- It has been well designed with a good attention to detail and with a particular eye to safety on deck.
- Living accommodation has been well thought out.
- Movement on deck is enhanced by the asymmetrical wheelhouse design …
Greg Copp heads to the South of France to examine Jeanneau’s latest and smallest addition to their NC range of stylish coupés.
The new Jeanneau NC33 is a boat I suspect will prove popular on this side of the Channel. Jeanneau claim this range is neither Scandinavian nor Italian nor English in terms of style and design, but one thing is apparent, and that is that the NC33 has been crafted from a good mix of ingredients. She looks appealing, being relatively low slung, and blatantly practical. However, drive her and you will understand what this coupé is all about. She is embellished with stern-driven 220hp Volvo D3s, pushing her just shy of 32 knots, and although not a 40-knot rocket, this boat is fast enough for most, very quick off the mark and most importantly steers like a good middleweight Scandinavian sports boat. Her natural poise is perfect, so you can forget the trim tabs and settle into point-and-shoot mode. She turns effortlessly on the wheel without a hint of delay or overreaction, providing those perfect one-handed tight turns. The boat heels well into the corners, but hangs on doggedly without a hint that she might lose the stern. Our skipper for the day clearly knew the Jeanneau’s capabilities as he calmly focused on his mobile phone while I went into ‘manic mode’.
Accelerating off the mark she is undoubtedly swift for a 6-tonne boat, and testament to how effective the variable vane turbocharged Volvo D3 has become. This compact 5-cylinder 2.4L diesel engine started off with a questionable track record in its earlier lower-powered variations, but has since proven itself a credible power plant. I do have two reflections though: firstly, the fuel figures I recorded were a touch on the high side; and secondly, I expected the boat to reach 35 knots, all things considered. Possibly this early production run test boat is slightly underpropped, which would explain its very lively acceleration.
It was a typical Mediterranean morning with little wind, but we did have some residual swell running in from the south-west that the NC33 had no problems running through at 30 knots. The only real test of her offshore ability was driving back and forth through the wake trail of a superyacht that was leisurely heading into Cannes. The NC33 has a medium-vee hull with a sharp forefoot. Above the chines in the forward sections the boat noticeably increases in girth, providing extra space for the forward cabin. Designed by Michael Peters, this hull seemed to work well cutting through the wake, even at 30 knots, and the forward flare did a good job of keeping most of the spray off the windscreen. I did get the odd complaint from the hull coming down off the wake, but then I was trying to provoke some reaction.
Not that surprisingly, it does not require much leg trim at speed. The two D3s with DPS duo-prop sterndrives weigh in at just 720kg, so this boat is naturally well poised. Above 25 knots she only wants around 25% trim out, which helps in the handling and seakeeping stakes. Most of the time I drove her with minimal trim as I could not resist throwing her into ever tighter turns. Considering how capable she is at being a sports boat, you can’t help but wonder what she would be like with a couple of 260hp or even 300hp Volvo D4s. With the rear door shut, sound levels are good, and far from intrusive.
The helm position works well. Standing is great as you can securely wedge your feet against the forward bulkhead and enjoy a good view over the bow, or flip up the fold-away footstool and sit. I like to stand normally, but I found the sitting position hard to resist as you still get a good forward view, especially as this boat has little bow-up attitude. Wheel and throttles sit where you want them, and of course you have that all-important side door – a crucial feature if you intend to go single crewed. All-round visibility is equally impressive from the abundance of window space and the virtual absence of any aft blind spots. When you are banked over hard to port, you can actually look through the gigantic sunroof at what would otherwise be a temporary blind spot. Jeanneau have adopted the popular concept of a fold-out navigator’s seat, which turns the forward section of the L-shaped sofa into a double forward-facing bench seat. Sadly there is no chart table to complement this innovative seating arrangement, just three drinks holders.
Movement on deck is enhanced by the asymmetrical wheelhouse design, which provides you with over 9in of starboard side deck, enclosed by a 2ft bulwark, which extends beyond the wheelhouse side door, after which you step up to the foredeck. The foredeck enjoys a deep toe rail and well-textured non-slip decking, topped off with tall guard railing. If you need it, there is a small starboard quarter gate, though most people will inevitably opt to use the deep bathing platform to step onto the pontoon. Though the anchor locker and deck hardware are pretty substantial, the cleats are a bit on the skimpy side for a 33ft boat. The cockpit is impressive, offering plenty of space and quick access to the roomy engine bay through a large deck hatch. The aft cockpit bench seating section converts into a double sun pad, which is a close rival to the large foredeck sunbed.
Living accommodation has been well thought out. What I liked in particular was the full-size fridge sitting at the bottom of the companionway, complete with food storage drawers beneath. This gives the boat a true cruising dimension as there is only so much galley space in the saloon. Consequently it can accommodate a two-ring gas hob, sink, cupboards and a proper oven. The heads compartment is one of the largest I have come across in a sub-35ft boat and boasts a separate full-size shower. Both sleeping cabins are similar in size, though the guest cabin, being an under-sole affair, only has headroom in the doorway. It does, however, have a generous double bed, though its storage is limited. The forecabin is what a boat like this is often judged by in accommodation terms, and sensibly Jeanneau have got this spot on in terms of space. The girth above the hull chine line gives it plenty of room around the bed, and the area is flooded with natural light from two long portholes and two large skylights. There is plenty of space at the foot of the bed, but storage is limited to the massive under-bed locker.
This boat, in order to match many sub-35ft sports cruisers that aim to be a credible family cruiser, needs to offer a wealth of facilities in a limited amount of space. The NC33 does this well, and you won’t feel the need to constantly rely on shore-based facilities. It has been well designed with a good attention to detail and with a particular eye to safety on deck. All this aside, the most significant aspect of the NC33 is its dual personality – sports boat or cruiser – as it is not often you find a boat hugely capable in both fields with little evidence of compromise.
Fuel Figures (Volvo flow meter)
RPM Speed (knots) Fuel consumption (nmpg) Sound level (db)
1500 7.1 4.0 73
1750 8.0 2.8 73
2000 8.8 1.9 74
2250 10.3 1.8 74
2500 11.5 1.7 76
2750 14.8 1.8 76
3000 18.3 1.9 77
3250 21.7 2.2 77
3500 25.5 2.1 79
3750 28.3 2.0 79
4100 (WOT) 31.9 1.8 80
What We Thought
- Razor-sharp handling
- Innovative design making good use of space
- Quick acceleration
- Soft ride
- Safety on deck
- Great visibility
- The usual long list of extras, many of which should be standard
- Small cleats
- LOA: 10.53m (34ft 6in)
- Beam: 3.32m (10ft 10in)
- Draught: 0.96m (3ft 1in)
- Displacement: 6.2 tonnes (dry)
- Power options: 2 x 220hp Volvo D3s on sterndrives
- Fuel capacity: 520 litres (115 gallons)
- RCD category: B for 8 or C for 10
- Test engine: 2 x 220hp Volvo D3s
From: £208,000 (inc. VAT)
As tested: £268,000 (inc. VAT)
(Both subject to euro exchange rate of 1.13)
31.9 knots – sea conditions F3 with 75% fuel
Swanwick Shore Rd
Hampshire SO31 1ZL