A Modern Classic

By Doug Thompson

When the Grand Banks Yachts’ design team conceived the new Eastbay 50 SX at the 2012 Miami International Boat Show, choosing Volvo Penta IPS (Integrated Propulsion System) propulsion was a landmark move. IPS was introduced in the mid-2000s and is now common, yet Grand Banks had never utilized the forward-facing propeller IPS design. “It’s our first foray with Volvo Penta and we are impressed,” explained Tucker West, general manager of Grand Banks Northwest in Seattle. Tucker was on hand at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to introduce the brand-new Eastbay 50 SX. “The horsepower is outstanding, and the location and setup of the engines allows us to keep the cockpit lower.”

Volvo Penta isn’t the only company offering pod propulsion, and Grand Banks has offered boats with Cummins diesel power and Zeus pod drives. However, the combination of new twin Volvo Penta D11 700-hp engines and IPS 950 drives are a superb fit for the low-profile Eastbay 50 SX (traditional shaft drives are also available.) The yacht features a swept-back look from bow to stern with large side windows that create a feeling of speed even at rest. “The IPS propulsion offers an improvement in fuel efficiency and excellent maneuverability with the joystick controls,” West said. “At 28 knots you are burning 45 gallons per hour of fuel, and that is excellent for a boat of this size.”

Grand Banks launched the Eastbay Series in 1993, and the new 50 SX stays true to the C.R. Hunt design, while adding big boat features such as side bulwark doors, an integrated foredeck sunpad, retractable cockpit awning/shade, side helm door, and a mammoth retractable sunroof. Opening the sunroof fills the helm station with natural light and connects the captain and passengers to the outdoors. The boat’s stout construction begins with a PVC foam-cored, hand-laid fiberglass hull, with a deep-V entry for excellent sea-keeping in rough water. Humphree trim tabs are standard equipment with the Volvo IPS package—with the push of a button, a stainless steel plate descends or ascends to change the running angle of the boat.