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Jeanneau Yachts 55

2024 March 1

Jeanneau keeps pushing the boat design envelope with its breakthrough open-air deck saloon cruiser

The Annapolis Sailboat Show is the place to catch all the newest models making their debuts, but there’s always one boat that creates a bigger buzz than the rest. Last October the Jeanneau Yachts 55 had sailors talking. “Have you seen it?” and “I wasn’t sure what to think, but I just love it,” were repeated often.

By “it” they meant the novel concept of an open-air deck saloon similar in concept to a multihull, with access to the guest cabins, an extended hard-top and protected helm stations. Jeanneau is known for pushing the cruising design envelope, combining good performance with innovative ideas that make cruising easier. The walkaround deck concept that lets sailors walk from the helm up sloping side decks to the foredeck instead of clambering over the cockpit coaming was first introduced in 2017 with the Jeanneau 440 and is now standard on all new models. But the 55’s revolutionary approach took some convincing even within the in-house design team and lead designer Philippe Briand.

“When we first started work on the 55, Philippe also had a Plan B conventional deck layout, but we said, ‘What can we do that’s really different, not just bring the model up-to-date, but to create something really new?’” said Paul Fenn, Jeanneau brand ambassador and past president of Jeanneau America. “We made a full-size mock-up in plywood of the deck so we could really understand how it would work.”

“Now everyone who gets aboard says, ‘Wow, I get it now.’”

Down below

The open-air deck saloon keeps crew protected from the elements and makes for a cozy space to watch the world sail by. There’s good ventilation with a large opening in the forward window. 
The design brief was to create a boat for a couple who are looking for long-term cruising and who are joined occasionally by friends and family. Instead of cramming in a bunch of cabins and heads, making the saloon smaller in the process, the guest cabins have separate entrances for more privacy, leaving the saloon, galley and owner’s stateroom wide open.

The main companionway hatchboard slides down and out of the way, and stepping below, the galley is to starboard and a large U-shaped settee port. The table telescopes up for dining, or all the way down for an additional double berth. The table splits in two and can adjust to cocktail table height for even more flexibility. 

The large in-hull windows keep it bright, and four opening hatches in the deck provide plenty of natural ventilation. The natural teak joinerwork makes for a warm inviting space. Lux details such as soft-close drawers and leather drawer pulls elevate the space.

The galley has loads of storage and the island creates extra work space and a place to brace when cooking offshore. The two-burner stove and oven has a range hood. There is plenty of freezer and refrigerator space and a large single sink.

The owner’s cabin takes up the forward part of the saloon and two large sliding pocket doors open up the space. The head is forward with a dedicated shower.

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