Today’s maritime masterpiece has been giving me tingly feelings inside since I was ten years old. I first read about her in a 1990 copy of Motor boat & Yachting magazine. I read the story again, and again, and again. I started to doodle sketches of her on my schoolbooks. As you can tell, she made quite an impression on me.
She’s a local lass, too. She was built thirty miles up the road from me in Lowestoft, Suffolk by Brooke Marine in 1989, with design input from some of the greatest names ever to rock the marine architecture scene. And just like last week’s Patrol-Boat based Brave Challenger, G-Whiz is from a very proud lineage.
In 1986 Richard Branson set a new speed record for an Eastbound Atlantic crossing, of 3 days, 8 hours and 31 minutes aboard the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II. After the first Atlantic Challenger, a catamaran, sank on a similar record attempt the year previous, a new craft had been commissioned. The builders? Brooke Marine. And they did a proper job of it- a fact borne out by her average transatlantic speed of 36.65 knots.
After Challenger II‘s notable success, Brooke thought to themselves, “Why not combine the speed, strength and seaworthiness of the VAC II with the comfort and style of a luxury yacht?” The drawing board was visited once again.
As with Branson’s boat, Renato “Sonny” Levi was the genius behind the hull design. It was drawn on the same principals as his famous deep-vee offshore powerboat hulls but, you know, a lot bigger. She was bigger than Challenger II, from stem to stern she runs at 108′ though the waterline is 30′ shorter thanks to that seriously sporty bow.
With Levi already on board, another talented bloke, the late, great Jon Bannenberg was appointed to look after interior and exterior styling, a task he attacked with vision and panache.
G-Whiz isn’t like other boats. This is no go-anywhere global cruiser, though there’s no reason to doubt that she could cope with anything the sea could throw at her- Levi knows what he’s doing. What G-Whiz was all about, her core value, was fun.
Think of a grunty cuddy cruiser, the best that Sea Ray or Bayliner have to offer, maybe packing a Mercruiser Magnum. Then think of a gigantized version of the same but built in a fashion entirely without compromise, from the finest materials, to the best possible design. That pretty much nails it.
Compared to the last couple of craft covered by Motorboat Monday, G-Whiz isn’t even all that fast. Her regular maximum is 46 knots, which is only really decent ski-boat / runabout speed. But G-Whiz is designed to be able to have the throttles thrown open on the owners whim in any conditions with absolutely no fuss or bother.
Power is provided by twin MTU diesels of 3600hp a piece, driving through a couple of absolutely enormous surface-piercing drives. Construction of the hull and aft superstructure was aluminium alloy while the forward, “fairing” area and deck mouldings crafted from Kevlar. No expense was spared, no compromise was made. Somebody spent an absolute shitload of money on building her, and would then get to enjoy similarly out-of-this-world expenditure on keeping her running. Range, if you chose to run her at a 36kt cruise, was 332 nautical miles. And that’s from eleven thousand litres of diesel.
Brooke Marine sadly ceased trading in 1992 and with that ended a long and noble tradition of specialist boat-building which will be sadly missed. As is the trend these days it seems the redundant boatyard has been consumed by property developers with a view to making yet more money on overpriced waterfront accommodation.
G-Whiz, though, remains as buoyant as ever, and is currently offered for sale by Edmiston yacht brokers for €1,350,000. If that news is too much for you to resist, here’s a link.
I know that I’m not exactly a man of means; there are probably some of you who own a pair of shoes worth more than both my cars combined. But that price strikes me as something of a bargain for a yacht as remarkable as G-Whiz.
(All images swiped from Edmiston Yacht Brokers, apart from the image of Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, stolen from virgin.com. Thanks)