There are not too many brands out there which can be labelled as manufacturing “luxurious blue water sailing yachts”. Of course, there is one name that jumps into our minds at an instant: Oyster Yachts. After more than 30 years of focusing on making arguably most impressive oceangoing vessels, this brand is indisputable the epitome of this class of sailing yacht. Indisputable but not uncontested: With its founder Richard Matthews selling and leaving the company in 2008 there soon appeared another brand on the market under his leadership. Gunfleet Marine.

Burkhard is a keen sailor – now a proud owner of a Gunfleet 58

Gunfleet Yachts, as it is said in their own mission statement, wants to take the concept of luxurious true blue water cruising to a whole new level. The Gunfleet 43 and 58 are quite successful in a market hard-fought by brands like Oyster, Contest, Discovery and all the others. I´ve talked to a German owner of a Gunfleet 58, current flagship of their line, about his impression of the boat and here´s what he was telling me.

“It was love at first sight.”

Lars Reisberg | NO FRILLS “Burkhard, thanks for sharing your time with me to talk about your boat. First of all, let me ask: Since when have you got your Gunfleet 58 and what´s the story behind the boat?”

Burkhard: “The boat is actually the third yacht in my life. We bought her in March 2016 when she was in St. Lucia for sale as being the second owners now. You see, in a couple of years we want to cast off for the big loop with the family and we were looking for a boat that would make such a venture possible …”

The Gunfleet 58 is an impressive appearance “… and that was the Gunfleet?”

Burkhard: “No, not at all! In the first place we were looking into a used Oyster 56 – I am a huge fan of Oysters at this time – and I found that the Discovery 55 was also a great boat to take a look at. As the story goes, we´ve had opportunities on two Oysters and one Discovery. Later, everything was set up to have two of the boats inspected, flights had been booked and we were ready to go when my wife – on our way to the airport to fly down to X-Yachts in Haderslev where we had our current boat at this time – read an e-mail by a sales agent who was proposing the Gunfleet 58. I looked at the boat in the pictures attached, looked at my wife and said: This. Is. The. Boat!” “Really?”

“It was love at first sight” – I can understand, why.

Burkhard: “Yes, that´s true! We cancelled the appointments and instead flew to St. Lucia. When I walked down the jetty where the boat was mooring, I can tell you, it was really love at first sight! She is such a gorgeous boat, such a gripping design. I thought to myself that this yacht really is the boat that can make come true everything we were dreaming of at this time.” “So although you are an Oyster fan you went for the Gunfleet?”

Burkhard: “Well, you see, from the standpoint of material and building quality both yards are the same. Both offer the highest level of craftmanship and are top notch when it comes to finishing quality. Gunfleet, from my point of view, is a more modern design and I still think that the Gunfleet offers the best layout both on and below deck. Besides: When we were sailing out of St. Lucia for a demonstration we left the harbour and came out to the open sea when a flock of humpback wales was dashing along and started to jump and bounce. I took this as a good harbinger and we opted for the Gunfleet. I can tell you, we haven´t been regretting this decision a single time.”

“She is fast on every point of sail.”

“I am puzzled by her speed.” “What are the sailing characteristics of the Gunfleet 58 in general? What would you tell us about the yacht as a sailing vessel?”

Burkhard: “Well of course, with 31 tons of displacement she is heavy ordnance indeed. But I must say that her sailplan is very, very well thought through. We have a wide choice of sails to hoist to be effectively powered in virtually all wind set-ups – but of course, the boat needs wind in the first place. To sum it up: She is a fantastic sailing vessel! I am extremely satisfied with her sailing abilities. She is very, very, very fast on all points of sail and I can tell you, when I am sailing during the weekends off Mallorca where a lot of Oysters are moored as well, we beat them with ease regularly. As I said: It´s a modern layout.”

Cluttered deck, note the “flight deck” configuration of the wheels “In some test videos on YouTube I did get the impression that the boat was tending towards slight excessive heeling when going upwind …?”

Burkhard: “… I don´t know what the people aboard did or did not for these films but I can´t confirm this impression. On the contrary, I have the feeling that the Gunfleet isn´t tending towards heeling too much compared to other boats. I am sailing with my family so of course I will put in a reef when wind is blowing strong. Or I´ll change to the smaller jibs. But, for example, in a broad reach point of sail the boat will never go slower than 9 knots, mostly hover around 10 knots or more. This is fantastic! She is very agile on the helm and a fast boat for her size and displacement for sure.”

The Gunfleet 58 is bristling with lots of space “One of the big points on Gunfleet is the centreboard and therefore variable draft. Are you utilizing this option in real life sailing often?”

Burkhard: “Oh yes we do! Very often, to be honest. The variable draft enables us to go very, very deep into anchoring bays or in harbours where boats of this size normally cannot go. This is an asset I am appreciating very much on the Gunfleet.”

“She is my dream yacht. Well, one of them…” “Burkhard, tell me about her internal layout and what you like on her interior design. What do you love most about the Gunfleet?”

Burkhard: “Well, first of all, there is so much volume inside! She is so huge. As you know, I like Oysters and used to sail on these boats a lot. The Oyster 56 and her successor, the Oyster 575 used to be the boats of my dreams. But when Oyster was coming up with the 675, I thought that this must be the ultimate dream yacht of them all! And now, I tell you one little story: Mooring in Mallorca, one of my neighbours at the jetty owns a 675. When I one day was invited onto his yacht, I was puzzled how small the aft cabin was compared to my boat. 10 feet more and the cabins are smaller? So you see, Gunfleet somehow managed to get more out of the 58 feet.”

“Bigger than in the Oyster 675” – owner´s cabin “Is there anything you dislike on your yacht as well?”

Burkhard: “Of course. A boat is always a compromise and we are individuals with very special ideas and intentions. There are some things I really disliked about my boat. First of all I thought that the saloon was too spacious – what is great in harbour can pose a threat out on the seas. But this was a unnecessary concern because there is grab handles everywhere and the big saloon is no problem. What was really not good was the roofing panel´s clothing. This was a kind of leather that was too soft, too thick. It tended to get dents and bulges very easily and I invested a lot of money to rip off the whole roofing panels, get them out and refurbished by a yard …” “Oh, I know what you are talking about …“

There is not much to argue about in the Gunfleet 58

Burkhard: “What I also didn´t like was the flooring panels. I love the Walnut timber. It´s a great and unique design and a special grain. But the floor was so soft that even sunglasses falling down out of my pocket would leave defects in the wood. That´s not tolerable. So again, the yard had to apply a covering lamination to harden the material.” “That´s mere cosmetics then. Nothing structural or technological?”

Burkhard: “Yes. I found that the overall capacity of the batteries was far too little. We upgraded the battery bunks to 1.000 amp-hours. When on an ocean passage, I don´t want to start the generator or engine on a daily basis. Last not least, Gunfleet´s decision to manage all the electric infrastructure with CZone by Mastervolt is a total mess in my eyes. We´ve had a number of – sometimes serious – problems and blackouts because of this system. This is, in my eyes, the greatest fault of the Gunfleet and I would never ever again go for a boat equipped with this technology.”

Everything the sailor needs “But now the boat is finished and equipped in a way you want her?”

Burkhard: “Yes. She is an absolutely great boat and I am completely happy each time I board her. All of us are. The best thing is that my wife can go sunbathing or lounging where ever she wants to do this and me and my friends can do all the sailing stuff back in the cockpit without even bothering her with a single line. That´s fantastic! And you know what I like so much more over all the other yachts, especially Oysters?” “… tell me please!”

Burkhard: “She looks just awesome with her sprayhood attached. That´s something that will make so many other boats look … unbalanced, if not ugly. But with the Gunfleet it´s different. She looks very well and her lines aren´t disturbed by the sprayhood. That´s an important thing from an aesthetics point of view. At least for me.”

“Casting off for the big tour in some years.” “Burkhard, the boat is now stationed on Mallorca. What are you doing with your boat? Are there any plans for bigger trips?”

Burkhard: “Oh yes of course. The long term objective is the circumnavigation in a few years time. She is the perfect boat for doing this. You see, I wanted to own and sail a boat for at least three years before casting off for such a big adventure. I want everything to be perfect and I want to know my boat. So right now we are shaking her down in every respect to be able to identify possible weaknesses – like the insufficient battery capacity for example – to iron out this stuff.”

Made for the long haul “And then it´s off and away?”

Burkhard: “Yeah, I think so. Of course I´ll have to work for a couple of years from now to have the bank account well loaded to be able to finance such a tour. But we as a family are working towards this big aim. But underway there is still so much to explore in the Mediterranean: I want to sail to the Southern coast of France to stay there for a while, then it´s the Adriatic and this alone bears so many great places to be seen.” “When you will be casting off for the circumnavigation, which route do you have in mind?”

Burkhard: “The classic Coconut-Milk Run I guess. Through the Panama Canal …” “… not down South around the Horn?”

Let´s roll – all the best for you and your sailing family, Burkhard!

Burkhard: “No, I think there you will need other boats. The Gunfleet is a perfect yacht in a sense as we need her but I would choose a different boat when it comes to the more extreme Latitudes. My dream, if money wouldn´t be a question, would be a Hutting yacht. This is really a “go anywhere”-boat. But don´t get me wrong, I love the Gunfleet: For what we plan to be doing with her she is just perfect. For the Coconut-Milk Run she offers from my point of view the best mix between volume, comfort and sailing performance. Maybe the Discovery is slightly better in terms of seaworthiness but this should be marginal.” 

Burkhard, I wish you, your family and your boat thousands of unforgettable miles under sails and the best of luck for your plans. Let´s stay in touch and keep me updated on your sailing adventures aboard your fine Gunfleet 58. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the boat here on NO FRILLS

Pictures with kind permission of Gunfleet Marine and Private


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