|Three Level Cockpit, The Heart Of Jeanneau’s Far Cruising Yachts 53|
FOR SOME years Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey 54DS has remained a stand out personal favourite as the near perfect, good looking, spacious, luxurious, big, go-anywhere cruising boat offering good value. However the new Jeanneau Yachts 53, as it should do, surpasses that, writes YL racing editor Andi Robertson.
It has a new, more modern and efficient hull shape from Briand Yacht Design and a modernised interior based on the 54DS from the Garroni Studio.
Fundamentally one of the conceptual drawbacks of the Deck Saloon range was that the saloon area space in particular was restricted by the footprint of the coachroof. To achieve the panorama living – being able to see out from being seated in the saloon area – the seating space had to be built within the lines of the coachroof window area.
With its combination of hull side ports, but still a similar style of coachroof profile the new Jeanneau Yachts 53 maximises the interior space in the living area through being able to fully utilise the maximum beam.
We jumped at the chance of sailing Katherine 53 (Katherine53.com) out of Largs. This new Jeanneau Yachts 53 is available for corporate and private day charter with well known skippers John and Hilary Connelly running the project. (See separate story).
In most respects it is the last word in comfort and luxury to a sensible budget.
The 53 will appeal to those who have worked their way up through the Jeanneau range, as the ultimate family cruiser which can, thanks to the power winches and furling systems, still be sailed primarily by a couple.
The flagship of the range is the 57, but it is maybe seen as a little more of a handful for a short handed crew.
Eighty percent of the time aboard is spent sailing in the cockpit, and so particular attention was spent on developing a great working and relaxing area at the heart of the boat. Thus the cockpit is on three levels. Forward is a spacious lounging area, then a seating area with a large central table and aft of that is an excellent sailing area.
This lounging area is low enough to be protected from the elements by the coachroof, but it still offers the elevation to enjoy the panorama and feel part of the full sailing experience for guests not involved in the sailing of the boat.
This really is the heart of the boat and it sets a new standard for this size and type of production boat.
But the working area is also impressive with the mainsail control lines falling to hand, other than the forward banks of clutches.
And, as it should be, it is all perfect push button sailing.
For the helm and crew there is space to work the boat without having to climb over or interfere with the enjoyment of others in the cockpit. There is a level of autonomy and yet all will feel involved.
From the front, our test boat had fully powered headsail furling which is streamlined and seemed to work smoothly and positively on the 135% genoa. Working aft there is a deep forward storage sail locker which doubles as a small ‘skipper’ cabin including a self contained WC and washing area.
Pride of place on the bow on the Katherine53 was the ultimate tender toy, a Williams 325 turbo, water jet mini RIB which as well as hitting more than 40kts is good at low speeds too. And, using the spinnaker pole, it is easily launched and retrieved off the deck.
Otherwise there is great deck space with good access to and from the cockpit as well as over the profiled coachroof which is shallower and less pronounced than the DS, extending forward with a shallow step. It is therefore easier to work on the coachroof area.
In the cockpit itself there are good stowage spaces with a pair of excellent lazarette lockers. Under the aft edge of the cockpit sole there is a large locker which offers direct access from the stern to the liferaft. There are good, standard cockpit lockers and then forward, at the companionway there is a smaller shallow under foot space for lines.
We sailed the boat in 7-11kts of NW’ly breeze for a short tour of the Largs Channel. The lasting feeling is that you left the boat not feeling short changed in any way by the rig configuration. There is plenty of easily used and adaptable sail power and that is the key to being able to easily drive the smooth hull shape which maximises effective waterline length.
There is no fuss at all in unfurling the headsail and the main and in two or three minutes you are sailing.
Upwind we loved the long legged stride which really belies the speeds that the 53 picks up. In only nine knots of true breeze we were making over seven knots and as it picked up it was effortless.
The helm is positive, but well balanced and the boat responds well even at slower speeds. With the twin wheels there is always good forward visibility to the headsail luff and the 53 accelerated smoothly and evenly.
Typical for the set up of this particular boat, the key to the downwind inventory is a cruising chute with a snuffer. We sailed only with white sails for our short test and found the 53 to be pleasingly quick, tracking nicely with a certain urgency in the light moderate wind strengths.
Certainly she responds to small changes in sail trim, as are almost inevitable given the racing background of John, Hilary and Euroyachts supremo Angus Scott.
The interior options are many based around four different layouts. Ours was the version with a centreline double forward with an excellent en-suite and then two symmetrical double cabins aft. This is a good compromise for the live-aboards or extended cruising as there is the comfort and space of the forecabin when you are stopped, but the adaptability of the aft cabins for passages.
Natural light and space are the key attributes of a stunning interior. The large hull side ports offer this keynote panorama, being able to feel and see that you are at sea which is the nub of the living on board experience and the Jeanneau Yachts 53 steals the show in this area.
The main saloon area is spacious and extremely comfortable with a large U shaped saloon table to port supplemented by two freestanding chairs and a large settee split by a neat fold out drinks cabinet.
The galley is excellent with a big 200 litre fridge and separate 70 litre ice box, plus plenty of space for appliances. Stowage selection seemed good including a large underfloor, easy accessed bin space for tins and the like, with self contained plastic boxes.
The nav station to starboard also offers the twin aspects of being workable for the primary role, with a recessed chart space in the table top plus good and easy mounting space for instrumentation, but it is also neatly integrated into the living space as doubtless there will be many who will use it as a small office space for those whose cruising is more extended.
What’s not to love about this new 53? Value for money it is a lot of boat, for the genuine ‘sell up and sail into the sunset brigade’ it is not a bank breaker. For those who aspire to setting off on the ARC or the likes, cruising the Caribbean and/or the Med, then this a first class option.
At Southampton Boat Show the retail price of the Jeanneau Yachts 53 to a specification that you could sail, delivered and commissioned Largs, was £347,500 inc VAT.
The boat as tested complete with Williams tender etc would be £471,000 inc VAT.