It’s often said that good things come to those who wait. For the owner of hull number one of the Grand Banks 85, that’s certainly true. The pandemic and supply chain issues caused multiple delays for Grand Banks in delivering its new flagship. Stepping aboard this battleship-sized GB with CEO Mark Richards at the Palm Beach boat show made it clear that the builder put that extra time to good use.
Twenty-five feet is the size of your average garden hose or extension cord, or five park benches lined up side by side. Those 300 inches made a world of difference when I took in the view of the 85 resting beside its 60-foot sistership at the show. Everything about the 85 feels bigger and more substantial. Saying that a boat feels like a small superyacht is an oft-used cliché, but in the case of the 85, that sentiment rings true from the moment you step into the massive cockpit.
Grand Banks 85
“One of the key goals with the Grand Banks 85 was not just building one of the best performing 85-footers in the marketplace, but also one of the most spacious boats in the marketplace,” says Richards as we walk from the aft platform into the cockpit. “As you can see here, the beautiful spacious cockpit is ideal for entertaining anywhere between 10 and 20 guests, with all the amenities you need to have a great time.”
The salon, galley and staterooms (owners can choose between a three- or four-stateroom layout) are reminiscent of the 54- and 60-foot models, albeit with larger spaces and more breathing room. Not one to spend much time chatting about soft goods and sleeping spaces, Richards was most enthusiastic to show off the dedicated systems space beneath the sole in the accommodations area. Climbing into the well-lit and ventilated space, I could see why. A salon-worthy teak floor stretches from amidships forward to the bow thruster with unparalleled access to the fuel polishing system, watermaker, filters and pumps. The level of forethought in this space needs to be seen to be understood (see the video below).
Then there are the engine rooms. Yes, rooms—plural. The 1,000-hp Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350s appear almost small in the tall spaces with walk-around access on the outboard side of the engines. In short, this boat is a gear head’s—or technician’s—dream. The next GB 85s will be built with 1,300-hp MANs with V-drives. In between the two engine rooms is an enclosed toy garage that can fit an army of Seabobs, kayaks, SUPs, SCUBA tanks and whatever else an intrepid yachtsman wants to play with.
The smaller power plants were a deliberate compromise that Richards favors. An efficiency aficionado, there’s not a model he’s touched that hasn’t had cruising range front of mind. Thanks to a 2,640-gallon fuel capacity, the 85 boasts a nearly 1,000-mile range at 20 knots and a long-legged 3,000-mile range at 10 knots. That efficiency is valuable not just on long crossings, but Richards thinks it will become increasingly important for Americans, with the rise in fuel prices, as they did years ago in his native Australia as well as in Europe.
“There are small features that we always work on for performance and the ease of handling. For example, the remote helm station here in the galley,” says Richards as he lifts a section of the countertop to reveal a hidden wing station. “If you look at the visibility from this position, it’s amazing for a boat of this size.”
Being able to maneuver your boat into a slip one second and dig into a sandwich the next is a party trick I’ve not seen yet on a yacht of any size. Another trick I had not noticed initially in my haste to climb aboard (patience not being one of my strong suits) is the hydraulic platform that lifts out of the platform, four feet into the air and outwards four feet away from the boat. With an optional in-deck umbrella it becomes a private balcony above the sea for a couple to enjoy a sunset vista or for kids to practice their cannonballs. I’ve seen this type of feature on superyachts and a 95-foot Princess; I’ve yet to see it on a boat of this size. Watch for this feature to become a full-blown trend in the future.
The new Grand Banks flagship is one that blurs the lines between categories. On one hand, you have hints of trawler heritage that’s evident in the mechanical spaces and in the range, but then you have motoryacht planing speeds and finish, and yet again there are elements borrowed from the superyacht space. Perhaps, it’s the best of all those worlds.
Grand Banks 85 Specifications:
Displ: 108,000 lbs.
Fuel: 2,640 gal.
Water: 270 gal.
Power: 2/1,000-hp Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350s