Like the Grand Banks 60 that made its debut in 2017, the new Grand Banks 85 is a game-changing semi-custom cruising yacht that takes the legacy builder to a new level in appearance, performance and construction.
Like the Grand Banks 60 that made its debut in 2017, the new Grand Banks 85 is a game-changing semi-custom cruising yacht that takes the legacy builder to a new level in appearance, performance and construction. The yacht made its U.S. debut in March with a style that blends the familiar with a conservative, yet near-endless array of shapes, curves and detailing. It is an eye-catching design with practical cruising appeal.
The 85’s appeal to cruisers comes, in part, from the boat’s “warped” hull design. Boatbuilders often say performance is solely related to horsepower and weight, but Grand Banks CEO Mark Richards’ decades-long sailboat racing career taught him that a winning design relied on the boat’s wetted surface, reducing the energy needed to move the boat through the water and its running attitude.
A warped design achieves its efficiency by incorporating a flare in the wetted surface abaft the forward entry that expels or rolls the water outboard and away instead of running upward, as in traditional V-hull designs. A warped hull also maintains a modest running angle and can employ the yacht’s full waterline for stability in all operating conditions. Hence the V-Warp hull on the Grand Banks 60 and, after tank testing at the Australian Maritime College, on the Grand Banks 85 as well.
Recently, I ran the boat 70 miles north from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the St. Lucie Inlet sea buoy. Moving through the water, the running surface was slick as an eel. There was minimal bow rise, and the hull sliced effortlessly. The running angle averaged about 2 degrees through the boat’s entire propulsion range, which means little energy is wasted while maximum power is delivered for performance and efficiency.
Powered by twin 1,000-horsepower Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350s, the boat’s cruise speed was just over 20 knots with a fuel burn of 57 gallons per hour, which would result in a projected range approaching 1,000 nautical miles. Ease the throttles to 10 knots, and Grand Banks estimates her range at 3,000 nautical miles.
Richards says the next two 85s will have 1,300-horsepower MAN diesels matched to V-drives, but her center of gravity should remain constant with the boat’s 8-degree shaft angle and the single main fiberglass fuel tank sandwiched between the master stateroom and crew quarters.
Visibility is superb thanks to the three-panel windshield, and the drop-down side and aft windows in the enclosed Skylounge bridge (the 85 is also available with an open flybridge). And even with the carbon-fiber sunroof partially open, along with the side and after bulkhead windows open, the ride stayed limousine-quiet. I only used the Garmin autopilot for about 20 minutes and instead steered the rest of the way. This is a fun, well-mannered boat to handle. It was equipped with Humphree stabilizer fins with a Seakeeper gyro available as an option.
The Skylounge layout makes the best of the boat’s 22-foot, 2-inch beam. There is seating for three in the helm area. Abaft the helm, an L-shape lounge and cocktail table are opposite a Silestone counter that holds a stainless-steel sink, refrigerator, dishwasher and Jura coffee machine. A teak door leads outside to another service area with a Kenyon electric grill, a second refrigerator and an ice maker. The hardtop overhang partially covers a lounge and teak dining table. The 2½-inch toerail and a polished, 29-inch-high, stainless-steel rail provide security on the outside deck.
From the upper deck, wide teak steps with husky teak grab rails lead below to a foyer with a door to port. To starboard is the galley, also with a door to the deck, as well as a set of recessed controls to assist with docking. A teak dining table abaft the galley seats six, opposite a console with a wine chiller and stowage for bottles and glasses. A full wall separates the galley from the dining area, a customization on Hull No. 1.
The salon has a U-shape settee with additional seating options to port. Natural light accents the hand-finished teak joinery throughout the interior, which I found to be flawless.
From the salon, a teak door accesses the teak-planked aft deck, which has fender stowage, an electric grill, a bar, a sink, a refrigerator and an ice maker. The upper-deck overhang shields a teak table and settee for eight. Flanking teak steps access the 7-foot-long lower transom platform, which is home to a passarelle, integral swim ladder and inflatable tender with an outboard motor.
For the accommodations level, owners can choose three staterooms with a full-beam master and his-and-her head, or four staterooms and four heads. Grand Banks offers custom options too, such as the full-size piano-style keyboard in the master stateroom on Hull No. 1.
Crew quarters are aft with port and starboard cabins, a galley, a lounge, a settee, a laundry center and a dedicated switchboard to access and monitor ship’s systems. A lazarette on centerline holds kayaks, dive gear and other toys. The engines are located in separate, well-insulated compartments, sharing space with a Fischer Panda generator, batteries and fuel filters.
Other mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, including the chilled-water air conditioning, are in a separate and well-lighted area below the companionway sole—a location that makes them easier to service without the need for toiling in a hot engine room.
According to Richards, Grand Banks racked up 140,000 labor-hours to build the first boat, whose custom features also include electrical systems the owner wants for cruising worldwide.
The vacuum-infused hull with E-glass and carbon fiber in strategic structural areas is cored with foam composites, and stitched multiaxial fabrics and vinylester resins. Her deck and superstructure components also are fully infused with carbon fiber. Bulkheads, including the collision bulkhead in the bow, and fixed stateroom furniture are structurally bonded to the hull and deck, which is one reason the interior is so quiet in a seaway. The hull-to-deck joint is laminated and mechanically fastened. The composite toerail glows with a metallic finish, and nonslip Awlgrip is on the cabin tops and walking surfaces.
The line of long-range vessels that Grand Banks has splashed in the past five years bears little physical resemblance to the models that captured the hearts and minds of many a trawler acolyte decades ago. Even so, this builder is improving on an iconic product. The Grand Banks 85 is the pinnacle of this effort, honoring tradition while keeping an eye on the future.
For more information: grandbanks.com
GRAND BANKS 85
LOA 87ft. 2in.
BEAM 22ft. 2in.
DRAFT 4ft. 11in.
CONSTRUCTION FRP/carbon fiber
DISPLACEMENT 108,025 lbs.
ENGINES 2x 1,000-hp Volvo Penta IPS1350
FUEL 2,640 gal.
WATER 370 gal.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue.