And the new flagship is only part of the big year that Grand Banks is planning, with the company having completed a four-year investment in its Malaysia and Australia shipyard facilities, doubling its undercover manufacturing capacity in the former to 550,000 square feet, adding 184 skilled staff to the workforce of now 900, and installing robotics technology to accelerate product development.
“It’s taken a while for the industry to see what we’re doing, but now it’s becoming real,” Richards says. “There’s no other boat out there in the range that can touch us in terms of fuel burn and performance. The cruising boats you see going up and down the coast at 21 knots are usually pulling a tidal wave behind them and burning a ton of fuel. The new GB line has a very level attitude at 21 knots. This 85 is going to bring a whole new experience for those guys.”
Building on the GB60 released in 2017 and the GB54 that’s scheduled to debut any day now, the GB85 will have the option of a flybridge or a climate-controlled sky lounge. A 22-foot beam will allow for entertaining areas inside and out, with options below for a full-beam master stateroom with a large ensuite, or a four-stateroom layout to sleep as many as nine people.
No matter what configuration owners choose, Richards says, their bills at the fuel dock should go down aboard the newer Grand Banks boats.
“The goal is to stop using so much fuel,” Richards says. Part of achieving that goal is the use of carbon-fiber construction, making the boats lighter without sacrificing strength; another element is a redesigned hull form that employs principles of sail racing hull design (Richards is a nine-time Sydney-Hobart winner). There’s a razor-sharp bow entry and a warped-V bottom that flattens out about midway aft for a cushioning effect through the waves with minimal wake, similar to the ride aboard a naval destroyer.
“The longer this hull shape gets, the better it works,” Richards says, though he stops short of suggesting that Grand Banks may have something bigger on the horizon. “After all, it still needs to feel like a boat, right?”
The GB85 hits the water later in the fall.