If there’s one thing I learned sailing with America’s Cup-winning tactician and television commentator Gary Jobson, it’s that it’s always a race, even when it’s not. “Makes it more fun,” he said.
And fun was definitely what we were having on a sail aboard Serenity, a new Jeanneau 64, on a squally day in the British Virgin Islands. I was there to cover the 2016 Jeanneau owners rendezvous, Jobson was along as a guest speaker for one of the evening events, and the 64 was pretty much the belle of the whole shebang. Our upwind course took us from Norman Island to Virgin Gorda’s North Sound — a sufficient distance to really get a feel for the largest boat in the Jeanneau fleet. The winds averaged 18 to 22 knots with higher gusts. In some boats, these conditions would have proved to be fairly uncomfortable, but the 64 likes a good breeze and handled the puffs in a steady, seakindly manner. The Jefa steering was smooth and predictable, and our speedo easily touched 10 knots. Not a bad way to spend a day, despite the rain.
The 64 is part of Jeanneau’s Yacht line, which includes a 57- and a new 54-foot model. Erik Stromberg, Jeanneau’s sailboat marketing director, says the sailboats in the Yacht range are meant to appeal to couples and are designed to be sailed with or without crew. “The sailing couple tends to invite another couple or some family members on board, so there is a big focus on guest comfort and welcoming spaces,” says Stromberg.
But there’s much more to the 64 than just the comfort level. Some may consider this boat just a big Jeanneau, because it is; but then again, it isn’t. Think of it more as a small superyacht, since it’s the big-boat features that really set the 64 apart. As you step aboard, the first thing you’ll notice is the size of the cockpit, which occupies over 40 percent of the deck area. The space is clearly divided between work and play. An overhead arch keeps the mainsheet out of the way, and trimming it is a push-button affair for the helmsman. A Harken captive winch is tucked neatly under the saloon floorboards just for this purpose — something typically found only on much larger vessels. (Jeanneau can also install a captive winch for the main halyard as an option.) For relaxing in the cockpit, you’ll find settees on each side with tables that can lower to turn the seats into comfortable outdoor berths. A large dodger protects the companionway from spray, and a bimini can extend all the way to the arch. On the boat I sailed, there was a second bimini for the dual helms, which kept us out of the rain on that squally day. The business end of the cockpit includes not just the steering wheels, winches and sailhandling controls, but also an outdoor galley of sorts: consoles that contain a sink, fridge, icemaker and storage, and a grill that lifts out of a lazarette on its own stand. In the transom, there’s a neat dinghy garage sized to fit a 9-foot-6-inch Williams Turbojet 285 tender, which is available as an option.
Going forward on deck, you’ll notice another big-boat feature: halyard-tensioning tracks on the mast for the furling sails, which eliminate the need to run the lines back to the cockpit. The wide teak decks are clear and easy to navigate, and fiberglass bulwarks and 30-inch-high lifelines add to the feeling of security.
The 64 is designed by Philippe Briand with an interior by Andrew Winch, both of whom have many superyachts to their credit. “Winch was able to design a completely new look and feel down below that pulls on a lot of yachty influences. Yet when people come below, they ‘feel’ like it is a Jeanneau,” Stromberg says. “It is really an accomplishment to give a fresh look that just feels right.”
Though a high-production builder, Jeanneau is still able to offer owners plenty of choices, both in layout and materials, that can give the 64 a custom finish at a much lower price point than boats of comparable size. Throughout the interior, leather accents and high-end fixtures and lighting add to the classy, contemporary look of the saloon. The boat I sailed had a massive, well-appointed master cabin aft, but owners can choose to have accommodation forward instead, with two double guest cabins aft. A lateral cabin with bunk beds is available on the starboard side, or that space can house the nav station and a hanging locker. The aft and forward cabins all have en suite heads with separate shower stalls. All the way forward, you’ll find a sail locker, which is also available as a crew cabin.
Located just to port of the companionway, the galley seems like it would be a lovely place for meal prep, whether at the dock or underway. There are good fiddles on the counters, and while there’s plenty of space for two, there are enough places to brace yourself in a seaway. When designing the galley, Jeanneau consulted a professional yacht chef, which led to thoughtful storage placement and a wine and drink cooler that is easily accessed by the whole crew. High-end appliances include a range, dishwasher, microwave, front-opening fridge and two freezer drawers.
Something that really stands out on the 64 is the dedicated engine room, which is also where the builder installed any machinery that’s noisy or vibrates. Not only is it more convenient to have many systems in one place, but the well-soundproofed room keeps the boat quieter as well.
With a price tag that runs a million-plus, depending on options, the new 64 is hardly an entry-level boat. Stromberg says the model is targeted at sailors who are moving up from their current boat, but who would still like something that can be handled without permanent crew aboard. Whether it’s the sharp look of the Briand design, the superyacht features or the production-boat price — or, likely, a combination of all three — it’s working: To date, Jeanneau has sold more than 40 of the 64s. As our sail wrapped up for the day at the Bitter End Yacht Club, the skies finally cleared. And the race? We won, of course. As Gary Jobson delighted in pointing out, “The other guy had his engine on the whole time!”
LOA: 65’11” (20.1 m)
LWL: 59′ (18 m)
Beam: 17’8″ (5.4 m)
Draft: 9’8″/7’2″ (2.95/2.2 m)
Sail Area: (100%) 1,829 sq. ft. (furling main) (170 sq m)
Ballast: 20,613 lb. (9,350 kg)
Displacement (maximum): 81,571 lb. (37,000 kg)
Sail Area/Displacement: 15.6
Water: 265 gal. (1,000 l)
Fuel: 218 gal. (815 l)
Holding: 70 gal. (264 l)
Mast Height: 95’5″ (29.1 m)
Engine: 180 hp Volvo Penta D4-180
Designer: Philippe Briand, Andrew Winch interior
Jen Brett is CW’s senior editor.