Smooth sailing for Grand Banks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am


At first glance, a Grand Banks yacht (below right) resembles a traditional Western fishing trawler. Square, muscular lines make the boat appear sensible and seaworthy. Below deck they are comfortable and homey, with dark wood, sturdy handholds and narrow companionways that make for safer sailing.

While most Grand Banks are sold in the United States ports from which their design inspiration came from, the company was founded in Hong Kong's Junk Bay, builds its boats in Malaysia and has shares that are listed on the Singapore stock exchange.

Founded in 1956 as American Marine, the company soon began producing the Spray, a 36-foot trawler-style cruising yacht with a deep hull and wide beam, setting a pattern for all subsequent Grand Banks yachts. Operations were moved to Singapore in 1969 and a Malaysian factory was built in 1994. By 2009, all of Grand Bank's boat building was taking place in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Yacht sales grew rapidly until the financial crisis of 2008 cooled the market, prompting the company to look for sales closer to home.

Asian buyers, often spending first-generation wealth, have typically opted for flashier yachts; ones that are more suited to short voyages and entertaining guests on day trips. However, some are now opting instead for trawlers, known for their wider side decks, high railings, stability in rough seas and fuel efficiency.

'It's interesting to see a big growth in the popularity of more classic designs, particularly in this region,' says Andy Treadwell, managing director of Informa Yacht Group, which organises yacht shows around the world. 'They're not just pleasing to the eye, but are perceived to be less pretentious and more discreet.'