On Board 80ft Sunreef catamaran Sol with Capt. Jack Gorman

10 April 2024 By Kevin Koenig
Richard Taranto/Superyacht Creative

Captain Jack Gorman of the Sunreef 80 Eco Sól is as intriguing a character as the catamaran he helms.

Easily one of 2023’s most talked about yachts under 100ft was Sól, a Sunreef 80 Power Eco that felt like it was on the lips of every boat journalist I spoke to, and at every dock I set foot on. (Actually, it was just two docks, one in Rhode Island and one in Fort Lauderdale — but the boat makes such a big impression it feels ubiquitous.) 

Richard Taranto/Superyacht Creative

Sól is arguably the most ecologically advanced motor yacht ever built. She is fully electric and powered by a 990kWh battery bank (with a nearly one-megawatt-hour capacity) and is plastered with photovoltaic panels that help her achieve e-motoring autonomy for close to 300 nautical miles. What’s more, the owner and his family — devoted environmentalists both in their investments and their day-to-day lives — made sure every detail was up to their standards. Cups are paper, furs are faux and the meals are vegan.

A vessel this interesting nearly requires an equally interesting human at the helm. And in this case, it’s Captain Jack Gorman. With a thatch of hair so blonde it could be white, and occasionally painted toenails, the captain strikes a real presence on board the boat. How he got there is as circuitous as it is inspiring.

Richard Taranto/Superyacht Creative

Jack grew up sailing with his father and siblings on the Chesapeake Bay and on the Great Lakes. “Of all my siblings, I guess you could say I was the one who got the bug,” he says. When he got older, Jack enrolled at the University of Maryland where he described himself as “the typical frat bro” albeit one with a head for the books — he majored in engineering. Jack graduated from college in the mid-1980s and joined the US Navy, where he used his engineering degree to garner a spot in the nuclear power program. “I operated the nuclear power plant aboard a submarine,” he says. “I ran the auxiliary systems too. It was an engineering marvel, and as a kid, it was very exciting to be around. Serving on a nuclear sub tickled me then, and working on a boat as advanced as Sól tickles me now.”

Main salon
Richard Taranto/Superyacht Creative

After the Navy, Jack got his MBA from Johns Hopkins University and began working for a nuclear power company, doing due diligence on plants they were looking to buy. It was a big-time job with a big paycheck, but Jack often found himself unfulfilled. After some major soul searching, he took an unpaid sabbatical and got himself a Beneteau 47 with plans to single-handedly cross the Atlantic. He eventually ended up in the Caribbean, decided he liked it there and stayed put, getting a job on a 118ft sportfish named Sea Eagle, owned by Sir Allen Stanford. That boat was confiscated when it turned out Stanford was running the biggest Ponzi scheme this side of Bernie Madoff. Undeterred, Jack took a run of boating jobs before being approached by the owner of Sól on a referral.

Foredeck lounge
Richard Taranto/Superyacht Creative

The bold project spoke to Jack’s sense of adventure and his passion for engineering. He moved to Gdańsk, Poland, for six months to represent the owner during the build, and by the time the boat launched he felt he was an expert in all its cutting-edge systems.

“It’s such a fascinating piece of machinery,” he says. “You push the throttles forward and it’s silent, like driving a James Bond boat.”

Sól carries a Carbon Craft tender on her aft platform.
Richard Taranto/Superyacht Creative

Working on such an avant garde vessel is not without its downsides. “Being a prototype we have some glitches that need working out,” says Jack. “You know we have this giant battery under the salon, and that’s a new thing, so we figured we’d have some issues with it, but the warranty stuff is decreasing, and we have our big picture items, propulsion, generators, etc, those problems have all been solved.”

Owner's cabin
Richard Taranto/Superyacht Creative

And perhaps most importantly for Jack, he’s happy on Sól. “The owner and his family are great,” he says. “And the crew, I couldn’t ask for a better one. We are like a little family.”

And that’s something worth talking about.

This article was originally featured in the April 2024 issue of Dockwalk.


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