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CRUISING CATAMARANS
Words by Lia Ditton
Pete Melvin 
on performance cruising 
catamarans... Interviewed by Lia Ditton
Multihulls in general are currently one of the
game improvements.
biggest growth areas in the marine industry.
Yet there is still a lot
of improvement to
Pete Melvin, co-owner of naval architect be made in multihull
group, Morrelli & Melvin, puts this down in
design and it is fulfilling
to be part of this
part to a huge change in perception.
ongoing development.’
Lia Ditton: 
e no longer have to sell multihulls as an Do you think there
W
The Gunboat 62 ‘Safari’ the second of
“alternative” to a monohull. The concept stands is room for more big
the larger Gunboats
on its own merit.’ Melvin had not sailed multihulls luxury catamarans?
much before moving to California in 1986. ‘I had
always been impressed with the speed, efficiency and
Pete Melvin: 
grace of Tornado cats and there happened to be an active
Yes, we have seen ever-increasing requests for larger cruising
fleet in Long Beach, California where I was living. I bought
catamarans. These boats really do make a lot of sense in the
a Tornado in 1986 and we won the Olympic trials and went
larger sizes. I think the increase in demand is due to more
to the Olympics in 1988. Then I sailed in the Pro-Sail circuit
people being exposed to this class of yacht and seeing the
in 1989 and 1990, and on to the Little America’s Cup in
benefits first-hand. Designers and builders have been steadily
1990/1991."
improving and diversifying their product lines and this has lead
to increased market share.
In the early 90’s Gino
Morrelli and Pete Melvin
focused their efforts mostly
on racing multihulls, but by
the mid 90’s decided that it
was time to diversify. Around
this time, Jeanneau North
America contracted them
to develop plans for a 35’
The Lagoon 35 of which 11 were
built
Lagoon cruising catamaran
aimed at the North American
private ownership market.
VPLP had designed Lagoon boats before then and still do
‘Cream’ seen powered up. The success of this boat was the catalyst
today. Despite having carried out marketing surveys at the
for other models to be built under the Gunboat brand.
time and so providing design specifications that were adhered
to, beyond the simple two cabin: two head brief, the boat
was ultimately discontinued after a few years because of soft
Speed and efficiency, however, were not the primary attraction
demand. All other Lagoon catamarans models have since been
for Pete. With five years of experience working as an aircraft
designed and built in France.
design engineer for McDonnell Douglas, (now part of Boeing)
and a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University,
While M&M were left thinking that a lot could still be done to
it was the design development side which appealed to him. ‘I
achieve the concept by taking several tonnes out of the design,
think multihull design has come a long way in a short period
Lagoon went the other way. ‘We were flabbergasted at the
of time because multihull racing classes tend to be more open
direction they had gone and they’ve sold!’
“box rules” that reward pure performance rather than rating
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  MAY 2009 : MULTIHULL REVIEW  25
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