Over 50s - The big European yacht manufacturers have all recently released cruising yachts over 50ft. We decided to get them all together and test them back-to-back. Over the next few weeks we'll be rolling them out so you can see what our testers thought and be able to compare them for yourself.
Good sailing performance
Powered systems and controls
Quiet VW engine
Lack of cockpit helm footholds
Saloon split level flooring
-- Flagship Jeanneau
French yachting giant Jeanneau’s 57 footer launches a new range of fitted-out cruising mini-superyachts that can go anywhere with ease thanks to powered sail handling and clever design. This flagship of the Jeanneau fleet has a powerful new VW engine as the base for a raft of lifestyle enhancements that include high-wattage generators, air conditioning and a full range of white goods fitted in the galley; all ensconced in a sleek new Phillipe Briand designed voluminous hull.
PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
-- easy base price
When considering a boat of this size, potential owners will generally be experienced and discerning sailors who know what works and what doesn’t. Perhaps moving up from a more hands-on style of sailing they now want a long-legged cruiser but with minimum effort and that’s what the Jeanneau 57 delivers but from a base price of $817,143.00.
However the dichotomy of seeking the simple sailing life requires extensive systems to be used, such as in-mast furling, electric winches, generators and many other add-ons, which means the sailaway price soars to $1,011,174, but for that you’ve got yourself a complete escape capsule, even including a washing machine.
Onboard life often centres around the cockpit which has easy entry via the stepped transom and swim platform, which opens into the dinghy garage. Preferring an enclosed cockpit, large lockers form the transom and the wide split-level cockpit is dominated by a large and functional teak table, that even houses a fridge/icemaker. It’s a cosy area despite its acerage thanks to high combings, the tall cabin top and dodger, with bimini as well to complete an effective bluewater cruising setup. Again showing its bluewater credentials automation systems include a Quick anchor control on the helm binnacle, where all the Raymarine instruments are easily referred to, with a plotter bulkhead sited on the table.
Other features include the tinted Plexiglass sliding main hatch which is enormous but slides easily with strong handholds around it. Sail controls are neat with many lines low-stretch Dyneema and hidden under a gutter before emerging into chunky Spinlock jammers on the high section of the cockpit with big electric Harken 70.2 primary winches doing the genoa grunt work. The overall deck layout is conventional, rather than trying for style over substance.
LAYOUT AND ACCOMMODATION
-- Lots of options
Jeanneau offers a plethora of accommodation layouts for the new 57 with up to five cabins and the flexibility of movable partitions. The review boat came with an owner’s suite in the stern, a large double with movable partition up forward and a double V-berth as well – the latter comes standard as a separate sail locker. The forward double can be separated, with two single bunks in the portside cabin. The only downside is that V-berth access takes the crew through this cabin, but alternatively they can also climb out the large deck hatch.
Natural light is good throughout the boat and the owner’s cabin even has two escape-style hatches facing astern which unfortunately don’t have views -- unless you get a kick out of watching your helmsman’s legs.
An inviting main saloon is clad in warm darkish teak laminates with Moabi hardwood finishes on all surrounds. Stylish features include the flip-out port-side couch table with underside wine rack and opposite, the starboard U-shape lounge area can accommodate free-standing chairs on the laminated floor. Galley facilities are a stand-out feature, with the review boat boasting a microwave, 230v Electrolux dishwasher below the double sinks and even a small 5kg washing machine. My only niggle was a three-burner stove/oven, rather than a four-burner for large boat like this. But it was surrounded by plenty of storage and work surfaces with nice touches here that include soft-close drawers and flip-up bins.
Opposite, on starboard, the navigation area is forward-facing with adequate rather than generous bulkhead space for electronics. More than adequate though is the impressive switchboard and analogue readouts giving the skipper extensive information readouts on key systems such as batteries, fuel and water.
MACHANICAL, HULL AND RIG
-- Volksawgen power
The Briand-designed hull disguises its volume and tall topsides very well with enough forward rake on bow and transom to ensure the Jeanneau trade-marked stylish shape is the result. Built of solid polyester GRP with a balsa-cored deck, strengthened by a separately moulded inside grid, the 57 looks a strong boat with deep bilges; always good to maintain stability if flooded.
Typical of modern cruisers, the wide beam is carried aft giving a broad underwater profile with a hint of soft chines in the stern quarters. The cast-iron keel as standard is a fairly deep 2.5m and is encapsulated in epoxy with the GRP spade rudder foam cored.
The alloy Sparcraft rig has the convenience of in-mast furling with options that include a unique Harken-Jeanneau developed sheeting system. Holding the big rig up are standard wire shrouds through the deck and hull-frame fastened for strength with fixed backstay but an adjustable hydraulic option is available. The review boat came with Mylar tri-radial sails which are fine for cruising but upgrade options are aplenty including fully-battened Hydranet sails. One word of warning about third party sails and in-mast reefing: carefully check the weight/texture of sailcloth will fit into the mast.
Electric winches really are useful on a boat of this size and along with the myriad of power appliances the need for a big engine was apparent so the introduction of the new VW marinised engines make sense. Having a better power-to-weight ratio that some traditional marine brands, the VW is a five-cylinder turbocharged unit with two meaty 12V and 24V alternators attached. Access looked a bit cramped to it, as it is set low in the boat in relation to the saloon but side doors also help with maintenance (done by Cumins).
For AC power needs, a powerful Onan generator is available which can ensures your flat-screen TV and house-style hifi needs are met, not forgetting the washing machines and dishwashers. Cleverly housed in the deep bilges, but well above water ingress level, it is surrounded by the plethora of control system cabling that remind you that this really is a pocket superyacht, but at a production boat price.
ON THE WATER
Heading out onto a blustery Pittwater with bullets of westerly wind crashing down on us from the hills proved an interesting test of the big Jeanneau’s capabilities.
Motoring also proved an interesting event due to the exceptional quietness of the new VW 140hp motor with very little vibration felt through the hull and minimal judder on the twin helms. The new boat was yet to be fully commissioned, advised my host for the day, Ron Jacobson, proprietor of Performance Boating. One of his niggles was the speed under motor that Ron expected to be around 10kts, whereas we only managed 9.3kts at 3500rpm, so a larger prop was to be fitted.
Preparing to hoist sail took minimal effort as we held the bow into the wind with occasional prods of the Max Power bow thruster which was close to hand on the binnacle along with the Raymarine ST70 readouts. The in-mast furling mainsail sped out quickly at the touch of a button on the electric 50.2 Harken winch, to reveal rather flat-shaped sail that nevertheless set and pulled well in the 15kt winds. Similar effort went into deploying the 125 per cent genoa as we bore away and I perched out on the flat combings.
Helm pressure, via cables, varied little in the gusting conditions until some heavy pressure hit us and we heeled steeply causing me to search for a foothold on the cockpit sole, where there was none so slid before grabbing the stanchions with my spare hand. A small triangle of teak might be useful on each side to help the helmsman’s footing. Settling into a groove, the 57’s long waterline ensured she tracked well despite the gusts, and tacking on the windshifts was a nimble affair as the big Harken two-speed primaries beside the helms ground away to haul in the big genoa.
Powering and automating the numerous systems in a cruising boat of this size really does make sense for the cruising couple who don’t want to rely on crew, and on the Jeanneau all the running rigging ran effortlessly. Gybing in the gusts was a good test which again worked well with the steerer easily able to control the turn while pressing the buttons on the electric Harken primaries -- rudder control was also good. Another effortless facet of the 57 was speed, with 8kt a good average for the afternoon and 9kts predominant in the 15kt breeze. As our windy afternoon came to an end, furling the big main was done without leaving the cockpit, with Ron easing the main dyneema halyard before hitting the button to quickly roll up the sail. Again, effortless.
Beneteau Oceanis 58 – the largest of this quartet of flagship cruisers with unusual stern platform, mainsheet arch and spacious berths.
Bavaria 55 – newly designed by esteemed racers Farr Yacht Design with spacious interior put together by BMW Designworks USA, the flagship cruiser is a major investment in the future for Bavaria.
Hanse 545 – the evolution of the German builder’s earlier 540 model has the sleekest lines around with ultra low profile cabin, flush decks and unusual vertical windows in its cavernous hull.
Ratings – Jeanneau 57
Overall rating: 4.0/5.0
Mechanicals/Equipment/Rig, etc: 4.5/5.0
Packaging and Practicality: 4.5/5.0
On the water performance: 4.0/5.0
Value for money: 4.0/5.0
Specifications: Jeanneau 57
Price base: $817,143.00
Price review boat: $1,011,174.00
Overall length: 17.78m
Hull length: 17.28m
Waterline length: 15.35m
Displacement (empty): 20,600kg
Displacement (maximum): 27,130kg
Standard keel weight: 6,100kg
Standard keel draft: 2.50m
Shallow keel weight: 6,500kg
Shallow keel draft: 2.10m
Fuel capacity: 435L
Water capacity: 930L
Mainsail (furling): 58m²
Mainsail (full-batten): 75m²
Genoa (furling): 88m²
Asymmetrical spinnaker: 202m²
Standard sail area: 146m²
Sail area to displacement ratio: 19.75
Ratio displacement: LWL 158.74
Mast height above waterline: 24.20m
Engine: Volkwagen Marine TDI 140-5 140HP
CE Category: (in process) A
Architects / Designers: Philippe Briand Yacht Design
Concept and Design: Garroni Premorel
Published : Thursday, 11 November 2010
Performance Boating Sales, Gibson Marina, 1710 Pittwater Road, Bayview, NSW 2104
Tel: 02 9979 9755