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Sunday 23rd January 2011

Owner Lloyd Thornburg has recently sailed his new GUNBOAT 66, PHAEDO, from Cape Town, South Africa to the Caribbean.  Although built as a luxurious cruising yacht, she is very fast and Lloyd has big plans for racing her throughout the Caribbean during the 2011 racing season before heading to the Mediterranean for the summer.  Here is Lloyd’s story:

“I decided on a GUNBOAT about 10 years ago when there was an article about Safari and Tribe in Yachting World Magazine.  At the time I was just learning how to sail in Marina Del Rey on my Soling 27.  Upon seeing the article I was sold; however, at the time I never imagined owning anything like a GUNBOAT.  My ambitions in those days went about as far as a Catalina 40.

Years later I was in Annapolis, MD when I saw Cream at the boat show.  Talking to Peter Johnstone, GUNBOAT Company founder, I talked my way into a test sail on Chesapeake Bay.  From that moment on I was completely Catamaran Crazy!  I went on that same year to cruise the Caribbean on a 37-foot steel cutter Elsha which I sailed down from Annapolis, MD to Grenada and back.  A year of cruising around at 5 knots was enough to sign me up for a GUNBOAT.  And that led to the building of PHAEDO.
What makes PHAEDO special?  Aside from the hull forms she is 99% custom. Myself and my project manager, Paul Hand, designed the entire interior - every surface, door handle, the layout, etc. was something we researched exhaustively and chose.  We even stylized the flush deck tender.  She is considerably lighter than any of the previous 66-foot GUNBOATS; with every choice we sought to make her as light as possible.  So she is unidirectional carbon over a Nomex core, a first for 66-foot GUNBOATS.  Her high modulus carbon rig is also a 66-footer first.  We also have the largest and first Mastervolt distributed power system of its kind afloat with 1600 amp hours of battery power coming from our lithium ion batteries.  During the build I had the roof structure re-engineered by ASTA for aesthetic reasons. What we sought to do was build a 66-footer that felt as light and powered up as Cream, a 48-footer.

Phaedo's owner, Lloyd Thornburg at the helm.

All this talk about racing makes me think I should mention that PHAEDO is first and foremost a cruising boat. My dream and purpose for building her is a circumnavigation and extensive ‘off the beaten path’ cruising.  So to that end we have, among many other things, dual water makers, three fridges, two freezers, an office, a washing machine, dual independent auto pilots, a generator, a 42-inch TV and a PIZZA OVEN.  I'd like to think we are one of the fastest cruising boats around.  The other day we did some screecher runs fully loaded with a reef in and we were easily sitting on between 18 and 22 knots of boat speed without surfing two crew!  I also believe we have taken the interior luxury to a completely new level and many of our innovations and design elements have been carried forward into the next few GUNBOATS.  To put the difference another way, our build took almost three years and I was in Cape Town for one of them, relentlessly pursuing every detail!  When you see the boat you feel like she is a much larger vessel due to our very open plan; very much a New York City loft on the sea!

Oh, and apparently word has spread about our carbon fibre toilets!!!  Weight savings and aesthetics all in one!  I was at a birthday party last night when I was told that our toilets were the talk of many a yacht crew in St. Maarten.  The crew was glad someone had gone 100% carbon crazy!  You know, besides the orange thing.

We recently arrived in the Caribbean from Cape Town which was an uneventful and wonderful passage averaging 235 nautical miles a day!  Our best to date is 278 nautical miles heavily loaded!  We are excited to combine cruising with racing events mixed in such as the RORC Caribbean 600.  This season the boat will be based around St. Barth and will migrate to the different regattas.  Here is some of this season’s plan:

New Years Eve Regatta, St. Barth - we won the Cat 4 Class and we were fifth fastest boat around the island.
RORC Caribbean 600, Antigua
Heineken Regatta, St. Maarten
Les Voiles de St. Barth
Antigua Sailing Week or Ocean Racing Series at Antigua Sailing Week.

These are our only confirmed events at the moment but there are likely to be more!

This summer we are most likely going to the Med where we will spend more time cruising and hopefully participate in the Voiles de St. Tropez.  Then we are looking forward to coming back and doing the Caribbean racing circuit for the second time before heading through the Panama Canal into the Pacific.  I think racing is one more way to enjoy a fast world cruiser and participate in the sailing community.

As a sailor first and foremost, I believe a sailboat should be fast - otherwise your rig is just windage when you are motoring.

Article and photos compliments of Lloyd Thornburg, owner of Phaedo.

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