2 x Volvo Penta IPS 1350s
Editor’s Report by Eric Colby
The word coming from Grand Banks’ plant in Malaysia is that the sea-trialing of the first Grand Banks 85 was successful. Each new GB85 will have custom-designed layouts to suit the requirements of the owner. While there are only so many layouts possible, the ones suggested by the builder are usually the best. After all, they’ve been building boats for a long time, have gotten decades of user feedback and know what will serve the owner best on the used boat market.
First, the GB85 is a flush-deck motoryacht, as opposed to a raised pilothouse trawler-type vessel. Grand Banks is now blending the best characteristics of motoryachts and trawlers. But with twin 1,000-hp pod drives, she definitely has more motoryacht DNA. The GB85 measures 87’2” (26.58 m) long overall with a 22’2” (6.75 m) beam and a draft of 4’1” (1.09 m) with Volvo Penta IPS propulsion systems. With this propulsion system, the GB85 displaces 108,025 lbs. (49,000 kg). She carries 2,640 gallons (10,000 liters) of diesel and 370 gallons of freshwater (1,400 liters).
The 85 is available either with Volvo Penta IPS1350 pods or with MAN 1300hp V8 shaft drives. Grand Banks says the Volvo IPS1350 pods push the 85 to a cruise of 20 knots. We haven’t tested the boat so we will not comment on her range. Comparing the GB85 to other boats in class, we find that she is relatively light. We have no doubt that she’ll comfortably hit the best cruise number, even when loaded with fuel.
Note the relatively shallow draft of the boat, which makes her perfect for the Bahamas, Chesapeake Bay, to say nothing about tying up in front of the owner’s house. This is due to her careful construction and robust beam.
In her living and gathering areas, the GB85 was designed with a focus on sociability and privacy. “First, we focused on what makes a superior long-distance cruiser while underway for long legs,” said Mark Richards, Grand Banks CEO. “This means understanding the rhythm that occurs while on passage and creating various spaces where you can separate from others off-watch. Some people onboard are focused on running the boat, others are relaxing and others may be sleeping. This approach ticks a lot of boxes in how the design comes together.”
Decks are arranged for outdoor dining and entertaining and there’s a seamless transition between the aft deck and the salon. Expansive windows on each side of the salon and the electrically opening aft window let guests view their surroundings from either area. Grand Banks says that a morning anchorage is more memorable if an owner can open windows and enjoy the local fresh air, sights and scents.
Hull No. 1 of the GB85 has a skylounge and the motoryacht is available in an open bridge configuration as well. There’s a lower helm on this model.
On the main deck, the Skylounge places the galley forward in place of the lower helm. An internal dining area features hand-crafted furnishings in a private area between the galley and salon.
Up top, the salon abaft the skylounge helm rivals the main deck gathering area for comfort and luxury. While the adults enjoy a dinner and conversion below, the kids can relax on the upper lounge that has its own additional refrigeration and pantry stowage. The upper helm is forward with seating for four adults while underway. The starboard helm position and lowering side and aft windows offer good sightlines. Overhead, the expansive electric opening sunroof transforms the space, making the area feel as open as the flying bridge model.
The Accommodations Level
Belowdecks, Grand Banks says it realizes that potential owners will be owner/operators, but some might want crew as well. “We ensured we have very comfortable crew accommodations that can also be enjoyed as another area for kids or the in-laws,” said Richards. Currently, the GB85 offers two distinct crew accommodation layouts.
The master stateroom is laid out to maximize the yacht’s beam. A king berth is positioned to give the occupants a view to the anchorage from the pillowtop. There’s also a lounge where an owning couple can enjoy a morning cup of coffee as it plans the passage to the next destination. The three-quarter beam master head has two sinks and a large separate shower.
The crew accommodations are accessible via the cockpit and transom/lazarette. They span the yacht’s beam and allow options for multiple berths in separate cabins with a full-sized galley and head. An owner can opt for a single stateroom with a walk-around queen berth with hanging lockers and a larger galley.
Grand Banks will work with each owner to fine-tune the on-board areas and based on initial interest, the company says that clients are realizing that the fundamentals are the way they like them and the focus has been on soft goods. All wood and joinery work is executed by expert craftsmen. Grains are selected and book-matched and blended with fabrics to create a contemporary yet classic presentation. Of course, every owner is invited to hire their own interior decorator.
“Our approach is to build beautifully finished interiors with a timeless feel that will give generations of owners pride of ownership,” said Richards. “There are so many different trends from builders today, that to us appear to be moving boats farther away from aesthetically appealing, just beautiful pieces of art. I’m not saying they’re wrong and we’re right. We are just building boats for a clientele that still appreciates classic design, with a warmth and beauty true to traditional nautical style.”
True to its Roots
The GB85 carries on the company’s and Richards’ desire to deliver the most fuel-efficient long-range cruiser in its size range. She’s a long-range cruiser with legs and is built with state-of-the-art materials and the latest construction techniques. The deck and superstructure are built with carbon fiber that’s vacuum-infused with vinylester resin for a combination of strength, reduced weight and durability.
Robotics for Tooling. Almost as if to bely the GB85’s classic looks, Grand Banks has taken on a modernization program using robotics, but not to build the boats. The German-made robots are used to develop new products because they run around the clock, which speeds up tooling development and shortens the time from concept to construction.
Each Grand Banks model goes through multiple stages of testing. Once the deck and superstructure have been fused to the hull with the engines and electronics installed, the boat is lowered into a test pool where all systems undergo extensive trial runs. Then the boat is removed for completion of the joinery work before she’s returned to the pool for testing prior to commissioning and transfer to open water.
It should come as no surprise that Grand Banks is back-ordered out to October of 2022 on some models. The company will only be able to build a few 85s each year, so this boat will be a very scarce community – always. That’s good news for the people who plan ahead, get their deposits down and possibly charter or buy something else while they wait. It means that the vessel should hold its value.
In our opinion, CEO Mark Richards and team are building the best Grand Banks ever.