This is called a Jeanneau 57 for a reason. Neither a Sun Odyssey, nor a Deck Saloon (DS), this model marks a smart new family line.
New family line
A staggering 370 54DSs have sold in six years -“In a market we were unsure of, that was our big success story,” says Jeanneau’s sailboat product manager Erik Stromberg – but the 54DS is being replaced by the new 53 that follows in the Jeanneau 57’s wake.
The group operate on short cycle lives of models to keep on top of technology, so with the Jeanneau 57’s evolution, Jeanneau wanted to offer clients more “without actually changing their world in terms of size,” says Stromberg.
And it has already demonstrated brand loyalty – eight clients ordered the Jeanneau 57 on the designs.
“People like to have the newest thing on the market – whether iPhones or yachts,” maintains Stromberg, “so while it’s still a gamble, for us to do nothing was the real risk.”
As 80 per cent of Jeanneau’s clients are previous owners, it was important to keep the family lines of Oydssey and DS, but they wanted something that appealed to both.
Hence down below is a cross between the two.
The deck keeps its lines without needing that contentious DS bubble, while you can still see out from below.
Layout options are very versatile, which has led to the model being nominated for this year’s European Yacht of the Year.
The test boat was a five-cabin, three-head option, but three and four-cabin versions are available.
Bristling with ideas
This boat is bristling with good ideas, the transom/garage set up in particular (see panel) and also the boom/mainsheet arrangement.
An 18-month collaboration project with Harken has resulted in an in-boom electric sheeting system using a worm gear that moves back and forth along a series of cars inside the boom to sheet it in and out to the coachroof.
”The market loves the automatic options on this size of boat,” declares Erik Stromberg.
Hence bowthrusters are actually mandatory – these are built into the hull mould-and nearly all clients choose in-mast furling.
It’s a sign of the times that Jeanneau do in-mast down to 30ft and bowthrusters down to 36ft!
Sailing the Jeanneau 57: Comfort first
With in-mast furling, roller reefing and in-boom mainsheet control, hoisting sail was obviously a doddle – albeit not the most beautifully set.
The Jeanneau 57’s displacement rode the 1.5m short swell obediently, although she begged for a few more knots of breeze.
Immediately apparent though is the nasty play in the wire-linked steering with chain sprocket and a lag in response time.
But remembering the benefits to the cockpit layout that her twin helms provide, it’s a forgivable crime.
The log threatened 8 knots in 10 knots of breeze on a close reach.
Try to coax her much closer than 55°T (35°A) and she drops a knot in complaint.
When the breeze rallied to a Force 4, she hit the mid-7s close-hauled, losing half a knot when punching the swell.
With the light wind and a torn A-sail, offwind performance was, at best, limited to a dull 5-knot plod.
But as we approached the cardinal mark off the entrance to Les Sables d’Olonne and hardened up in flat water, I began to feel a little like a returning Vendee Globe sailor .
Laying the tight channel at 8+ knots, felt jubilant enough to turn round and do it again: so she’s not without spirit.
The helmsman has powered primaries and an optional powered main sheet to hand.
Backstay and engine controls are by his feet and genoa car adjusters lead through clutches to the primaries.
The flat sundeck/helm seat is uncomfortable for long periods without the cushions, but sitting out on the flat side decks works well.
The standard keel is a 2.5m long chord fin keel, with a 2.1m shoal draught option, complemented by a fully balanced rudder.
Standard sails are Mylar Taffeta, but in an effort to veer away from cruising laminates, Jeanneau have chosen Incidences Sails’ Hydronet, Dyneema thread woven with Dacron to avoid trapping moisture.
Nethertheless, the in-mast tri-radial main with negative roach was always going to struggle to impress, proving pretty shapeless and gutless (fully battened main on lazyjacks is offered).
A 125 per cent genoa allows for the mast to be sited forward, which in turn keeps the mainsheet out of the cockpit.
The standard version leads to the coachroofwinches, with an alternative sheet option leading to aft quarter winches.
And the Sparcraft mast and boom suits the optional lick of paint-a worthwhile cosmetic upgrade.
With the 140hp VW in play, she produced 8knots at 2,000rpm, and once I had way on astern (essential), behaved obediently when docking against a breeze.
Jeanneau 57 layout: Versatility incarnate
The Jeanneau 57 is blessed with one of the most versatile interior layouts you’ re likely to find on a production boat.
The test boat used a combination of various cabin options to show what can be done, but we also visited No 2 in build to see a master cabin aft layout.
Having forward cabins that can transform in minutes from a three-cabin layout to an owner’s/double cabin is a real sales point.
These passageway cabins just forward of the saloon are split 60:40 with Pullman to port and double to starboard, thanks to a removable dividing bulkhead, a modular cabin system originally devised for the 54DS.
Both have ensuites and the double has a collapsible leaf and room enough to stow the bulkhead system below.
This option is often taken with a master cabin aft, so while most may sail with fewer people than a conventional 40-footer, owners at least have the option of hosting numerous guests or family.
However, 50 per cent of sales are for forward master cabins as Med clients like to be away from the dock.
Presenting this combination of options is about “trying to find a balance between what customers want and staying in business as a production builder,” according to sailboat product manager Erik Stromberg.
Who adds: ”There’s a world of semi-custom builders above this size.”
The aft master cabin is very spacious, with plenty of headroom, thanks to the bridgedeck, and a separate shower in the ensuite.
If you choose the twin aft options, as ours demonstrated, these have single berths that join to make doubles, perfect for varying guests or for charter clients.
Even the tanks are versatile. One of the three 310lt water tanks can convert to an auxiliary fuel tank to boost the 420lt if you opt for a watermaker.
The huge companionway has curved plexiglass doors that recess into each side like the patio windows on a gin palace.
It’s then a long way down five steep steps – markedly in contrast to the Beneteau Oceanis 58.
And they only have non-slip on the leading edges – too easy to slip, in my view.
The finish is satin-look Alpi, with blonde teak soleboards to complement the light decor.
The majority of sole panels lift on gas struts, offering good stowage.
Soft returns are used on drawers, the engine and genset insulation has been greatly improved, pumps are mounted on rubber feet, and fridges are keel-cooled.
First published in the January 2010 issue of YW.