2014 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: Gunboat 55, Varianta 37, Salona 33, C&C Redline 41

12 Sep

Gunboat 55

I spent yesterday cruising the docks at the show in Newport and was particularly pleased to have a chance to get aboard the new Gunboat 55. You’ve got to hand it to Peter Johnstone–he is not one to rest on his laurels. After sailing the Gunboat 60 last year at Annapolis, I was impressed by how willing he’s been to rethink what a Gunboat might be. Given the great success of the first generation of boats, a lot of builders would have been very happy to just do more of the same. The 60 is definitely a different sort of Gunboat, but the new 55, a very elegant open-bridgedeck design, is something else entirely.

As I’ve mentioned before, I really like open-bridgedeck catamarans. To me they are the distilled essence of what a cat is supposed to be. In this boat, Johnstone adheres to the simplicity of the concept, but takes it to a whole new level in terms of execution.

Gunboat 55 deck fwd

The open bridgedeck looking forward. This is the first Gunboat without an open cockpit forward of the house

Gunboat 55 helm

The helm and controls are still right behind the mast. You can step right outside to the mast through sliding glass doors either side of the wheel if you want to, but in most cases you won’t need to. A big moonroof over the helm station gives you a clear view of the mainsail

Gunboat 55 deck aft

The bridgedeck looking aft. This boat is all about the al fresco lifestyle. All the canvas back there can be quickly removed

Gunboat 55 hull door

Accommodations are in the two hulls, which can be sealed off with totally weatherproof doors, or with sliding screen doors, when all you want to keep out is the bugs

Gunboat 55 galley

On this boat the galley is down aft in the port hull and is about as spacious and filled with light as an in-hull catamaran galley can be. Alternatively, you can order the boat with the galley up on the bridgedeck

Gunboat 55 touchpad

House systems are controlled and monitored with this discrete touchpad located just off the galley

Gunboat 55 berth

Each hull has a full-on stateroom with an athwartship double berth and en suite head and shower

Gunboat 55 rudder

All foils are fully retractable. The rudders slot into cassettes and can be pinned in place at different depths. The major foils are centerboards that can kick up without suffering damage when they hit something

The Gunboat 55, designed by Nigel Irens, is the first boat to come out of Gunboat’s new production yard in North Carolina. Production of the Gunboat 60, formerly built in China, is also being moved here.

Wandering over to the opposite end of the show’s new-boat spectrum, I was particularly intrigued by the Varianta 37, a very stripped-down version of the German-built Hanse 375.

Varianta 37

This baby is as basic as a modern fiberglass cruising boat can be. You don’t even get a cove stripe!

Varianta 37 cockpit

The Varianta’s cockpit. That big wheel says “performance,” and in fact I do expect this boat to sail fairly well. In spite of having an all solid-laminate hull, so much stuff has been removed it’s about 1,000 pounds lighter than the 375, which is cored above the waterline

Varianta 37 interior

The barebones interior. There’s as little joinery as possible, canvas slings for storage, an uninsulated engine space, very simple systems, etc. Construction is also basic and robust, with seven bulkheads fully tabbed to the hull

Base price here in the U.S. is $153,400. The boat is intended for use in sailing schools, membership sailing programs, and charter fleets, but I imagine individual owners could have quite a bit of fun personalizing a “blank canvas” like this.

Like Varianta, Salona is another Euro-brand that has just migrated to the States. These boats are from Croatia, and I thought this 33-footer had a lot of style.

Salona 33

Base price is $150,736, including working sails. Properly equipped, the boat should make a comfortable/competitive cruiser-racer

Salona 33 cockpit

As that big traveler suggests, this a boat for people who are into sail trim. It can be ordered with twin wheels, or with a tiller. It carries an aggressive T-keel that draws a full 7 feet of water, or 5’9″ if you opt for the “shoal” version. Either way, there’s a lot of keel down there for a boat this size

Salona 33 interior

The interior is spacious, with a surprising amount of storage space. There’s full headroom for a 6-foot guy like me

Salona 33 grid

And you needn’t worry about the keel falling off for no good reason, a la Cheeki Rafiki. There’s a beefy stainless steel grid glassed into the bilge that carries both the rig and keel loads

Yet another craft that caught my eye was this latest interpretation of what a contemporary C&C yacht should be. U.S. Watercraft has licensed the brand name from Tartan and is building this C&C Redline 41 in Warren, Rhode Island.

C&C 41

This is what I’d call a racer-cruiser, with a very business-like cockpit. Base price is $424,900

C&C interior

The interior is very civilized. Clean and functional for racing, but attractive enough to actually live in for a while

C&C saloon looking forward

The saloon looking forward. The settee backs pivot up and can be hung from the overhead as an extra pair of berths

Of course, these aren’t the only boats in the show. These are just the ones that jumped out at me hardest. There’s still plenty of time for you to get down there and check out the scene for yourself. The show closes Sunday; be sure to tell them I sent you.

This article was syndicated from Wavetrain


  1. sailorbill

    I was wondering myself about the rust on the s/s grid, I once got some s/s work done in Thailand , 3 months down the s/s arch looked like it was from a old liberty boat.

  2. Martin van Breems

    A few comments. re the David K and Arthur S comments, our VAr 37 is easy to single hand. The jib primaries are easy to reach from the helm, and the mainsheet can likewise be easily run aft.

    Note that with most newer boats, the headsail is much smaller, so single handing is much easier.

    Singlehanded sailors need an effective mainsail system for both flaking and reefing, a furling headsail (many MOB’s happen when sailors are up on the bow), a good autopilot, along with a boat that is easy or a pleasure to steer (good design, good rudder and good rudder bearings).

    A test sail on any boat your are interested in will quickly confirm these points.

  3. Arthur Stock

    I agree with David K. About 50% of my sailing is solo. My Ericson 34 is about as large as I should handle and while the jib winches are not as far aft as one would like, my 27 year old boat looks like an easier handling boat than any one shown. The value of my boat is no more than $50,000. I look at these new boats (33-37 ft) and I cannot see the value in paying 3 to 5 times more for a new boat of these styles.

  4. R Frederick

    In the picture of the Solana 33’s bilge, is that rust on the stainless steel grid that carriers the rig and keel loads?

  5. David Knecht

    I saw many of these boats last weekend and I was struck by a consistent design change from most boats I have seen in earlier years. I simply could not singlehand most of these boats, even the smaller one. The genoa winch is so far forward of the wheel, that you would have to leave the helm to trim or tack the genoa. I personally would never buy a boat I could not sail singlehanded and almost none of the ones I saw at the boat show met that criteria (not that I saw every boat, but all the ones above).

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