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Posts Tagged ‘Gunboat’

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Since getting his walking papers along with the rest of the Luna Rossa team, 5-time AC’er Shannon Falcone is playing with some new toys. Having locked up the win on Thursday, a local took his spot on the Gunboat G4 for Friday’s race so Shannon could shoot some foiling action from the sky.  Here’s a look at this budding videographer’s  movie, and you can check out all the week’s videos and pics on the Gunboat Facebook Page.

Sick of the G4 yet?  We’re not.  It’s fast, it’s bold, and it unabashedly sticks up the middle finger to the establishment.  More importantly,  the concept works.  And it works better than even the ever-optimistic Peter Johnstone expected.

We’ll have a world-exclusive Antigua race report and boat review from our Senior Editor soon, and a comprehensive video walkthrough of the boat and all her systems later this week.  Until then, click HD and watch it big.


May 3rd, 2015 by admin

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At a scarily beautiful 18 years old, Lauren Gineo was one of the earliest Sailor Chicks of the Week.  And now, nearly a decade later, the URI college racer, windsurfer, and longtime Gunboat crew is now our first-ever Sailor Mom of the Week.  She’s sailing aboard the G55 Toccata with husband Adam this week, but she took the time to begin indoctrinating the next generation of high-performance sailor aboard the G4.  Meet 8-month old helmsmen Ben, who will likely be Gunboat racing on Friday in Antigua, and almost definitely racing foiling boats in about 18 years.


April 30th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 8.50.52 AMClean Report

The G4 ‘Wipeout’ video has already racked up some 330,000 views in less than a week, well on its way to million-view status.  But I barely had time to enjoy it last week before Gunboat Marketing chief Lauren Bataille sent me a text message.

Still coming?” she wrote of my already-booked trip to Antigua for some G4 racing at Sailing Week.

Maybe I’m crazy, but watching a sweet 30-knot run segue into a gentle capsize didn’t make me nervous; in fact, it had the opposite effect, and sitting here at Newark airport waiting for a connection to Antigua, I find myself watching that video over and over again.  What would I do?  Where would I hang on?  Do I really want to find out?

My answer remains as it was in my response to Lauren.  “Hell f*&^ing yes!

My seven-months pregnant wife always knows how to cut to the chase.  “If she flips, be sure it wasn’t your fault,” was her first directive.  “Oh, and wear a helmet.  And have fun.”  That part should be no problem at all.

Got questions about the interior, the exterior, the foils, the stove, the capsize, the electrical system…or anything else?  Well, so do we.  Plant yours in the G4 thread (without being a dick) and we’ll try to get an answer for you. Keep an eye in the forum, on the front page, and especially on SA Facebook for video and pics from Antigua.


April 25th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 6.54.23 AMIf we’re talking about foilers vs. floaters and record-breaker monohulls vs. the rest of the world, we must be talking about Saint Barth, and outright World Sailing Speed Record holder and longtime SA’er Paul “Larso” Larsen checks in from the ORMA-60 inspired racer/cruiser Paradox at Les Voiles.  Most of the chatter from St. Barths can be found here.

It was an interesting day with a wide range of conditions. Big, heavy rain squalls coming over the island on the preceding night with big calmish periods afterwards.  We put the Code Zero on the boat in the morning in prep. Another big squall washed over the fleet during the start sequences for the first classes (we were last off after the big Maxis).

Loick Peyron sailed on Phaedo today, but with big wind shifts and start line corrections, her timed run didn’t really work out. They haven’t really appreciated our “high mode” off the line previously so we considered that with Loick potentially changing their gentle start strategy (and with their handicap and speed they can afford to be gentle), I was worried they might try and get under us and squeeze us out at the start. Loick helmed our first start masterfully the other day… so full respect ( he’s done some other s**t too, apparently).  Anyway, they were miles late.

We started mid line on a fairly even line and were happy with clean air and options. The chartered GB62 Elvis [world champ owner Jason Carroll is racing his Viper 640 in Charleston -ed] made a good start to leeward of us and we had the GC32 and G4 back and to windward. Phaedo tacked off once across the line and took a long beat out to sea (East) whilst we went in towards the island shore. I think we did pretty well to ride through the lulls and gusts. We sailed over the GC and the G4…which are just not that fast upwind yet. I fully respect the challenges of Mk1 development and I’m really enjoying watching this one done to this high level. It seems like it’s being sailed very well. Putting it around a course not of your choosing really highlights the reality of the compromises though. The fact is, your dragging a lot of excess up the course with you. We had full main hull-flying conditions up the shore from time to time (not so easy on Paradox i.e. 19-20 knots) which were followed by 10 knot lumpy stuff trying to lay the top of the island. We weren’t that far behind Phaedo when they hit the layline but they just tear chunks out of us when it gets lighter. They are two tons lighter with much more sail area and are only getting better and better with the tools.  Things even up a little more as it gets stronger (handicap wise at least).

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 7.06.17 AMWe had managed to also put good distance between us and the GC (which was sailing under full rig today). I think Elvis may have been ahead of the G4 on this part of the race. The next short reach had us debating whether to hoist the zero or stay with the solent and peel straight to the big gennaker at the corner. We chose the latter but hated the short period sailing undercanvassed. We chased down “Lucky” on the next downwind, but it took a while in a light spot.  The GC joined us on the leg, promptly jumping onto foils and sailing away from us faster and deeper on a long starboard gybe. We sailed against two of the quick foilers in last years RTIsland race and we know how quick they can be! We were sailing pretty clean but they gracefully sailed through. We couldn’t even see who was fourth.

On the following beat we were still in touch with the GC, past Lucky and chasing Lupa. We got to watch the G4 heading downwind. It looked like hard work in the marginal foiling conditions (i.e. sailing whatever angles it takes and trying everything to get on the foils). It wasn’t a good day for a heavy foiling boat!  We rounded the next mark still behind the GC and cracked off onto a tight reach which turned into more of a beam reach. The wind had finally returned so that we had full foil down and could sit around 20-23 knots. We caught up and passed the GC pretty quickly… but it was obvious they had some problem on port tack. They should have been smoking us, but were still lowriding.  Anyway… as they say in the classics… “stiff s**t”:)

So we pushed on, rounded the island further and went to the big gennaker/staysail combo. The GC came around the corner, gybed onto starboard and sure enough… popped onto the foils and took off again. We could see Bella Mente parked up in the distance and knew the race was far from over. There was one mark to round before the 3/4 mile or so beat up to the line. It all looked very light and random in there so we stood offshore.

The GC had overtaken us again and the big Swan Odin had somehow managed to slide down the inside gifted by it’s own personal breeze. We stayed away from the mass of boats as we sailed from one swirl of wind and velocity header to the next. Somehow we rounded the mark just ahead of most of them and then fought our way upwind finally using the 0 in anything from 5-15 knots of wind. After a long period in those super light and fickle conditions we knew the handicap was a lottery but were very happy with the way we sailed through the bunch to claim our own little victory. The GC was a wounded bird so no big conclusions can be drawn there. Phaedo is in another league and I have no idea what they experienced at the finish. Elvis sailed very well and the G4 was a long way back. The G4 really is an interesting boat… so was the Hobie/Ketterman tri-foiler. I’m glad both of them exist. So basically, there was a lot of randomness on todays course. It’s a great course and event and a very interesting collection of boats. I’m very much enjoying sailing on Paradox. She’s a great ride.



April 18th, 2015 by admin

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It has been a long time since we’ve seen this much excitement around a new boat launch, but we reckon if ever a boat deserved it, it’s the world’s first fully foiling cruiser/racer.  Sick work from all the Gunboat G4 build/design team, and we’re proud to host this World Premier of the beautiful film of Timbalero 3′s sea trials earlier this week (thanks to Richard and Rachel).

Mr. Clean heads down to Antigua at the end of the month for his in-depth, Anarchy look at the G4; in the meantime, head to the thread for all the news and analysis here.


April 11th, 2015 by admin

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A stoked Peter Johnstone reports that the hard-working design and build team at Gunboat have done it!  The full-foiling G4 cruiser/racer is ticking all the test boxes during her St. Martin sea trials, and here’s today’s sailing report directly from test pilot and mast builder Ben Hall:

“An epic day of sailing the new Gunboat G4!  The orange rocket handled the 18-20 kt breezes off St Maarten with ease.  Foiling was fast and steady. I got to drive upwind and hit 15.4 kts…incredible!

Downwind with R1 we peaked out at 25.7. On the foils we had really good VMG with TWA of about 160. On the final burn into the harbor with the solent and full main the top speed was 29.7.

Probably one of the best days of sailing ever for me…all on a boat with a cruising interior, a nice fridge and stove, electric sail drive and cockpit for the best of parties.

Truly remarkable!”

Screw the AC48 – they should just do the America’s Cup in these things.

Watch the G4 thread in Multihull Anarchy and Gunboat’s Facebook Page for the latest photos and reports, and check back here later in the week for the full video.  Photo courtesy of Rachel Jaspersen/Ocean Images.


April 6th, 2015 by admin

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The influx of knowledge and skill pouring into the Gunboat fleet over the past five years was blatantly apparent during a picture-perfect week in Sint Maarten for the 2015 Heineken Regatta, and Richard and Rachel captured the feel of the Caribbean’s most picturesque regatta well.  Two-time Melges 32 World Champ Jason Carroll barely held off professional A-Cat World Champ and multiple F-18 champ Mischa Heemskerk with both skippers sailing to the limits of the multi-million dollar cruisers, and both teams already thinking about next year’s rematch.

They (thankfully) didn’t shoot what we love most about SXM – the insanely hot French and Dutch girls, the cheapest and best wine and alcohol in the Caribbean, and drug-addled all-night parties from one end of the island to the other.  Nope – you’ve gotta come racing for all that.  If you don’t have a boat, give this chick a call.  She’ll get you some silverware and her crews are no strangers to debauchery.


April 6th, 2015 by admin

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30 knots…Why not?  Check out Rachel and Richard with some of the most extreme Gunboat action we’ve ever seen.  Full news story on ‘em here, and watch more today and tomorrow at the Gunboat page Results here.  We’d love to be able to tell you that Gunboat and now MOD-70 owner Lloyd Thornburg broke Playstation’s decade old ’round St. Martin’ record, but for some bizarro reason the RC sent the green trimaran around a different course, so now Phaedo^3 has ‘established a new time for the counterclockwise Tinte Marre course…”  WTF?


March 7th, 2015 by admin

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IMG_3924 cropA huge thanks to Gunboat skipper Chris Bailet for spending so many hours on this interview.  Catch up on the Loss of the Rainmaker with Part 1, Part 2, and the report from Ocean Crescent and be sure to read through to the end of the story for Mr. Clean’s take.

SA: So they were 20 minutes out, and they would have 18 minutes to rescue 5 of you.

CB: Yeah, there wasn’t going to be time for grabbing your favorite pillow.  I prepared Brian and Max for what was about to happen, and walked them through the steps of evacuation. I went down into the port hull through the hatch to retrieve passports, wallets, cellphones and boat documents. I put everything into a dry bag backpack including the boat computers and the GoPro with which we’d been filming earlier. I went to the bow and set up a bridle with two long dock lines on each forward cleat and a large inflated fender tied to the ends of both.

SA: Was there any thought about making the boat watertight or setting up some way to track her long term?

CB: There was barely time to get our gear together and get the boat ready for the evac!  The helo and C130 were on site as we finished final prep for abandonment, and the helo circled the bow and hovered over our port side. The rescue swimmer gave us the thumbs up and began descending towards the water. At the first attempt, the boat surged down a wave at 6kts and we were pushed further downwind from the rescue swimmer. I started the starboard engine again and brought the boat beam to with the boards down at 90degrees. At the second attempt, the helo came over our port aft quarter and the swimmer descended.

SA: Where were the crew at this point?

CB: George was on the transom with Brian and Max, Jon was on comms with the helo, and I was at the helm. Max was the first off, then Brian. Both had help from George, who inflated their lifejackets and assisted them off the port transom towards the swimmer. George was third, then Jon, both with inflated life jackets. I had a few seconds to put the boat through a systems shutdown on the C-Zone, to put the boat into a secure mode to save battery and prevent fire. I stuffed a blanket and cushions into the port companionway to slow the ingress of water into the port hull, and finally, I lashed the EPIRB to a winch.  Because of the rescue swimmer not using a basket, I dumped the backpack and transferred the small items into two dry bags, which I clipped to my life jacket. I set off a personal locator and zipped it into my chest pocket, and prepared to abandon as the sun was going down. I jumped off the port transom and met the swimmer, Claude. Once I was in the helo, we were told we’d be landing at Dare Regional in Manteo, NC.  They would not be able to make their regular base at Elizabeth City, a few miles further.

SA: Can I get off the edge of my seat now?  What was the helicopter ride like?

CB: Long.  Freezing cold.  Really, really loud.  I’m going out on a limb to recommend folks try to avoid that flight.

SA: So now there’s a couple million worth of carbon floating around with a gangsta storm coming.  Who went looking?

CB: Quite a few guys tried to be cowboys, as you can imagine, including one fishing vessel Fine Tuna, which took Gunboat employee Michael Reardon aboard.  They were on station by Monday night Fine at the last location transmitted by the EPIRB; one media report incorrectly wrote that the CG had slapped some kind of beacon aboard, but the Tuna had only the pings up until they stopped.

SA: And it was crazy out there?

CB: They said they had 80 knots of wind and seas to 25’. And over the next three days, they managed to find some debris along with some items from Rainmaker, but no boat.

SA:  Identifiable debris?

CB: Yeah – seat cushion, a deflated fender, beanbag chair, floorboard, ditch bag, couple of other things.  Enough to know they were in the right place.

SA: Did you give up after that call?

CB: No, we tried to get up and find her on Tuesday via plane, but naval radio comms told us we were in a closed hot zone practice sector and grounded us.  We went out for two searches on Wednesday, with the first centering on the last transmitted position, where Fine Tuna was still searching.  We saw floating debris from the air.  For the second search, we researched the wind, current, and swell and focused on the probable drift location of the boat had the EPIRB come free during the nasty weather.  We had over two hours on station for each search with a pattern of east/west 40 nm, south 10/15mn, then back to the north before heading to Dare regional to refuel.

SA: Final conclusion?

CB: Debris on both searches, but no sign of the Gunboat 55 Rainmaker.

SA: Do you think she will turn up?

CB: It’s a big ocean.  Do you?

SA: Okay, you’ve had a chance to tell your whole story, and now there are a bunch of other questions I’d like to ask you to put this whole thing to bed.

CB: Shoot.  I’ve got nothing to hide.

AB: How many times have you sailed hundreds of miles offshore in the middle of winter? How many times were you the captain in those past experiences? In situations where you weren’t the captain, what type of discussions and preparation did you witness/participate in regarding “plan b” in the event of a catastrophic failure?

CB: I’ve done a handfull of deliveries out of New England as late as Christmas, a few out of FL all heading to the Caribbean.  Acted as Captain on 2 of the 5. We saw some pretty nasty stuff on Tribe one trip down in late December with 40+.  Plan B was Bermuda with the southerly, or wait it out and try to make bahamas with the NNW, or back to NC once it all cleared.

SA: How much experience/training do you have with regards to self rescue in the event of a dismasting or other catastrophic failure? Have you ever deployed a sea anchor or drogue? Have you ever had to construct a jury rig? Have you ever had to clear fouled props at sea? Have you ever had to board up windows, companionways, or other points of possible water ingress? Have you ever had to clean up a hydraulic or other slick spills? Are these things you’d thought about? Prepared for?

CB: Until last month, I’d never been on a boat where the rig came down.  I’ve deployed a drone on a monohull in a nasty storm, but that’s all. We were prepared to use the storm jib as a drogue, but felt that it would either bring the bow into the waves and bury the longeron or bring the stern up and bring water into the boat.  We never really needed to stop the boat, as it turned out.

SA: In the middle of the RM crisis, what was your thought process? Did you and the other crew members discuss your options for self rescue and weigh it against the dangers associated with assisted rescue?

CB: We all discussed it after the first damage assessment. We looked at options, spoke to the Coast Guard, and they told us to fire off the EPIRB immediately, because we’d told them out situation, and they knew what was coming.  If we were confident we could have gotten away from the coming front, maybe it would have been a tougher decision, but staying in the same spot and taking hours or a day to get everything sorted – that would have put lives in more danger, period.  And being on the very edge of helicopter range adds another reason to the ‘abandon’ column; if things get worse the next day, are you now out of range?  At some point you swallow your pride and the idea that you’re invincible and decide you’ve got a shit hand that you can’t bluff your way out of.  And you fold, before you lose all your chips.

SA: If rescue hadn’t been an option, and you ignore the weather forecast for a second, are there ways you could have improved the condition of the boat and got things going again?

CB: We didn’t have anything big enough to cover the window that could have supported wind and waves, so that is something to keep in mind.  We could have sorted out our engine trouble with enough time and maybe a little less sea state – similar to clearing the prop, which is a hate mission in big waves.  I’d like to think that the boat was still a platform for us as long as we needed it, and I don’t have much doubt that, if rescue wasn’t an option, we’d be repairing electronics, engine and window, and waiting for a lull so we could start stripping the longeron to rig it up as a jury mast. It would have definitely taken a few days.  BVI, here we come!

SA: You say weather was the biggest factor in your decision to abandon, what was your “plan b” for a catastrophic event when you set out, given the unforgiving forecast? You mentioned the Bahamas and Bermuda. Why weren’t those viable options? Was attempting to get to one these points discussed as a possible option onboard at the time?

CB:  I can’t emphasize how quickly things happened out there, it was pretty much a rush from the time we got the rig cleared to the evac, so we may have overlooked some of the options. Bermuda was still 450nm, and wasn’t going to be easy to get to with a NW, N to NE coming in the next 24 hours.  Cutting away the longeron was risky and would have taken a lot of thought to do it without dropping someone in the water or punching a hole in the boat. And until we got both engines running and the longeron on deck, we were not going anywhere.  And it was the same issue I mentioned above – go towards Bermuda, and now you don’t have a helo option.

SA: The photos from Ocean Crescent show no signs of visible damage to the port hull. Do you think it’s possible that the blow you experienced could have resulted in little/no structural damage?

CB: That photo was taken before they hit us. Look at the picture, the way its set up, was just before we collided with their starboard side.

SA: Having sailed with you before I know how competent and experienced you are, but this is obviously the biggest challenge you’ve experienced in your career. What’s the biggest takeaway for you as a captain (other than “sometimes shit happens at sea”)? What have you learned? How has this experience made you wiser, stronger, better?

CB: There are plenty of small lessons to learn about handling that specific situation in that specific boat, but really, we got our asses kicked by the ocean, and thankfully, no one got hurt.  Maybe what I’ve learned best is to pick myself up, dust myself off, and put my fists back up.  I love my job, and I love the ocean, and if you spend enough time out there, you’re gonna get cold cocked sooner or later.

SA: That’s it?

CB: What else can I say?  We don’t know how much wind hit us, we don’t know what happened to the rig, and we don’t know what happened to the boat.  I’m confident Gunboat is investigating everything they can to address some of the problems we had and I’m sure you’ll hear from them at some point, but my actions were all about making sure everyone was as safe as possible, and I don’t have any regrets.  It’s better to be a live donkey than a dead lion.

SA: Thanks very much Chris.

CB: See ya in St. Martin, Clean


Clean Reports

Because of Gunboat’s stature as one of the sport’s most visible brands, and their long association with Sailing Anarchy (and the fact that there are thousands of cabin-fever crazy anarchists buried under the snow), there’s been a massive amount of interest in the forums in the Rainmaker saga, with a small but vocal number of you complaining that you weren’t getting ‘the whole story.’  We have some advice for you: Get over it, because 15 years ago, you wouldn’t have heard about it at all.  We’re grateful to be able to bring a factual account of the story to you, one that we’ve backed up with information from Commanders and other crew.  We’re also so glad to have quality advertisers like Gunboat who would never even consider asking us to quash this report or threaten us in any way.  Like us, they believe in transparency, and like us, they wanted the story to be told.  But it’s important that you know our stand on this interview, and our own thoughts on this incident.

First off, Bailet is a personal friend of mine, and a longtime reader of SA.  Would I lie for him?  Not in a million years.  But rather than ask him hard followups, I trusted him enough to accept him at his word.  If you want to call that a soft interview, that’s your right.  No one is making you read it.

Second off, Gunboat founder Peter Johnstone is a sponsor, advertiser, and friend of SA almost since Gunboat began.  Would we lie for him, or let him write his own version of the news? Never.  Would our feelings for PJ and Gunboat make us go a little lighter on them than another brand?  We have to admit this is possible.

Finally, this is a multi-million dollar loss that’s now a multi-million dollar check for an insurance company to write, and you know what insurance companies really do, right?  They sue people – especially when they have to eat millions of dollars.  So we’ve got a maritime incident on international waters on a private luxury yacht owned by a very wealthy man, and all the details are in the hands of a tiny number of people, none of whom are about to go against their legal advice.  Now there’s no way that Chris was running all this by a lawyer, but I have little doubt that he was advised on parts of this interview.  It was either that or nothing at all.

Finally, while almost all the gaps in the report are due to lack of information (the rig failure mode, for instance), there are definitely a few revealing gaps that bother me.  While I prefer to avoid speculating in the absense of evidence, I need to point them out so I can feel good about all the work I’ve done on this report.

Gap 1: Departure.  While I wouldn’t have hesitated to leave on the forecast Rainmaker had, it would be for the express purpose of hauling ass.  Rainmaker’s average speeds up to the dismasting don’t indicate she was in any rush at all, and if that’s the case, there was no reason for them to leave with that forecast.

Gap 2: Brian and Max.  There are a couple of references to the owner and his son being in shock, but otherwise they are barely mentioned in the story at all.  This feels more to me like Chris’s well-known loyalty to his employer than anything else, but it seems to me that Brian and Max’s condition may have played a bigger role in the decision to abandon than the interview lets on.

Gap 3: Mayday or Pan Pan. The decision to abandon was made much simpler because of the Mayday call and the USCG advice to switch on the EPIRB.  Once that happened, the crew spent all their time working on rescue-related jobs until evacuated.  I am not second-guessing their call, but I am definitely wondering whether it was another factor (see above) that kept this very experienced and resourceful crew from at least making the effort to get the boat shipshape and start to think about what it would take to self-rescue.

Gap 4: Mainsheet.  While one of the crew took the helm from the autopilot within a second of when the squall hit, because he was immediately wrestling with the wheel, he was  unable to reach the emergency mainsheet dump button about a foot in front of the helm.  The rig came down a few seconds later.  Would a mainsheet dump have saved the rig?  We weren’t there, but there’s certainly a chance it could have.  But if I was sailing along on a delivery at 10-20 knots in 35-40 knots with a storm jib and triple reefed main up, I might think one person could handle both jobs from a foot away, too.  I’d be wrong, but I didn’t know that until after this incident.

Overall, I find Chris and the crew to have done an exemplary job keeping themselves and their novice bluewater sailing owner and his son alive after a nasty dismasting in an unforecast and extreme weather event and complicated rescue.  There will be people second-guessing this one for years to come, but neither the crew nor Gunboat have anything to be ashamed about.  Chris Bailet proved that his shoreside preparation is tops and that he’s great under fire, and he’ll no doubt be working on another Gunboat before too long.  And I wouldn’t hesitate to do a delivery with him, any time, anywhere.

Don’t agree?  Go argue about it here.  We’re done.  And if you want more Gunboat action, wait til Wednesday when 5 of ‘em hit the Heineken St. Martin race course.


March 1st, 2015 by admin

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DCIM100GOPROWhen we left Rainmaker skipper Chris Bailet, the Gunboat 55 was being run over by a freight train of wind, and Chris had just made it to the cockpit.

CB: The boat lurches and I hit the plinth station just as we all hear a crack, followed by a louder crack. The mast hits the deck at the midship cleat, throwing the butt end of the mast off the step and into the air, though it is still held down by running rigging, wiring and hydraulics leading through the organizer.  The port forward window smashes under the mast’s impact on the deck.  I see the boom on the cabin house along the port side.

SA: How long until you were in action?

CB: Immediately, I yelled, “rig down, all hands!  Grab the rig kit!!”  I see Max and Brian ready to come through the port side companionway, and I tell them to make sure their lifejackets and shoes are on and watch for broken glass.

SA: Who’s on the helm at the time?

CB: The pilot was driving on apparent wind when the rig came down, Jon told me it was maybe 5-7 seconds between when the gust hit to when the rig was on the deck.  I took the helm from Jon, who’d grabbed the helm and cut out the pilot when the gust hit.  Meanwhile, Jon and George opened the aft daybed up to grab the rig ditch kit. Jon grabs a hacksaw to begin cutting the shrouds. The boat still has forward momentum and the swell is causing the rig to move around the deck, and the boom on the pilothouse, so I steer the boat around the mast in the water to try to get the boat pointed dead downwind. The wind has backed down to 40 kts and visibility returned.

SA: What did George and Jon tell you about the moments before the squall hit?

CB: visibility was about 5nm, overcast but there weren’t any dark clouds. Radar was on, XM weather was on, nothing notable in range. George was talking about how well the boat was handling actually.

SA: Talk us through the process of getting the rig off.

CB: We tried to be as calm as we could, but it was all a bit chaotic; I grab my ceramic knife, open the forward sliding windows, and begin cutting all the running rigging and hydraulic hoses.  I get hydraulic fluid in my eyes, and George steps in to finish cutting the hoses. I grab a set of wire cutters from the ditch kit and cut all the wiring connecting the mast. Using the ceramic blade, I cut all the halyards where they connect to the deck. George is at the headstay with a hammer, banging the pin out to release the stay from the furler. Jon has just freed the last shroud, and I begin cutting the mainsheet. As soon as the main sheet is cut, the rig is fully disconnected.

SA: And how long do you think all that took?

CB: Somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes.

SA: So everything is free, but all that heavy shit is still laying on the boat.  Now what?

CB: We attempt to push the boom off the coachroof, but we can’t move it. There is hydraulic fluid and glass on the deck. We decide the only way to get the rig away from the boat is to drive out from under it.  The butt end was cleared, and close to punching the hull with each wave. The starboard engine wouldn’t start, port engine started, and I put it into gear and drove forward, as George guides the boom off the cabin top. We motor away from the rig about two boat lengths, noticing that the storm jib is trailing behind us. I put the engine in neutral and shut it down.  Then ask Jon to get comms going with the satphone and handheld, and issue a Mayday.

SA: Okay – damage assessment?

CB: The boom and rig impacted and compressed the pilothouse port mullion above the companionway. This bent the port companionway sliding hatch frame so we can’t shut it all of the way. The port forward window is gone. We were getting rainwater and salt spray in the salon. The electronics and navigation at the helm and radio box are out. The aft enclosure tracks have blown out. Without being underway, we are getting some wave tops into the salon.  The port companionway hatch could be an issue if seas get bigger. George checks the port hull bilges for water. There is none. The longeron appears stable. It is lower without the rig but the side and whiskers are supporting it. The electrical tech space with the genset’s charger/inverters has gotten some water through the cleared away mast electrical conduit. Starboard engine still isn’t rolling over.  Comms are limited to the Sat phone which is working on its battery. The satphone charger is mounted at the navstation. It’s wet and doesn’t appear to be charging. Port prop is fouled by the storm jib sheets and the seas are too big to get in the water and free them.  George, Jon and I have a load of cuts on our hands and knees from the glass, but no major injuries.

SA: How long til Jon made good contact?

CB:  Maybe 10 minutes.  He had a full emergency contact sheet.  Then he initiates the boat’s EPIRB, as well as his personal EPIRB (going to his folks in NYC, who contact GB). Max and Brian are sitting in the settee, quiet and in a bit shock. George is at the helm, trying to get STBD engine going. I go to the port aft scoop and begin fishing the two lines that are stuck around the prop and connected to the storm jib with the boat hook. I pick up the solent halyard and sheet and pull the storm jib up into the salon and begin to cut the sheets as close to the water line as I can. Once it’s clear, I look over at Jon who’s beginning to create a muster station at the helm chair with the liferaft, first aid kit, and both ditch bags. Jon says the Coast Guard is constructing a plan, and that he will make contact with them again in thirty minutes.

SA: Did you know you were going to abandon already?

CB: We weren’t sure at that point, we were still in damage control and assessment stage.  I told the crew to get their foulies on and make sure that their lifejackets are ready. George stays at the helm, while Jon and I put on dry clothes and foulies. We compile all other safety equipment at the settee table which was pretty sheltered.

SA: So you’re ready to abandon if you need to – any thoughts of self-rescue at this point?

CB: Of course – no one wants to abandon their boat.  I try again to fire up the starboard engine. It finally catches, and I slowly start to bring the boat around so that the swell is on the beam. Heading around 110 degrees, TWS 30kts+ at 220TWD, seas around 15, and we’re making about 4kts.

SA: And meanwhile, the CG isn’t wasting time.

CB: Jon has another transmission with them on schedule, and they tell him that two cargo ships have been diverted for support, and they’d dispatched a helo and C130.  The CG was crunching numbers to see if the helicopter could make it to the scene, stay on station long enough and safely back, as we were approaching the end of their range for a helo evac. Shortly after the call, we see a tanker on the horizon. I make contact with the Ocean Crescent over the handheld.  They tell us they have no visual, so Jon shoots off three flares, and they confirm our location

SA: Right – the moment of truth.  What’s your decision making process when there is a rescuer on site?

CB: I went back to our damage assessment.  The port companionway hatch is a concern without being able to close it. If we have to motor into a seaway, the longeron could be an issue and may need to be cutaway, but would be a huge risk trying to get that thing free. Port engine is out with the lines on the prop, and starboard is still having issues. The aft enclosure tracks are blown out. The cockpit and deck have broken glass and hydraulic fluid, the nav station electronics we’re all soaked. Two of the crew were potentially in shock.  And the forecast weather coming in was looking pretty horrible.

SA: Some of that could have been sorted out though, right?

CB: Of course, but not easily and not quickly, and if there was one factor that made my decision for me, it was the forecast, combined with our location. A nasty trough was moving in fast with the certainty of continually deteriorating conditions, potential for hurricane-force winds, and huge seas for the next 3 days if we couldn’t motor out of the area.  We all discussed it, we all agreed, and radioed the Ocean Crescent.

SA: Was it a relief once you made the decision?

CB: ABSOLUTELY NOT. That fucking sucked.  Now we had to get everyone safely onto a ship!

 SA: Time for some sketchy action?

CB: Oh yeah.  The Ocean Crescent told us to hold course and they would come around our port side, around our transom, and to windward, along the starboard hull. As they were in final approached, they radioed that they would be crossing in front of our bow, then stopping to windward of us.  At this time we were going approximately 2-4kts down the waves, no engines (STBD kept cutting out) with our starboard quarter to the wind. The Ocean Crescent made this call while they were within approximately 900ft (3 of their boat lengths) of our bow, approaching at about 10 knots.  As they got close, they made an emergency turn to port to try to avoid collision.  As soon as it became obvious they were going to hit us, I try a handful of times to get starboard engine on, finally it caught and I threw it into reverse.  The starboard side started to turn, exposing our port bow and longeron to the ship, and they collided with our port bow forward of their midships.  It was a big blow, and we heard the crunching of the carbon (really getting sick of that sound now), though we didn’t know how much damage we’d sustained as we rolled off their bow wake and slid down their starboard side.  But OC was still turning to port, and as we neared their transom, the tanker went bow down on a wave, completely exposing their massive spinning propeller.  It missed our port hull by a few feet.

SA: Holy crap!

CB: Yeah, right?  Slightly terrifying.  Anyway, they radioed back.  “Let’s try that again, Captain.”  I told them we’d prefer to see if we could get into their lee on our own engine, and slowly bring our starboard side into their port side.  They agreed, and we slowly reversed toward them, but were blown away.  We made a second attempt after asking them to lower their boarding nets further down the topsides of their boat, and we slowly crept to them, leading with our starboard stern.

SA: Same sea state?

CB: Choppy seas still, maybe 15 feet, with winds still to around 40.

SA: OK.  So the second time’s the charm?

CB: Not really!  We were able to catch two heaving lines from their crew with Rainmaker standing off about 100 feet from them.  It gave us a chance to look at the boats’ relative motions, look at the cargo net, and evaluate the potential transfer. We all agreed that jumping from the cat to the ship would create some real potential for death or serious injury, and we dropped the heaving lines, motoring a couple more lengths to leeward to keep clear of the Crescent.

SA: Scary shit. So then what?

CB: Yeah, not something you can train for.  But it looked seriously bad.   Anyway, Jon called the CG again and let them know what happened – they responded that the C130 and helo were 20 minutes out, and that the helo would have very little time on station, 18 minutes max.  We discussed the options, and agreed unanimously that an air rescue was the best option. Jon radioed back to the Ocean Crescent that we planned a helo evac, and asked them to stay to for support.

Check back tomorrow for the final piece of the Rainmaker saga, including the air rescue, salvage attempts, and lessons learned.


February 25th, 2015 by admin

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As the first of the widely anticipated Irens-designed Gunboat 55’s, Rainmaker was always going to get a lot of attention, and owner Brian Cohen spent much of last season cruising and racing (and getting Forbes magazine press) around the New York area under the watchful eye of a guy we’ve sailed with ourselves and consider one of the best; Yachtmaster and USCG-licensed Captain Chris Bailet. At the end of the season, Rainmaker headed back to the Gunboat factory in Wanchese for winter upgrades and warranty work, and when that was done, the waiting began for a good trip to the Caribbean.

When the weather window came in on January 29th, they set off, and the next day, Rainmaker dismasted 200 miles off the Carolina coast, her crew rescued by a USCG helicopter.  We spoke to Bailet for the details.

SA: Before we even talk about the boat, let’s talk about the weather.  Tell us about your decision making leading up to the trip.

CB: We’d been monitoring weather along with Commanders for some time, and the forecast when we left it looked like high pressure across the stream into a downwind sleigh ride.  We expected up to 40 knots in squalls when the front came through, but all from behind us.

SA: So what was your routing, precisely?

CB: The plan was to cross the stream with a SW’ly while the high pressure held, then turn to the South as the wind went NW’ly and ride it quickly down to the islands.

SA: Were you sticking with it?

CB: We spoke to them on the morning after we left around 1000 – we were 5 nm North of rhumb to their Waypoint 1 for our route.

SA: And is 40+ knots in the North Atlantic in winter really Gunboat weather in your opinion?

CB: I’ve sailed about 30,000 NM on Gunboats in winds up to 65knots, and always come through.  We were extremely careful in our preparations and felt ready for anything, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take a Gunboat into that forecast again.

SA: Okay, so let’s talk about the crew.  We understand that Brian Cohen had little offshore experience, and he brought his 24-year old son Max, who had less.  Was this really the trip for them?

CB: Brian had done the maiden delivery on the boat from, NC-NY and then sailed the hell out of the boat – we went out pretty much every day last summer.  Max spent loads of time on the boat – he was comfortable too – though this was his first offshore experience. But a sleigh ride on a Gunboat with three pros wasn’t something treacherous or frightening – it was a great chance at a cool voyage.

SA: Who were the rest of the crew and what is their experience level like?

CB: George Cahusac and Jon Ollweather, who are probably the two offshore sailors I would most trust with my life or my boat. Both are impeccable seamen. Both hold multiple licenses.

SA: Ok, so we’ve done crew and weather.  Let’s talk about the boat.  Were there any majors done during the NC visit?

CB: Not really – a few small issues and the addition of a rollerfurling Solent and J1, a new spinnaker, some electronic upgrades and a prop change.

SA: And did you have time to check everything before you left?

CB: Yep – we spent a week pushing the boat pretty hard inshore and testing the new sails, electronics, and engine/generator systems.

SA: So everything’s good but the boat is taking her first major offshore trip in some shit.  What’s on the safety checklist?

CB: Jon and I made about a hundred runs to prepare the ditch bags, life raft, MREs.  Specifically, we made a rig ditch kit with a battery operated grinder with spare grinding wheels for carbon, a hacksaw with spare blades, a handful of ceramic knives, a few Leathermens, some underwater epoxy, and a set of wire cutters.

SA: Pretty comprehensive.  What about the life raft and other safety gear?

CB:We organized all the safety gear under the aft day bed, assuming this would be the easiest accessed place if the boat were to turn over or an emergency. Under the day bed was the life raft, a drybag full of MRE’s to last 5 people 4 days, complete offshore medical kit, our primary ditch bag (full of hand held flares, aerial flares, glow sticks, first aid, water bottles, heat blankets, mirrors, smoke, water dye, solar panel 12v charger, sat phone charger, hand held VHF and a hand held gps), and our rig ditch kit.

SA:So you set off in light air on the 29th.  Tell us about that day.

CB: After checking all systems, seatrial list completed and the boat loaded up, RAINMAKER departed the dock around 0130. I split watches 2 hours on, 4 off with the experienced sailors teaming with Max and Brian. Jon and Brian took the first watch until 0000, then George and Max until 0400, and I until 0600, planning for me to be the one on watch when we arrived Hatteras at sunrise. We expected to motor the entire way down, about 45nm. Before entering Pimlico sound, I conducted a safety meeting with all crew in the salon. Covering where all fire extinguishers were, safety gear location, medical, and duties in case of emergency, along with our planned route and weather conditions.

SA: So then what?

CB: Everything was chill, wind variable for a while, then coming in gradually from the SW and building through the night.  We took our first reef before nightfall and had a great sail all night long under 1st reef and solent in 15-20 TWS, running down waves to 18-20 knots of boatspeed, heading around 100-120 to keep the wind on our starboard hip.  The boat felt great and balanced.  Brian had brought a bunch of serious fishing gear aboard, and we’d nailed a monster yellowfin tuna in the stream – I mention that because we were all feeling quite lucky to be cruising so calmly at 18-20 knots that night while eating fish tacos that had been swimming a few hour earlier.

SA:When did it start to get ugly?

CB:In the morning, we knew the shit was coming, and we tucked in the third reef and set the little storm jib.  We were felling a little underpowered sailing 7-10 knots, the wind built to an average of maybe 27-35 by noon, with waves to 14 feet.


CB: Not really. We felt very controlled, checked the rig for any pumping action and then going through a rig check after the reef was tucked. All seemed cool, the mainsail clew locks were set in to help keep the belly contained and we let the autopilot sail 100-110 AWA.

SA: You were woken up by the dismasting.  What’s the last thing you remember before you went to sleep?

CB: At noon on the 30th, Jon is on watch after a 20 minute handover. TWS is between 25-40 kts, seas are between 12-15 ft. TWD of 220. Heading is 100, autopilot is steering to an apparent wind angle of 110. The boat was feeling stable, waves were starting to slap the wingdeck and the leeward hull. George stayed topside with Jon, so I could head down to catch some sleep.

SA: So you wake up to all hell breaking loose.

CB: At 1350, I wake up to a gust hitting the side of the hull like nothing I’ve ever heard, and I spring out of my bunk.  I see nothing out the starboard porthole except for white.  I run topside and see Jon at the wheel, eyes wide. By the time, I’m topside it’s a complete white out around the boat. We couldn’t make out the orange storm sail 10ft in front of us.  It sounds like we’re being run over by a freight train.

Check back soon for Part 2 of the Loss of the Rainmaker to find out about the attempted rescue, the actual rescue, the salvage attempts, and to watch video of the conditions just prior to the dismasting.   Big thanks to Bailet, Commanders, Gunboat, and Brian and Max Cohen for bringing us the story.


February 23rd, 2015 by admin

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The Michel Desjoyeaux-led MOD 70 crew of Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo^3 was loosely aware of the Farr 115 Sojana’s long-standing 4h37m43s ’round Antigua record when they went out for their first practice sail today; they put the pedal down on the trimaran and shattered it to pieces.  Unofficially, the new record is 2h44m15s, and the top speed the crew remembers seeing is somewhere around 35 knots…unofficially.

Big thanks to Team Phaedo/Ocean Images for the beautiful aerial shots; here’s another one of her coming right at ya!

February 21st, 2015 by admin

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Jen Edney is one of the most exciting young photographers to come along in years.  But can she write?  Peter Johnstone and the Gunboat folks gave us all a chance to find out with this excellent NC to Miami delivery report from the Gunboat 55 Toccata.  And for those of you waiting for the details on the loss of the Rainmaker, sit tight.  It drops soon.  Those of you confused by the title of this one…really?

I hear the buzz next to my head, my alarm waking me up to make sure I don’t miss sunrise.  I roll over to my side, peaking out the porthole – thankfully, it’s still dark.  I hit snooze, and this way-too-comfortable bed keeps rocking me back to sleep, rather than tossing me out of my bunk. More sleep…

Buzzzzzzz! It’s 20 minutes later, and I see light starting to tickle the water with reflections.  Now I’m excited to get up, and even more excited when I realize I don’t have to suit up in foul weather gear to go out on the deck to “use the head!”

Gunboat55_Toccata_Day4_-2812I peel myself out of bed and walk up the steps to make a cup of coffee, and rather than hunkering down in a deep galley looking at a gimballed cooker, I feel like I’m walking into the cozy family room of a modern Manhattan apartment with the best 360 degree-view of the ocean in the city.  But it isn’t, of course – it’s a Gunboat, and we’re motoring along, waiting for the slightest zephyr of breeze to let us get the sails up.

The hectic day before was a bit of a blur, as pre-delivery days with a narrow weather window usually are.  I helped with the extensive job of finishing up provisioning and making sure everything was loaded on the boat as quickly as possible, and seeing the food that was being passed onboard, I realized it was going to be a far cry from my racing yacht days of one-pot meals and freeze-dried hell.

“There’s a serious flood of emotions right now,” said Carolyn Groobey, proud co-owners of Toccata.. “We’ve been anticipating this day for so many years, so my heart was pounding like I’d just won the prize I’ve been striving for.” At the same time, there was some heaviness. “This was a goodbye for a while to our families, dogs, and the Gunboat family for a while.”

Gunboat55_Toccata_Day4_-2397Within hours of arriving in North Carolina I heard the phrase “Gunboat Family” and “Tribe” more then a handful of times, especially when listening to Chris Bailet recount the reaction after the loss of the boat he was delivering, Rainmaker. “We had no idea what was going on back on shore,” said Chris.  Apparently the coast guard was in touch with Lauren and that started the ball rolling, and the entire Gunboat staff was working angles for both getting us home and readying a salvage mission. “I was only able to get one call out to Peter. It was chopped up and cut out halfway through the conversation. But it was enough to let him know the situation, and enough to get people moving.”  Johnstone had calls on from Florida to Annapolis, people were ringing their cousins’ second uncle with a Commercial shrimp boat in Charlestown to get out there. By the time we landed, the Gunboat team was at Dare County Airport, open arms and hot pizza, with a meeting scheduled for a full review and salvage operation. “This level of camaraderie and support – it’s just not something you feel with any other boat company, said Chris.  “Ask any of the crew or owners on any Gunboat – it’s a family. Or as Peter so appropriately put it before, a TRIBE” [PJ’s first Gunboat – the boat that inspired the Gunboat line – is called Tribe -ed].

Having only met them the night before, I didn’t realize how strong the relationships were among the crew, though I learned the next day that PJ and the Groobeys had built a friendship over the preceding 3 years.  They recounted stories with laughter and nostalgia,  discussing the journey that led up to this monumental maiden voyage. “That unique Gunboat sense of community is important to us, and it’s one of the big reasons we bought the boat,” explained Carolyn.  “From the beginning, we felt like part of a big, awesome family, welcomed by the high-caliber folks that make up the tribe of Gunboat owners, employees, skippers, and crews.”

Gunboat55_Toccata_-1089For this trip, the new owners were eager to get acquainted with their boat – meaning lots of helming.  And the diminutive Carolyn Groobey proved to be the rock star, hitting 21.8 knots for Tocatta‘s first ‘personal best’ speed.  “It was a real gift to have Peter do this passage with us. We were learning ‘the Gunboat way’ at the feet of the master,” she said.    Curious to know a little more about how these boats handle after only a few days onboard, I asked Chris Bailet what he thought was a standout feature of Gunboat. “All of PJ’s boats seem to have the perfect combination of speed and comfort, without tradeoffs.  I’ve been on a lot of Peter’s boats, and you can ramp it up and send it while feeling completely stable, and not have the wave slap sending your coffee machine into a charter guests face. The beam keeps it stable and all that freeboard makes you feel like you’re at the bridge. I love the boats and the family, especially the 55, that thing is like a guided missile.”

Chris and Carolyn had similar feelings about the comfort of the boat, as did I, especially when compared to my last big delivery – the turboed VOR 70 Maserati.  Comfort is not a word I’d use when describing any VO70, but that’s what it takes to get real speed out of a design like that.  Gunboat does it smarter, as Groobey summed up: “We are deliriously happy with the boat. It’s solid, strong, and very comfortable. The openness and 360 visibility in the boat makes it both a great sailing platform and living platform. We love the galley up configuration. As you are sailing along, various crew members are cooking, sailing, reading, and relaxing – it’s all about the family; the tribe – that’s what Gunboats do.”


February 16th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 7.54.28 AMClean Report

Two big events for the US kick off this weekend – the first is the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, and the second is the Volvo Ocean Race.  And as usual, SA’s the place to go for the best info.

After 6 years of economic mayhem and dying boat shows, the US economy has (maybe? hopefully?) finally begun the broad-based recovery we’ve all been waiting for, and our luxurious hobby is responding at last.  Sales are flat or increasing throughout the industry with both small and large boats selling, and, at Annapolis at least, it appears the exhibitor list is finally growing again.  For our part, we’re excited to see a new ‘Racing’ section at America’s most important sailboat show, and we’re especially stoked to see sexy new offerings from our pals at C&C and Gunboat hit the water.  And we timed our visit to hit what might be the most fun couple of hours at the show: Saturday morning’s start of the Volvo Ocean Race – live and loud – on the 70″ flat screen at the Musto booth.  With mimosa and bloody mary accompaniment.

We’re toting along The Goddamned Reverend Petey so we can get some high quality video interviews, new product showcases, and ‘first sail’ reports from the deck of the new boats, and we encourage you to send us an email with your booth location and product description if you’ve got something cool to show our team.  If you want to shoot the shit and just buy us drinks, you can e-mail us too.  For a decent bit of enthusiast info on the show (and the spot we ripped this photo from), check out this blog.


October 10th, 2014 by admin

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New York Angels founder Brian Cohen has made his mark on the business world by investing in over 200 disruptive start-up companies, though he is perhaps best known for being the original investor in Pinterest. So when it came time for Cohen to replace his Swan, the investment legend knew it was time for something a little more… disruptive.  Even Anarchist.  Very little in today’s sailing market intrigued Brian until he discovered Gunboat, and the excellent new Gunboat 55.  We rarely publish gushing reports, but given the stature of this author and our love for all things Gunboat, we thought we’d share some glowing positive sentiments from a happy new boat owner. And to Brian: Keep disrupting, bro.  And for you grommets who don’t know what we’re referring to in the title of this piece, get educated, and don’t forget to watch the video below Brian’s thoughts.

My life has always involved technology disrupters. Little wonder that meant my sailing life would also be disrupted by the extraordinary vision of Peter Johnstone and my new Gunboat family of 100 artisan boat builders in North Carolina. From the moment RAINMAKER left the dock in Wanchese, headed for NYC, I knew my life would never be the same. Being the honored owner of the very first GUNBOAT 55 comes with the great responsibility of sharing its luxury, speed and grace with whomever I could. The sailing world has forever changed!

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.30.28 AMOn Father’s Day I took the first sail with my family on Long Island Sound and anchored in Huntington Harbor. If a sailing experience can be magical, this one was, and we all shared it together. We toasted the moment and then took turns at the wheel, sailing past every one, countless wide-eyed faces trying to figure out just exactly what it was that they were seeing.

On board we shared the exhilaration as RAINMAKER’s speed dramatically accelerated, 12 knots, 13 knots, 14 knots, and screamed in harmony as she hit her stride at 18 knots. Screams gave way to giggles, everyone thoroughly enjoying the rush of fear and excitement of such an unknown experience. The boat’s ease of use and power have created a new level of quality and performance expectation in the sailing universe.

My urge to sail RAINMAKER is very intense. I live in the West Village and have reserved a slip just 15 minutes away via the PATH train at the beautiful Newport Marina. Against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, and amongst the many 100’+ motor yachts, RAINMAKER’s sailing power and luxury feel right at home.

We are fortunate to have the young but very experienced chief Gunboat skipper Chris Bailet onboard, who is quickly connecting with RAINMAKER’s mind, as I become its soul. This past weekend with winds nearing 25 knots, we seamlessly climbed through speeds in the high teens and into the twenties, eventually flying faster than the wind!

I’m looking forward to getting RAINMAKER out on the racing circuit as soon as possible, our first test being the ALIR in late July, a race I won in 2002 aboard my Swan 40. If our early experiences are an indication of our potential, RAINMAKER will become a regular sight on the race course.

In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying evening and weekend sails on the Hudson. If you happen to be in the New York Harbor, please come by and say hello.




July 9th, 2014 by admin

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Ben Moon’s late charge wasn’t enough to hold off the speed of Bruce Mahoney’s DNA cat with T-foil Exploder rudders at the biggest A-Cat North Americans in history; Mahoney becomes the champ of the first-ever event held at SailNC in the Outer Banks, and we expect it to be the first of many.  Here’s a quick look thanks to the Rachel and Richard show; we’ll have a bit more about the current state of A-Class racing later in the week.


June 16th, 2014 by admin

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With racing abandoned on day 2 of the A-Cat NAs, Houston cat racer Bruce Mahoney took the chance to trial his brand new flying J/boards in 12 knots of breeze and a beautiful evening in the OBX.  Here’s the interview and Bruce’s explanation, along with a look at what a stable 18-20 knot ride looks like on an A-Class.


June 13th, 2014 by admin

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big pimpin’

Our pals at Gunboat continue to work on the super-sexy coastal racer/cruising G4, but with a twist:  Now, you can get them with J-foils.  Flight of fancy or flight for real?  We grabbed team member and design dude Rudo Enserink for a quick update.

SA: With the J-boards and T-rudders, this is looking like a full foiler.  Is that really possible on a boat with bunks and a kitchen?

RE: Yes and no. We’re first going to build high-lift C-foils for safe but very fast foil-assisted sailing.  The mildly asymmetric C-boards can be raked from -1 to +7 degrees and will be set at the factory for safe cruising.   The lift of these foils maxes out at 80% of displacement, and advanced owners can play with the rake adjustment to optimize for purpose and conditions.  One of the great things about C-foils is that you can leave the windward daggerboard deployed in all tacks.
The hull and daggerboard casing structure is prepared for full foiling, as are daggerboard bearings and rudder bearings.

If there’s enough interest from the market we’ll develop an electronically stabilized full foiling package that will be available as aftermarket upgrade. The current concept for this is an L-foil and auto-leveling T-rudders.

SA: Who is building/designing the foils?

RE:  Foils are designed jointly by Doug Schickler from Schickler Tagliapietra, with Davide Tagliapietra, Pieter Jan Dwarshuis, Mischa Heemskerk and Rudo Enserink.  They will be built in by Holland Composites (also builder of DNA A-cats), in their autoclave, and you can see some progress at their Facebook page.

SA:   That’s a pretty serious VPP chart.  Is that with the C-foils or with the new J/L foils?

RE: This VPP is with the C-foils.

For more info on the very hot Gunboat G4, check out the full details here or ask questions in the thread here.  Title shout to the best cartoon of the 80s.


May 14th, 2014 by admin

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Les Voiles De St. Barth continues to provide one of the best all-around regattas around, provided you can afford it.  Here’s another spectacular drone video from the boffins at Pigeon Vision who are pushing sailing drone coverage further than anyone we’ve seen yet; be sure to watch it through right to the end or you’ll miss the best part of the vid.  There’s also a mediocre event-sponsored vid here, and a completely unrelated but awesome drone vid here.  Then check out Sam Roger’s story below on the hard-charging team of Gunboaters aboard Jason Caroll’s Elvis at Les Voiles.  Carroll, Chad Corning, Scotty Bradford, Dave Allen,  Dave Hazard, Weston Barlow, Anthony Kotoun, John Baxter and Sam Rogers nearly made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but continued the Elvis tradition of pushing everything - on and off the water – to the redline.  Check out more from Sam at 42 Marine.

Growing up in tornado prone Minnesota, there are a few safety measures engrained in one’s psyche when summer weather sirens begin to sound.  If caught indoors, find a stable structure to ride out the storm; a basement, bathtub or when all else fails, a doorway. While racing the 62 ft Gunboat Elvis at Les Voiles de St. Barths this past week, I didn’t imagine a scenario where deploying tornado safety measures would be needed, but on a windy Day 3, when danger found us, I found the doorway.

For cruisers and racers alike, Gunboat catamarans are an appealing option. For cruisers, the modern, chic layout and design both inside and out allow the boat to hold its own in the swankiest harbors in the world, with a brand that’s known throughout the yachting world. Staterooms are comfy and roomy, there are plenty of nooks for relaxing, and as the many who have stepped foot aboard Elvis know, there is space for a sizeable party, complete with an impressive sound system, disco lights, and a dance-inducing 16-gallon rum tank and tap.

At 62 ft long, 30 ft wide, with carbon fiber throughout and a full compliment of racing sails, Elvis easily goes from Grand Ballroom to Grand Prix, capable of sailing 15 knots upwind and rumbling into the high 20s when cracking sheets.  As a sailor used to fast boats but without the leverage of being 30 ft wide when heeling 10 degrees, or having lead underneath them and simply waiting it out when a wipe-out occurs, the Gunboat sent me accroos to the lap of Anthony Kotoun when lifted 60 foot of starboard hull out of the water for the first time.  The comfortable mix of cruising and white knuckle sailing attracts owners like Jason Carroll who are looking for more than a standard racer/cruiser.

Our practice session and the first two days were in 11-15 kt tradewinds with moderate seas that gave Voiles competitors idyllic Carribean racing in and around the surrounding islands of St. Barths. Racing the Elvis at full steam took the max effort of 9 capable sailors, as we ran the gamut of our sail inventory on the winding courses.  The bow team was busy on the trampoline completing sail changes, as well as the pit/trim team managing sails, dropping and raising boards and pushing to maintain max vmg at all times. With a favorable rating on a Seacart 26, we found ourselves with two 2nds, and 2nd overall heading into the lay day.

The lay day is exciting moment for sailors. For some it provides a relaxing evening followed by a day of exploring which is often not afforded at most regattas, and for others it essentially is a hall-pass for a night on the town without a harsh wake-up for boat call.  After a fun night at Baz Bar, we posted up at noon for a regatta sanctioned “lunch” at the famous Nikki Beach, gawked at the menu listing 30,000€ bottles of champagne, and washed down our body surfing sessions with magnums of Rosé.  Yes, Rosé, its what they do in St. Barths, and we were in no position to question it.  If we knew what was awaiting us on the racecourse the next day, we may have opted for a pot full of calming herbal tea.

Sipping our coffee on the morning of day 3 from the perch of our villa, we could see the Trades were in full effect, and the Carribean at full noise.  With my experiences on Elvis being new, different and very smooth up to this point, I had veiled excitement as we headed to the racecourse; I did not know enough to be nervous.  With the wind instruments reading 25-28 and monster seas rumbling through the straight between St. Barths and St. Maarten, it was enough to drop the rig on the mighty 72 ft. Bella Mente.  Still not fully grasping the potential of the Elvis in this condition, we hoisted sails and put her on the wind.

Once sheeted on, the speed ticked up quickly, and from the comfort of Anthony’s lap, I felt our starboard hull lift for a few moments, then gently touch down.  Racing 38 ft scows that can touch 25 kts on a lake and easily capsize, or a Melges 32 down big waves in big breeze does not make me nervous.  The magnitude of racing a 62 foot Gunboat with the potential to tip over in big waves in the Carribean Sea made me nervous, and I instantly felt the weight of this for the first time.  With a monster puff descending on us and entering it unprepared on a fat angle without sheets ready to ease, we lifted off again but this time we kept going, with the heel angle reaching 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 degrees….

It was a forgone conclusion that we were going over as the worst case scenario loomed. With some braver team members reaching for their knives and winches to cut sheets or find a last ditch effort at salvage, others braced for impact, and when we reached the point of what I thought was no return, I found the nearest place to ride out the situation which happened to be the windward cockpit door frame, finally putting my childhood tornado education to use.

From our estimation, and from a handful of other sailors who witnessed our starboard hull rising from the water the heel angle reached somewhere in the low 40s before it stopped, held for a few moments, and quickly descended back into favorable numbers, like 0.  As the Elvis sat for a few moments, sails totally luffing, our team stared at each other in a mix of nervous laughter, and total shock that we were still floating upright.

Seeing steady breeze in the high 20s, the Bella rig go down, and potentially our near capsize, the always fearless Carribean/French RC sent all racing boats to shore for a postponement.  With every crew-member wound like a coiled spring ready to explode at any back-pat, sound or hint of trouble, we motored to Columbie’ (a beautiful beach lined natural harbor around the corner from Gustavia). Once we got settled, the team quietly separated to different areas of the boat, reflecting on what went wrong, what could have been, and how fortunate were to have our only damage be bruised egos.

In the end, our momentary lack of respect for the boat and conditions got us close to capsizing.  Being too cavalier, pushing the boat at 100% while not being prepared with having everyone in their racing positions, with someone calling puffs full time, and the driver and trimmers ready to react to the smallest wind increase or direction change was careless, and we fully understood that.  The Gunboat is a very fast, exciting boat that can be sailed in big heavy seas, but if a team is going to push it as hard as we intended, everyone needs to be on high alert any time the sails are trimmed; you can’t race this boat in the same way that you party on it.

With a few hours at anchor to calm our nerves, thank our respective spiritual leaders and share some more nervous laughter, we headed back out at 2:30 for a start in a breeze that had died slightly.  Pushing the boat at 85%, we completed the course and slowly got our confidence back to tame Elvis in 20-25 kts.

The final day saw similar conditions, and using our experiences from the day prior, we came to the racecourse more prepared, pushed harder, and enjoyed the sailing.  Once the magnitude of the boat and the conditions were fully understood, the Elvis seemed perfectly at home in similar conditions that caused us trouble a day earlier. With satisfaction that we could push the boat hard and get it back to the harbor in once piece, we returned to our mooring in Columbie’, relaxed on the comfortable layout of Elvis, put on some reggae, clicked on the ice maker and watched the gauge on the rum tank slowly go down.

After an amazing week of Red-Lining our sailing and on-shore activities on the Elvis team, it is very apparent St. Barths and Gunboat sailing are a stellar combo.  It might just be the perfect place for the first ever Gunboat World Championships in 2016…who’s in?


April 21st, 2014 by admin

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As long as Gunboat doesn’t get bored of spending money on creative video teams like Rachel and Richard, we promise we won’t get bored of watching them.  This one’s a fun look at Jason Carroll’s Gunboat 62 Elvis at the Heineken.  Title shout to Mojo Nixon; listen to the ultimate Elvis tribute in their 80′s punk classic here.


March 17th, 2014 by admin


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