The Coast Guard rescues five people Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, from a sailboat after the sailboat’s mast broke approximately 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a C-130 Hercules airplane crew, both from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, launched to respond. U.S. Coast Guard video by Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C
Scudding through New York Harbor amid bobbing sailboats, looming fuel barges and the orange-hulled Staten Island Ferry, Brian Cohen’s $2.5 million Gunboat 55 catamaran is an island of calm. Guests sip a crisp Sancerre at a table in the yacht’s teak-decked salon as Cohen steers the boat downwind toward Manhattan. The stiff sea breeze quickly propels the 55-foot Rainmaker past 16 knots, or 18mph.
That would have been a terrifying speed in Cohen’s old sailboat, a single-hulled Swan 40 racer, the type that used to set the standard for performance sailing yachts. But it’s half the top-end speed of Rainmaker, a luxury cruiser that shares much of the lightweight, carbon-fiber technology that propelled Larry Ellison’s twin-hulled catamarans to victory in the most recent America’s Cup.
“What I love about this boat is it’s so disruptive, in so many ways,” says Cohen, a 59-year-old Boston University-trained journalist who made his money on the personal computer revolution in the ’80s and ’90s, then doubled down as an angel investor–famously, he was the first to invest in Pinterest.
From the 78-foot mast to the lithium batteries in the bilge, Cohen’s Gunboat 55 represents an assemblage of technology that was practically impossible to obtain 20 years ago. The enormous mainsail, 1,300 square feet of high-tech fabric, has a computer-designed shape that can handle a much broader range of wind than old-fashioned Dacron sails. The hulls and 200-square-foot bridge are made of carbon fiber and epoxy to achieve the strength and stiffness necessary to haul two luxury staterooms with en suite bathrooms, plus amenities like a fresh-water maker, a freezer and a washer-dryer. The cabin top is covered with solar cells that help charge an 800-watt electrical system that powers computer navigation screens, electric winches and a cranking marine audio system.
The biggest revolution in the Gunboat, however, is the combination of power and luxury Italian design. Like the $1.2 million Bugatti Veyron with its 1,000hp engine, the Gunboat offers sailors Formula 1 speed combined with interiors by the Milanese superyacht designer Nauta Yachts.
Cohen keeps Rainmaker in a marina across the Hudson from Manhattan during the summer, where ….MORE