Yacht Class n°33 (june-july-august 2023)
With her strong bias – independent master area, guest cabins in the cockpit, vast exterior relaxation areas – the Jeanneau Yachts 55 is out of classic production. But upon closer inspection she has the means to fulfil her ambitions.
Written : Christophe Varène – Photos : DR
With the Jeanneau Yachts 55, the French shipyard proved, once again, its ability to surprise by launching a true owner’s yacht. Thus, unlike the usual configurations on units of this size, the entire forward third of the boat is dedicated to the owner, with the saloon and its double cabin with a beautiful en suite. The saloon may seem small, but the impression of volume is considerably increased when opening the two sliding doors separating it from the master suite. On the port side, a three-part table, for ease of movement, makes up the dining area with its L-shaped sofa. The other side accommodates the J-shaped galley (“like Jeanneau”, as François-Xavier Debeaupte, the sailing marketing manager said with a smile), equipped with a stove and hood, dishwasher, large work surface and a large cold storage area with four drawers. Passengers were also pampered with en suite cabins and private accesses from the cockpit; the portside one being slightly bigger and offers a sofa, a closet and even a small refrigerator. Our sea trial in the Bay of Cannes allowed us to see that the two side companionways are still safe to use, even when listing. The butterfly doors are also light to handle and can remain open without hindering the visibility in the cockpit. This approach makes it possible to create private spaces, without penalising the common areas.
A rigid canva for optimal protection
The sea trial allowed us to analyse the deck plan, full of assets. A Jeanneau classic, the sloping side decks from the steering positions to the bow facilitate circulation, as does the central passage between the aft deck and the main companionway. The foredeck remains traditional with its anchor locker and a hatch opening onto a skipper’s cabin (bunk beds and toilet), but the double cockpit is well thought out. It offers an area protected by an optional hardtop featuring a lounge with a table that can form a large sofa or a watch bench, and opposite, to port, the chart table, immediately accessible in navigation. In the middle and well separated, the manoeuvring area with steering wheels and electric winches. Finally, the entire aft area is devoted to conviviality and relaxation: two settees, one U-shaped and one L-shaped, which each convert into solariums rivalling those of many catamarans. The transom transforms up into a swim platform and provides ample storage space for water sports accessories. The tender, of up to 3.20 m and 15 hp outboard, is on retractable davits when not in use. A practical detail: when moored stern-to with the hanging tender, boarding is also possible via the rear port corner thanks to an electric gangway.
A boat that is easy to handle, even solo
With a dozen knots of wind, the Jeanneau Yachts 55 proved she can be handled by two people, even solo. Two powerful thrusters provide valuable assistance in ports and the 110 hp engine allows a cruising speed of 7 knots with a maximum of 9. Setting the sails is child’s play with a furling mainsail and self-tacking jib. This is the standard rig, but the boat we tested also had two stays with an additional genoa. A Code 3, easier to handle than a Code 0, completes the range of headsails. The adjustments are made with the help of four electric winches equipped with controls on both sides, the loose ends being rolled up in bags placed in the side decks. A very instructive outing. Unveiled to the world in Düsseldorf, the Jeanneau Yachts 55 is off to an encouraging commercial launch, with already some 15 firm orders (50% from former Jeanneau owners, 25% coming from motor boats and, more surprisingly, 25% from catamaran enthusiasts). Thanks to strong choices, this sailboat seems to be able to become a real success.