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FIRST DRIVE


These are the fi rst accurate renderings of how the fi nished R35 will look


Styling by Ferrari designers Pininfarina is aimed at a new breed of younger boat buyers


N


The mule and its eye-popping wrap


othing can prepare you for meeting the Princess R35 prototype in the fl esh. 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 profi le and the bright ‘camoufl age’ 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 fi rst 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


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