As a couple, with family or friends. The flagship of the French yard always delivers comfort while cruising
by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Manlio Dell’Antonia oakstudio.it
You don’t often find yourself trying out a sailing boat with quite so much wind. Rather, sometimes, perhaps because of Murphy’s Law, what you find is a dead calm sea. And even more often, the wind slackens off when you get on board a cruising boat which needed a good amount of wind to check its performance under sail. This time, however, the Gulf of Cannes had a nice surprise in store when we went out: the wind was strong and varied between 25 and 30 knots.
The Jeanneau Yachts 65 is 19.5 metres long by 5.40 metres wide. It displaces 31 tonnes and the sail surface, with the mainsail and the self-tacking jib, is 170 m2. So, it is large and imposing. The naval architecture is once again from Philippe Briand, not least because the hull is the same as the 64-footer, but the deck has been completely redesigned.
It is unquestionably a boat for cruising, blue water cruising to be precise. Bluewater means it’s made to go anywhere, but thirty knots is always thirty knots. But the skipper was relaxed about it. I have to confess that while I approached the quay, I was worried that there was too much wind and the test would be postponed. And despite this, it seemed sure of itself. As we got outside the sea wall, we unfurled the genoa and the mainsail, of course not all the canvas, but a good amount of it.
The first feeling that I got when sailing upwind was how soft the feel at the helm was. Despite the amount of wind in the sails, the wheel never felt heavy, or tough to handle, and always held course well. It isn’t extremely reactive, in the sense that it is made for calm cruising and so you have to anticipate the adjustments to route when you go over a wave, but the advantage is that it is very forgiving. There wasn’t any danger, you can allow yourself the luxury of sailing if not distractedly, then at least not with complete concentration. And that was even when the meter was showing 26 knots of the true wind and with waves of nearly a metre. The heeling angle when going upwind wasn’t ever excessive, and in part that was because of having the sails only partially unfurled. So, the feeling, albeit just in this respect, was that it was comfortable to sail. The 65’ is a reassuring boat.
I now understand why the skipper on the quayside didn’t bat an eyelid and wasn’t in the least worried about the prospect of sailing in those conditions. The cockpit is very protected and is nearly closed. There is a sprayhood, a rollbar and a superstructure that joins them together and acts as a housing for the soft top. If you close up everything you are protected from bad weather or fierce sunshine. The negative part is that the sightlines suffer a bit. So, you have to lean out a bit to check that the sails are properly set, especially the jib.
THE JEANNEAU YACHTS LINE IS MADE AT MONFALCONE IN THE BÉNÉTEAU GROUP FACILITY.
It is best to helm while enjoying the seat that is alongside the two wheels. From that position the sightlines looking forward are excellent. And when you think about it, that is also a characteristic that is in line with the cruising approach that the boat takes: it invites you to helm sitting rather than standing. The strong wind is a kind of stress test for a sailing boat, and something that I was able to spot which wasn’t especially convincing was that there is too much chain sag. The backstay doesn’t reach the top of the mast, and so struggles to fight back against the pressure that the wind applies to the mast. And also, the way out from the sheets and halyards from the stopper isn’t perfectly clean. When they are working under stress, they have an angle which makes them rub a bit on the deck winches. Perhaps the location of the winch and stopper could have been better placed, to avoid jamming. The electric winches were designed to simplify manoeuvring and allow the boat to be helmed by a skeleton crew, or even with just one person. The buttons for the winches are actually below the two instrument pods that you find in front of the wheels. You can steer and adjust the sails without even having to get up.
The side decks are done in typical Jeanneau style, so they slope down going aft, to get a walkway without breaks. And here, on a boat of this size, they are to be even more appreciated. The same solution on the smallest models produced by the yard has been criticised because when the helmsman was sitting on one side in moderate seas, there was a risk of getting wet or even completely drenched by the water running towards the stern. But on a 65-footer, even with some sea and strong wind, you never run the risk of getting wet even when sitting on the transom.
The cockpit is also very well protected not least because, if you want, the entire area can be closed laterally with PVC fabric. There are various options for setting up the interiors. I tried a boat with four cabins, but there are also versions with fewer or more, according to whether a more owner-driven or charter set-up is chosen.
I liked the location of the keel-stepped mast which, because it rises behind the bulkheads of the two stern twin rooms in the bow, isn’t in the middle of the dinette, and so doesn’t create an obstacle. The master cabin, in the stern, is also excellent, both because of the headroom and the amount of natural light which comes through the portholes and windows. That was achieved thanks to a single step in the cockpit. It is a small rise which gives greater height and more light to the master bedroom below. And finally, I appreciated the fourth bathroom, which has a double function. It serves the cabin with bunk beds that are located amidships, which is the only one without its en suite and also works as the day head, as you can get to it from the dinette.
32 Avenue des Sables – CS 30529
F-85505 Les Herbiers Cedex
Philippe Briand Yacht Design • Winch Design • Jeanneau Design
LOA 20.20m • Length 19.55m • LWL 18.00m • Maximum beam 5.40m • Draft 2.95m • Light mass displacement 31,000 kg • Fuel tank volume 825 l • Water tank volume 1,000 l • Sailing surface 170 m2 • Main sail 90 m2 • Self taking Jib 80 m2 • Spi 300 m2 • Code 0 155 m2
Volvo D4-175 • Outlet mechanical power 129kW (175 hp) • Dry weight 560 kg • In-line transmissions with a 4 blades propeller
Starting from 1,452,900 € (Excl. VAT) (January 2023)
(Jeanneau Yachts 65, all round comfort cruiser – Barchemagazine.com – January 2023)