REVIEW: JEANNEAU VELASCO 43
A family cruiser for all occasions, versatility is the big selling point of Jeanneau’s newest model, the Velasco 43 with its hybrid trawler hull, extended flybridge and grunty Cummins engines, writes Kevin Green.
The Velasco 43 is the first flybridge built under the Jeanneau branding (rather than the Prestige range, which has been operating for 20 years), but the 44-footer had a rather inauspicious start in life when its name changed from the initial Voyager 42 for marketing reasons.
JEANNEAU FLYBRIDGE CRUISER
Stepping aboard onto the wide swimplatform of the Velasco 43 sets the scene for this hybrid trawler design as its hydraulic controls are a convenient option for landing the rubber ducky and the platform’s slatted teak makes a comfy perch at anchor. Going through the transom door brings you to the teak-lined aft deck with bench seating – there’s enough storage underneath to hide a liferaft – and the elongated flybridge protects the area well, with space for the table from the saloon to be erected.
For any deck work, you are well protected by tall bulwarks when moving forward, with tall guardrails supporting you. The squared-off bow area also has ankle-high bulwarks and contains the vertical Lewmar windlass sunk into the deck and the Delta anchor on a single bowroller. Lounging space is plentiful with a two or three-cushion sunlounge that slopes downward, slightly hampering head space below though. Returning aft is best done starboardside as the portside walkway is relatively narrow.
To enter the saloon, there’s a four-panel sliding aft door which creates a seamless feel between the saloon and deck. Inside, the most striking feature of the saloon is its upright design that maximises interior volume and height. Here you are surrounded by large windows which create an airy feel while giving the skipper 360 views. It’s one of the best layouts I’ve seen recently, thanks to unobtrusive window pillars and struts.
The helm station has a side door for quick outside access where there’s a plentiful 40cm width on the walkway (but only 32cm to port). Also near the door is the midships deck cleat for shorthanded berthing and there’s even a slot in the gunwale for a side ladder. Very handy. The steering console has an upright fascia giving a good viewing angle of the Raymarine HybridTouch plotter, autopilot and Cummins system management, although I’d prefer the Max Power thruster joysticks below the long, chromed throttles for convenience and so you can operate them from the outside deck.
The forward galley means the skipper can boil the kettle on the electric stove (or gas option) while being nearly within an arm’s reach of the helm controls. The U-shaped galley is a functional yet tight spot to work in for more than one but is well specified – composite worktops, double sinks, 130lt fridge and dishwasher locker – while underfoot is a large lazarette for the washing machine. This lazarette also gives access to the forward part of the engineroom.
The two-cabin layout uses those deep bows and slab topsides to give the owner a spacious suite. The queen-sized island bed is surrounded by a composite worktop, but a few more longitudinal shelves would soften the rather minimalist design. Cupboard space is adequate and the aft bulkhead can house a flatscreen TV which, along with the Pioneer Wi-Fi music system, ensures there’s enough entertainment aboard; although the Velasco’s signature mast pillar could house a satellite TV dome as well.
Ablutions are well taken care of with separate shower cubicle and large composite sink. Adjoining the owner’s suite is the dayhead and bathroom, with the guest cabin farther aft. This cabin comes with two singles but lacks volume, as the bulkhead from the saloon impinges. Enough natural light comes from the elongated portlight with an opening hatch that gives near-water-level views, so will keep the kids occupied.
Remembering Jeanneau’s declared intention to appeal strongly to the global flybridge market, the top deck on the Velasco is excellent for a 44-footer and would embarrass some modern 50s. Access is via a comfortably-angled ladder with a stylishly curved handrail that guides you safely up.
You are met with a layout that houses a large aft sunpad, a midships wetbar opposite the U-shaped lounge and up front, the skipper can share the moment with a double bench seat nearby.
At the console, there’s a comfy bucket seat to brace yourself against while steering and the flared Perspex windshield protects without compromising visibility. Cleverly, the saloon’s long forward bulkhead has been angled downward and there are clear views of the bow from the helm. The dashboard has a similar layout to the main console and the entire area can be enclosed with an optional bimini.
The Velasco 43 is one of the quietest boats I’ve driven and this is largely thanks to the Cummins engine configuration. It’s a newly designed model, as Cummins sales manager Patrick Leroux explained to me when we toured the installed 380hp 6.7lt QSB common rail turbo-diesel. The new motor complies with strict American EPA HS3 emission regulations (January 2013) and has a V-drive shaft with ZF 85-IV gearbox.
The wet exhaust system was built by Jeanneau specifically for the engine, with a dry bypass system for idling and was very quiet during our test with no annoying burbling as we sat at the quay.
For manoeuvrability and to compete with the IPS and Zeus joystick systems, Jeanneau promotes twin tunnel thrusters fore and aft. The company is also considering the possibly of a Twin Disc gearbox as an option with the ZF gearboxes (which also have the GMS transmission). For AC power, there’s an 11kW generator that can run most whitegoods including the 40,000BTU air-con.
HANDLING AND RIDE
At sea the hybrid hull felt more like a sportscruiser than a trawler as the 10-ton GRP hull leaned 10 degrees into the turns, throwing up a fair amount of spray as she did so but responding quickly to my turning of the main console wheel. The big windows and small amount of bow-rise at speed gave reassuring visibility in the relatively confined waters off the French coast. Climbing to the flybridge gave a thrilling ride, with nothing obscuring the view or the fun of pushing the Velasco through the waves, which it did with minimal slamming thanks to the deep-vee keel. Only the glare radiating from the brilliant white GRP console bulkhead caught my attention, so a duller shade would be better.
The sharper V-hull gave nice, tight turning circles producing snappy figure-eights, which were smaller than her similar-sized sibling, the NC 14. With our party of six aboard I managed 27.1kts as the Cummins pair spun at 3080rpm and consumption 125lt/h. But the Velasco was equally at home with her hull submerged, chugging along at a sedate 11kts with consumption at 50lt/h, giving a very usable range of 320 miles which would rise to 500 miles-plus at 7kts. Going slowly was the only time I required the trim tabs, to lift the relatively heavy transom containing the Cummins out of the water.
The Jeanneau Velasco 43 succeeds in being a true crossover boat. It has the versatility to perform at a wide variety of speeds, while giving those onboard all the creature comforts you could expect plus that impressive flybridge which will win it many admirers.
› Versatile multispeed hull
› Best-in-class flybridge
› Good driving positions at both consoles
› Cramped guest cabin
› Narrow port walkway
› Galley narrow
JEANNEAU VELASCO 43 SPECIFICATIONS
$679,000 (includes thrusters)
Hydraulic swimplatform, teak decks, two Max Power thrusters, electric cooktop and microwave, 11kW generator, air-con, Bose audio and TV, and Raymarine navigation pack
TYPE Planing monohull
HOLDING TANK 120lt
GREY WATER 50lt
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Cummins QSB6.7
TYPE Common rail turbo-diesel
RATED HP 380 (each)
DISPLACEMENT 6.7lt (each)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #446, November / December 2013. Why not subscribe today.
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