Jeanneau 54 - Sails BeautifullyBy Andy Adams and Bill Springer

This elegant new cruiser shows where the future of production yacht design is headed. In fact, it’s already there.

Some boats just “feel” right, and we had a very good “feeling” about the strikingly new Jeanneau 54 before we even stepped aboard. But we were not surprised. Recent designs this French-based builder have launched—especially the superyacht sexy Jeanneau 64—have raised the bar on what a production boat builder is capable of. So the only real question was: could this 54-footer live up to the high standards of style, space, and performance set by its attention-grabbing big sister? We had our answer even before we left the dock.

 

On Deck

Our initial good “feelings” came directly from the 54’s elegantly good looks. And those good looks—the uncluttered lines, low coachroof and large square hull ports that brighten up the interior and strategically minimize the freeboard—come directly from legendary designer Philippe Briand. And while Briand also designed the hull and exterior of the 64, the 54 may be an even a bigger accomplishment because he and his design team have been able to deliver the same superyacht aesthetic (and luxury) in a much smaller package.

Jeanneau 54 - forward cabinBut as in life, good looks can only get you so far. And after really digging into the details during our test sail, we’ve found that the 54 is way more than just another pretty face. In fact, it’s packed with innovative features and options that will help enhance an owner’s enjoyment of the boat and its surroundings in ways that have never been available before. The design element that grabbed our attention first was what Jeanneau has dubbed the “aft terrace”.  And after seeing the fully motorized retractable transom in action, we can report it’s way, way more than a simple drop-down swim platform. It doesn’t just “retract” but actually opens up to not only provide a spacious “aft terrace” with a sturdy swim ladder, revealing ultra-cushy lounger seats that are fully integrated into the design. Brilliant.

If that’s not enough, the walk through transom opens up to reveal one of the longest and most luxurious cockpits we’ve seen, and all the cockpit details, including the angle of the seatbacks, the size and sturdiness of the teak-topped cockpit table, and even padded armrests with drink holders are fantastic. The sunbed on the foredeck with its retractable bimini makes excellent use of space that is often used for sunbathing, but not so comfortably. And we absolutely flipped when we saw the 54’s innovative dingy davits that retract into the deck (and completely out of sight) when not in use. We’re not exaggerating when we say the cockpit and deck layout on the 54 may be one of the most efficient, functional and comfortable we’ve seen in a long time.


View the Walk Through Video of the Jeanneau 54 below:

Jeanneau 54 - Main SaloonAccommodations

Good things happen when renowned superyacht designers (and friends) Philippe Briand and Andrew Winch team up. And since their collaboration on the Jeanneau 64—Briand’s team designed the hull and exterior; Winch’s team designed the interior—was such a success, it made perfect sense to keep the band together on the 54.

The interior aesthetic matches the exterior perfectly and so does the space and functionality. The overall lines, woodwork, trim and the leather accents—on cabinet handles, doors and bulkheads are much more high end than you find on many production boats. The cream coloured upholstery and light stained woodwork and copious ports and opening hatches insure the interior is bright and cheery on sunny days, while ample use of low draw LED lighting will make the accommodations bright and cheery on rainy days too, and the interior is all tied together by dark floorboards providing the sophisticated contrast you’ll find in many luxury homes.

So, the accommodations plan looks great, but how does it actually work? Um…pretty great. The main saloon is open and inviting with a large settee to starboard and a well-equipped galley that boasts significant counter and storage space. 

Jeanneau 54 - Swim PlatformAnd we may be a bit old-fashioned but, we love seeing the large, forward facing chart table. Even if most navigation takes place up on the chart plotter in the cockpit, nothing compares to having a dedicated spot to unroll a real paper chart for overall route planning. 

The 54 also stands out from many other similarly-sized production yachts in that you can order one with either two, three, four or even five cabins. Obviously, a cruising couple that entertains occasional guests would probably want to go for the two cabin version that boasts a truly luxurious master cabin forward, a VIP guest cabin aft and a large and innovative galley that’s tucked in behind the nav station. This configuration also provides for a large U-shaped settee in the saloon that will rival any sectional couch you may have in your family room on land! The five cabin version would be ideal if you have a captain. There’s truly an option for everybody.

 

Jeanneau 54 - Forward SunpadUnder Sail 

With a steady 10-12 knots of wind, sunny skies, flat water and a pleasant crew, conditions could not have been better for our test sail. Of course, it’s always good to see how a boat performs in heavy weather too, but we’ve suffered through enough test sails conducted in 0-5 knots of wind to be thankful when the weather Gods cooperate as they did for us last Fall.

And when a boat is capable of topping out at 8.5 knots of boat speed in 12 knots of breeze like the 54 did that day, it’s easy to deduce that it was well suited to the conditions. But the way the boat handled may have been even more impressive than the speeds. The helm felt buttery smooth and had just the right amount of weather helm. The boat tracked straight and true. Our wake was clean and quiet. And tacking was as easy as turning the helm over tanks to the self-tacking jib. The dual helm stations were comfortable and the close proximity of the primary winches made it easy for a single hander to trim the jib without having to leave the helm. Wide, teak-topped side decks made it super easy to go forward from the cockpit, and well placed hand holds on the coachroof made for safe going when the weather is less agreeable than we enjoyed during our test.

 

Jeanneau 54 - CockpitConclusion

For those of you who haven’t picked up on this already we’re impressed with this boat. It’s elegant. It’s modern. It’s spacious. It’s well laid out. It sails well. It’s loaded with innovative features specifically designed to make sailing and cruising more comfortable and fun. It’s superyacht sexy. And available at a pretty competitive price point. What more could you ask for?

http://www.jeanneau.com/

Specifications

Length overall 16.16 m / 53'

Hull length 15.75 m / 51'8"

Hull beam 4.92 m / 16'1"

Light displacement 17164 kg / 37840 lbs.

Standard keel draught 2.24 m / 7'4"

Fuel capacity* 63 L / 17 GAL

Water capacity 724 L / 191 GAL

Cabins 2-3-4-5-6

Motor Yanmar 75 Hp / 55 kW Sail drive

CE Category A14 / B15 / C16

Total standard sail area 111 m² / 1195 sq. ft.

 

Photo Captions

Photo 1 - The Jeanneau 54 sails as beautifully as it looks.

Photo 2 - The forward cabin: The owners cabin forward is spectacular. 

Photo 3 - Main saloon: The Andrew Winch-designed interior is a cut above a standard production builders interior.

Photo 4 - Swim platform: The “aft terrace” is way, way better than a gimmick.

Photo 5 - The Bimini makes the forward sunpad even more enjoyable.

Photo 6 - Cockpit: The cockpit is large, and comfortable and the helm stations are well designed.

 

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By Joan Wenner, J.D.

Sailboat under cloudy sky by Bill Cox-Unsplash

Have you ever needed on-the-water assistance due to a mechanical breakdown, running aground, taking on water (perhaps from striking a submerged or floating object), having a mishap with another vessel, or have a medical emergency and the authorities are not near, but another mariner answers your mayday or perhaps observes your predicament. Another boater is in the vicinity, but will, or should, that person offer to help perhaps at his peril? What if you were that pleasure craft operator?

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Photos by Sharon Matthews-Stevens


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