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Posted by on Jan 8, 2012 in Boat Reviews, Boat Show, Sailboat, Sailing, US |

Southerly 420, Gunfleet 43: New Center-Cockpit Cruisers

Two solutions to mid-sized center-cockpit cruisers, from two top British builders and two top British designers

One of the biggest stands of sailboats at the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show this year is that of Northshore Yachts, which is introducing a new 42-footer to its Southerly range of “variable draft” designs equipped with swing keel and double rudders. I’m a fan of this range, having most recently tested their 38-footer (“Sailing the Southerly 38 on a Breezy Chichester Day“). The proven Southerly 42RST hull by Rob Humphreys, which I earlier reviewed (“Sailing Inshore or Offshore“), has yielded a brand new model with a centrer-cockpit deckplan that transforms the interior into an inviting deck-saloon style that includes opening ports along the forward side of the deckhouse.

Featuring center cockpit and opening forward ports, the Southerly 420 is a collaboration by Rob Humphreys and Northshore Design

Featuring center cockpit and opening forward ports, the Southerly 420 is a collaboration by Rob Humphreys and Northshore Design

If you can make it to the show at ExCeL by the 15th of January, you can easily compare the aft cockpit version to center: the 420 and the 42RST are side by side. Several other Southerly models are there, as well, including the remarkable 57, which we wrote about when it was introduced a little over a year ago (“Southerly 57RS and Oyster 575: Bluewater Cruisers“)

Richard Matthews (right) discusses his new Gunfleet 43. The center cockpit features a console with a wraparound steering wheel.

Richard Matthews (right) discusses his new Gunfleet 43. The center cockpit features a console with a wraparound steering wheel.

Not far down the hall, in the Boardwalk area where Boats.com Europe is sponsoring a nice lounge area for exhibitors and visitors to rest their legs, I had a my first look at another new center-cockpit design, the Gunfleet 43. If you’ve never heard of Gunfleet Marine, that’s because it’s a new sailboat company introduced only four months back at the Southampton Boat Show; however, there is a well-known industry name leading this new brand to life, former Oyster Marine owner Richard Matthews.

The Gunfleet 43 master cabin

The Gunfleet 43 master cabin

Matthews has teamed up with designer Tony Castro to create an upscale two-cabin cruiser with classic teak decks and modern wrap-around deck-saloon styling. The profile is modestly low for this type of boat, and the cockpit sits well forward. This provides ample space for a good-sized saloon and a roomy portside galley that leads aft to a nice master cabin. With square flush ports overhead on centerline, plenty of  natural light can stream into the cabin.

Although I may not make it back to the UK early in the sailing season, I’m hopeful that our local Boats.com team will get the chance to sail and review both of these boats for us before long.

John Burnham