The Princess V85-S offers plenty of speed and excitement on the flybridge, while keeping to classic comforts down below
British builder Princess Yachts has a reputation of building sound motor yachts to designs that will stand the test of time. This reputation is based on a conservative approach to yacht design that may lack the extravagance of Italian styling and the spirited performance of some smaller yachts but that all changed when Princess introduced their V Class of sports cruisers that offered exciting performance combined with long term appeal.
Princess motor yachts will appeal to many experienced owners who buy a yacht for the long-term experience rather than the short-term glamour, and with the introduction of the V-85-S, exciting performance can now be added to the appeal. The V-85-S that was on test is the pinnacle of the V Class, the largest sports yacht in this range. The Princess designers have come up with a wonderful combination of practical design combined with elegant style, comfortable living and performance that takes your breath away. You can have the excitement of speed on tap when you want to blow the cobwebs away, and then live in considerable comfort when at anchor with all the facilities for outdoor living. It is an appealing combination that demonstrates the attention to detail that makes a great yacht and the dedicated craftsmanship that emphasises the quality.
Making a Princess move
Princess also makes an 85 Yacht, but for the V-85-S they have developed a new hull that has a narrower beam and a deeper deadrise, similar to what you might find on a performance hull. This deadrise is 17 degrees, which is close to that used on performance sports boats and this contributes greatly to the capable ability of the V-85-S in waves.
Size also counts of course, and this yacht carves through lively seas as though the waves were not there. However a deep deadrise is only part of the story, and the wide chines of the hull do detract from the pleasure of the ride a little, as they allow some harshness at speed. Some might say this enhances the high-speed experience, but it also adds to the noise levels when operating in waves, with water impacts being the dominant sound.
The handling of the V-85-S is sure and precise. Even at the top speed of 34 knots, you can spin the yacht around as it leans reassuringly into the turns, while keeping a firm grip on the water. At lower speeds the control is equally precise. Bow and stern thrusters make handling inside the confines of a marina easier.
Getting the wind in your hair
Driving this yacht can offer a lot of pleasure, and this is enhanced by the unique design of the flybridge. This is not a flybridge in the sense of an expanse of space for open air living. On the V-85-S, a compact flybridge has been incorporated into the clean lines of the superstructure, and is more an upper seating area than a full-fledged flybridge.
With three seats at the helm and a settee and table aft, there is space up here for all the guests to enjoy the high-speed thrill in a secure environment – a real “wind in your hair” experience. The reverse angle wind deflector is minimal in size and does not offer a great deal of protection. Behind this helm is a low arch mast, but the low level mounting of the radar antenna could lead to people standing at the helm blocking the radar beam, which might cause difficulties in fog.
While the flybridge is the excitement centre of the V-85-S, the lower helm and the saloon are much more in the traditional Princess style. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the helm design to keep it simple and effective. The focus at the helm is on the Furuno Navnet navigation and the MTU engine displays. Princess still fits analogue engine dials, which have a more traditional appeal. The controls are simple and logical, although the long row of switches on the dash could be confusing at night.
However, two things detract from the helm design. First, the surface of the dash has a high-gloss finish that creates reflections. Secondly, there is no eyebrow above the displays that would protect them from the sun coming through the windscreen and making them hard to read. These are small things, but they do detract a little from the pleasure of operating this yacht. However, there is space for a paper chart, and that is a plus feature these days.
Behind the twin helm seats there is the open plan saloon with the dining table at the forward end and the lounge aft. The dining table can seat nine or ten at a push, while elegant dining chairs give a sense of formality. The galley is located at half height down the stairway to the cabins. This is a fully-equipped galley, right down to a double fridge and a dishwasher. Below the stairs, one finds the laundry.
In the lounge area aft, there are low settees to maintain the outside view around a low coffee table. The TV rises out of the starboard window ledge and there are customised lockers for all the crockery, cutlery and the drinks cabinet. Like most thing with Princess, it is low key but practical.
The lounge can be connected with the cockpit by opening the double sliding doors and immediately adjacent is a bar counter that incorporates an electric barbecue. Demonstrating the attention to details, there is an exhaust fan over the barbecue so that fumes do not enter the saloon. The cockpit is compact with just a settee around a raw teak table but behind this is the inviting looking expanse of a large sunbed.
For those who want more privacy when taking their evening drinks when moored stern-to in a marina, there is another sitting out area in front of the wheelhouse windows in what is in effect a Portuguese bridge. In front of the settee, there is another sun bed with a locker underneath it to stow the cushions and a portable table. Everywhere you look on the V-85-S there are cup holders, an appeal to the US market.
The side decks are a bit narrow for comfortable use, but they are secure. They run forward to the practical mooring area. On the aft decks, the mooring fittings are well laid out and sensibly sized for a yacht of this calibre.
Low-key luxury below
Below the main deck there are four cabins, all of them ensuite. The master suite is wonderful – a full-width space with four vertical windows on each side that makes it appear virtually open to the sea. A small table with two chairs sits under one window and makes the perfect place for a private breakfast whilst on the other side there is a desk/vanitory unit. The bathroom is aft of the main cabin and it looks a bit long and narrow for comfortable use. Adjacent there is a walk-in closet, while the cabin features ample stowage space.
The VIP cabin forward is a smaller version of the master. In-between, there are two twin cabins. The use of warmer fabrics and the fabric panels used on the bulkheads help to give a more intimate feel down here, but there is a wide choice of fabrics and furnishings so the look of the whole interior can be customised. There are cabins for a three-person crew: one twin and one single with a shared bathroom and mess room. These are located between the master cabin and the aft engine room to act as a sound barrier.
The engines are installed with vee-drive gearboxes, a system that allows a compact engine room. But these gearboxes do have an intrusive whine that is noticeable in the saloon when running at speed. This is not exclusive to the V-85-S – it is found on many vee-drive motor yachts. Otherwise, there is excellent sound-proofing that reduces the engine noise to little more than a murmur, even at full speed.
You can choose your engines to meet your performance requirements. This first yacht in the series had a pair of V12 MTU diesels from the 2000 range, each producing 2400 horsepower, which is good for speeds up to 35 knots. A more highly tuned version of these MTU diesels can be installed to raise the performance to a more-exciting 38 knots. If you are not so concerned about the top speed, then a pair of Caterpillar C32 diesels of 1925 horsepower each might be your choice.
The engineering is to a very high standard with everything accessible for maintenance. There is a separate lazerette aft for the steering gear and above this is the garage for the tender, with dedicated launching ramps over the lowering hydraulic swim platform. In the garage there is space for both the tender and a jet ski.
When you look around this fine yacht, you can see that virtually every requirement of pleasure afloat has been catered for. Some of them, including that wonderful flybridge helm station, are options. The more you become familiar with the V-85-S, the more you grow to like it. This is a yacht that will endear itself over time because of its great practicality combined with a high level of low-key luxury. This is a yacht for long term pleasure rather than short term impact.