We recently checked out the smallest boat in Jeanneau’s Leader fleet, the Leader 7.5, and the day we sea-trialed it we also had some time on the water with the largest outboard-powered boat in Jeanneau’s stable: the Leader 10.5. Naturally, we took a moment to break out the camera and shoot a quick video, so you could get as close as possible to being on this boat yourself.
Enter the Euro Zone
Where you see this French builder’s European influence come into play is first noticeable inside the cabin, when you look at the galley. It has the expected refrigerator, sink, and microwave, but few American-built boats also equip a boat of this size and nature with a two burner gas cook-top. (Note: Jeanneau is currently expanding its footprint in America, and will be constructing Leaders here in the US of A in the near future). Another unusual touch is the inclusion of privacy curtains to seal off both the mid-cabin and V-berth. Though a curtain obviously doesn’t provide much privacy, it is a bit better than zero separation. Finally, Jeanneau considers the TV an optional item, while most ‘Mericans would call it a must-have.
In the cockpit, as we saw in the video, Jeanneau has clearly done their homework—we red-white-and-blue types are going to love that grilling station, especially if we can manage to swing a grouper over the gunwales and slap a fresh fillet on the grill. Other smart touches include integrating bench seating that swings out from the inwales, pushing the transom far enough forward to leave a roomy swim platform walk-through in front of the engines, and locating plenty of stainless-steel cupholders throughout. One note of room for improvement back here: the lift-and-swing transom gate (similar to those often seen on pontoon boats) feels a bit clumsy, and we’d prefer a sturdy stainless-steel latch.
Moving forward in the boat we see more Euro-influence—and in a way that we like. The side-decks are asymmetrical, with the port-side being significantly wider than the starboard side. Most US designs eschew asymmetry, but you do see this tactic utilized on some other Euro-boats and frankly, it’s smart. Going forward is much easier. And if you care to walk toe-to-heel, you can still use the starboard side. Similarly, we like the high rails which are required for boats on the far side of the pond. Many US manufacturers add rails like these on boats meant for distribution overseas, yet continue to use lower rails or none at all on boats sold here because it “looks sleeker.” Puh-leaze.
Burgers and Apple Pie
When it comes to performance, the Jeanneau Leader 10.5 is as Americanized as it gets. Powerboats this size marketed in the Old World rarely carry 500 raging stallions on the transom, nor do they often break speeds of 50 MPH. When we ran this boat we enjoyed revving the F350C Yamaha outboards to the pins, and feeling a 53 MPH wind-blast in our hair.
Wait a sec—even with 500 horses, 53 MPH is pretty darn spiffy for a 34 foot express boat. Commonly you’d expect a top-end in the upper-mid 40’s, and to break 50 MPH, would need to make the jump to triples. What gives? In no small part, the eye-opening performance seems to be due to a thoroughly tricked-out Michael Peters hull design which incorporates twin steps and a tunnel. The tunnel runs from the back of the aft step to the transom, and is intended to channel the air drawn in via the steps. The net result, according to Jeanneau, is to reduce the amount of wetted surface (thereby reducing friction) along the length of this tunnel, while also creating an air cushion under the stern of the boat to give you and your crewmembers a comfort-boost. The design carries a Martin Peters patent, and is dubbed the “Stepped-Vee Ventilated Tunnel”.
Without doing a bunch of testing that’s way beyond our pay grade, we can’t swear that Jeanneau’s explanation of how the design works is accurate. But it does make sense, and what we can confirm is that this boat goes five or six MPH faster than experience and performance comparisons tell us it should. And beyond that, we also noticed that the boat delivered an abnormally smooth ride. Although the waters were fairly calm on test-day, there were plenty of boats zipping back and forth across the river and we were constantly striking boat wakes. Not only did the Leader 10.5 feel solid underfoot, it also stayed dry on deck.
We’ve seen several European builders make inroads in the US market in recent years, and the Jeanneau Leader 10.5 is a good example of why. They’ve taken some smart designs from their side of the pond, combined them with an American attitude, and produced an outboard cruiser that’s at home on either side of the Atlantic. All you need now is some nice French wine to go along with those grouper fillets, and your day on the water will be complete.
Other Choices: The Regal 35 Sport Coupe puts more places more emphasis on the cabin, less on cockpit space, and runs on stern-drives. The opposite is true of the Sea Ray Sundancer 320, which is also powered with stern-drives. A similarly-designed outboard-powered boat with a fishier attitude is the Pursuit OS 325.
For more information, visit Jeanneau America.
See Jeanneau powerboat listings.
|Fuel capacity||210 gal.|
|Water capacity||42 gal.|