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Grand Banks 85 review: New hull design brings GB into the 21st century

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Beneath the iconic Grand Banks facade lies a different kind of motor yacht with a new hull and drivetrain designed to give outstanding fuel efficiency…

There hasn’t been much time to relax at Grand Banks since Australian ocean-racing yachtsman Mark Richards, founder of Palm Beach Yachts , came on board as CEO eight years ago, grabbed the company by the shoulders and ushered it into the 21st century.

It wasn’t that there was anything much wrong at the venerable Far Eastern firm, which invented the concept of the trawler yacht more than 60 years ago, and has created one of the most recognisable brand identities in boatbuilding history.

It was more that Mark has skippered the winning boat in the Sydney-Hobart Race so many times that they might as well just let him keep the trophy, and is a man of vast experience, clear ideas and strong opinions.

His main idea for Grand Banks was that it badly needed modernising. The world has moved on. Competition has become both keen and global. Classic looks are one thing, but classic construction and classic naval architecture can no longer cut it.

The new ethos is all about efficient, high-speed, long-range cruising yachts that still look like the old Grand Banks. So the hull of the new Grand Banks 85 is built using a foam-cored, E-glass laminate and vinylester resin, while the deck and superstructure are carbon fibre.

It is a combination that keeps the centre of gravity down and also means that in light condition this substantial motor yacht displaces less than 50 tonnes.

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£4390000

Shapeshifter

Even more significant than that is the new Grand Banks hull shape, which Mark pioneered at Palm Beach Yachts.

Described as ‘V-Warp’, it combines the hard chines and V-sections of a powerboat planing hull with the rocker and barely immersed transom of a sailboat, with a vestigial skeg along the centreline aft – just deep enough and no more – for directional stability. Deadrise right aft is 5.5 degrees.

There is a fine entry at the bow, and some concave flare in the bottom panels forward to smooth the hull’s passage through the chop. For those who want to cling to tradition there is a shaft-drive option. Our test boat, Grand Banks 85 Hull#1, had twin Volvo 1350 IPS drives. That’s just 1,000hp per side.

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Fine forward sections lent the hull a real authority in head seas, slicing through them with relish

Rival yachts with twice the horsepower might have higher top speeds, but for Mark the point is that they are a lot less efficient – at a fast cruise of 20 knots they can be burning 50 per cent more fuel.

The Grand Banks 85 is by far the biggest Grand Banks yet built, but step aboard and you might think not much had changed. There is the familiar satin-varnished teak interior, the hardwood sole, and a practical, conservative main deck layout, with big windows for the light and the views.

There are also the familiar and seamanlike handrails along the deckhead, but headroom is so absurdly generous – it’s 7ft 1in in the saloon – that normal sized people can barely reach them. Mark’s a big bloke, but he’s not that big. “It’s because of the American market,” he explained, with a hint of a smile.

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The main saloon is every inch a traditional Grand Banks, including 7ft-plus headroom

The galley is forward, where the lower helm would be if there was one, and consequently has excellent views through the windscreen, as well as deck access via the side door.

This first Grand Banks 85 had the optional flip-up control station by the door to make things easier when coming alongside, and also a useful day head, with shower, leading off the port side companionway.

Another sign that the company clearly has the States in mind for its substantial new flagship is the enclosed hardtop on this first example, which adds weight – even carbon fibre tips the scales – and windage, and makes this otherwise elegant motor yacht look extraordinarily tall.

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The skylounge on the upper deck is light and spacious with great views out

It’s an option that some owners will wish to do without, purely on aesthetic grounds, and although there is no lower helm station on the options list, the shipyard will fit one for you if you ask.

Lofty living

However, the skylounge makes a compelling case for itself. It’s an excellent upper seating area, with stupendous views. Being well above the level of the quayside it offers privacy too, while with opening windows it also allows you to enjoy the fresh air.

It leads out onto an open aft terrace with a table and a sofa. Down on the lower deck you have a choice of layouts, and a certain amount of customisation is also possible.

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The upper aft deck provides a relaxed and private social area

As seen at the 2022 Cannes Yachting Festival , for example, this first Grand Banks 85 not only had a hidden piano in the owner’s cabin but also a small twin-bunk cabin on the port side for the owners’ grandchildren.

It was pretty small, but then so, presumably, are the grandkids. There is a single-berth option here which will feel more spacious.

This fourth cabin encroached on what in the standard layout would be a huge owner’s suite, with its shower and heads ranged along the aft bulkhead and the option of a walk-in wardrobe.

gb 85 yacht

The midships owner’s cabin features all the usual comforts

The VIP in the bows feels spacious and comfortable. Its bed is mounted at the proper height and there is a pleasantly roomy head. Both here and in the master the beds are a full 6ft 6in long by five feet wide (198cm x 152cm) while headroom throughout the lower deck is an airy 6ft 8in (2.03m).

The starboard twin cabin, also ensuite, is of generous dimensions and eminently suitable for even American adults, with full-length berths some 34 inches (86cm) wide.

One of the most intriguing features of the 85 is its engineroom – or rather enginerooms, for each 1,000hp Volvo D13 has its own separate compartment, shared with a generator.

gb 85 yacht

Separate machinery spaces leave masses of room for storage between them

These sit either side of a central access corridor and stowage area which is reached through the excellent crew quarters, and effectively isolate the principal causes of heat and noise on board.

Less obtrusive systems such as air-conditioning, filtration and watermaking equipment are installed amidships in a separate service space beneath the corridor on the lower deck.

As the first off the line, our Grand Banks 85 had a world of boat shows to attend while also, somehow, giving her Australian owner some return on his investment.

gb 85 yacht

The enclosed upper deck is optional. The standard boat has an open flybridge with a hardtop shade

So she had been shipped from the factory in Malaysia to Palma, Mallorca, earlier in the summer, while the owner and his family spent two and a half months on board cruising in the western Med.

By the time we caught up with her in Cannes in September she had acquired a bit of weed growth, according to Mark – although from what I could gather from the captain she hadn’t spent much time standing still – and had also had an encounter with “a big log”, as Mark put it, which had whacked one of the IPS drives and knocked it, he reckoned, about three degrees off true.

I wouldn’t have known. It was a breezy evening when we edged out through the small-boat traffic into open water beyond the Cannes sea wall, and the wind had been blowing a Force 5 or so from the west and south-west all day.

gb 85 yacht

The owner and his family spent two-and-a-half months living on board, cruising in the western Med

The waves were one to 2m. It was clear from the off that those fine forward sections lent the hull a real authority in head seas, slicing through them with every appearance of relish and providing us with a remarkably soft ride.

Mark asked me to keep the boat dry – he was only half joking, as there were hosepipe restrictions at the boat show after the summer’s drought, and washing salt off became a pressing issue for all exhibitors – and while I might not have been completely successful in doing so it was still impressive how dry our progress was, as we charged dead upwind at 18 to 19 knots.

Either because of her weedy bottom, or the out-of-kilter IPS drive, or both, we knew the boat wasn’t going to reach her advertised top speed. On the day, we clocked a maximum of 23.8 knots, burning 384 litres per hour, while at 2190rpm she was cruising at 20.3 knots and 303 litres per hour.

gb 85 yacht

The open aft cockpit is sheltered by the long flybridge overhang

Mark referred us to the factory’s official sea trial data (reproduced below), which found this boat to have a top speed of just over 25 knots. The yacht was fitted with Humphree fins, which certainly earned their keep with the seas on the beam, virtually cancelling out the roll.

Remembering that following seas were not the traditional Grand Banks hull’s strongest suit, I was also interested to see how the new design would fare downwind, especially with so much top hamper – sitting at the helm of the 85, one’s eyeline is a good 20ft (6m) above the water.

Of course conditions were far from taxing for an 85-footer, but the waves were still of a size that would show up any handling quirks. I was expecting at least to have to helm the boat, but in the event I was hardly needed.

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Only once or twice did the hull give any hint that it might start to veer off to one side or the other, and the slightest helm input was enough to bring it back into line. The rest of the time I had one finger on the wheel. She steered herself.

All things considered, it was a pretty flawless performance. The Grand Banks 85 is indeed an efficient, high-speed and long-range cruising yacht. And it still looks like a Grand Banks.

Grand Banks 85 specifications

LOA: 87ft 2in (26.58m) Beam: 22ft 2in (6.75m) Draft: 4ft 11in (1.50m) Displacement (light): 49 tonnes Fuel capacity: 2,200 gal (10,000 lt) Water capacity: 308 gal (1,400 lt) Test engines: Twin 1,000hp Volvo D13 IPS 1350 Top speed: 25.1 knots Fuel consumption: 219 lph @ 18.4 knots / 83 lph @ 12.1 knots Range: 672nm @ 18.4 knots / 1,166nm @ 12.1 knots Design: Grand Banks Price as tested: €9,000,000 ex. VAT

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Reviewed: Grand Banks 85 Skylounge

  • By Patrick Sciacca
  • March 3, 2023

Grand Banks 85 Skylounge

I looked around the flybridge of the Grand Banks 85 Skylounge and counted 14 people as the yacht cruised comfortably at around 21 knots just off the coast of Cannes, France. There was room to spare on this deck inside and out, with an L-shaped lounge, a Vitrifrigo ice maker, and a drawer fridge and freezer creating an alfresco oasis with ocean vistas.

Grand Banks CEO Mark Richards was at the bench-style helm seat forward and to starboard, with a view of three Garmin multifunction displays illustrating all mission-critical data on board the yacht and beyond the bow. He had unobstructed sightlines through three gently raked windows. The sky lounge’s retractable roof was open, the side windows were open, the aft door was open, and the cross breeze coming off the salt was downright balmy.

It was quite a memorable moment as I got to know the Malaysia-based builder’s new flagship. In sheer size and scope, the Grand Banks 85 makes a statement. This yacht comes in at more than 87 feet length overall and displaces 108,000 pounds, with a 22-plus-foot beam and an air draft of just under 26 feet. It’s a formidable cruiser.

Grand Banks 85 Skylounge

It’s also eminently warm and inviting. The teak-sole cockpit can be accessed by stairs flanking the transom off the full-beam, integral swim platform, which can stow a 14-foot AB Inflatables Alumina tender with a 40 hp outboard. (The tender can also stow aft on the sky-lounge deck, and be launched via davit.) In the cockpit, a bench seat is set against the transom, and loose chairs fill out the alfresco dining area for six or more. The entire area is protected from the elements by the sky-lounge overhang.

A door off the cockpit to port provides access to the salon, where an abundance of glass in the 85 Skylounge’s superstructure creates a bright interior. The salon’s 7-foot headroom enhances the sense of volume. There is a U-shaped settee to starboard, forming a guest conversation nook, with two barrel chairs to port. A walkway to port leads up an 8-inch step from the salon, providing access to the formal dining table for six guests to starboard.

The main-deck interior has a relaxed feeling, created via natural light coming in from the nearly 360 degrees of windows, through indirect lighting, and from the use of satin-finish teak. Standing in the salon, I had an unimpeded view from the cockpit door through the windows forward on the port side.

Grand Banks 85 Skylounge

There’s an open-style, reverse-angled stairway to port, leading to the sky lounge, while a bulkhead forward of the dining space to starboard separates the galley. Since this is a yacht that will likely have crew, the galley is set up for chef-level meal prep with a Miele oven, a four-burner electric cooktop, a Panasonic microwave, a Liebherr fridge and freezer, a Nespresso machine and a nearly 18-inch-deep, pull-out pantry for serious summer-cruising provisions. There is also a docking station located here with side-deck access to starboard via a pantograph door.

Five steps down from the salon and galley is a landing with access to a day head with a shower stall, which is a precursor to the accommodations spaces. Owners can choose from several three- or four-stateroom setups. This owner chose to give up a full-beam master stateroom and instead get an additional stateroom for his grandkids. The layout of this amidships master includes an en suite head to port with his-and-hers sinks. There is also an average 6-foot-9-inch headroom, a 42-inch Sony TV, two closets, a table with seating forward of the berth, and a cleverly concealed piano. (Yes, a piano.)

In the full-beam layout, the head is set abaft the berth, and there is a walk-in closet that’s also abaft the berth, to port.

Grand Banks 85 Skylounge

The grandkids’ stateroom—next to the master and to port—has two bunks. There is also a forepeak VIP with an en suite head. Abaft that VIP and to starboard is the fourth guest stateroom, with twin berths and an en suite head.

Two crew cabins, a crew mess, a galley and a head are aft with engine-room access. Owners have choices for engines too: The standard motors are twin 1,000 hp Volvo Penta IPS diesels, but owners can also have twin 1,300 hp MAN straight-shaft diesels. With the larger-engine option, owners can also choose an optional stern thruster, in addition to the standard bow thruster.

Some other notable options include a Seakeeper gyrostabilizer, Victron solar panels for the flybridge hardtop, a passerelle, Garmin electronics, KVH satellite and a 23-bottle wine chiller.

Grand Banks 85 Skylounge

This 85 Skylounge had the IPS diesels, which provide a top hop of 26.5 knots, according to the builder. At top speed, fuel burn is 100 gallons per hour, resulting in a range of 699 nautical miles. At the vessel’s 21-knot cruise speed, fuel consumption drops to 57 gph, and range climbs to 972 nm. At a 9-knot jog, fuel burn falls to 9 gph, and the 85 Skylounge can cruise nonstop for about 2,500 nm.

A timeless exterior design, today’s technology, and a hull form penned for seakindliness, efficiency, comfort and performance make the Grand Banks 85 Skylounge a thoroughly modern yacht ready to take adventurous cruisers waypoint-hopping until they feel like stopping. Or not.  

Shallow-Water Access

The Grand Banks has a 4-foot-11-inch draft with Volvo Penta IPS diesels, and a 4-foot-1-inch draft with straight-shaft MANs. In either scenario, the yacht is primed for the Bahamas, cruising and exploring with the ability to access most anywhere an owner may want to go. This is a great trawler for the island hopper.

Built for Blue Water

The Grand Banks 85 Skylounge has an infused, foam-cored, E-glass hull, with the deck and superstructure built via infused carbon fiber. According to the builder, all bulkheads and furniture are also structurally bonded to the hull, enhancing overall strength even further.

The 85 Skylounge is Grand Banks’ largest model, but the builder also offers 54- and 60-foot flybridge or sky-lounge yachts, as well as 44- and 60-foot Eastbay express cruisers. All these models run on the same V-warp hull form.

Serious Seakeeping

Under CEO Mark Richards, Grand Banks has implemented its patented V-warp semidisplacement hull design across its fleet, including this 85-footer. Starting with a fine entry, the deadrise transitions with notable flare amidships, which helps “roll water away” from the hull’s surface. Farther aft, the deadrise reduces to 6 to 8 degrees, adding stability and lift, and resulting in a vessel with little to no bow rise when throttling up. The hull design also enhances overall performance and efficiency, and leaves a flat wake. 

Take the next step: grandbanks.com

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25m Grand Banks flagship GB85 makes European debut

Related articles, superyacht directory.

Malaysian builder Grand Banks has debuted its first 25 metre flagship GB85 to the European market at the Cannes Yachting Festival.

The yacht, now named Betty , made her worldwide debut at the Palm Beach Boat Show in March.

Like her GB60 predecessor, the 95GT yacht features V-Warp technology, resulting in “half the fuel-consumption of any other yacht of the same length,” according to the yard. “Owners will spend more time exploring their destinations and less time at the fuel dock.”

Built in composite materials, the yacht features a 6.7 metre beam that allows for “some remarkable bespoke features”, including a foldaway keyboard integrated into one of the cabins.

Accommodation is offered for up to ten guests, with three large cabins and two separate crew cabins on the lower deck that can be used for additional guests or children.

The model comes in an enclosed flybridge or open sky lounge configuration, with a saloon that boasts ample seating leading through to an al fresco dining space on the aft deck. Elsewhere a spacious open stern hosts a swim platform which can be fitted with loose furniture, with a socialising space found on the foredeck.

During the sea trials, the first hull “performed exactly to expectations” and reached a cruising speed of 21 knots.

Grand Banks has announced further sales of the GB85 in Australia and the United States.

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  • In The Media

gb 85 yacht

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  1. February 19, 2024

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COMMENTS

  1. Grand Banks 85

    THE GB85. GRAND BANKS ON A GRAND SCALE! The GB85 is not simply a bigger Grand Banks. True, at 87 feet, this exquisite, long-distance cruiser is the largest yacht we've ever built. But her most impressive statistics are not to be found in her dimensions, but in the best-in-class figures we're recording for her fuel efficiency and range.

  2. Grand Banks 85 boats for sale

    Grand Banks Yachts 85 By Condition. New Grand Banks Yachts 85 1 listing. Find Grand Banks 85 boats for sale in your area & across the world on YachtWorld. Offering the best selection of Grand Banks boats to choose from.

  3. PDF THE GB85. A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE, A NOD TO THE PAST.

    This vison of beauty and perfection is a computer-rendered illustration of the yacht that will soon rewrite the rules of long-distance cruising. Behold the Grand Banks 85. The GB85 is not just a bigger Grand Banks. It's a whole new class of boat. Technically, at just over 87 feet, the 85 has inched into the 'Superyacht' category.

  4. Grand Banks 85 Review

    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.

  5. Grand Banks GB85 Yacht Review: Biggest Grand Banks Cruiser Ever

    The biggest boat Grand Banks has ever built is clearly an impressive entry into the iconic builder's line up and is perfectly designed for family's seeking a large, long-distance cruiser that is comfortable, well-thought out and fuel efficient. Specifications: Length Overall: 87.17′. Length on Deck: 78.75′. Max Draft: 4.08′.

  6. Grand Banks 85 Test Video 2022 by BoatTEST.com

    The new 85 from Grand Banks is at once an LRC/trawler at displacement speeds, a relatively fast motoryacht at planing speeds, and a comfortable cruiser at al...

  7. PDF GB54 GB60 GB85

    When commissioning a motor yacht, your choice of hull color will play a fundamental role in its style ... 85 Stephen & Nanette Ainsworth ... Revision T - 23-08-2020. GRAND BANKS GB85 21 THE GB85 LAYOUTS Below decks, our customization allows for a variety of sleeping configurations. Hull #2 has a massive, full-beam stateroom and ensuite amidships.

  8. The Flagship: GB85

    The brands new upcoming flagship. With the first hull already sold and expected to go out toward the end of 2020, the GB85 will be the largest yacht Grand Banks has built to date, she will boast an exceptional long-range cruise speed thanks to her incredible efficiency. The factory recently hit a milestone in the GB85 build with the topsides ...

  9. Grand Banks 85 review: New hull design brings GB into the 21st ...

    The new ethos is all about efficient, high-speed, long-range cruising yachts that still look like the old Grand Banks. So the hull of the new Grand Banks 85 is built using a foam-cored, E-glass laminate and vinylester resin, while the deck and superstructure are carbon fibre. It is a combination that keeps the centre of gravity down and also ...

  10. $9M+ GRAND BANKS 85 Power Motor Yacht Tour / 1,000 NM

    Grand Banks info & contact: https://bit.ly/nautistylesWelcome to the WORLD PREMIERE of the GRAND BANKS 85 - a Flagship Vessel. This stunning Power Motor Yach...

  11. On board the first Grand Banks GB85 flagship

    On board the first Grand Banks GB85 flagship Betty. 15 December 2022 • Written by Kevin Koenig. With the Grand Banks 85 the Australian builder makes its entrée into the mega-yacht world. Kevin Koenig takes her for a spin in Cannes and comes back mightily impressed. Mark Richards has always been comfortable going big.

  12. Reviewed: Grand Banks 85 Skylounge

    The Grand Banks 85 Skylounge is a long-range cruiser with inviting socializing spaces on both the main deck and in the sky lounge. ... In sheer size and scope, the Grand Banks 85 makes a statement. This yacht comes in at more than 87 feet length overall and displaces 108,000 pounds, with a 22-plus-foot beam and an air draft of just under 26 ...

  13. Grand Banks 85 Yacht Tour & Review

    The flagship Grand Banks 85 is a dynamic tour de force. The focus on high-speed efficiency and cruising comfort is laser focussed, so much so that at 20 knot...

  14. Grand Banks 85 Preview

    This also keeps the weight low, a critical component of such a large cruising yacht meant for bluewater passages. The end result is an ocean-cruising 85-footer with a half-load displacement of 108,000 lbs. and a 1,000-nm range at fast cruising speed. ... Like the entire range of the new generation of Grand Banks, the 85 ran flat and pushed very ...

  15. Grand Banks GB85 Yacht: Biggest Ever! Full Walkthrough Video

    Join YachtWorld and Ryan McVinney along with Rob Clark from GB Marine Group for a full in-depth walkthrough of a 2022 Grand Banks GB85. To date, this is the ...

  16. $9 Million Yacht Tour : Grand Banks 85

    An absolutely beautiful Grand Banks 85.Sponsored by: https://www.boatsandyachtswarranty.com In association with:https://www.silverstoneauctions.comhttps://ww...

  17. GRAND BANKS 85

    SUBSCRIBE OUR CHANNEL https://www.youtube.com/c/theboatshow/?sub_confirmation=1 Review and Yacht Tour of the new Grand Banks 85Location: Cannes, FranceBy Jus...

  18. GB 85

    The Flagship: GB85. The Grand Banks 85 is the largest yacht Grand Banks Yachts has built to date! She is third in the series of all new Grand Banks yachts; first being the Grand Banks 60 which debuted in 2017 followed by the Grand Banks 54 most recently in 2020.

  19. 25m Grand Banks flagship GB85 makes European debut

    Malaysian builder Grand Banks has debuted its first 25 metre flagship GB85 to the European market at the Cannes Yachting Festival. The yacht, now named Betty, made her worldwide debut at the Palm Beach Boat Show in March. Like her GB60 predecessor, the 95GT yacht features V-Warp technology, resulting in "half the fuel-consumption of any other ...

  20. GB85

    Search for: Search Button About Us. Our Story; Our Factory; Our Values; Legacy; News; Testimonials; Models. Grand Banks 54

  21. 2024 Motor Yachts Grand Banks for sale

    Description. 2024 Grand Banks 85. The GB85 is not simply a bigger Grand Banks. True, this exquisite, long-distance cruiser is the largest yacht we've ever built. But her most impressive statistics are not to be found in her dimensions but in the best-in-class figures we're recording for her fuel efficiency and range.

  22. Grand Banks Specialist

    The Grand Banks 85 is the largest yacht GB has built to date and our flagship vessel. She had her debut at the Palm Beach International Boat Show in March 2022. Hull #02 was commissioned at the Stuart Boat Yard and has just been delivered to her new owners. She is incredible!