41’s big main/small jib configuration makes for a boat that remains manageable when pressed hard and that will sail well under mainsail alone. The deck layout is more cruising-oriented, as is the accommodation—two layouts are on offer, each with three cabins.
Sirena Marine also builds two larger yachts, the Euphoria 54 and 68, both of which are available in the U.S.
Azuree 41 azureeyachts.com