The Jeanneau Yachts 54 is the newest member of its sailing yacht family, sharing many of the design attributes and features of her big sisters, the 57 and 64 and incorporating a number of new innovations. The 54 is focused around family life spent on deck and in the water, as it should be on a luxury performance cruiser of this caliber. The 54 also carries her maximum beam (16’1”/4.92 m) nearly all the way to the transom, creating a generously-sized cockpit, over a third of the boat’s length, ideal for socializing, on-water activities, and all to enjoy under sail. She has been well-designed for her role as a cruiser with a rig that is set up for easy handling shorthanded.
- Opening terrace
- Long cockpit
- Forward sundeck mattress with fold-up Bimini
- Three levels of comfort in the cabins: Owner, VIP and guest
- Space for modern, household-size appliances
- Lounging seat with bracing protection and a cup holder
- Cockpit table with space to store life raft inside
- Wide transom with fold-down ladder that includes hand holds
- Standard Alpi teak and Oak laminate as choice of wood
At first glance, the new Philippe Briand hull form reveals sleek, almost stark, modern lines. From the nearly plumb bow to the moderately high freeboard and minimal deck shear to the large rectangular port lights fixed in the hull, to the hard chinned aft quarters, it is clear the Jeanneau 54 is more than a re-imagination of the bubbly designs of the past.
The Jeanneau 54 (53’/16.16 m) is focused around life spent on deck, as it should be on a luxury performance cruiser of this caliber. The cockpit is enormous with over a third of the boat’s length dedicated to it. The 54 also carries her maximum beam (16’1”/4.92 m) nearly all the way to the transom, creating a cockpit extraordinarily wide and accommodating. All sail controls are led to the aft portion of the cockpit within reach of the helmsperson, leaving the forward section of the cockpit available for those more content to relax.
The port and starboard cockpit side seats continue forward, beyond the companionway forming two comfy “chairs” to settle into, complete with cup holders and the benches are more than long enough to stretch out on for a nap.
A New Cockpit Approach – Making it “Liveable”
The companionway lacks a “bridge deck” as many modern designs have, where crew stand in the companionway and work winches and jam cleats for handling halyards and trimming lines of all sorts. On the Jeanneau 54, all of these lines have been routed farther aft to the secondary winches port and starboard on the cockpit coaming. This effectively moves the working crew aft, leaving the “lounging crew” undisturbed and comfortable forward.
Long Cockpit Innovation.
By having such an extraordinarily long cockpit Jeanneau’s designers have recognized a reality of sailing life – namely, when underway, everyone aboard wants to be – perhaps – needs to be in the cockpit. That this is a noteworthy and welcome realization in a sailboat of this size. It recognizes that not everyone in the cockpit is expected to help work the vessel. It acknowledges the reality that all of us like to bring guests along, including children, those new to sailing, and perhaps even the owners’ parents or grandparents. They above all will appreciate the two lounging seats with cushions on three sides, providing good bracing protection and comfort – and even a cup holder.
The companionway hatch has a sufficiently high splash sill to keep out water that invariably ships aboard underway in sloppy conditions. The companionway also features a drop-down door in place of conventional washboards. This is convenient because it’s always there and ready to simply pull up and secure when conditions warrant instead of scrambling to find the boards.
Entertaining On Deck
The center mounted drop leaf table comfortably accommodates the ship’s crew for al fresco dining and provides a sturdy hand hold or foot brace under sail. There are fiddles around the table and cut-outs for cups and condiments. Perhaps most importantly, there is adequate clearance around the table so that crew can move past it without going through contortions.
Life Raft Location. All boats built in Europe must be built to CE standards which requires that there be a dedicated on deck locker for a life raft. (There is no such requirement in the U.S.) A convenient compartment in the base of the table provides storage for a life raft, keeping it accessible where it would be needed in case of an emergency, but out of sight so as not to distract from the clean lines of the boat. It’s also a much smarter solution than a valise raft buried in a deck locker where it isn’t available in a hurry!
Continuing all the way aft, the twin helms are literally planted in the port and starboard stern corners. While some helmspersons may find these locations overly exposed, the visibility to windward and leeward under sail and the ability to keep an eye on sail trim is phenomenal. Engine controls are on the starboard steering pedestal with single lever shift/throttle placed for standing operation. Starboard side dockings will be a breeze, port side landings could pose some visibility challenges, particularly if fitted with a dodger and Bimini which may restrict sight lines for some helmspersons.
Helm Seating. There are no fixed helm seats directly behind either helm station which seems unconventional; rather fold away seats are provided. This is to facilitate and open up space for Jeanneau’s innovative “terrace”.
The optional terrace is a transom panel that hinges downward allowing the section of cockpit deck between the helms to drop down, creating a swim platform and a spacious lounging area with stepped access to the water’s edge via a robust ladder. The terrace can be fitted with lounger cushions which can remain in place when the terrace is closed.
This adds quite a bit of functionality to the vessel not only for sun bathing out of the wind, but it also provides an ideal place for parents to relax while watching their young children paddle around in the water. We suspect the terrace compartment could also be used like a lazarette for wet storage of fenders or deck gear when underway.
Also of note at the stern of the yacht are unique retractable dinghy davits, capable of carrying a tender up to 265 lbs. (120 kg). When not in use, these davits retract into the hull, nearly flush with the deck leaving the terrace area unobstructed and the hull profile uncluttered. Truly a clean design for essential cruising boat equipment that is traditionally unpleasing to the eye.
On the foredeck, Jeanneau has recessed an area in the deck to accommodate a sunbathing mattress, the aft end where one’s head would lie being gently raised up by the slope of the cabin trunk as it intersects the deck. A small Bimini affords some sun protection, but remember to stow it before sailing as it will likely interfere with the genoa sheets.
This is one of the most well-executed forward sun pad designs we have ever seen on a sailboat in this class, and it certainly adds to the utility of this boat.
The Jeanneau 54 is fitted with a classic deck stepped double spreader aluminum spar with in-mast furling as standard and a full batten mainsail on a Park Avenue style boom is optional. On the foredeck, she offers a manually roller furled self-tacking jib or overlapping 109% genoa sheeted to inboard tracks on the port and starboard run decks.
Cutter Rig. By stepping the mast farther aft than it would be on a conventional sloop rig, a removable inner forestay and staysail are available options as well as an asymmetrical spinnaker or Code 0. This rig also allows the sails to be about the same square-footage, making the rig well-balanced. The standard main sail area is 646 sq. ft. (60 sq. m), and the 109% genoa is 678 sq. ft. (63 sq. m). With the optional mainsail in-mast furling, the sail area is reduced to 516 sq. ft. (48 sq. m). The self-tacking jib has a sail area of 527 sq. ft. (49 sq. m).
Standing rigging is discontinuous wire rigging, and running rigging is neatly concealed and labeled along with high quality and conveniently placed deck hardware to round out the sail handling equipment. The main sheet is also run through the cockpit coaming aft, thus keeping the cockpit clear and uncluttered. Jam cleats are handy and all hardware is first rate. Because of this design, and wiping the controls for the running rigging off the top of the coach roof, means the 54 is quite easy to single-hand.
Interior Layout Options
Moving below deck, acclaimed super yacht interior designer Andrew Winch has continued the modern, angular, attractively hard lined theme of this yacht with several interior layout configurations from which to choose. There are in fact four available interior layouts, two each which we consider “owners versions” and “charter versions”, respectively.
“Owner’s Layout” Versions
The two stateroom/two head owner’s version features a large master stateroom forward in the bow complete with centerline berth, port and starboard settees, wardrobe and copious storage. An en suite head and separate shower stall completes the owner’s accommodation. Large opening hatches overhead and port lights fill the suite with plenty of natural light and air.
Moving aft into the salon, a large U-shaped dining area is to starboard which easily seats six and faces a good-sized settee with a bar cabinet and optional wine chiller to port. We trust Jeanneau has devised a clever means of securing the wine bottles!
Continuing aft, the companionway stairs are on centerline and the VIP guest stateroom is to port, complete with en suite head, separate shower and double berth.
Navigation Station and Galley.
Moving aft on the starboard side is a navigation station that looks a little tight, but given that the majority of navigation activities will likely occur on deck at the helms with networked electronics, it should be sufficient. Aft of the navigation area is a large gourmet galley featuring household sized appliances and abundant surface space to prepare meals underway or at anchor.
We think this is a clever location for a galley as it keeps the heat out of the salon, is out of the way so there is no problem for crew to move fore and aft. The chef will like the food prep counters, three-burner stove top, the large refrigerator and microwave.
Finally, the two stateroom configuration features a crew cabin in the bow accessed via a hatch on the foredeck for ultimate formal luxury where private owners and guests may wish to have a pro Captain or crew on board.
Three Stateroom Version
The three stateroom/three head owner’s version is similar to the aforementioned layout with a few changes noted. The port side sofa and bar area in the salon is eliminated and the galley is moved there. While the galley is smaller, it appears just as functional, although counter space is reduced. Innovative ideas like the slide-out microwave compartment maximize useable space in this smaller galley. A drawback is that the cook will be standing in the passageway when the owner wants to retreat forward – but every boat is a compromise.
The dining area is reoriented fore and aft and a centerline bench is added at the dining table, creating maximum seating. A second, smaller guest cabin is added to starboard, aft of the navigation area in place of the galley with two twin beds and a third smaller wet head/shower.
This three stateroom version shows a storage/sail locker in the bow where the crew cabin was in the two stateroom version.
“Charter” Layout Versions
For the charter versions, there is a four stateroom/four head version and a five stateroom/three head version. In both of these layouts, the salon and galley are the same as the 3 stateroom owner’s version. The forward master stateroom is replaced with two mirror image double staterooms with en suite wet head/showers. In the four stateroom/four head version, the port aft VIP stateroom from the owner’s versions becomes the master and retains the en suite head and separate shower.
The five stateroom/three head layout is all about providing a maximum number of beds and there really is no master stateroom to speak of as the port aft VIP head is replaced with another berth. We counted bunks for at least nine people plus the return of the crew cabin in the bow adds another bunk to this configuration.
All interior design layouts showcase highly stylized, well-constructed cabinetry in several elegant materials including, standard Alpi Teak or optional Alpi Oak. Alpi is an eco-friendly manufactured wood product, reputed to be more durable and just as good looking as its natural wood alternatives. (More and more builders are turning to this alternative each year.)
The Jeanneau 54’s interior is available with oak or Milano laminate interior decking options. Of note on the interior, rather than having rounded-off corners on the furniture, Jeanneau has opted for the more stylish angular, hard-line design. Cabinet hardware is not flush mounted.
The Jeanneau 54 has a choice of two auxiliary Yanmar power plants. One is a 75-hp coupled to a sail drive which should prove adequate for coastal use in relatively protected waters. For serious voyaging, we’d opt for the larger 110-hp with a conventional transmission and shaft driveline to push this 37,840 lb. (17,164 kg) displacement vessel with ease in rougher conditions.
Starting at $475,500 when delivered to the Port of Baltimore for the USA market, the new Jeanneau 54 offers an attractive blend of luxury, sailing performance, style, accommodation versatility and value that will make her a contender very worthy of consideration in her class. Available and thoughtful options allow owners to specify a bespoke sailing yacht matching their exact requirements.
Taken together – her large, comfortable cockpit, running rigging control aft, terrace transom with lounges, household-size appliances in the galley and numerous interior layouts – all make this boat appealing for a wide range of uses. Above all, the Jeanneau 54 is supremely practical.