Boat Review Date: March 2010
Author: Mike Brown
Jeanneau yachts have traditionally been seen as cruising boats that get raced rather than racing boats that get cruised. Enthusiastic racers would buy something else. The 44i Performance Jeanneau changes things, and the first of them to land here was snapped up by a dyed in the wool racing man. He gets the bonus of the same cruising interior as the standard 44i for his less single minded moments.
Enhancements for the Performance version include a longer mast with higher aspect ratio main, adjustable backstay, a 2.3m draught instead of the standard 2.05 (although if Rottnest bays are a priority you can still get the standard), twin track roller furler and feathering propeller. The main is something special: a fully battened tri-radial sandwich incorporating Mylar. If you want, you can hoist and control the sails with Dyneema lines instead of the standard polyester.
With hull dimensions of 13.41m by 4.37m this is a big boat by most standards. Its interior has space enough for it to be offered in 3-cabin/2-head like the review boat, 3-cabin/3-head, or 4-cabin/2-head layouts. There is still room left over for good access to the aft cabins, a dedicated navigation station, a vast linear galley, and a large lounge-dining area. The quantities of light entering make the space seem even greater. Nine opening skylights and twelve ports give abundant ventilation and lighting. It was pleasant to notice the abundance of rounded corners and handholds - there can never bo too many of those.
Aft cabins can be compartments you enter purely for sleeping, rigid sleeping bags that give no welcome, but not here though. Wherever there is not standing headroom there is a generous amount for sitting. You can get changed in them; there are places to hang clothes. All this is good because they are always the cabins sought out for occupancy when actually at sea.
The fore cabin is certainly the one for Parker Point and like places. Almost extravagantly spacious, it has enough storage and hanging space for two average wives. Its en suite head has a separate shower, and enough elbowroom for everything to work. You could truthfully apply the word luxury to this head and to its twin down aft.
Apply it also to the cooking, eating and lounging arrangements that equally emphasise the space motif. There is so much length of galley available that a dish-draining compartment is fitted in as well as the double sink, double fridge, gimballed three-burner stove and oven, and ranks of lockers and expanses of bench space.
Opposite is the dining table that has settees facing all of its sides. There is storage beneath the table, beneath the settees, and beneath or behind most other things on board. After hours, the dining area converts into another double bed.
For cruising at least the cockpit does a fine job of extending the saloon’s function into the open air. To start with, it too is big. The teak sheathed benches are wide enough and more than long enough for lying on if that is your wish, yet within reach of the central table that is thoughtfully supplied with bottle and glass holders and an icebox. For serious eating the table folds out to a serious area.
The cockpit also makes an effective working space. The genoa winches are placed just outboard and ahead of the twin wheels, equally convenient to a short-handed helmsman or to a dedicated sheet man in the cockpit proper. All other lines are led back to jammers on the coachroof. One of the two winches here can be electric, as can both the sheet winches. Powered self-tailing winches are addictive things.
Sailing electronics and engine monitors are mounted in each pedestal, and the owner chose to install a plotter screen within the shelter of the cockpit table. Jeanneau provides a roll-top chart table below and bulkhead-mounted basic electronics, but the move is very much towards giving instant information to the helmsman.
The engine fitted is almost an extravagance: a 75hp Yanmar instead of the standard 54. What it does is effectively turn the vessel into a motor sailer. It easily maintained eight knots and would probably do so in very poor conditions, which is reassuring for long cruises but is also handy for making a quick run dead to windward when you are less interested in sailing that in getting there
The 44i had never been sailed before the owner took delivery, but after an hour or two’s shake down he left us to head straight for Bunbury in a fresh breeze. The brief introduction had obviously given him instant confidence in his boat, and it was easy to see why. It had demonstrated all the good things: stiffness, acceleration, high pointing – and everything worked. Why wait?Lowdown
Base price AUD $403,000
Length overall 13.75m
Hull length 13.41m
Fuel capacity 240L
Fresh water 615L
Sail area 105sqm
Engine 75hp Yanmar diesel