A report from designer Jim Donovan on his GP 26 project

Windseeker Yachts located near Istanbul has launched their first jp donovan DESIGN GP 26, with a second boat sold to a Hong Kong sailor, expected to set sail in a few days, and the third hull in the mold. They have beautiful tooling for their boats and are capable of providing very high quality yachts as can be seen in the photos of the finished boats.

When we sailed Hull No 1 in Istanbul it was a most gratifying to experience first-hand the results; it is an exceptionally well balanced hull that planes effortlessly; control is never a concern. In 18 knots of wind the boat was very stable and achieved 16 knots of boat speed easily. Reaching along in 16 knots of wind we sailed at 14 knots boat speed in complete control, as can be seen in this video taken that day.

I purposely designed my GP 26 with a powerful hull shape to extract maximum horsepower from the large rig. When the puff hits the yacht’s stability allows to crew to keep the sails powered up promoting acceleration and planing. The high stability hull form is obvious in the wide transom and topside panels above the chine approaching vertical. Careful balance of the hull’s volume insures the boat retains good manners and neutral helm as it heels, improving acceleration out of tacks and gybes.

The deck layout is uncompromised for racing, carefully organized to allow the active crew work needed to get the boat around the race course. Where some sport yachts this size have dispensed with winches, I have a set of small winches to deal primarily with the highly loaded spinnaker sheets and halyards. The mainsheet traveler spans the cockpit aft of the rudder, reducing the load on the traveler car and getting the mainsheet purchase clear of the crew during gybes. Transverse jib tracks provide complete control for jib sheeting.

Sophisticated structural design is required to achieve the minimum class displacement. Class rules restrict the use of exotic materials, so I selected e-glass/epoxy/foam core construction as the best choice for strength to weight. Vacuum laminates with toughened epoxy resin systems and adhesives are used throughout the structure. Windseeker’s precise construction methods avoid the weight gains from excessive fairing or gel-coat. Recent rule edits define that carbon may be used for the structures to withstand the forces generated by the large rig and deep keel with heavy bulb.

The high aspect carbon rudder is positioned well forward to avoid ventilation at high heel angles and to generate more lift upwind. The GP26 keel rules allow a deep keel fin and heavy bulb – these are great attributes for such a powered-up design.
We’ve worked with mast builders to develop specialized carbon spar sections to the GP 26 rule measurements for maximum stiffness at minimum weight. Although the spar weight is somewhat conservative at 45kg fully rigged, the exceptionally powerful masthead sails generate forces that’ll launch these boats at speeds approaching 25 knots – the need for sensible class spar weights becomes obvious at these times.

My first GP26 design for Kevin Farrar started construction in May ’09 in the lower level of his sail loft in New London, Connecticut. Kevin is carefully building his boat to a very high standard and has the hull and deck structures 95% complete. His project is expected to be launched summer 2012.
A second GP26 from Kevin’s tooling will be starting soon.

ORC’s smallest GP box rule class continues to attract interest in disparate parts of the world, with the GP 26 class experiencing steady growth with the fleet now approaching 30 boats. This fleet has boats worldwide: in South America, where the fleet saw it strongest initial growth; Europe; Russia; USA; Australia; and Hong Kong.
And the price? yes, $50,000 delivered to the East Coast of the USA!

Additional information available at www:jpdonovandesign.com