GP 26 Report

GP 26 Report

Last week we showed you the new Jim Donovan designed GP 26, and here JD gives a little insight into the rule and the boat.

When I first approached the GP 26 class rules several years ago, my initial impression was, “Why would anyone want to build a boat so closely resembling a Melges 24?  The strength of the Melges 24 class will surely limit the growth of GP 26 fleets”.

Since this first impression I have spent some more years sailing aboard a Melges 24 at home in Hawaii, generally in high winds.  Much of this time I have thought how nice it would be to have a boat that can handle the breeze better, with a deeper keel fin, bigger rudder with more feel, rig further back in the boat to keep the bow from driving under the waves, and a couple winches to make it less painful to trim the jib and spinnaker.  With my new GP 26 design I now have the platform for all of these improvements.

Closer examination of the GP 26 Class dimensions reveals a yacht with excellent potential. Although the GP 26 is approx 200 kg heavier than a Melges 24, all of this weight is carried in a deeper keel. The GP 26 has a similar displ/length ratio as the Melges 24, and the GP 26 rig is nearly 1.4 m (4.5 ft) taller than the Melges 24.  Added to the package is a masthead Code Zero to boost the reaching and light air performance further.

 You can easily derive that a GP 26 has plenty of power and will deliver very high performance.  I am really quite excited to get this boat out on the water and let it loose. I think these small box rule yachts appeal to “individuals”; that is to say people who want to own a yacht that reflects more of what they want in hull form, rig and deck layout.

The GP 26 class reminds me of the IOR ¼ ton fleet that had many owner-built or owner-finished yachts.  At the major regattas you would see quite a diversity of designs, and it was always interesting to examine the various designs and then line-up against them on the race course to see what happened.  Showing up with a fast design was a major facet of the regatta that you just don’t get in a one-design fleet.  

Thankfully the GP 26 bears little resemblance to an IOR yacht, and the box allows designers to explore a variety of hull forms within simple length, beam and displacement limits. My GP 26 design is currently under construction on the ground floor of Farrar Sails in New London, Connecticut. Kevin Farrar has built several racing sailboats over the years, and he decided it was time to upgrade from his 23 footer into a GP 26. 


Jim Donovan
jp donovan design