Nothing can prepare you for meeting the Princess R35 prototype in the flesh.

Photos and some short video clips of the boat have been doing the rounds on the internet for a couple of months but sitting in a berth at Kingpoint in Plymouth, surrounded by the usual mix of marina inhabitants, it looks out of this world.

It has a menacing, almost gunboat profile and the bright ‘camouflage’ hull wrap is extraordinarily whacky for a company that is generally rather reserved.

But hell, this thing tears up the rulebook for breakfast, so why hide its light beneath a bushel? It stands out like a shire horse at Crufts.

As well as the spy shots and video snippets, rumours have also been circulating online about the technology the R35 will harness. BAR Technologies has been involved in its development, that much is certain, but exactly what the team behind Ben Ainslie’s foiling AC45 America’s Cup yacht has brought to the party has been unclear – until now.

Imminently, I will plonk myself into the helm seat, the first person outside of the development team to do so, and see if one of the most mysterious new boats in years lives up to its billing.

Before we hit the water though, let’s look at how the R35 came to be. Like so many projects of this nature, the R35’s conception began with a phone call. Around 18 months ago, Princess’s executive chairman Antony Sheriff called his former McLaren colleague and current CEO of Ben Ainslie Racing Technologies (BART) Martin Whitmarsh and suggested they should collaborate on a boat together.

Sheriff wanted to target a new breed of Princess customer with something exciting that moved the game on. “High-end sportscars in a similar price range to the R35 sell
in their thousands,” Sheriff points out, “but equivalent boats sell in their hundreds.”

Princess wants to appeal to these customers, younger buyers who may have never considered buying a boat nor associate with the lifestyle.

Read the full report in the July 2018 issue of MBY.