Expanding the concept of modular layouts and deck/rig options, Jeanneau has allowed owners to create unique versions of its new Jeanneau Yachts 60. Rupert Holmes reports
It’s not long since 60ft yachts were the preserve of custom or semi-custom yards that could go to great lengths to provide a small number of discerning clients with the boat of their dreams. Today, however, all the big high-volume boatbuilders have an offering at this size as Jeanneau has with their latest yacht, the Jeanneau Yachts 60.
However, even at this more price sensitive end of the big boat market, buyers still want a yacht that matches their individual needs for interior layout, preferences for deck gear and sail plans, while also satisfying their sense of style and taste.
It’s a tall order for vessels that need to be built on a production line. Yet when the Jeanneau Yachts 60 was first unveiled in Cannes the two versions on display were equipped and fitted out so differently that at first glance it wasn’t obvious they were the same design.
The Jeanneau Yachts 60 Sport model, with a palatial owner-aft two/three cabin arrangement, has a very different character to the five/six cabin Jeanneau Yachts 60 cruiser version, with (optional) mainsheet arch and hard top, that was alongside it.
This model replaces the Jeanneau Yachts 58, which itself was a revamp of the Jeanneau Yachts 57 launched back in 2010. Considerable in-house knowledge has therefore gone into developing the new boat, but it’s by no means a home-grown effort – Jeanneau also turned to some of the world’s top specialists, including naval architect Philippe Briand and interior designer Andrew Winch.
On paper the differences between this boat and the previous 57/58 initially look modest – an extra 10cm of hull length and 20cm of beam. However, these figures only tell part of the story. Maximum beam is carried almost right aft, creating a wider transom, while the forward sections are also broader with a plumb bow that further increases waterline length.
Vacuum infused construction, with solid laminate in the keel area, has helped keep displacement relatively low, which undoubtedly helps light airs performance. Throughout our test it proved to be a rewarding boat to sail, finger light and positive on the helm, with a crisp response, even though there was a little excess friction in the steering system.
Sadly, although I sailed the boat on three different days, we rarely had more than 10 knots of breeze, so it undoubtedly helped that our test Jeanneau Yachts 60 was the Sport version, with a 1.6m higher mast and decent sails, including a slightly overlapping jib in place of the smaller standard self-tacker.
Upwind in 10-11 knots of true wind (15-16 knots apparent) and an awkward swell we made a consistent 7-7.5 knots, though the boat was not quite as easy to get in the groove, or as close-winded, as a top-notch performance cruiser. Nevertheless, it demonstrated reassuringly high stability with very little heel.
Jeanneau Yachts 60 big rig option
Even with the tall rig we were not yet fully powered up and Jeanneau’s prediction that this model will hold full sail to windward in 15 knots of true wind looks to be on the mark. A powerful Harken hydraulic backstay and vang allow easy depowering of the slab reefing mainsail as the breeze builds, and enables effective vang sheeting when cracked off the wind.
Of the 16 boats ordered within a couple of weeks of the first examples being unveiled, 70% have the optional mainsheet arch and 90% the standard height rig with in-mast furling and a self tacking jib. These can be expected to hold full sail to close to 20 knots of true wind when close-hauled. However, they will miss out in lighter airs.
When reaching in 6-7 knots of true wind with the Code 0 our speed hovered just below six knots and even bearing away to a true wind angle of 125° gave a consistent five knots of boat speed.
Any yacht, even one that weighs 21 tonnes, that will maintain a useful speed under sail in very light airs is a game changer, providing opportunities for relaxing sailing while others are enduring a tiresome motor between destinations. These conditions can also reveal much about a design that isn’t apparent in a solid 12-15 knots. The boat tracked impressively straight in 9 knots of apparent wind – you could let go of the helm to tweak sail trim without using the pilot.
Our test boat featured the optional permanently rigged furling self-tacking staysail for use in stronger winds. The taller mast option comes with rod shrouds, while spreaders are swept far enough aft to eliminate the need for running backstays when using the staysail.
Plenty of thought and attention has been lavished on the ergonomics of the deck layout, including a refinement of the walkaround concept Jeanneau first implemented on the Sun Odyssey 440 five years ago.
The result is almost level decks, with just a gentle upward slope ahead of the helm stations. This takes the hassle out of going forward, although you first have to walk around the back of the helm stations. Decent bulwarks allied to extra-high guardrails help provide a good feeling of security. Chain plates for the D1 shrouds are inboard, on the edge of the coachroof, leaving a clear and easy passage along the side deck, even when the boat is well heeled.
One compromise inherent in the arrangement is that there’s no side deck to sit on when steering. Unless the pilot is expected to do most of the work on passage, the optional benches across the transom that include helm seats are therefore almost essential. The removable teak foot chocks for the helm are effective, but they are not a particularly neat solution and present a trip hazard if left in place when in harbour.
Controls are led aft to a pair of electric winches on each side of the boat ahead of the helm stations. These are not mounted inboard on pedestals, although the lowered side decks here help to provide a more secure position from which to work them.
The rope bins under the aft end of the cockpit benches are a little undersized for boats with slab reefing, but will be fine for those with roller furling mainsails.
Eliminating the mainsheet from the cockpit of a boat this size is a big safety advantage, even for experienced sailors. Instead it’s taken to a bridle near the aft end of the coachroof, or to the top of the optional arch.
The longitudinal tender garage is offset to one side and sized for a 3m aluminium RIB with big diameter tubes and a folding console. It’s equipped with rollers under the keel and a winch to pull the tender forward, making it easier to stow.
One immediately noticeable visual difference with many more expensive brands is that there’s no facility to hide the sprayhood away underneath sleek teak decking when it’s not in use. However, this is unlikely to matter much – despite the glorious appeal of the clean deck profiles that brochure photos show, the reality for cruising yachts is that sprayhoods are invariably left up all the time.
On cruiser versions the overhead arch can be used to support the aft end of a more substantial sprayhood and a solid windscreen is offered as an option. For shade over the main part of the cockpit the cruiser offers a choice between a conventional bimini and a solid hardtop with a large opening fabric sunroof style section.
Both versions of the boat have the same big and supremely comfortable guest cockpit, with good shelter from both spray and sun. L-shaped seating and tables each side of the central walkway help make for comfortable living on deck, without obstructing the walk through from the transom to the companionway.
Our test boat had the sail locker forward fitted out as an additional double cabin, with access both on deck and through the forward port heads compartment, making it ideal for family use. Alternatively it can be fitted out as a skipper’s cabin, with a single berth and en-suite heads. However, this means the primary on-deck stowage is below the aft end of the cockpit. This includes dedicated space for a liferaft and the tender garage, but space for folding bikes or watersports equipment is limited.
While the sailing qualities of a yacht are fundamental to its appeal, in this market they must also perform as a luxurious floating second home, with the style and comfort of a top-notch city apartment or waterfront villa. In high summer in the Mediterranean and other warm destinations most of us expect to spend the bulk of time on deck while in port or at anchor.
However, a boat with air conditioning allows a welcome respite when the heat outside becomes oppressive. Our test Jeanneau Yachts 60 was fitted with a powerful and impressively quiet 11kW Cummins/Onan generator housed under the floor, which should provide more than enough power to run air con.
The convertible two/three cabin layout leaves space for an impressively large saloon, with wide open spaces but a lack of decent handholds for use in rough weather. The expansive seating to port has a coffee table that converts easily to a much larger affair for dining. Four opening hatches overhead, plus a further large glazed panel, decent size coachroof windows and four large hull windows contribute to natural light and ventilation.
Our test boat was fitted with two sumptuous armchairs to starboard, plus a pop-up TV further outboard. However, a more conventional alternative, with a settee plus forward facing navigation station, is expected to be more popular, especially among UK-based owners. To starboard, aft of the armchairs is a useful pull-out wardrobe unit for foul weather gear and there’s also provision for a washer/drier in this part of the boat.
Food for thought
An athwartships galley occupies the entire width of the boat ahead of the saloon. Our was comprehensively equipped with coffee machine, microwave, five separate front access fridge/freezer units and provision for a dishwasher. There are also numerous lockers, plus an underfloor tray for tinned food and a capacious wine rack in the bilge. Fixed worktop space in the main work area near the sink and cooker is limited, although there’s more in the section on the opposite side of the boat.
The arrangement is broadly excellent for use in port and in flat water, though, as with many transverse galleys, it will be difficult to work when heeled in a big sea, especially on port tack.
Despite the big tender garage, the owner’s cabin aft is full beam, with the bed offset to starboard. There’s an impressive amount of space here, including two hanging lockers, a small settee, big heads compartment and lots of floor area.
Ahead of the main bulkhead the accommodation is designed to be modular, with owners able to convert the space to different configurations in only a couple of minutes. It can form one big guest cabin, with a settee on one side and an offset double bunk on the other, plus his and hers heads compartments.
Alternatively, a centreline concertina-style bulkhead can be pulled out to divide the area into a pair of identical en-suite double cabins, each with its own access from the galley. Stowage in these is limited to a hanging locker with one drawer, plus a small locker below the aft end of the bed. A disadvantage of the test boat’s layout, however, is the lack of a day head – you need to go right forward, or aft through the owners cabin.
There are two options for additional cabins with Pullman-style bunks. These can either be inserted into the port side of the aft cabin, with the owner’s suite then moved forward, or fitted in place of the navstation and the stowage areas behind it. Up to five cabins are therefore possible, plus a further skipper or double cabin in the bow. Boats built for the charter market, especially in the Med, are most likely to be configured in this way.
Overall, a huge amount of the hull volume has been used to make the Jeanneau Yachts 60 feel a very spacious yacht. One drawback with this approach is a lack of dedicated space for technical equipment. The engine, for instance, is below the companionway steps, in the same manner as for small yachts, while the generator is below the saloon floor, along with the tankage.
It’s important to recognise this is a complex craft, with everything from the passerelle and bathing platform to the saloon curtains of our test boat operated electrically. These features are impressive when new and the initial de-snagging process is complete, but in time are liable to add to downtime and maintenance. And don’t forget that, despite the attractive initial price tag, the Jeanneau Yachts 60 will have the same running costs as any other new 60-footer.
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Historically Jeanneau has outperformed even its own forecasts in this part of the market. For instance, the largest model in the range, the 64, which will be replaced by the 65 this year, sold almost twice the number of its initial target. With the Jeanneau Yachts 60 the company has created an appealing yacht at an attractive price for Mediterranean, Caribbean and even northern European sailing. Almost two dozen different accommodation permutations means a wide appeal to different types of buyer, including many who plan to spend three or four months on board each summer. Keen sailors are liable to be disappointed by examples with the smaller sail area of a furling mainsail and self-tacking jib, especially if the vessel is based in the Mediterranean. However, the Sport setup, with good sails and the taller rig, is not much more difficult to handle and sails well even in light airs. The two different versions of the boat at Cannes served as a reminder to take the time to look beyond the obvious at a boat show, or even during a trial sail, and imagine all of the different options and configurations to figure out what will best suit individual needs.