Princess Yachts launches a ‘supercar for the waves'
With its fully-carbon fibre R35 performance sports yacht, Princess hopes to attract a new generation to boating
Seldom do the words superyacht and speedboat come together, unless you’re talking of taking a tender from boat to shore. Boatbuilders tend to stick to what they’re known for – in Princess Yachts’ case, sparkling white alloy superyachts. But now, in a fresh move pioneered by chief marketing office Kiran Jay Haslam, the British luxury motor yacht manufacturer has ventured into the world of speedboats for the first time.
When Haslam first suggested the idea of creating a performance sports yacht, he was shot down and accused of envisioning a vanity project. This was until the notoriously ambitious and innovative executive chairman Antony Sheriff joined the brand – Sheriff saw the idea an opportunity to showcase Princess’ technological prowess.
A new mission was set – find a way to combine the sex appeal of a supercar with the quality craftsmanship Princess is known and the most innovative new technologies. Partnering with Ben Ainslie Racing and Automobili Pininfarina, they set out to create the most unique, and fastest, performance sports yacht in the market. The result, the R35.
With a look that’s more modern and, dare we say it, sexier than a Riva of similar size, the R35 wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond movie. Besides its aesthetics, the R35’s USP is its speed. The vessel can exceed 50 knots and utilises pioneering foiling technology to ensure its handling is incredibly smooth, and safe – it won’t flip over even when attempting doughnuts at speed (trust us, we tried). >>
The R35 used an active foiling system that keeps you planted on the water’s surface, even at speed, thanks to the use of vertical foils that act almost like a duck’s feet, swimming in opposing directions at five-degrees following the shape of the hull. “This is the equivalent of traction control in a car, for a boat,” says Haslam. “It’s quite a nuanced system. The ability to go very, very fast and feel safe, is second-to-none I find that if you're in a speedboat, you're hammering along, you feel like you're losing the sensation of being on the water's surface, which can make you nervous. You don't have to feel that way in this boat, because the foils are actively moving and manipulating in order to control the planted feeling of the boat on the surface of the water.”
The boat is also incredibly light as it’s fully carbon fibre, making it about 30% lighter than if it was glass fibre. “This is a big game-changing step,” says Haslam. “Everything you see from a constructional perspective is 99.9% carbon fibre, which is a first for anybody in our sector. I know there are carbon boats that are little tenders, made by a little guy who's doing four boats a year, but this is the first time a serious, luxury yacht manufacturer has done a fully carbon-fibre boat.” The only part of the 36-ft yacht that isn’t carbon fibre is the top skin on the helm console.
With the launch of the R35, Princess is hoping to tempt more people into yachting. “Do we want to sell millions of R35s? No,” says Haslam. “From a business case perspective, we make a lot more money selling a 70ft flybridge product than we do an R35, however we’re bringing new people into boating and that’s very important because if we continue to do what we’re doing right now, we are fighting with our competitors over the same small group of people, which makes no sense. The purpose of this boat is to bring new people into boating.”
Whether you’re a boating novice of a superyacht owner looking for something a little more exciting to add to your collection, the R35 – reasonably priced from £560,000 – is worth a spin.