Jeanneau 55: Nipping at the Cat Crowd

The monohull that marries cat-style living with the sailing performance of a single-hull.
JY55 sailing
Experience the thrill of monohull sailing with the space of a multihull. Jeanneau Yachts

In the great mono-versus-cat debate, what does a cruising multihull have that a monohull doesn’t? The typical reply would be lots of deck space, multiple places to gather, private accommodations for the owner and guests, and if there’s a flybridge, a great view in every direction. What’s not to like, right?

But for many sailors, there’s a trade-off to be made when it comes time to write a check for a new boat, because a similar size monohull is probably going to be more fun to sail, especially upwind, and all things being equal lengthwise, the monohull is likely easier to fit in a marina slip and less expensive to maintain because there’s one engine instead of two, and systems such as AC and electrical are confined to a single hull.

So, tired of seeing customers kick the keels of its monohulls only to slap down a deposit on a cat, French builder Jeanneau decided it was time to start with a black piece of paper and come up with a design that marries cat-style living with monohull performance. They call it the Jeanneau Yachts 55.

It’s a heck of a boat. Naval architect Philippe Briand and interior designer Andrew Winch have created a powerful hull form with loads of interior volume, an enormous cockpit that stretches from the stern to nearly the mast, with the option to enclose much of that area with a hard dodger and Bimini, the latter with a center panel that opens to let in sun by day and stars by night.

JY55 swim platform
Lounge on the sunbeds or swim off the fold-down swim platform – whatever you decide, this sailing yacht allows you the space. Jeanneau Yachts

Accommodations are unique. The 55 that was introduced to North America during the 2023 Annapolis Boat Show included the Bimini, and it covered a pair of tables that can be lowered to become sunbeds. They are well aft, adjacent to the fold-down swim platform. Forward of them are twin wheels, with sheets leading aft to electric winches at each steering console.

Each helm station abuts a companionway. To port, steps lead down to a large VIP cabin with a seating area, desk, and en suite head and shower. There’s a smaller guest cabin to starboard, also with its own head and shower.

JY55 interior
Looking forward from the main companionway to view the salon and the owners’ master suite. Jeanneau Yachts

Amidships, beneath the dodger, there’s another table with U-shaped seating to starboard and a nav station, complete with plotter to port. It’s a great place to sit. With windows overhead, forward and to either side, the view tremendous. Just aft of the mast, the main companionway leads to the salon and owner’s suite below. It includes a well-equipped galley to starboard, a table to port, and the owner’s private cabin, head, and shower forward.

Just like on a cat, owners and guests have a place of their own.

Comfortable dockside, the 55 lights up under sail. The boat in Annapolis came rigged with an in-mast roller furling, a self-tacking jib, a genoa and a code zero—in other words, a quiver of sails well-suited for changing conditions and any point of sail. In shifty conditions, with wind that ranged from single digits to the high teens, the boat had some get-up-and-go. In 4 knots of breeze, the speedo read 3.4 knots. In 17 knots, it was more like 7s and 8s.

Boat of the year judges sailing the Jeanneau 55
Cruising World’s Boat of the Year judges having some fun putting the Jeanneau 55 to the test under sail. Walter Cooper

And it was a fun boat to sail. At the wheel, the person on the helm can sit inboard, under the cover of the Bimini, with great visibility through the dodger’s windows, or else step out on to the walk-around side deck and lean against the solid stainless-steel railing of the rear pulpit that’s carried amidships. Out there, with one hand on the wheel, the wind’s in your face and the water’s rushing by. You know, it feels like you’re sailing—and that’s just what the creators of the Yachts 55 intended.

The Jeanneau Yachts 55 awarded Boat of the Year Overall Winner

To learn more about the Jeanneau Yachts 55, contact your local Jeanneau dealer: CLICK HERE