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GUNBOAT 68: When a cruising catamaran becomes a work of art

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With just thirty example built (from 48’ to 90' in length) since 2001, the extravagant American brand created by Peter Johnstone, knew how to create something mythical! Successive relocations (South Africa, China, USA) combined with various technical and commercial tribulations threatened to put a stop to this great adventure, but then the French group Grand Large Yachting (Outremer, Garcia and Allures) acquired it in 2016. Some thirty months later, the first new generation 68' Gunboat was launched! We took the opportunity of a weekend around the Iles d’Hyères (off France’s Mediterranean coast) to discover this exceptional multihull.

Gunboat: a Phoenix Brand

The first chapter in the Gunboat story was set in South Africa (at Harvey Yachts), a country of maritime tradition, nautical competence, Anglo-Saxon culture... and low-cost labor! The Morelli-Melvin signature was a guarantee of notoriety and the first video of a G62 literally pulverizing a fleet of racing monohulls on their startline caused a sensation! These transgressive Nomex carbon catamarans, dressed in flashy colors and christened with evocative names, wreaked havoc in the upscale yacht clubs on the US east coast. Their annual migrations to St Martin or the St Barts regattas gave rise to spectacular yuppie contests in which a few mercenaries from the podiums of ocean racing or the America’s Cup gladly joined them. Some of them completed remarkable round-the-world trips at very high speed! Years later, the new subcontracting set up at Hudson Marine went wrong, the distance from the decision-making center, and from customers, and cultural misunderstandings with the teams in southern China caused major problems and precipitated a move too late to the new factory in North Carolina.... not yet technically ready to restart production, filing for bankrup...

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