2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Jeanneau 64 and Gran Soleil 43

Jeanneau 64 cockpit

My first outing on day two of this year’s test-sailing binge after the Annapolis show found me on the new Jeanneau 64, which is effectively a mini-superyacht built on a mass-production basis. That photo you see up top shows a portion of the group I sailed with enjoying the big lounging cockpit while noshing on donuts and coffee proffered by Jeanneau’s Paul Fenn (he’s the one gesticulating closest to the companionway). Both those cockpit tables can be set at variable heights, or can be lowered all the way to form plush cockpit berths.

The back end of the cockpit is where all the work takes place, and in true superyacht style the crew back there can handle everything without mussing with the power-loungers up forward.

Jeanneau 64 sailing

We advance! One thing that really surprised me sailing this big boat is how light on its feet it was. It accelerated and maneuvered under sail quite easily. Under power was something else. There was something weird going on with the prop, and the boat pulled very hard to starboard moving ahead and hard to port backing down. Not a permanent condition, I assume

Halyard tracks

Halyards on the mast, with dedicated tracks for each one. The tracks allow you to gauge tension precisely. To tension a halyard you take a line to the bottom of a car and thus to a winch. To fully hoist or let go a halyard you bend on a temporary tail. This saves you from always having a mass of coiled-up tails at the base of the mast (or in the cockpit, in the case of halyards led aft). In this case the missing halyard is for a staysail, which was not set up on our test boat

Crew quarters

Crew quarters all the way forward in the peak, with two single bunk berths and a head. So far, interestingly, most owners buying these boats have not retained pro crews to run them. Alternatively these quarters can be configured as a large sail locker

Wine cabinet

Gotta have a dedicated climate-controlled wine locker in the galley, of course. Note the leather cabinet handles. One of many classy interior-design touches added by the UK’s Andrew Winch

Wood sink

The wooden vanity sinks in all the heads are another nice touch. I immediately wondered about toothpaste stains, and Paul Fenn assured me it hasn’t been an issue


A clever pop-up barbecue that stows under the starboard side helm seat. Our test boat also carried a wet-bar and drinks fridge in two separate modules just ahead of the working cockpit


The saloon table down below. This dinette and the galley are the only fixed accommodation features on the boat. All other portions of the interior can be configured in several different ways

My next ride, the new Gran Soleil 43, was markedly more modest, but still quite distinctive. This is a modern performance cruiser, or a racer-cruiser if you prefer, from the Italian yard Cantiere del Pardo, an upgrade from their previous 43-footer. This new boat carries more beam aft, but has less wetted surface area, and is lighter (thanks in part to a carbon-fiber structural grid, which replaces a steel grid on the old boat) with a higher ballast ratio.

Gran Soleil cockpit

We sailed the “de-powered” version of the boat, with an aluminum rig instead of the carbon performance rig, which is three feet taller. We still managed a top speed of 9 knots in 16 knots of apparent wind. The helm was very light and easy to manage. Try as I might I couldn’t get it to load up much

Belowdeck furler

The optional fixed carbon sprit is a very nice thing to have. There’s a bobstay under it, so you can fly a Code 0 sail on the wind if you like, and of course an A-sail off the wind. The belowdeck Furlex furler allows for more luff length in the headsail. Belowdeck furlers, I’ve noticed, are reaching critical mass and are found on more and more boats these days

Traveler and quadrant

There’s a belowdeck traveler, too. This is something else I’m seeing on more boats now. There’s a little fold-up flap just forward of the slot that allows you to clear it easily if something mucks up under there. There’s also, you will note, excellent access to the steering quadrant

Chock sump

Another fold-up cockpit sole feature is this foot chock at one of the twin helm stations. That’s the diesel fill cap buried under it, with a big drain on the opposite side of the sump to keep it clear of water. The fill cap for the water tank is in the opposite foot-chock sump. The boat also has a very handy collapsible cockpit table that quickly stows away right in the sole (see this previous post for a photo of that)

Galley sink

Yet another fold-up flap in the galley, behind the sink, for stowing dishwasing soap and scrubbies. A really great idea, I thought

Interior looking out

This is a stock shot of the interior, because I forgot to shoot one with my pocket camera. It is quite roomy and comfortable for a racer-cruiser, I thought. The master stateroom forward is particularly so for a boat of this size and type

Be sure to look for full reviews of both these boats in an upcoming issue of SAIL.

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