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By John Armstrong and Andy Adams

OpenAndy Wakeman Photography

Highly original – impressively fast

Once again, the designers at Jeanneau have outdone themselves with the innovative new Leader 10.5 model. A product of the latest thinking at both Jeanneau and Michael Peters Yacht Design, this new Jeanneau combines some of the most compelling elements from several different types of boats, making the Leader 10.5 a highly original new day boat / cruiser.

The handsome lines, sweeping bow rail, and large areas of hull-side glazing are attributes of a modern express cruiser. So too are the large sun lounge on the forward deck and the spacious cockpit accommodations. But then, borrowing elements from the latest centre console type boats, there's an optional freestanding hardtop for sun shade over a three-seat helm and companion area that leaves generous side decks for moving forward.

Refreshment

This is really a full cockpit galley with barbecue grill, sink, drawers and a Waeco refrigerator freezer for full food preparation in the cockpit.
Credit: John Armstrong

"We bring our design approach—clean, efficient, balanced elements combined with tightly engineered strengths and performance,” explains Michael Peters. “Then, we listen…communicate…listen again. Next, we present design concepts that clearly allow our client’s boat to emerge, to come to life. After all, we're not designing our boat; we’re designing our client's boat."

Galley

 

In the cabin is a main galley including a propane stovetop, sink, Danby microwave, cutlery drawer, trash locker, spice racks and overhead storage.
Credit: JeromeKelagopian

At 34’8” overall length, a cruiser this size would customarily be offered as an inboard or stern drive powered boat, but Jeanneau has wisely chosen to power this boat with outboards, again like the big centre consoles.

The use of twin Yamaha 350 hp V8 F350 outboards frees up a large part of the interior accommodation area, which would have otherwise been filled with engines and mechanical systems, so the Leader 10.5 has much more interior space than you would expect. Plus, the light weight and high efficiency of the outboard engines delivers absolutely stellar performance with a cruising speed of 30.3 mph and an impressive top end of 50.7 mph. That’s flying!

For use as a day boat, the Leader 10.5 is easily capable of covering long distances while offering impressive comfort onboard. With estimated fuel consumption of 34.34 gallons per hour at cruising speed and a 210-galloncapacity (twin 105 US gal tanks), you have about six hours running time doing 30 mph for a range of 180 miles or more.

The Leader’s design places the twin outboard engines within the swim platform for a sleek look that still leaves plenty of space on the swim platform. It’s a good arrangement for anchoring out and going swimming or diving by your favourite cove or island.

The pull-down boarding ladder is mounted on the port side of the platform;our test boat had a transom shower with hot water and the shorepower connections also at the stern. We found storage areas in the transom for lines and fenders and a transom gate on the port side only.That’s because the aft bench seat in the cockpit is also an important dining area. On our test boat, the seatback wrapped around up the starboard side with a drop-down seat and a corresponding seat to port; those surround the hi/lo teak dining table to accommodate up to ten for a meal!

DeckLarge forward deck sun loungers with reclining backs, drink holders and handrails as well as teak decking make the bow a great living area.
Credit: John Armstrong

Also, the floor is flat to the helm and the test boat had attractive and comfortable real teak flooring. In the lazaretteis storage for buckets and brushes by the available generator that powers the optional cabin air-conditioning and other accessories.

Staying topside for a bit, there are two steps up to the side decks to go forward. The side decks are a good width and recessed for secure footing. It’s well worth it to go forward.

Sturdy bow rails and places to grab on the optional hardtop are convenient and safe, plus there are rails on the decking flanking the two reclining sun lounges. At the bow, the Leader 10.5 has a flared shape that gives a wider area to stand and run the windlass or access the anchor locker. The deck is an important living area on this boat.

Hard TopThe optional large hardtop has a clear center hatch for light and ventilation over the triple helm seats.
Credit: John Armstrong

Back in the cockpit, there is a galley unit backing the triple-wide helm seat. Lift the lid (which has a backsplash) and you discover the electric grill, sink, and three drawers - plus a Waeco refrigerator under the grill and a side locker with trash and storage space.

Just forward is the triple-wide helm seat that has armrests and flip-up bolster seats. The steering position is in the middle, almost on the centreline, which is nice for navigating and docking, and the twin Yamaha F350s can be equipped with the Helm Master joystick docking system. The boat can also have a bow thruster, so this will be an effortless boat to manage in close quarters.

Helm controls are all right there and the dash has space for up to two 12-inch screens. The Yamaha controls were on the binnacle top and easy to use. Outward vision is excellent – basically 360 degrees - and the windshield gives good protection without getting in the way. The hardtop adds a lot of comfort and has a glass hatch for light and more fresh air.

While the Leader 10.5 is all about fresh air and exhilarating performance, the interior features are impressive, too. Stepping down the companionway, you first find the head to starboard. This is offered with an optional glass wall to enclose the MSD and shower and there is a vessel sink in the elegant cabinetry with a black countertop and an opening port for ventilation.

Cabin

The cabin is surprisingly spacious for the type of design the Leader 10.5 is and the space is all very usable.A lot of natural light comes in through the windows and overhead hatch aided by the mirrored forepeak.
Credit: JeromeKelagopian

To port is a galley unit including a Danby microwave, Eno gasstovetop with potholders (electric ceramic flat top is also available), and a single stainless steel sink under a cover by the opening porthole.

A twin berth aft cabin lies under the bridge deck and they cleverly added headroom by positioning it under the helm seat box. There is abundant storage in the sides and a filler cushion to make a double.

Another clever feature is that the forward cabin is open seating, which can be filled in and enclosed to give a second private sleeping cabin and a total of four berths. So, overnight cruising is certainly an option even though the Leader 10.5 is geared up for daytime fun.And fun it is to open the throttles on those two big V8 Yamaha 350s!

Jeanneau has given the Leader 10.5 a very sophisticated hull design and running surface with two steps in the hull at about mid-ship and then a significant transom step and setback for the engine, all designed to reduce the wet area and drag.

The deep vee entrysmoothes out the ride nicely while the sophisticated bottom design in the back half of the boat delivers impressive performance. John Armstrong found the Leader 10.5 to be very stable during the sea trials and highly responsive. It’s an exciting and fun boat to run with great handling.

The Yamaha F350 engines were remarkably quiet at all times with a near-silent idle and an effortless thrust at higher speeds. Also, the 3.5 kW generator was running the whole time and we never noticed the sound.

With impressive speed and handling and so many great features for the price, the Leader 10.5 has been a brisk seller indeed. We were told that Jeanneau could not keep up with the demand for this boat, falling an estimated 400 boats short last year!

Overall, the Leader 10.5 is a seriously sporty pocket cruiser that is very family friendly. It’s the complete coastal cruiser at a most attractive price point.

SPECIFICATIONS

POWER: Twin Yamaha F350, V8 outboard engines, 60 degree V8 design, 32 valve, 5.3 litre, 350 horsepower each. Stainless steel props.

PERFORMANCE:
Cruising speed: 4,500 rpm - 30.3 mph
6,000 rpm – 50.7 mph

Overall length including platforms: 34’8” / 10.57 m
Overall beam: 10’6” /3.21 m
Hull weight (approx.): 9,370 lbs. / 4,250 kg
Fuel capacity: 2x 105 US gal / 2x 400 L
Water capacity: 42 US gal /160 L
Architects: Sarrazin Design /Michael Peters Design / Jeanneau Design
Base price: $180,000 USD FOB Annapolis, MD
As tested: $230,000 USD FOB Annapolis, MD

Test boat and pricing supplied by: Jeanneau Americas, www.jeanneauamerica.com