|GRAND BANKS EVOLVES ITS HERITAGE|
EVERYONE who sails will not only have heard of a Grand Banks, they could probably pick out its unique lines from a line up of all other motor yachts. Yet the ultimate design in luxury trawler yachts is undergoing a substantial metamorphosis with the arrival of the 44 Heritage EU which has a much lower freeboard and a much higher cruising speed thanks to its modified deep-V hull, writes Alistair Vallance.
Yachting Life caught up with this real eye-catcher securely tied to her pontoon berth at Kip Marina, base for Grand Banks sales and service operations in the north. Marina general manager Duncan Chalmers has now added the role of GB sales manager to his CV and was on hand for the grand tour of this latest, but surely most revolutionary Grand Banks design.
First fundamental change centres on the bathing platform which in the past, as a later fitment was never included in the LOA calculation. Now that the 44 has a solidly built fixed platform, it becomes 47ft and has been duly labelled by Kip the GB47 Europa, part of the Heritage Series.
Already the newcomer is turning the heads of established Grand Banks owners and not just because she is beamy (one foot wider than the Heritage 42). Her flared bow offers more space in the master stateroom and the Sparkman & Stephens designed hull shape with its deep-V boasts twin propeller tunnels that allow optimum performance from the twin C9 Caterpillar 500hp diesels to give a top speed of 22 knots, with an impressive cruising speed of 15 knots for long voyages, where fuel consumption is expected to be 1.5 gallons per mile at 2,000 revs.
As we approached the 47, our usual hurry to get aboard and cast off out into the firth was tempered by an opportunity to drool over the luxury interior promised by nothing other than the fact that it is a Grand Banks. We were not disappointed with the onboard spec.
As our camera shots show, the interior is definitive GB. The saloon layout varies little from others in the range except that the extra beam gives noticeably more space for what is basically a 44 footer.
The ‘EU’ appendage to the Heritage series alludes to Grand Banks having taken on European design ideas and the interior styling underlines this, right from the wider stateroom at the bows, through to the high quality robustly framed after deck access doors from the saloon.
The interior layout conforms to the traditional GB big saloon, galley and interior helm at deck level, descending to a twin single berth cabin to starboard, with a full ensuite heads opposite. The master bedroom also has the full ensuite facility.
In consideration after our interior sojourn, it is obvious that the Europa 47 is geared for overnighting the owners and a couple of friends – a big boat for four! Yes, it is possible to create extra berths in the saloon dining area, but whereas this is standard procedure in a yacht saloon, the concept does seem out of place in such luxury which really doesn’t want to be disturbed.
Our tour then proceeded to the flybridge which again is ultra spacious for four. There’s also access to the dinghy crane, arguably the best way to haul the inflatable aboard for top deck stowing well out of the way, although it can be secured at the transom or on the bathing platform which is solid enough to take the weight of umpteen tenders! The flybridge also has a matching set of engine controls duplicating the main interior helming station. Interestingly, in spite of their move to European design influences, Grand Banks have stuck with their twin gearbox and throttle controls for each engine instead of missing out the ‘clutch pedals’, however a ‘halfway house’ system has been created where, for tight manoeuvring, the use of the single throttle can control the situation.
And talking of rev controls, the next obvious move was down to the engine room – and that is not a figure of speech.
In typical Grand Banks style, the area is cavernous, housing both the 500hp Cats, generator, et al, and with plenty of room to work and move about. For my money, it’s here you really begin to appreciate where the £660,000 price tag comes from. (VAT included of course).
Our appetite well and truly whetted, it was time to cast off and at the first pop, the Caterpillars fired into life with only a dull murmur in the saloon, while barely audible on the flybridge.
With little wind, particularly on the beam, there was no need to use the bow thruster as we edged out and away from our pontoon berth, revving up gently from 700rpm tick over to head for the firth.
We had ideal motor yachting conditions with a gentle breeze and an almost calm sea, perfect for our initial perception of how the new hull would perform at 2,000 revs and beyond…
We roared up and down the Clyde playing the trims and thoroughly enjoying ourselves but not really testing the hull’s stability in a chop, however the ‘chop’ soon arrived in the form of a north bound Port Glasgow tug returning to base. We skirted round her and went for her wash! The result was, well nothing really, the deep V hull with its propeller tunnels took it all without the slightest slap or shudder.
Our return to Kip Marina was uneventful and with the marina master on the flybridge, we docked in exemplary fashion with the warps and spring on in no time. One thing we were conscious of was the height from side deck to pontoon – not dissimilar to the ‘older style’ GBs. However, when the 47 is sold, the step platform that comes as part of the spec will be affixed to the pontoon in perfect position alongside the boarding gap in the side rail.
As Grand Banks start their next generation of European style motor yachts, their decision to optimise their ideas in a wider, faster 44/47 footer has been vindicated in the performance and the plush quality of this newcomer that is already turning heads at Kip.