We Test the New Grand Banks 60: Fast and Smooth with Some Very Long Legs
By Peter A. Janssen
This is all you need to know about the gorgeous, all-new Grand Banks 60, the flagship of the legendary builder’s fleet: As we were cruising down Long Island Sound at 24 knots a few days ago, the ride was so smooth, so quiet and so comfortable, that Sue Weisman, the owner’s wife who had just spent a busy day provisioning her new boat, went below to take a shower. She emerged 15 minutes later, smiling and happy. No fuss, no muss, no problems. A hot refreshing shower, just like home, at 24 knots. Don’t try this on many boats.
“This is a totally different kind of boat,” Mark Richards, the CEO of Grand Banks, said a few days earlier when he walked me and George Day, my Cruising Odyssey colleague, through the new 60 at the Newport boat show. “You’ve got to take a ride to believe it.” I did take a ride, and I do believe it.
The crew on board the 60 on this picture-perfect, blue-sky, late September day were hardly new to boating, and they all were more and more impressed by how the boat performed the more time they spent underway. There were six of us: Gary Weisman, the new owner, who had retired four years ago as the president of North Sails, living in San Diego. An ardent fisherman he and Sue had owned a Bertram 38 at first and then a Riviera 47 for 15 years. “We used it a lot, fishing in Mexico,” Weisman said. In fact, they put 50,000 miles on the Riviera. But now he wanted to do some long-range cruising as well as occasional fishing, so he turned to Grand Banks.
Then there were Tom Whidden and his wife, Betsy. Whidden, one of the best sailors in the world and a long-time America’s Cup tactician, had just been inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame the previous day. Living in Essex, Connecticut, he is CEO of North Technology Group, which includes North Sales and EdgeWater Boats. The Whiddens have just bought a Grand Banks 60, and they expect to take delivery of it over the winter. “I’m relaxed about it,” he said. “I know I’ll have it for next spring.” The 60 will be their third Grand Banks. They just sold their Eastbay 55. “I loved my old boat,” Whidden said. “But then I found out what this new one is all about and I wanted it.” Also on board to get everyone acquainted with the systems on the new 60 was Hank Compton, a managing director of Grand Banks and Palm Beach Motor Yachts who lives in Singapore and works out of the factory in Malaysia.