Controversial foiling catamaran gets new lease of life
The Gunboat G4, the world’s first foiling production cruising yacht has been redesigned, rebuilt and reborn. The catamaran, which was the talk of 2015 after the well-publicised capsize of the first model off St Barths, disappeared from view shortly afterwards amidst the bankruptcy of Gunboat.
The company’s name and assets have since been bought by French company Grand Large (see page 70), but with the exception of the G4. This, on its own, was bought by Holland Composites, which as taken the orange foiling cat and redesigned, rebuilt and relaunched it – the first in striking yellow colour – as the F4.
DNA design and build team, a part of Holland Composites, has refined the original concept, tailoring it to suit one-design offshore racing and is now handling sales directly.
The first turbo-charged DNA F4 launched earlier this year. The 46ft foiling offshore cat is capable of 35+ knots. It was shipped to the US to start sea trials.
DNA’S pedigree is in racing cats: it produces the F1 A-class cat and its lead engineer spearheaded the F4 project, together with America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailor Shannon Falcone. DNA has restricted it to a one-design class to help keep costs down. “Despite the lack of compromise, the DNA F4 is more affordable than a new TP52, sails at twice the speed and at a third of the operating cost,” says DNA’S Thijs van Riemsdijk.
The F4 is raced with just four to six crew. Its cockpit has room for passengers in the heart of the action with a pilothouse providing a sheltered area for passages. Safety has also been completely revised. An automated foil package now includes hydraulic cylinders and servo actuators to lift and rake all foils and a gyro measures heel, pitch and acceleration loads to pre-programmed safety parameters.
There are different settings to suit the experience of the helmsman – DNA says they are akin to the safety systems seen on performance cars.
The company is aiming to build a class that will race in Newport, RI in the summer and Antigua in the winter. “The goal is to take advantage of the F4’s 400-mile-per-day range and branch out of these hubs to the neighbouring islands in each region,” says van Riemsdijk. “With a mothership and chase boats, we can run race events independent of marinas and typical destinations.”