We all know and love the tale of Gulliver, a First Surgeon on sailing ship of Her Majesty´s Ship, who “… travels into several remote Nations of the World …“, as the author of the famous adventures and beloved children´s books writes. Fittingly, the name of author of this book is Jonathan Swift, and swift is also, what this boat is meant to be: a fast cruiser, a performance oriented racer and a quick passage making oceanic yacht meant to go anywhere.
The name of the yacht, Gulliver 57, is also very wisely chosen and fits perfectly within the setting of this year´s Cannes Yachting Festival which I was happy to roam again some weeks ago: The almost 19 metres of length overall is – compared to all the other surrounding boats – either giant or tiny, depending which brand you are looking at. Just like Gulliver. I was honoured to getting a guided tour through this dream yacht by one of the yard´s representatives who was keen on showing me everything that makes the Gulliver so special.
Unmistakably Cigale – unmistakably Lombard
Looking at the boat one cannot be prevented from associating the boat´s lines to another very famous name within the aluminium boat community, which is the Cigale. As you may know, I might be one of the greatest fans of this idea of naval architecture-legend Jean-Marie Finot who essentially was putting all cabins forward and moved the salon – in my words, the “magic salon” – back aft, which created a whole new approach to sailing and yacht interior design.
These boats were and still are built by the French yard of Alubat (which I was visiting some months ago, you may read it here) and the classic Cigale designs had been revived and newly interpreted by another naval architecture legend: Marc Lombard. So, walking by the boat and having a thorough look at the Gulliver 57 I couldn´t help myself but to see a Cigale mooring there. And right so: The boat was designed by Marc Lombard as well. So what is it all about?
But there is more to the boat than just the lines: Lombard slightly changed the bow section of the Cigales by making it a bit narrower. Also, the aft chines had been re-done to improve downwind sailing capabilities. The boat – advertised as “ideal ocean cruiser for sailing around the world” – was also revised comfort-wise by co-designer Alessandro Valenti, who emphasised some nice contributions to the Gulliver 57-design: Under his supervision, more portholes have been added so that the boat now boasts a total of 21 hatches and skylights providing lots of natural light inside.
When I was walking up and down alongside the moored boat I admired the sleek lines which clearly indicated that this boat was meant to sail quickly. With a total displacement of just 15.5 tons the Gulliver 57 in her performance version and 17 tons in her classic-version is a lightweight, compared to the all-new Hallberg-Rassy 57 which displaces 28 tons. Yes, the Gulliver 57 can be delivered in three versions: The version “Performance” is a lightweight – less Teak – more sail area race-optimized boat capable of winning regattas, the “Classic” and “Ocean”-versions are optimized for a maximum output of passage making comfort and capabilities needed for circumnavigation.
Taking the Cigale-concept to a new level
In all this, the Gulliver 57 sets a new mark for the Cigale-style concept: I love Italian shipbuilding, like the great Mills-designed Vismara 62 or the Soto-Acebal designed Solaris yachts for example, because Italians do have a great focus on design. That is a simple truth: Just look at all those ice Italian brands, like Italia Yachts as well: They do make ships for the eyes, have a great emphasis on flattering, tempting lines. Italian yachts have a built-in guarantee for taste. Same with Gulliver 57: The boat looks awesome and – compared to the Alubats – some steps ahead when it comes to eye candy. But there is more to it.
Looking at the deck I instantly notice the nice Teak-decking on this Gulliver 57, the (loads of) flush mounted hatches and the overall quality of the finish. I am tempted to think that in the Gulliver 57 the best of two worlds has been added: The French attitude towards sailing – on which I already have done a very revealing article you may read here) which is in essence the strive towards speedy quick sailing and the Italian aspiration to finding the most appealing and beautiful design. The Gulliver 57 in this sense may be the perfect mix of both directions.
Looking at the nice and wide cockpit for example, one can clearly see the Teak furnished benches where spray and even bigger waves have no chance to stay on the seating area, the most practical caissons for this and that in the coamings, which I would characterize as clearly “French” – and on the other hand the superbly done Teak decking, the great idea to add a rounded grab handle to the steering post and the nicely carved front coamings that houses the sprayhood – Italian style.
Superior sailing performance – drop keel solution
Let´s remain in the cockpit for a while and have a look at the lines and the positioning of the winches. Of course, everything on the Gulliver 57 is oversized to withstand the stresses raw powers of the seas during oceanic voyages (of course with Anderson-winches) on the one hand – on the other hand the designers tried to have as many lines as possible running subsurfaced.
The Gulliver 57 boasts as many as nine (!) winches which allow the skipper and crew to handle the ship with ease. The most important of these winches are mounted well within reach of the helmsman which of course are the Genoa and mainsail winches. Halyard and reefing lines are laid in the classic manner to big winches on both sides of the companionway. Which in essence is okay for me as I would assume that a boat of this size is seldom underway single handed.
I explicitly love the winch-post that was mounted abaft. To be honest, I find this configuration utterly brilliant. Last seen on a Pogo 40 the positioning of this winch back here is ingenious: The winch post is easily reachable from both steering wheels by the helmsman. The main sheet is diverted by blocks directly to the nearby huge mainsheet traveler. This is all very nicely done: Especially the two secondary winches which operate the traveler.
Looking into the deep forward section housing the sails locker offers a view to a perfectly suited stowage for the long haul sailing trip. Denim-made shelves to store spare sails all over the place, there is even more volume for all the stuff and spare parts needed to be completely independent on a circumnavigation or a trip to the remotest areas of the world.
Best thing about the Gulliver 57 though is finally something the Cigale was and still is lacking: As the drop keel being standard on the Gulliver 57, the circumnavigator now can enter all the tempting shallow waters, inlets and river deltas of the world or seek shelter in bays more safely. On a custom made aluminium yacht made to explore the world this thing shouldn´t come as an option, but as standard. Gulliver 57 offers this.
Best of best: Magic salon
But the full force of the magic of this boat is unfolding when entering down the companionway. And here the whole magic of the Gulliver 57 aka Cigale hits the dedicated skipper: Back in the Nineties, when Jean-Marie Finot was conceiving this concept for the first time, it since then hasn´t lost any of it´s attraction: All cabins forward, moving the salon completely aft. This creates on the Gulliver 57 a room of more than 30 square metres – people do live in flats of this size!
There are three big portholes in the aft section of the boat to either side, three big porthole windows to stern and many more coming through the sides of the superstructure. The aft windows can be opened. Sitting down here around the table one gets an unsurpassed view of more than 270 degrees all around the aft sector of the yacht: Most beautiful!
Central element is the dinner table which on the Gulliver 57 has a special feature. The base of this massive wooden table is mounted rotatable. By folding up the edges of the table the size can be doubled – allowing for large dinners with piles of food for up to ten guests seated in utmost comfort all around this beautifully crafted furniture.
To the port and starboard side of this salon two makeshift berths are fitted, which I already know from the Cigale. At first glance it may seem odd and one cannot imagine anybody laying down here, but some sailors on the Cigale assured me that these berths are perfect for taking a nap off-watch by at the same time keeping oneself ready for a quick manoeuvre. Also, when sailing heeled, laying here and enjoying the breathtaking view may be priceless.
The Gulliver 57 displays her qualities very elegantly by understating her true values. I like it because I must admit I feared her to be overly luxurious. But she isn´t. Hats off to her owner who managed to make a boat that is not a show off and now suffocating in needless luxury. The white lacquered panels and wooden accessories are perfectly suiting her character as a true ship.
Interior design & furniture quality
All in all, the quality of craftsmanship was spotless. Starting at the Teak deck with nicely sanded battens, the beautifully done ladder down the companionway, the brilliantly crafted salon dining table to the panel works, the Gulliver 57 can easily live up to the highest demands of her owners. As being completely custom fitted, a future owner of this boat can do what he wants – and luckily for conoisseurs like me, this particular boat has been done perfectly with lots of taste.
By the way, in all my well-deserved praise for this great yacht, one particular odd thing was instantly jumping to my eye: Galley on starboard side? This is completely breaking “the rules” and I wondered why this has been made. The yard assured me that because of the layout of this particular boat with a complete workshop on starboard side, it was necessary to mode the galley to the right.
That of course means that the nav station with the skipper sitting at his beautifully crafted chart table had to switch position as well with him now finding his area on port side. It´s a bit weird, although I might add that on the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 62, the flagship of the fleet, it is exactly the same. I could happily live with that, I must admit.
The cabins had been fitted fairly simple: White lacquered panels, less wooden stuff, mostly kept white. I don´t think that this is a problem – and honestly, I don´t understand why so many other boat builders are putting so much efforts in cabin styling – because you do just sleep in here anyway. So basically, one should feel comfortable, but the luxury should happen elsewhere: In the cockpit, in the galley and in the salon.
In the end, the Gulliver 57 might really be the perfect boat for long haul trips, for circumnavigators, for fast passagemakers. And I can imagine only a few boats which I would love more to sail than this marvel. Well done, Gulliver Yachts!
Love the Cigales as I do? Here´s more:
Visiting Alubat yard in France
Marc Lombard talks the new Cigale 16
Walkthrough or a classic Finot-designed Cigale 16