Preview – Grand Banks 85, the new flagship

The new 26-metre from the iconic overseas brand was presented in Cannes. We tested it on a day with challenging weather conditions

by Barche

The boats are well-moored at the quayside. Mistral is beating down. Better not to risk it, especially during the Show… That is every boat except the Grand Banks. They’re going out for the traditional press rehearsals. I’m on the GB 85, the new flagship, next to us the 54. The sea is white, there’s about a meter of waves. What better conditions to test the proverbial ‘seaworthiness’ of the Grand Banks? Next to me is Mark Richards who is not only the head of GB Marine Group (which also includes the Eastbay and Palm Beach brands) but also of the yard’s design team and an experienced professional sailor with two America’s Cup campaigns behind him.

The test went well, in every respect. The numbers were good: we reached a top speed of 23 knots and 21 at cruising speed (which means almost 1,000 miles of range), but above all we enjoyed a very smooth hull that was always precise when approaching. The tacking angles are good, with no excessive reactions or heeling, and the sailing comfort is excellent: no creaking, no irritating noises or vibrations. As Mark Richards was keen to specify: “On flat water and in ideal sailing conditions the boat reaches and exceeds a top speed of 26 knots, and the range is still close”.

Grand Banks 85

The yard has also developed its own construction technique and waterline design, V-Warp Technology, which was created to shape a new generation of Grand Banks. The GB 85 (available in both Flybridge and Skylounge versions, the one in the test, with a windowed upper-deck that can be closed all the way forward) is made of fibreglass sandwich with the infusion technique, using vinylester resin and a closed-cell foam core. The deck and superstructures are made of carbon. The bulkheads, as well as the structures for all the furniture, are laminated to the hull and deck, the result being a large anti-torsion box that guarantees extreme robustness. This is echoed by a semi-displacement hull with fine entry lines that gradually soften (6/8° in the stern section). The objective is maximum performance even in rough seas, having fun when others are in sheltered harbour. A goal undoubtedly achieved. 

There is also a version with three guest cabins, in which case the owners’ room becomes slightly smaller.

The sleeping area is concentrated in the lower deck where, in addition to the large full-beam owner’s suite, there is a VIP cabin forward and a second guest cabin with twin beds. The crew quarters are aft, with an independent entrance.

The main pilot’s station is on the upper deck. In the Skylounge version, the bridge and the living area behind it are inside a glazed structure. The outdoor deck is then slightly smaller, designed to accommodate the tender and the crane.

Much attention has been paid to the engine room. The choice for the transmission is twofold, you can in fact opt for a classic V-Drive with two 1,300 hp V8s from MAN, or, as on the test boat, for the IPS 1300 Volvo Penta with D13s of 1,000 hp each. Double the access, plenty of room to move around.

(Preview – Grand Banks 85, the new flagship – Barchemagazine.com – September 2022)