What’s in a name? In the case of the new Jeanneau Yachts 55, there’s a double number that seems to speak of this monohull’s dexterous adoption of some of the best multihull characteristics. Look once and you’ll see a monohull, but look twice – especially from aft or above – and you may sometimes wonder if you’re not aboard a catamaran.
For its new sailing yacht, Jeanneau turned to Philippe Briand for the hull and Andrew Winch for the interiors. Star designers like these could only produce a top result and they continued the winning combination that previously turned out the Jeanneau Yachts 60 and flagship 65. Like those models, the 55 is built for sailors who intend to do some long-distance offshore cruising in comfort and style.
Built to last, the 55 has a vacuum-infused GRP hull with an LOA of almost 17m and a beam just under 5m. The keel draught is 2.45m and the yacht’s twin rudders have self-aligning roller bearings. This serious sailing setup is easy to manage short-handed, with an in-mast furling mainsail and a furling jib with a self-tacking jib track offered as standard.
From here, the array of options owners can choose is almost dizzying, making the 55 a yacht that can be fine-tuned to meet an array of sailing skills and lifestyle needs.
Cat-Like Social Space
Quality of onboard lifestyle was a driver for this monohull, which includes many easy-living features that are typically only found aboard catamarans. The aft-deck layout, for example, is all about lounging.
You might think you’re seeing double when you board and find a U-shaped seating arrangement starboard, opposite an L-shaped sofa to port. Both arrangements can do double duty by converting from seating around tables to becoming large sunpads where guests can lounge, undisturbed by the presence of winches and other sailing gear.
Note also that the flooring is all on one level, so you have a space dedicated to enjoyment that spans almost a quarter of the yacht’s length.
The transom opens out to become a large swim platform that offers more than just easy access to the water. It’s also the base for an outdoor kitchen when a grill is mounted onto the starboard side. While hovering just inches above the water, preparing meals in a setting like this offers those ‘what-more could-you-ask-for’ moments that go to making a vacation truly memorable.
Although there’s no tender garage, a 2.9m tender can be stored and launched from telescopic davits, much like those found aboard catamarans. And should there be a tender stored aft, one of the side benches lifts to allow guests to disembark comfortably while leaving the tender safely stowed.
Comfort And Protection
While the aft area seems to be inching up on a catamaran lifestyle, forward of the large lounging areas are the twin helming positions, with wheels mounted onto pedestals that contain the beating heart of the yacht’s sailing soul.
Sure, it’s easy sailing with Raymarine touchscreen commands, joystick controls for bow and aft thrusters, electric winches and all lines close at hand, but it’s serious sailing nonetheless and it’s good fun.
Sailors can easily keep an eye on the headsails and quickly walk along the clean side decks, which stay on a single level that slowly ramps up towards the headsails and the fixed bowsprit. In the fore section is anchoring equipment and even an en-suite skipper’s cabin.
The mainsheet traveller is mounted directly onto an arched roll bar that delineates the protected cockpit. The windscreen is in curved glass with an opening central section, so views are always free and clear.
Depending on the climate they’re planning to sail in, owners can opt to mount a hard top dodger or a fold-away bimini. Aft of the roll bar, owners can even mount protection for the helming positions so they can sail whatever the latitude or weather conditions.
Inside the cockpit is a navigation station with a chart table, GPS screen and autopilot controls to port, while a sheltered dining table to starboard makes this an indoor/outdoor zone that doubles as a work/play area.
Everything is as protected from the elements as owners choose to make it, and all equipment is easy to access and close at hand. A couple of experienced sailors could easily sail this boat on their own, exploring the world in total freedom.
Light Down Below
This living-free feeling is reinforced by the layout of the saloon below deck. Three layers of light pour in through hull and coachroof windows and flush hatch skylights to make the whole area bright and offer excellent natural air circulation.
A well-equipped galley, a dinette with L-shaped seating and tables that adjust in height to become an extra berth are similar to what you’d expect to find on a sailing yacht this size.
However, what is surprising is that the area can be used as a single open space together with the full-beam owner’s cabin fore by leaving the two sliding doors open. This creates a kind of ‘loft living’ vibe where divisions between day and night areas are blurred to create a single large space that’s perfect for a couple sailing on their own.
While it’s spacious and airy, it’s also seaworthy and practical, with plenty of well-placed handrails, pointing to the designers’ will to keep the boat and its occupants safe, even in rougher conditions.
While the Jeanneau Yachts 55 pampers its owners with the luxury of space and privacy, let’s not forget that this is a 17m boat, so it’s probable that guests will be part of the picture at some point. No problem.
Nobody’s privacy will be disturbed because of a truly innovative setup, which is so well-conceived that you might not even notice it at first. Just fore of the helms are twin gullwing glass doors that open to reveal symmetrical companionways leading down to the two guest cabins. The setup and feeling are much like you get on a catamaran, entering a separate hull.
This ingenious solution gives guests total privacy, keeping their sleeping areas separate both from the owners and the other guests. Both double cabins have their own en-suite bathrooms, so this again echoes the kind of privacy found aboard a catamaran.
So, can a sailing yacht adopt some of the best lifestyle features of a catamaran and stay true to its calling? From sales numbers, it appears that the Jeanneau Yachts 55 can.
With its combination of sailing performance and catamaran comforts, this may well be the yacht that wins back monohull sailors who had drifted over into the ease and stability of catamarans. It may also appeal to motor yachters looking for a more sustainable, eco-friendly way to enjoy their time on the water.
Because aboard a sailing yacht where you’re free as a bird to choose your location, location, location, it’s the many ways the Jeanneau Yachts 55 allows you to enjoy your life aboard that makes all the difference.
This article was first published on yachtstyle.co
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