BOAT TEST JEANNEAU 57
Grey skies didn't rain on the parade of the new Briand-designed Jeanneau 57. She's a luxury entertainer, discovers Allan Whiting
Most yacht owners are used to compromise when they "head down to the boat". They accept that they won't have homelike living space and they somewhat grudgingly leave behind the big-screen telly, the dishwasher, the washing machine and a host of other 240V appliances. Not so, in the case of the Jeanneau's 57: a true luxury home afloat.
When you step aboard via the indented steps in the electrically-operated transom, or the boarding ladder that drops down when the transom is lowered in its swimplatform and garage-door mode, the immediate impressions are of space and luxury. Should you board through one of the side lifeline gates, an optional drop-in boarding ladder makes entry easy.
The term 'cockpit' is somewhat misleading, because the Jeanneau 57's huge steering, crewing and lounging zone occupies one-third of the boat's length and averages two-thirds of its beam, providing a lot of elbowroom. The boat is certified for 16 day-trippers and each one can have a comfy seat!
Cockpit ergonomics have been carefully considered, with large rope bins between the halyard and sheet jammers and the forward winches. German-layout mainsheet winches are located near the helmsperson and the sheet tails flake in front of twin steering pedestals. Contributing to a rope-free cockpit area is a boom that's sheeted ahead of the companionway and set way too high to smack an unwary head.
The test boat had four optional powered winches that took all the effort out of making, handling and shortening sail.
A drop-side cockpit table with integrated sink and icebox (optionally refrigerated on the test boat) can seat eight or serve as the centre point for finger-food distribution. She was also fitted with optional bimini and dodger; both locally designed and made to the NSW Jeanneau Agent - Performance Boating Sales - specifications. They differ from the overseas designs in looking much sleeker, providing easier deck access from the cockpit and having zip-out clear panels, to avoid kinking and to allow much simpler dodger folding. Shade area can be increased by zipping-in a filler panel between bimini and dodger.
Companionway access is via a clamshell hatch that neatly solves the problem of what to do with opened door panels: these clear acrylic ones are geared together and both slide simultaneously into cabin-top recesses, resulting in unobstructed stairway access.
The broad companionway is flanked by leather-covered handrails and descends to a teak-faced cabin sole that's raised above the level of the cabin floors, yet preserves more than generous headroom. This raised saloon floor allows plenty of bilge volume for the optional generator, fuel and water tanks, as well as ample storage space for passage provisions.
The concentration of heavy items and bulk storage in the mid-sections is deliberate, to keep weight out of the boat ends.
We've been somewhat critical of Jeanneau's bilge finish in the past, but the under-sole areas on this yacht were beautifully finished in gelcoat paint.
We checked out the optional generator and air-con system and found noise and vibration levels better than most in this class.
The interior design is the handiwork of Vittorio Garroni, who also penned the cockpit layout, so the clean lines above deck are echoed below. A U-shaped galley would do a small apartment proud and boasts a fridge with bench top and front access, a top-loading freezer, three burner, gimballed stove with oven, range hood, optional dishwasher and microwave.
Opposite the galley is a comprehensive chart table with electrical and electronic nerve centre. What's different about this station is the fact that a Brandt washing machine can hide under the seat.
The saloon/galley/chart table arrangement is a constant, but the cabins can be specified in four different layouts. Pure luxury level is a twin-stateroom design, with island beds and en suites fore and aft, and the size of these cabins can be gauged by the ability of each to be fitted out as four-single-bunk or double and twin layouts. Clip-in divider panels can convert an open four-berth front cabin to two twins or a double and two twins, with each cabin having its own head.
In all layouts there's a forward single bunk or V-berth that's designed for crew accommodation. Single bunk versions have an integral head and V-berth ones use a fore-cabin head, which can be locked from the inside. Alternative access to the crew quarters is through the forward hatch.
The test boat was setup as a family yacht, with provision for a couple of crew in the forward V-berth and the fore cabin was arranged as a queen bed and two singles. However, with the divider panels in place this could easily switch to twin cabins, with the queen cabin having its own head and the singles sharing the crew head.
Eight can sleep in comfort in the Jeanneau 57 and 10 wouldn't be pinched. In post-party mode, two more could doss down on the settee bunks and six could "rough it" on the cockpit cushions.
The only slightly sour note below decks was the Jeanneau habit of moulding-in alternative bulkhead flanges in the deck-hull joint area. This redundant moulding is acceptable in a budget-priced boat, but looks out of place at the luxury end of the market.
BUILT TO CRUISE
Jeanneau's 57 was penned by Philippe Briand with concentration on speedy waterline length and weight amidships. The hull is monolithic FRP, handlaid with an osmosis barrier coating and externally bonded hull ports. The deck is balsa-cored laminate with plywood reinforcement in high-load areas and there's a teak gunwale rail from stem to stern.
Finite element analysis was employed in high-stress areas during an engineering process that has been certified by Bureau Veritas.
A cast iron keel is fitted, with a shallow-draft option available. The keel-stepped, triple-spreader, Dyform-wire-rigged Sparcraft mast is fitted with in-mast furling as standard and a 135-per cent, furling genoa is provided. A twin-roller stem fitting is designed with an asymmetric spinnaker fitting and a conventional spinnaker pole can be ordered.
ON THE WATER
A 57-footer fills most pens snugly, but the test boat's optional bowthruster made light work of fine tuning our departure from a tight berth. Ample power from the VW Marine five-cylinder engine pushed the big boat to 9kts very smartly when we'd cleared the no-wash zone in Pittwater and motored offshore in search of an elusive breeze. This engine performance was unobtrusive, because the multi-cylinder diesel's vibration and noise levels were car-like. The exhaust water splash was reassuringly audible at the starboard steering station, where the engine controls are located.
The chain and sprocket steering system had excellent feel, with light helm pressure and no tendency to wander off course.
Making sail was a doddle, thanks to optional powered halyard and sheet winches, and the boat settled into a 45-degree beat, registering an impressive 6.5kts in only 8 to 10kts of breeze. The tri-radial-cut headsail and furling main seemed well designed for a cruising vocation, giving the boat useful windward power at less than racing angles, without compromising ease of shortening and stowing.
We saw only one puff above 10kts all afternoon, but fortunately a shakedown crew had taken the boat out the day before and had more luck with the wind, recording 8.4kts at the same sailing angle, in 16 to 20kts. With sheets eased to a tight reach the Jeanneau 57 had managed 9.4kts and 10.4kts on a beam reach in puffs up to 22kts.
The Jeanneau polar diagram has the boat doing slightly better than these figures, with a more shapely slab-reefed main and rail-sitting crew, but it's unlikely that owners of the Jeanneau 57 will do much racing; maybe the odd twilight or a brand-loyalty regatta. A big-Jeanneau yacht buyer with club racing in mind would probably be better off with the new 53, which has an optional Performance rig that's almost as large as the 57's, atop a hull that displaces almost six tonnes less.
FACTS & FIGURES
Fast, luxurious cruising yacht that's very easy for two crew to handle. Generous accommodation and lounging space makes it an ideal entertainment yacht that rivals large motorcruisers.
If you've got a spare million or so in the company's entertainment and promotion budget, there are far worse ways to spend it than buying a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 57.
PRICE AS TESTED
Custom bimini, spray dodger and infill panel, Premiere trim package (powered halyard winches, helm windlass control, 12kW bowthruster, 24V freezer compressor, 1800W inverter, microwave, additional 24V house batteries and 60amp charger, Bose sound system with remote control, cockpit speakers, three ST-70 displays and autopilot, and prop shaft rope cutter), 'espresso' upholstery, two powered sheet winches, staysail rigging, cockpit table cover, cockpit cushions, 220V 9.5kW generator, washing machine with combined dryer, dishwasher, 24V refrigeration in cockpit table, multi-zone air-conditioning, aft cabin innerspring mattress, quiet-flush toilets with holding tanks, icemaker, safety gear, and anchor and chain
MATERIAL: FRP hulls and decks - balsa resin composite deck and monolithic hull
LENGTH OVERALL: 17.78m
HULL LENGTH: 17.28m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 15.35m
DRAFT: 2.5m; 2.1m (optional)
WEIGHT: 20,600kg; 27,130kg (max displacement)
BALLAST: 6100kg; 6500kg (shallow draft keel)
BERTHS: Various combinations from two staterooms to one stateroom, with singles and doubles up to eight capacity; all with single or double forward crew berths.
MAINSAIL: 58m² furling (optional 75m² fully battened)
SPINNAKER: 220m² ASYMMETRIC: 202m²
MAKE/MODEL: Volkswagen Marine TDI 140-5
RATED HP: 140hp
PROP: Shaft drive w/ three-blade folding propeller
Performance Boating Sales,
1710 Pittwater Road,
Bayview, NSW, 2104
PHONE: (02) 9979 9755
Fax: (02) 9979 9780
Space, space, space: that's the rationale behind the Jeanneau 57. The hull and interior designers have combined their talents to produce an integrated package that's at home as a status symbol, a luxury cruising yacht or a corporate statement.
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