Jeanneau Yachts 55, sea trial of the evolution of the sailing boat.
When two designers like Philippe Briand and Andrew Winch start thinking about the future of sailing with a yard that is particularly inclined towards innovation, the result of this creative process is something that is destined to change the market for this type of boat forever, and the new Jeanneau Yachts 55 is a clear proof of this.
This new creature is such a revolutionary sailboat that we are compelled to list all the innovations it brings with it. A boat that we couldn’t fail to thoroughly test, then, in a two-day sea trial that kept us busy in truly entertaining marine weather conditions.
But let’s go step by step and discover this new Jeanneau Yachts 55 which, we anticipate, literally bewitched us.
Jeanneau Yachts 55, that’s what innovation means
It’s not every day that we have to use a list to fully convey the design effort made by this team which, very importantly, listened carefully to the owners before starting to design what we believe is the new evolutionary stage of the sailing boat.
1: The stern, the realm of relaxation
The five-metre maximum beam is fully exploited and manages to provide space for two enormous multi-function dinettes that, while leaving plenty of central passageway, make this area the hub of the boat’s open-air life. As many as 10 or 12 guests can sit here to have dinner or lunch very comfortably and, like on a terrace overlooking the sea, enjoy the best possible panorama. The dinettes also transform into two large sundecks which, not by chance, are positioned right next to the electric platform leading to the sea.
2: A dream Hard-Top
Who said that Hard-Tops have to be ugly? This one is beautiful, sporty and blends perfectly with the lines of the new Jeanneau Yachts 55. More importantly, with this innovation Jeanneau has managed to create a new space that simply didn’t exist before. In fact, under the shelter of this very useful structure is an external chart station, a third dinette equipped with a table and the entrance to the three separate rooms on the lower deck.
3: Interior, a new way of living
It is a precise choice that introduced by the new Jeanneau Yachts 55, a solution that comes from the opinions of many owners who, desirous of having privacy and comfort, are now satisfied by this absolute novelty which, as mentioned, creates three distinct interior spaces.
A real private flat is reserved for the owner which, huge, occupies all the space available from amidships to the bow. As we enter we immediately find ourselves in the saloon where, to port, the linear galley is positioned. To starboard is the interior dinette which, thanks to two folding tables, can also be converted and is equipped with a pop-up television.
Continuing towards the bow we find, a touch of genius, two sliding doors that lead us to the Master Cabin, whose bed is set against the side and is simply enormous. On the other side is a sofa with buiserie and a capacious wardrobe. The owner’s private bathroom is also very large and equipped with a separate shower.
The two guest cabins are a VIP cabin and a double cabin respectively, which are accessed from the two separate entrances forward of the wheelhouses. Both cabins are very large, equipped with queen-size beds, wardrobes and en-suite facilities, while the VIP cabin is longer and can accommodate an extra sofa of normal size.
Jeanneau Yachts 55: Sea Trial
We were lucky enough to test the new Jeanneau Yachts 55 extensively and in ideal conditions. Rough to very rough seas with a wave of a metre and a half, 15/16 knots of taut wind and some rain showers. All the necessary characteristics to fully understand how this sailboat navigates.
Let us tell you straight away, the boat sails well and is fast in absolute terms, very fast in relation to pure cruising sailboats, especially if we consider that the one in the test was equipped with a mainsail furling in the mast.
We cast off our moorings under a leaden sky and, thanks to the manoeuvring propellers, we quickly get out to sea, in the waters off the Vieux Port in Cannes. Here, the mistral blows from the south-west and creates a wave of considerable height, about a metre and a half today, but our Jeanneau Yachts 55 hardly seems to notice it as the engine speeds away, hardly rolling.
The 110HP Yanmar pushes well and, despite the folding-blade propeller, we reach more than 9 knots of cruising speed; the 8.5 gait is also excellent, with consumption of just 11 litres per hour, or just over a litre per mile, which is very little for a 17-metre 18.5 ton yacht.
The new Jeanneau Yachts 55 was introduced to me as being designed to be steered very easily or even single-handedly. A fact I definitely want to verify, so I politely ask the captain and the rest of the crew to step aside, and I take the helm alone.
The boat is smartly rigged, the bowsprit could of course be rigged with a Code 0 or a Gennaker but today, given the conditions, it’s better to avoid that. The mainsail is furling in the mast but of excellent workmanship, there is also a 130% genoa and a 95% self-tacking jib, both on furlers. The mainsail sheet is German style and the stoppers are positioned so that they can be used from both sides. Equally noteworthy are the winches, which, as well as being electric, are also reversible, making it possible to ease at the push of a button.
Everything here is electric and the buttons are actually within reach, duplicated and present in both steering systems so, which does not surprise me, mainsail and genoa come out in a second, very easily.
What does amaze me, however, is that the Jeanneau Yachts 55, as soon as I set off (strictly solo), takes off like a rocket as if propelled by a turbo. I’m at 40 degrees from the apparent wind and I’m going at more than 10 knots, but not top speed, I’m actually sailing at a constant 10 knots, unbelievable.
Intrigued, I bear away a little and again the boat accelerates and exceeds 11 knots, without moving from the wheel I press a button and release the mainsail a little, press another and ease the genoa a little, sails at 11.5 knots. Man how she sails!
Bearing away of course, it slows down even if even at reach, below 8 knots this boat just doesn’t want to go. The thing that wins me over though is the stability of the course, this boat sails as if it were on rails while the wheels remain soft, even when the boat is heeling.
I decide to luff up and, again, without moving from the wheel I haul the mainsail and genoa in. I get the classic 30 degrees from apparent with the Jeanneau Yachts 55 still sailing at 8 and a half knots. Again the boat amazes me and, despite the apparent being well over 20/22 knots, I manage to ride these waves without the boat being in trouble, the bow opens the way and the T-Top (absolutely useful in these conditions) shelters us from the spray and rain that sporadically comes to bother us.
Sure, the boat is heeling a lot and, since we have a self-tacking jib at our disposal, I decide for a headsail change which, once again (after asking the captain’s permission), I want to try to handle solo while the boat is sailing in these somewhat difficult conditions.
We are tacking to port and, without easing the genoa, I open the jib, which overlaps the genoa at the push of a button; when I set it, of course, the genoa loses power and I can then furl it, again without leaving my position.
Total time for the manoeuvre? Two to three minutes at the most, all without hardly slowing down, without struggling and in complete safety. Solo sailing test passed with flying colours, it’s really a nice system, effective and functional.
With the self-tacking jib, the boat now sails in a more relaxed manner, this is undoubtedly the correct way to sail in these marine weather conditions, where the Jeanneau Yachts 55 is at ease and gives back a decidedly larger boat comfort.
On the other hand, its vocation is that of a blue water cruiser, a characteristic that it manages to embody to perfection although, I must admit, it also won me over with its unsuspected performance.
Sailing speed in knots
Speed in knots
Test conditions: Rough to very rough sea, true wind 15 knots, folding blade propeller, 5 passengers on board, water 90%, fuel 70%.
Jeanneau Yachts 55: technical specs
Total length with bowsprit
Standard keel draft (fully loaded)
Standard keel weight
Low keel draft (fully loaded)
Low keel weight
Fuel Tank Capacity
Water Tank Capacity
A12 / B16 / C16 / D16
Yanmar 110 CV – 81 kW
Standard Sail Plan
Optional Sail Plan
Mast height above the waterline
Philippe Briand – Andrew Winch Design – Jeanneau Design