Blast Reaching - Sail Magazine

Blast Reaching

I admit that I was skeptical about racing on a big catamaran for a day at Antigua Sailing Week. My previous cat experience was limited, and I wasn’t expecting much. I’d seen the fleet of exotic-looking Gunboats—three GB48s and three GB62s—dockside on day one of this annual regatta. With their synthetic-fiber halyards strung from Marstrom carbon-fiber rigs and their chisel-like bows practically
Author:
Publish date:

I admit that I was skeptical about racing on a big catamaran for a day at Antigua Sailing Week. My previous cat experience was limited, and I wasn’t expecting much. I’d seen the fleet of exotic-looking Gunboats—three GB48s and three GB62s—dockside on day one of this annual regatta. With their synthetic-fiber halyards strung from Marstrom carbon-fiber rigs and their chisel-like bows practically begging to slice through the warm Caribbean waters, the Gunboats sure looked hot—but how racy could they be? I certainly didn’t expect to become a convert, let alone a believer. Then I stepped aboard the immaculately maintained Gunboat 48 Blast.

GUNBOAT2

My monohull-centric worldview is in jeopardy the moment I see the galley sink. It has the usual sink parts—a drain and a faucet—but it’s the way the tropical sunlight glints off the sink’s elegant carbon-fiber surfaces that catches my eye. Closer examination reveals that while the interior is masterfully finished in African rosewood and mahogany, this is simply a veneer under which resides a composite structure of honeycomb coring set in epoxy. Swing a cabinet door and it feels light, airy, Space Age. The carbon-fiber hulls save weight and create a stiff, powerful platform. But it’s the forward working cockpit (a small pit-like operations center), situated directly abaft the mast with its banks of clutches and carefully positioned winches, that sells me on the fact that Blast is a bona fide raceboat. Step through the forward cockpit doors (also airy veneers over a honeycomb/epoxy core) and you exit a world of comfort and luxury and enter one of utilitarian elegance. Halyards, reefing lines, and furling lines all lead back to this multi-person area, which commands a sweeping view of the bow and the knotless Spectra trampoline, while still affording perfect communication with the helm.

Soon we are en route to the starting line. Gunboat founder and president Peter Johnstone stands behind the carbon-fiber wheel of the semicustom catamaran (Gunboats are built on a semicustom basis, giving owners a lot of options for customizing joinery, interiors, and other features), while a crack crew including Forrest Williams, Torbjorn Linderson, Lia Ditton, Chandler Collins, Warren Oldroyd, Rachel Jaspersen, and Lynn Fitzpatrick prepare various broad-reaching and downwind sails, ensuring that all sheets are cleanly led and that halyard runs are unfettered. I follow the crew around the boat, trying to sort out how the running rigging is set up while staying out of their way.

cockpit

Antigua Sailing Week is unique in many respects and is one of only two regattas to have offered Gunboat-only starts in 2008. Sitting on the windward rail as Blast maneuvers through the pre-start circle under main alone, I study the other Gunboats. All boast graceful lines, appealing hull colors, big sailplans, and very psyched owners and crew. More important, all the Gunboats that are flying headsails seem to have no trouble sailing to weather.

We soon get the course: a quick downwind leg with a port rounding to a blast reach with a series of buoys that must be left to starboard, to some lengthy upwind work that will bring the fleet south to a finishing line off Falmouth Harbour. The onboard fervor kicks up a notch as Blast ’s crew hoists a jib while preparing the huge white asymmetric screecher, which appears on deck as a massive sausage, its furling drum attaching to Blast ’s powerful bowsprit (integrated into the hull’s forward cross beam) while its head accepts a halyard with a halyard lock.

Related

9781472947666

Book Review: The Atlantic Crossing Guide

Jane Russell & the RCC Pilotage FoundationIf you have a yen for sailing across the Pond to explore the delights of Northern Europe or the Mediterranean, you’d best do some homework first. There’s no better primer than this weighty tome, now in its 7th edition. It’s crammed with ...read more

shutterstock_63705382

Raytech Gelbox Line

Well GelledEvery so often you run across a product you never knew you needed, and then you wonder why it took so long for someone to come up with it. Thus it is with the Gelbox line from Raytech. These reuseable plastic boxes for low-voltage connectors are filled with gel, so ...read more

shutterstock_295810247

Cruising: Nova Scotia’s Bras d’Or Lake

I have rarely had a cruise that wasn’t different from my expectations, and my Nova Scotia travels have borne that out. For my friend and shipmate, Steve White, and me, our 2017 trip to Cape Breton Island and the Bras d’Or Lake on One Timer, my Sabre 362, was a much anticipated ...read more

ElanGT5-a

Boat Review: Elan GT5

Aboard many modern yachts, it can be hard to remember exactly what boat you’re on until your eye happens to light upon a logo. However, this is most definitely not the case with the Elan GT5, a performance cruiser with a look all its own and style to burn.Design & ...read more

01-Lead-P1060210

Handheld VHF Radios

For many sailors, cell phones have become their primary means of both ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. Even the Coast Guard will often ask for a cell number after it receives a distress call. None of this, however, makes a VHF radio any less important—and this goes ...read more

Seascape24

Boat Review: Seascape 24

Since its inception in 2008, Slovenian builder Seascape, founded by a pair of Mini Transat sailors, has focused solely on creating boats that are both simple and loads of fun to sail. With their 18-footer and then a 27-footer they succeeded in putting out a pair of trailerable ...read more

01-Trash-Tiki_in-partnership-with-Subtch-Sports_starting

The Adventurers Aboard Trash-Tiki

If you were in Gotland, a popular island vacation destination off the coast of Sweden, on the morning of July 3, your holiday might have been interrupted by a startling sight: a tiny island of trash approaching shore with people aboard. It was, in fact, a sailboat made from ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more