It´s La Grande Motte time again and this French boat show in the both strange and picturesque Seventies futuristic bathing centre of South France turns to the epicenter of multihull enthusiasts meeting all those big and small brands. Showing their current line of products, their latest models and upcoming inventions, La Grande Motte is a must if you are interested in multihull-sailing and looking for a cat or trimaran yourself.
As we are catamaran dealers for the Beneteau Group´s brand Excess ourselves, this boat show is a must-attend for me, so I was happy t drive down to the South of France to take part in this occasion. It´s always great to be in France, my favourite country when it comes to sailing, as – that´s my personal opinion – the sailing heart of the world beats here. As with every boat show so far, I elected my very personal highlight of the boat show, but this time it was a boat that wasn´t even displayed at the show itself.
The star of the boat show that didn´t even attended …
Walking to the venue from my tiny French-style apartment for the first time, coming along all the way the basin of La Grande Motte marina, I suddenly saw two wavepiercing bow sections appearing behind mooring boats. Nicely painted in a very attractive, changing blue color, the lines started to grow into a tempting hull-shape that I was very familiar with. Could it be … a Gunboat? Yes, of course!
A – apparently very new – Gunboat 68 was moored besides the usual plastic series production boats. That contrast between spectacularly painted all-carbon hull and the UV-bleached decade old cruising boats even more intensified the view. Like a Sapphire the Gunboat catamaran was shining in the Mediterranean sun. What a view! I stood still in awe and admired the sexy sheer line, the aggressive racy looks – just look at the mast rake! What a wow!
I decided to make a little detour and noticed with joy that the pontoon wasn´t even a closed one. Approaching her from behind was even more spectacular! The stern ends widened up, offering luxuriously protruding stairs leading up into the cockpit. What a view! I don´t know any other current catamaran design that is as breathtakingly attractive as the current Gunboat 68. What a beauty!
Beauty and technology in perfection: Gunboat catamaran
The Gunboat 68 mooring in La Grande Motte was not by chance – just vis-à-vis the pontoon the Gunboat yard is located, right next to Outremer manufacturing, which is another performance oriented cruising catamaran brand. Unlike virtually all of the competitors, Gunboat´s luxurious racy cats are made of carbon fibre completely using prepreg technology. The yard is sealed off from the outside world and equipped with a dedicated climate control insuring best temperature and humidity conditions for the material.
I had asked both Gunboat and Outremer for a yard tour in advance, but received no answer from both – I guess this is dedicated to the high stress level a boat show like La Grande Motte is creating within the organization: I know this from my own brands, during a boat show virtually the whole marketing department is blocked and out of order, when it comes to external inquiries. Well, nevertheless, I had seen one of these live and in full bloom. It is a pleasure!
The Gunboat 68 is undoubtedly among the fastest catamarans for “ordinary” sailors to date. Even the setback of Alex Thomson´s latest RORC-campaign when he was sailing a Gunboat 68 attempting to get the overall win, cannot diminish my enthusiasm and admiration for this boat: VPLP, the principal designers, had indeed made a wonderful job in creating a one of a kind sailing machine that both catches a sailor´s imagination and is affordable for a lucky few. Although the price is kind of a confidential thing, unlike the one-off racing machines, a Gunboat may be considered a series production boat and is therefore a dream that can come true. As said, only for a lucky few, but that´s not the question today.
Back to real life …
Every day from now on I took a detour via Gunboat´s pontoon both in the morning and after closing of the boat show to let my eyes travel the beautiful lines of this catamaran. Every time I detect something new, a detail here and a tiny accessory there. Just a marvel to look at – and a shame it isn´t displayed at the show over there: I guess, at Gunboat they don’t need the general public but, I have no doubts, if displayed, she would have been the star of the show.
So I return to “my” display of Excess catamarans, which aren´t all-too fast (but quick enough for ordinary sailors like me for sure) and aren´t made from Carbon fibres as well. But in my heart I take with me the fascination and joy of looking at such a boatbuilding marvel like the Gunboat 68 and turn that enthusiasm into the joy of sailing, also conveyed by more traditional boats like the Excess. Something we all do, I guess: Me when I get aboard my little First 27 SE, with a smile, imagining myself aboard a Sam Manuard-made IMOCA-class racing boat.
Maybe that´s the spirit of La Grande Motte, of boat shows in general: You look at these unattainable marvels of boat building, these beautiful and tempting pinnacles of what the boating industry is capable of making, you treasure this fascination and those great emotions and transfer them onto the very boats you can afford. Maybe you add a bit of those onto your boat – in form of a laminate sail, racy instruments or even techniques and sailing tactics. In this, even a bit of this wonderful, never to reach Gunboat 68 is in our production boats, a spark of sailing excitement and thrilling racing.
You may as well find interesting to read:
At the carbon-heart of boatbuilding in France: Multiplast
VPLP´s trick: Asymmetric hulls
Catamaran boost – Delivery of an Excess 11 through a stormy Biscay