Remember this fun video from last winter? The foiling Gunboat G4 was new on the scene and her builder/ owner, Peter Johnstone, took her to the high rolling, big profile sailing event in fabulous St. Barth’s – Les Voiles de St. Barths. The bright orange foiling catamaran was meant to be a showstopper – and she lived up to her promise as such, as she grabbed a gust of tropical breeze and over she went, flipped right onto her side. (Read this blog post to refresh yourself). The boat suffered almost no serious damage, all aboard were OK and it garnered plenty of media attention. And that was just the beginning.
Following the flip, it seems that behind the scenes the troubles got serious for Gunboat and it’s owner, Peter Johnstone. The boat has a very narrow user group and was billed as the “gentleman’s foiling catamaran,” seemingly to appeal to a wider audience than the handful of foiling performance cat sailors – however it seems it is a handful to handle and the flip pointed to this fact. In retrospect, the “French Flip” could be considered to be the beginning of its demise. Financial issues plagued the company after the construction was relocated numerous times, most recently from China to North Carolina. In China, Gunboat and the former Chinese builder, HYM remain embroiled in a messy lawsuit. Gunboat is alleging that HYM produced subpar Gunboat models, refused to perform warranty work on them and then launched a competing “knockoff” brand. (Check out the lines on the HH Catamarans – look familiar?)
With the flip, a few heavy duty lawsuits, and a few other predicaments, like a brand new Gunboat 55 abandoned at sea last winter, and a “crash” last fall between the G4 and a magazine photo boat (which damaged not only the G4, but the chase boat of photographers it clipped on its way past), the finances of Gunboat were in serious question. Boats on order have been delayed, and this news below was announced over the weekend, with little surprise to most following the story. Read on and decide for yourself if new president, Barry Carroll, will revitalize this brand of luxury carbon-fiber multihulls.
PR: Gunboat International, Ltd., the world-renowned American catamaran builder, announced the resignation of its founder and president, Peter Johnstone. A company spokesperson cited ongoing corporate restructuring as the reason for the change; “Mr. Johnstone felt the change would facilitate a successful restructuring and help insure the continuation of the iconic brand and its team of skilled boat builders.” The builder filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection November 18, 2015.
Gunboat International, Ltd. employs 60 highly trained people at its facility in Wanchese, North Carolina. Six vessels are currently under construction at the North Carolina location; a custom Gunboat 78 foot sailing catamaran is nearing completion and five carbon fiber Gunboat 55 foot sailing cats are in process. Work continues and no reduction to the boatbuilding team is anticipated. Gunboat International will be sold at auction to the highest bidder, a bankruptcy court has decided.
These struggles included the dismasting and abandonment of Rainmaker, problems with the Chinese-built Gunboat 60, a G4 capsize in April 2015, and production costs at the North Carolina yard. Further investigation into filing documents show that Gunboat had over 100 creditors, with unsecured claims totaling $10,133,947.32.
Gunboat does have the ability to entertain a “stalking horse bidder,” which means that if there is a viable initial bid on the business, they can take that as opposed to having to entertain low bids by everyone and their mother.
Barry Carroll was named the new president. Mr. Carroll is a long time member of the performance sailing industry. He said, “The Gunboat family owes a debt of gratitude to Peter. Without his creative flair, knowledge, and energy, Gunboat would not exist.”
Read more about this mess here: http://www.tradeonlytoday.com/2016/01/gunboat-international-will-be-sold-at-auction/