Nick Burnham column: Bond and boats was a beautiful romance, but now it’s over

Nick Burnham explains why No Time To Die spoiled the James Bond franchise for him and why he’s probably watched his last new 007 movie…

The ending of the latest Bond film, No Time To Die, genuinely moved me. It’s hard to see how they’ll move on from it. Even if they ‘reboot’ it (already done – Casino Royale), we’ll always know how it all ends.

Badly. They’ve spoiled it, I think I’ve seen my last new 007 movie.

I’ve read every book and watched every film. Bond has been with me from a small boy, when my parents allowed me to watch the inevitable car chase before banishing me to bed.

As a teenager, my auntie would take me to the cinema, sitting with her eyes tightly closed through the killing (villains always had a lair with henchmen to overcome in those days).

Though the tone of the films changed over the decades, the style and the allure remained. Exotic locations, amazing cars, amusing quips, beautiful women, incredible action and (until now) the invincibility of our hero…

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And then there were James Bond’s boats. The very first movie had Bond escaping Dr. No’s island aboard a classy clinker-built motorboat in 1962.

The following year saw the first James Bond boat chase with Bond at the helm of a Fairey Huntress, pursued by Spectre aboard Huntsmans fitted with grenade launchers in From Russia With Love.

A superyacht appeared in Thunderball, belonging to Emilio Largo. Bond designer Sir Ken Adam said it had to be 160ft long and capable of 50 knots.

No such boat existed, so they created one that shed its aft accommodation section before rising onto hydrofoils to outrun pursuing navy ships, Bond on board to save the day.

But it was Live And Let Die in 1973 that really upped the ante. An incredible chase through the Louisiana Irish Bayou using 26 Glastron speedboats.

When filming wrapped, 17 boats and one world record had been destroyed – a new boat jump record standing at 110ft!

1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me saw Bond shuttled out to meet the villain at his offshore lair aboard a stunning Intermarine, and later launch an attack using the world’s first PWC, a WetBike. Not even in production at that point, the one used was a prototype.

1983’s Never Say Never Again put villain Maximillian Largo aboard superyacht ‘The Flying Saucer’. In real life it was the Nabila, built for Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi and later sold to Donald Trump.

In 1999, Sunseeker entered Bond’s world. The World Is Not Enough opened with Bond in a jet boat pursuing a female assassin at the helm of a Sunseeker Superhawk 34, stunt doubled by powerboat racer Sarah Donohue.

Sunseekers appeared in several subsequent films, culminating in Quantum Of Solace, featuring a Sunseeker 37M Yacht, XS2000 and a Superhawk 43, along with a vintage Sunseeker Sovereign 17 in which Bond was skippered across a lake by Sunseeker founder Robert Braithwaite.

There are plenty of boats in No Time To Die, of course – Bond sails a Spirit yacht in Jamaica, before his fateful encounter with a Royal Navy destroyer off Japan.

I don’t know where they’ll go with the franchise next, but one thing’s for sure – I won’t be watching.

RIP James Bond (1953-2021).

First published in the March 2022 issue of MBY.

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