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Grand Banks’s New 85-Foot Flagship Takes the Brand Into Megayacht Waters

We had a chance to see how the 85-footer performed on open water at last week's Cannes Yachting Festival.

There’s a reason Grand Banks is one of the few brands that tempts sailors to make the jump to the powerboat side of things—it consistently turns out yachts with a classic air.  And with the 85, the builder has also made a jump itself, breaching the 80-foot mark for the first time, and entering the megayacht world—albeit at the lower end.

Robb Report had a chance to step aboard the new flagship at last week’s Cannes Yachting Festival for its European premiere. The 85 has the characteristic lines that made Grand Banks an iconic brand so many years ago. The boat’s boxy shape is like a restomod Grand Wagoneer.

Grand Banks 85 flagship at Cannes Yachting Festival
The sharp angles are in line with the traditional American Grand Banks look. Courtesy Grand Banks

Once you step inside the interior, you’re able to see the added benefit of those exterior design choices with the interior volume. The salon is generous, with large rectangular windows that bathe it in light. The color scheme is typically a traditional cookies and cream, with woodwork that adds depth. The level of craftsmanship in the builder’s factory in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, continues to remain high, even in this larger hull.

Heading up the staircase to port, one enters the yacht’s enclosed flybridge lounge, which functions as a second salon. (The 85 also comes with an open bridge for owners who prefer more wind in their hair.) The boat’s lone helm is also in this space, with a comfortable bench seat for the captain and a mate to starboard.

Grand Banks 85 flagship at Cannes Yachting Festival
The focus is on the woodwork. Courtesy Grand Banks Yachts

A mirroring bench seat to port provides more forward-facing seating, which is the best way to sit when facing stormy seas. The boat is well equipped for those conditions. The carbon-fiber/composite layup from the main deck up helps keep center of gravity low.

Even with 18 people on the bridge, and in three-foot seas on the Baie de Cannes, the 85 made sharp turns with little rolling effect. Often, being this high on a boat can feel like a pendulum. The 85 felt steady.

Grand Banks 85 flagship at Cannes Yachting Festival
Modern touches include features like the lifting aft platform, with stairs. It also lowers into the water. Courtesy Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks offers owners the ability to customize, especially with accommodations, where multiple choices are available—from one large main stateroom, to sleeping quarters with multiple bunks for small children or grandchildren. The options list even includes a piano that emerges from the paneling. The crew quarters are also spacious, which makes for a happy crew.

The brand’s heritage is written all over the 85, but Grand Banks also moved a step into the future by proving it could design and build a mini-megayacht.

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