Paul Fenn, Take a Shot Media

Annapolis Sailboat Show – Still Growing, Still Very Much a Family Affair

In September of 2013 I published a blog titled, Annapolis Sailboat Show, A Growing Family AffairIt started like this:

“As my children have gotten older, they have come to realize that October is a fun and exciting time of the year. Not because of Halloween which is what all kids look forward to in October but because of the Annapolis Sailboat Show. For those of us who make their living in the boating business, the Annapolis Sailboat Show is a big deal. Not only is it the largest all-sail show in North America but it’s also the only show where all the new models from the various manufacturers are introduced for the first time.”

Young and old, everyone on the Jeanneau team turns out in force to lend a hand building the display. Team Building at its best!!
The Jeanneau America team in October 2012 following the close of the show along with my 3 kids: Graham (6), Mollie (9), and Will (10)

Fast forward to October 2016 and for the most part, not a lot has changed over the past 4 years. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Jeanneau team is bigger now since Jeanneau has gown significantly since 2012. I am no longer President having passed that honor onto my friend Nick Harvey a couple of years ago. But for the most part, the important elements of what makes the Annapolis show truly great remain the same.

Annapolis is still the largest all-sail show in North America, attracting sailors from all 50 states and every province in Canada. It’s still the  only show where you’re guaranteed to find all the manufactures with all their new models for the coming year on display in one place. And for me, it’s still very much a growing family affair. And not just my immediate family, but the larger family of Jeanneau owners as well.

14494839_1671531536497194_5111145755756876533_n
Yours truly with a now 13 year old Mollie Fenn working the reception desk at this year’s Jeanneau Yachts display

This year the show kicked off under brilliant blue skies on October 6th. We displayed an impressive lineup of 10 boats from 34-58 feet. More than 50,000 people attended the show and more than 200 Jeanneau owners attended the annual Jeanneau party making this year’s Annapolis Sailboat Show one of our best ever.

14641929_1188466797863982_5595980673289334879_n
The annual Jeanneau Owner’s Party now exceeds more than 200 and continues to be one of the highlights of the Annapolis show

In 2012 I wrapped up the Annapolis show blog this way:

“Not everyone has the luxury of enjoying what they do to make a living but thankfully I do and as an added bonus, I get to bring my family and friends along for the ride.”

Since these words still ring true for me and still seem a fitting conclusion to my brief tale here. I am going to be rather unimaginative and end the same way. With the exception of adding, I look forward to seeing you at next year’s Annapolis show. Let the fun continue!

The Jeanneau 64 – Almost Home

DSC00195
The Jeanneau 64, Trois Vignes, slices through the water with the greatest of ease. Outfitted with standard furling main and 110% genoa, the 64 is not a yacht that’s afraid to sail.

It’s a long poke across the Atlantic to the east coast of the United States on a sailboat. And a longer one still going all the way up into the Great Lakes to St. Clair Shores located on the east coast of Michigan. But that’s exactly the trip that the Jeanneau 64, Trois Vignes recently completed.

Prior to yesterday, the last time I had seen Trois Vignes was in March, tied to the dock in the port of Les Sables d’Olonne, France. Shortly thereafter, Trois Vignes headed across the Atlantic, first to the island of Madeira off Portugal then to Halifax, Nova Scotia with the idea of reaching the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Unfortunately, although it was the end of April, the St.Lawrence was still chock full of ice forcing the crew to head south to New York where they pulled the mast before heading north through the Erie Canal. It was quite the adventure!

Yesterday, I caught up with Trois Vignes once again. This time in St. Clair Shores, MI where Bob Reed of St. Clair Sailboat Center was putting the finishing touches on her before making the final handover to her owners, John and Kris Palmer. The day was shaping up to be a beauty with partly sunny skies and a nice breeze of 10-15 knots. It would be a perfect day for a sail.

Trois Vignes sat quietly in her slip looking beautiful as my friend and work associate, Catherine Guiader and I climbed aboard eager to get underway. As luck would have it, John Palmer was already on board. He had driven over that morning from his home in Illinois. He wasn’t about to miss this maiden voyage in US waters or allow Catherine, Bob and I to have all the fun, no way!

DSC00231
Beautifully finished teak decks highlighted against the jet-black cap rail and white cabin trunk really accent the true elegance of what the Jeanneau 64 is all about.

The Jeanneau 64 comes standard with a bow thruster but in addition to this, Trois Vignes is fitted with the optional retractable stern thruster which makes maneuvering easier than falling off a wet log. Once out on the lake, we used the electric cabin-top winch to pull out the main. The genoa followed and once sheeted in, we were soon off on a beam reach at a respectable 8 knot clip. Trois Vignes benefits from the optional Harken electric mainsheet winch that lives below decks and allows the sheeting of the main at the touch of a button right from the helm station. It’s slicker than grease on a doorknob. I can’t imagine why anybody would order the boat without it.

The four of us spent the afternoon reaching back and forth and having a grand time. Lake St. Clair is not an overly large lake, so when a 64 footer goes by dressed all in black, trust me people notice. We saw lots of pointing fingers followed by the words “beautiful” as we charged on past our fellow boaters. It was a good day and we were enjoying every minute of it.

DSC00170
Trois Vignes charging along on a beautiful close reach with Catherine at the helm.

Once back at the dock, cold chardonnay in hand, we talked about the final leg of the journey. In just a few weeks, after the final finishing touches and tweaks have been made, Trois Vignes will make its way up Lake Huron, over the top of the Mitten, past Mackinac Island, and into Lake Michigan. Her crew will continue to sail south down the lake, past Beaver Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes. When they reach Holland along Michigan’s western coast, they’ll slip past the Big Red Light House that marks the entrance to Lake Macatawa, Trois Vignes’ home port.

It’s a long poke from Les Sables d’Olonne to Lake Macatawa but Trois Vignes has handled it as we knew she would, like the true ocean-going yacht she is. The journey is not quite over but for this Jeanneau 64 it’s close… she’s almost home.

On we go….

P.S. If you missed the beginning of this saga, you can catch the beginning here!

 

The Jeanneau 64 – A Champagne Toast to Trois Vignes

Coming down the dock and seeing Trois Vignes for the first time, a brand new Jeanneau 64, I found myself smiling and muttering the words, “we shall sell no wine before its time.” Elegantly dressed all in black with brilliant-white spars, white cabin top and honey-colored teak decks, Trois Vignes, which is French for three vines, looked stunning and ready for a glamorous evening out on the town.

The honey-colored teak deck really pops against the jet-black cap rail. If it's a yacht, and the 64 is, you gotta have teak decks. And why wouldn't you, they're gorgeous!
The honey-colored teak deck really pops against the jet-black cap rail. If it’s a yacht, and the 64 is, you gotta have teak decks. And why wouldn’t you, they’re gorgeous!

For John and Kris Palmer, the owners of Trois Vignes, their journey started 18 months ago in 2013 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show when they sat down with their dealer, Bob Reed of St. Clair Sailboat Center and Erik Stromberg, Jeanneau’s Sailboat Product Director to discuss the Jeanneau 64 in detail. I say in detail but at that time the details were in short supply since a boat had yet to actually be built. But Erik, in his usual good and informative style, along with some great artist renderings, was able to paint a clear picture as to what the 64 was all about. This, along with the fact that John and Kris were not new to Jeanneau, having owned a Jeanneau 54DS (also a Trois Vignes) for ten years, gave them the confidence that the Jeanneau 64 was ultimately going to be a very special 64 footer. Soon after this initial meeting, John laid down a deposit to reserve a hull and immediately listed his 54DS for sale.

IMG_1243
The original Trois Vignes, a 54DS anchored in the North Channel. The 54DS was an amazingly popular boat. Almost 400 were produced between 2002 – 2009. John and Kris bought theirs in 2003 and lovingly sailed it with their 3 children on Lake Michigan for 10 years before selling it to buy the 64. It now lives in California.

The first 64 to be built began production in November 2013. By April it was in the water and by July it was in Corsica where I had the pleasure of spending a week aboard it and helped to sail it to Marseille on the southern coast of France.

Living large aboard the Jeanneau 64 in Corsica during the official photo shoot. It's a rotten job but someone has to do it right?
Living large aboard the Jeanneau 64 in Corsica during the official photo shoot. It’s a rotten job but someone has to do it right?

It was in Marseille where John, Kris and their 3 kids saw the completed boat for the first time. I still remember the look of total astonishment wash across John’s face as he stood in the main salon for the first time. He only uttered a single word,“WOW.” Over the course of the next 8 months, John made several trips to the factory to meet with Erik Stromberg and check on the progress of his boat, hull #4. During these trips he experienced firsthand the complexity and the detailed engineering that goes into such a project. It’s truly mind-boggaling. By December, the new Trois Vignes was floating in the test tank and then just last week, after a visit to the paint shed, the Palmer’s new Jeanneau 64 was launched in the port of Les Sables d’Olonne in the Bay of Biscay on France’s west coast. It was a longtime coming, pretty much 18 months from concept to reality. But as Andrew Winch, the interior designer told me, “details make the project a success and details take time.”

DSCN0341
Aboard Trois Vignes, John Palmer (L) and Andrew Winch (R) talk about the details incorporated into the Jeanneau 64. As a side note, Andrew is getting his own 64 which is in production now. He has hull #11 which ironically is the same number that John’s 54DS was. Go figure right?

There is something completely and utterly rewarding about seeing the owner of a new boat step aboard it for the first time, especially when the boat we’re talking about is a 64 footer. So often they approach it slowly and with caution; taking it all in bit by bit so as not to miss anything. So was the case today when we welcomed John and Bob Reed aboard. It was a great moment. It had taken some time to get it right but we got there. And as we raised our glasses of real French Champagne to toast this new elegant lady, I once again found myself saying to myself, “we shall sell no wine before its time.” And with a name like Trois Vignes, that saying seems most appropriate.

A champagne toast with (L-R) Andrew Winch, John Palmer, Bob Reed, Erik Stromberg, and Paul Fenn
A champagne toast with (L-R) Andrew Winch, John Palmer, Bob Reed, Erik Stromberg, and Paul Fenn

Trois Vignes is scheduled to set sail in about a week, first to the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal, then onto the Big Apple. From there, the mast will come out and the boat will travel through the Erie Barge Canal to Lake Ontario. She’ll eventually end up on the west coast of Michigan where she’ll be fondly admired by all who see her. What a life she’ll have!

On we go….

But, before you do, enjoy this short video of our day aboard Trois Vignes.

The Jeanneau 64 – You Gotta See it to Believe it

The Newly painted Jeanneau 64, Trois Vignes, sits in the factory Poieter.
Dressed all in black, the newly painted Jeanneau 64, Trois Vignes, sits at the factory in Poiré. She is scheduled to sail in mid-March from Les Sables- d’Olonne to Chicago by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Just about a year ago, I took a trip to France to the town of Le Poiré Sur Vie in the Vendee region to see the first 64 being built. As you can easily imagine, building a 64 foot sailing yacht is not exactly a small accomplishment and in fact due to the dip in the economy, the project had been started and stopped more than once. Seeing the boat for the first time had been impressive. Construction had been about two-thirds of the way along and while the deck had not yet been installed, a good part of the interior had been. Seeing the boat at this stage of the build process was ideal because it provided an unobstructed view into the hull and all the equipment that is required on a boat of this size; generator, engine, water-maker, batteries, washer/dryer, wine cooler, etc. It was pretty much all installed and easy to see.

The true guts of the boat were easy to see and understand at this stage of construction.
The true guts of the boat were easy to see and understand at this stage of construction. You can see much of the front cabin was installed at this point.

Fast forward six months to June 2014 and that same boat, hull #1, was now strutting its stuff around the island of Corsica in the Mediterranee. Once again I was fortunate enough to travel to Europe to see this boat and actually got the chance to help sail it from Corsica to Marseille, about a 24 hour passage. It was an amazing feeling to see and sail the finished product after seeing it on the production line with all its guts hanging out just 6 months before. Right from the beginning I was totally awed by this yacht from her gracious lines to her sailing characteristics to her interior accommodations to her overall quality. It was truly Love at First Sight!

With the light just starting to fade, the Jeanneau 64 sits quietly at anchor off the coast of Corsica
With the light just starting to fade, the Jeanneau 64 sits quietly at anchor in a snug little harbor just off the coast of Corsica.

Fast forward again to last month when I made A Return Trip to Le Poiré to again visit the 64 on the production line. This time, instead of seeing just one boat under production, there were more like four or five. These boats were all in various stages of construction from the very beginnings to pretty much finished and ready to go. What’s more, I learned that 20 boats had already been sold and that the lead-time to get a boat was now stretching out some 18 months. It was also interesting to learn that many of the 64s that have already been sold were going to current Jeanneau owners, especially to owners of the extremely popular Jeanneau 54DS. I found this to be a great testament to the brand, the company, and to the Jeanneau staff. The bottom line is that anyone looking to purchase a 64 foot yacht and spend between one and two million dollars is going to look around at other boats and the fact that so many of these people chose the Jeanneau 64 is really quite a compliment.

The 64 starts life out in the form of 2 separate hull molds. They are each laid up with fiberglass cloth, joined together and infused with resin. The 64 starts life out in the form of 2 separate hull molds. They are each laid up with fiberglass cloth then joined together and infused with resin. From here, the true building begins.
The 64 starts life out in the form of 2 separate hull molds. Each are laid up with fiberglass cloth then joined together and infused with resin. It’s quite a process with first-rate results.

One of the major selling points of the 64 is that the boat has been designed and engineered for choice. What this essentially means is that a number of well-thought-out, highly engineered layouts and features have been pre-designed giving customers a wide choice of interior configurations and options to choose from. And because these were all engineered into the design ahead of time, it literally saves thousands of dollars of expense allowing the boat to be sold at a price well under that of other yachts of this size and quality.

Working for Jeanneau as I do, I have probably visited the factory at least 50 times over the past 18 years. And while seeing a 36 footer roll down the production line is one thing, seeing a 64 go together is quite another. I’m biased I know but I have to say with complete sincerity, the 64 is one impressive machine. But as the title of this story suggests, you gotta see it to believe it.

On we go…

P.S. Stay tuned for more on the 64 when I travel back to France in early March for the christening of the Palmer’s 64, Trois Vignes and her send-off across the Atlantic.

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – The Conclusion (so, did we sell a boat?)

From a boat builders perspective, certainly one of the most important considerations that goes into the making of a great boat is whether or not when all is said and done, people want to buy it. In order for this to happen, especially with a big boat like a 64 footer, a real balance needs to be struck between the design of the boat, how the boat performs, the look of the boat, the overall quality of the finished product and the always important issue of the final price of the boat. Often times a boat will come along that may have lots of great creature comforts but may not sail very well. Other times, a boat can sail great but not be very comfortable to live aboard. And there are still other boats out there that sail well and are plenty comfortable but cost an arm and a leg to buy so not a lot of them get sold. The bottom line is that it’s a real art to be able to consistently turn out a finished product that encompasses all the essential elements for it to be successful in the market. But, as good as I think Jeanneau is at doing this, we never really know how successful a new model will be until it’s built and presented to the final customer. Until that time comes, we often find ourselves holding our breath and wringing our hands waiting to see if we’ve gotten it right or gotten it wrong.

Jeanneau 64 Artist Rendering
John and Kris Palmer made their decision to sell their 54DS and purchase a 64 largely based on these initial artist renderings of what the boat would actually be like.

John and Kris Palmer were among the first to put down a small deposit towards the purchase of a new Jeanneau 64. This had been done last October based on the initial drawings of the boat and a targeted selling price. Today, the Palmers, along with their three kids, Jack, Julia and Sam would be meeting us in Marseille to see the boat for the first time and either confirm their order or give it a pass.

The Palmers had been sailing a Jeanneau 54DS for the past 10 years and loved it. Any boat, including a new 64 footer would be a tough act to follow. The Jeanneau 54DS was one of the most successful boats ever produced reaching a total production of almost 400 before it was discontinued in 2009. Even today, the 54DS is in high-demand on the secondary market; a real testament to its overall design, build quality and price.

The amazing 54DS was produced from 2002 - 2009. Almost 400 were built. John and Kris bought their's in 2003 and lovingly sailed it on Lake Michigan for 10 years before selling it this past January. It now lives in California.
The amazing 54DS was produced from 2002 – 2009. Almost 400 were built. John and Kris bought their’s in 2003 and lovingly sailed it on Lake Michigan for 10 years before selling it this past January. It now lives in California.

The 64 was in so many ways a very different boat than the 54DS. Of course it was bigger, by a lot! But, is was also a lot more modern and sophisticated. Instead of using traditional teak down below like the 54DS, the 64 utilizes a light oak. The furnishings throughout the 64 are much more contemporary than those found on the 54DS. And yet, as I explained in part 1 of this 4 part story, while the interior of the 64 is very modern, it’s not so modern to be cold and impractical but is in fact, just the opposite. Philippe Briand and Andrew Winch managed to design a very modern, very contemporary looking boat that is extremely warm and comfortable. The question is, would John and Kris like it, now that they saw it in real life?

Great shot taken by Gilles Martin of the Jeanneau 64 running under main and staysail off the coast of Corsica.
Great shot taken by Gilles Martin of the Jeanneau 64 running under main and staysail off the coast of Corsica. What an awesome machine!

The Palmers arrived at the boat about 2:00 in the afternoon and climbed aboard. Watching them standing in the cockpit reminded me of how I first reacted to the boat; they were reserved trying to take it all in. After a few minutes we encouraged them to go below and check it out. The kids, ages 16, 14 and 12 were off like a shot. John and Kris moved more slowly but I could tell they were doing their best to contain their enthusiasm. Soon we were standing in the main salon and I remember the look of total astonishment wash across John’s face. This was followed by him uttering a single word, “WOW.” This is pretty much what we were expecting but to see it, is to believe it!  Now that the initial impressions were over with and thankfully positive, it was time to throw off the lines and go for a sail.

photo 2
Kris, Julia and Sam Palmer enjoy their first sail aboard the Jeanneau 64. Julia  is having fun capturing her younger brother on video. I’m just watching to make sure she doesn’t drop the camera since it’s mine!
photo 3
Bob Reed with 16-year-old Jack Palmer at the helm off the coast of Marseille

The wind was fairly brisk and the skies overcast when we set sail just outside Marseille Harbor. We spent the better part of an hour taking back and forth. Not unexpectedly, John loved the way the boat sailed and was especially intrigued with the electric mainsail winch that lived below decks and allowed you to sheet in and out with the touch of a button from either helm station. Another feature that is easy to be impressed with is the optional stern thruster. The 64 comes standard with a bow thruster and with the addition of the stern thruster, it instantly makes docking even in the tightest of quarters a snap. We made good use of both as we eased our way between two other large boats and back onto the cement seawall; Mediterranean style!

It had been a great day but no day is complete without a nice dinner with good French wine, especially when in France. So later in the evening, after having a few cocktails on board, we all headed out for dinner in Marseille. And I guess somewhere along the line, it was all just taken for granted that the first 64 headed to the USA would have the Palmers’ name on it, for sure. Anyway that’s how we were treating things because after we all were seated and the wine poured, we raised our glasses high and said, “here’s to a new 64, congratulations!”

The Palmer family (less young Sam) out on the town in Marseille celebrating their purchase of the Jeanneau 64.
The Palmer family (less young Sam) out on the town in Marseille celebrating their purchase of the Jeanneau 64. Photo by Bob Reed of St. Clair Sailboat Center in Michigan.

It’s always fun to sell a boat, especially to repeat customers. And the fact that John and Kris had taken so well to the 64 was, to put it bluntly, flattering. In fact, it was more than that. It was more like love at first sight but then again how could it have been anything else.

On we go…

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – Part 3 (an offshore passage)

As I stated in part 1, of this 4 part series, my original plan was to spend just 3 days in Corsica but I soon realized that there were too many reasons to stay than to go, so that’s what I did. Thankfully, I have an understanding wife who recognizes a good opportunity when one comes along and not only gave me permission to stay but encouraged me to stay. Lucky me!

DSC01920
Before all the cameras were packed away, thousands of photos were taken and yards upon yards of video was shot. It was great watching all this from behind the scenes.

The next event in this ongoing adventure was a 3-day professional photo shoot. This may sound like something that’s all fun and games but I can tell you that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye with lots of moving parts. There are shots taken while underway on all points of sail and shots taken at anchor from every angle. Shots taken from the top of the mast, shots taken from the chase boat and shots taken from the helicopter that had been hired. The days are long too. The photographer, Gilles Martin, wanted sunrise shots, sunset shots, evening shots and all shots in between. Everyone involved was up early and went to bed late. Don’t get me wrong, there are worst ways to spend your days other than on a 64 foot boat in the Mediterranean Sea with attractive woman on board, in bikinis no less. Still, there was some work involved here too, so I don’t want anyone thinking it was ALL fun and games just mostly fun and games.

After we wrapped up the photo shoot, we welcomed Bob Reed, the Jeanneau dealer from Detroit, MI on board. Bob had come to help us sail the boat from Corsica to Marseilles. He had also come to meet his customers John and Kris Palmer who were flying in from The States to see the 64 and hopefully confirm their decision to buy one. The Palmers had just recently sold their Jeanneau 54DS so they were well acquainted with Jeanneau and the Jeanneau team.

Bob Reed, Jean-Luc Paillat and Erik Stromberg are all smiles as start our passage from corsica to Marseilles.
Bob Reed, Jean-Luc Paillat and Erik Stromberg are all smiles as we start our passage from Corsica to Marseilles. It would end up being be a grand adventure

The wind was blowing steady at 20 knots out of the northeast when we pulled off the dock in route to Marseilles. Our course would initially take us due south down the coast of Corsica then west passing between Corsica and Sardinia, then finally northwest to Marseilles. If the forecast held true, we’d end up on a beam reach with plenty of breeze all the way to Marseilles.

Sailing the big 64 proved to be a piece of cake, even in 30+ knots of wind. At 68,500 pounds, this boat, or should I say yacht, was rock-solid and sliced through the choppy Mediterranean Sea like the proverbial hot knife through butter. For the first half of our 200 + mile passage, we ran with a full main and 110% genoa, but as the wind and seas continued to build, we made the wise decision to ditch the genoa and go with the 90% self-tacking jib. This change resulted in the boat sailing flatter and more comfortably and we didn’t lose a single knot of boat speed, proving once again that what holds true for dinghies, holds true for big boats too. A boat that sails flat also sails fast.

The wind continued to blow strong and steady throughout the night. Our boat speed consistently varied between 10 and 12 knots although we also saw speeds of 13 and even 14 now and again. The area in and around Corsica is a heavily traveled route for commercial vessels. I was thankful that our duel Raymarine touch-screen chartplotters were equipped with AIS (automatic identification system) enabling us to not only identify the vessels around us but to also see at a glance their speed and the direction they were headed. Talk about taking the angst out of sailing at night, this was an absolute godsend!

By 5;00am the following morning, the sun was on the rise producing a warm orange glow off to the east. It would soon give way to another glorious day which would stay with us all the way into the evening as we closed in on the city of Marseilles on France’s southern coast..

One of the best things about ocean sailing is watching the sun come up. I don't think I have ever experienced a prettier one than this one.
One of the best things about ocean sailing is watching the sun come up. I don’t think I have ever experienced a prettier sunrise than this one.

By 8:00pm we had our sails furled and were tied stern-to in downtown Marseilles, just 27 hours after we had set sail from Corsica. It had been a great trip. The Jeanneau 64 performed superbly in the strong winds and lumpy seas. Tomorrow, we would welcome aboard John Palmer and his family. We would tell them about our adventure and hope that they would sense our enthusiasm and fall in love with this new flagship of the Jeanneau range. For now however, we’ll simply enjoy each other’s company, stretch out in the cockpit, and raise our glasses high to a great trip. Ahh, only if everyday could be like this.

On we go…

P.S. Read the conclusion of my Corsican adventure and find out if we sold a boat or not! Read it now.

 

 

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – Part 2 (sailing with Philippe Briand)

Whether sitting at anchor or under sail, the Jeanneau 64 is proving to be one sweet ticket to ride!

Our second day in Corsica was met with clear blue skies, plenty of sunshine but not a whole lot of breeze. We had made a plan the night before to rendezvous for lunch. I can tell you that as a long-time member of the Crack of Noon Club, lunchtime worked fine for me. It had been a late night and I for one was still suffering from jet-lag so not having to jump out of bed first thing in the morning was a welcome surprise. We all pretty much hooked up right on schedule and after a nice plate of moules frites (mussels and fries) and a cold Heineken, we were ready for a sail on the Jeanneau 64. We had just cast of the lines and begun to pull away from the dock when who should show up but Philippe Briand. We quickly backed up, hauled Philippe aboard and headed out of the harbor of Porto-Vecchio. Being in Corsica was one thing. Being in Corsica sailing on a brand spanking new 64 footer was even better. But sailing around Corsica aboard a new 64 footer with Philippe Briand the designer of the boat on board? This was pretty much over the top!

The Jeanneau 64 – hull #1, carries two fixed headsails. The outer sail is a 110% genoa on an electric furling system while the inner sail is a 90% self-tacking jib on a manual furling system. This is a very nice setup where the genoa can be used for lighter wind and the self-taking jib for heavy wind and where you find yourself doing a lot of tacking to windward. Hull #1 also has a code 0 which comes in very handy on light-air days when you’re looking for a little extra horsepower.

Jeanneau's Nick Harvey enjoys a spot on the bow of the 64 just in front of the Code 0
Jeanneau’s Nick Harvey enjoys a spot on the bow of the 64 just in front of the Code 0. Note the electric furling unit just behind the anchor which is standard equipment on the boat.

Soon after leaving the harbor we pulled out the main, unfurled the code 0 and went off on a close reach. The 64 has an incredibly big cockpit. In fact at one point, Erik Stromberg and I counted 17 people on board and we still had room for more. Life on deck is essentially separated into two zones with the aft part of the cockpit reserved for the operation of the boat and the forward section reserved for lounging and dining. I did a little bit of both!

Philippe Briand temporarily lost in thought and Jeanneau America's Valerie Toomey put the forward cockpit to good use during our brief but enjoyable sail
Philippe Briand (temporarily lost in thought) and Jeanneau America’s Valerie Toomey put the forward cockpit to good use during our brief but enjoyable sail. Notice how the cockpit tale is down on the port side making for a huge longing area but is up on the starboard side. This arrangement gives you lots of versatility depending on what you’re after at any given time, longing or dining.

The business end of the cockpit is clean and uncluttered. Because the 64 has an arch, the mainsheet traveler is overhead and completely out of the way. Also, trimming of the main benefits from a clever piece of technology in the form of a Harken electric winch that lives below the mast step and does the job of sheeting in and out the main at the touch of a button. Not only does this system make handling the main incredibly easy, it also completely eliminates having yards and yards of mainsheet in the cockpit. It’s really an awesome system!

DSC01894
Captain Fenn standing at the port helm of the Jeanneau 64. From here, the helmsman has complete control of the vessel whether navigating, trimming sails, motoring or dropping anchor. It can all be done from the vicinity of the duel helm stations.

Philippe Briand on What Makes a Yacht a Yacht:

Because this first sail was just with my fellow Jeanneau colleagues, it made for a very casual and enjoyable setting. It also allowed me some one on one time with Philippe to pick his brain about how the Jeanneau 64 came to be. One of the questions I was most interested in hearing his answer to was “what makes a yacht a yacht and not just another big boat?” When I put this question to him, he smiled broadly and said, “oh, let me think about that for a minute. It’s a good question” You would think that a guy that regularly designs super-yachts between 100′ – 250′ long would have an easy answer to this question but instead, he gave the question serious thought. After a few seconds he said, “a yacht provides the customer with the ability to have his fingerprints on the project. You have to view it more like a villa that is configured and outfitted to the owner’s taste. With a yacht, you have to make accommodations for the owner’s taste by providing more custom options.” “And how do you balance the fact that at the end of the day the 64 is still a production boat and not a custom boat” I asked. “Another good question,” he said. “The great thing about what Jeanneau offers to the customer, is a highly engineered design that allows for a variety of configurations and options that will meet 95% of the customers desires all at a price that doesn’t come anywhere close to a one-off custom yacht. I really think that more than the designers, more than the craftsman, it’s the engineers that should get the credit for the finished product. Without them, the boat would never have been built.” “So it sounds like Jeanneau is on the right track” I said. “Honestly, I think when it comes to modern boat building, it’s the only logical way to go.” Philippe concluded.

Valerie Toomey relaxes on the drop-down swim platform after taking a refreshing dip in the cool Medateranian Sea.
Valerie Toomey relaxes on the drop-down swim platform after taking a refreshing dip in the cool Mediterranean Sea.

We manged to find the time to drop anchor and take a swim before heading back to the dock. After-all, we wanted to test all aspects of the boat. While at anchor, Erik was lamenting to Philippe about how much it had cost him to outfit the boat with high-end pillows and comforters. “This stuff cost a small fortune” Erik said. “Of course” Philippe replied. “What did you expect, it’s A Yacht!” “Oh” I chimed in, “so the real difference between a yacht and a boat is that a yacht cost more?” Philippe smiled and laughed and said, “of course, that’s what makes a yacht so special!” I should have known!

Enjoying a cold Heineken on a beautiful day in Corsica aboard the Jeanneau 64
Just me enjoying a cold Heineken on a beautiful day in Corsica aboard the Jeanneau 64

The story continues at Love at First Sight – Part 3 when we set sail for some of Corsica’s most beautiful harbors for a photo shoot and then head offshore for an ocean passage to Marseille.

On we go….

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – Part 1

Corsica
Corsica is a rugged and an amazingly beautiful island. Although not part of the original plan, I’ll end up spending 10 days here sailing aboard the new Jeanneau 64

We landed on the French island of Corsica at 10:30 at night. Located about 200 miles south of the French mainland and just west of Italy, Corsica is one of those quintessential Mediterranean Islands that rises up out of the sea like a rough-cut diamond. Lonely planet describes Corsica as “an island designed for beach lovers, culture buffs, hikers, and divers. It combines vast stretches of shoreline with the beauty of the mountains, plenty of activities for your body and some rich history to engage your mind.” I along with my two associates, Valerie Toomey and Jeff Jorgensen, have come for a different purpose, to see, sail and help launch the Jeanneau 64, the new flagship of the Jeanneau range.

I had seen the 64 while under construction back in December. And, while my friend and colleague Erik Stromberg, did his usual great job walking me through the boat and describing what the finished product would eventually look like, artist renderings and imagination can only get you so far. Now it was time for seeing and believing.

Jeanneau 64 at night
The Jeanneau 64 sits stern to in downtown Porto-Vecchio. While it may not be the largest yacht in town, it’s impressive none the less.

By the time we arrived at our hotel it was late. But we had no sooner gotten out of the car and headed to check in when out on the water under a bright canopy of stars, came the Jeanneau 64 gliding by in all its brilliance headed for the marina. My first thought was “where is she coming from and why is she out so late?” My second thought was, “wow, this boat looks awesome.” The 64 sports a triple spreader rig and this specific boat (hull #1) has the optional double headstay with a 110% genoa on the outer stay and a smaller, self-tacking jib on the inner stay. The combination of the white painted mast, triple spreaders and double headstay, immediately left me with the impression that the 64 was much more than just a big boat, it was a true yacht.

Since the marina was just a few steps from the hotel, Valerie, Jeff and I quickly dropped our bags and made a bee-line for the boat. I was excited to find on board a bunch of my friends from Jeanneau including Erik Stromberg who I have worked with now for 15 or 16 years. Erik welcomed us on board and handed each of us a glass of red wine. We all made our way below and stood for a while in the main salon. “Well, what do you think” said Erik. My initial response was “don’t rush me, I’m taking it all in.” And I was, this was a lot of boat. Huge master cabin aft, two guest cabins forward, a fourth cabin to starboard with upper and lower berths, beautifully appointed galley to port, and a main salon that screamed “come on in, sit down and enjoy yourself… all of you!”

DSC01875
A view of the dining table in the main salon. Notice the light oak wood with off-white leather upholstery. Large hull ports bring in plenty of natural light and provide for a view to the sea while seated

The red wine continued to flow as did the conversations. Those of us who hadn’t seen the boat before took ourselves on a self-guided tour. Some of us first went forward while others started aft. Some hung in the galley, others stretched out in the owner’s aft cabin. Soon we all settled around the table in the main salon. “Well?” Erik said. “Really comfortable” I replied. “It just feels really warm and comfortable” I added.

The interior of the Jeanneau 64 is a lot more than just big. It’s also extremely well proportioned, things just fit together nicely. The seating for example around the dining table is super comfortable, it’s just the right height. You feel like you can sit there for hours just hanging out with friends, wine glass in hand, solving the problems of the world. The colors and choice of materials go together extremely well. For example the wood that is used is a light oak while the color of the salon floor is dark, almost an ebony. Dark leather is used to accent the light oak as well. The contrast is amazingly nice. And while the interior is definitely modern, it’s not so modern to be impractical or cold. In fact it’s just the opposite. It feels very practical and very warm.  Andrew Winch, the interior designer on the project really nailed it.

Paul on 64
Yours truly seated at the aft end of the main salon enjoying a fine glass of Bordeaux shortly after my arrival in Corsica

It’s easy to be impressed by a big boat, especially one that’s 64 feet. The Jeanneau 64 is a lot more than just a big boat however, it’s a real yacht. And what makes a yacht a yacht? Follow more of the story at Love at First Site – Part 2, when I go sailing with the designer Philippe Briand, and ask him that very question.

On we go…

Getting by in the BVI – with a Little Help From Our Loyal Customers

It’s a tough job as they say but someone has to do it. And since I couldn’t think of anyone better to do it, I figured I just had to do it myself. Poor me!

Cooper Island
Jeanneau Owners gather on the beach at the Cooper Island Beach Club for a group shot

I just returned from the beautiful British Virgin Islands where I spent a week sailing around with my family on a beautiful Jeanneau 409 chartered from Sunsail Yacht Charters. This was not one of our usual family sailing vacations but rather a company event that we hosted for the owners of our boats. Because space is tight in the British Virgin Islands, we limited the trip to 25 boats and about 125 people. We would have loved to have more boats but when you call up some of these small island resorts and ask them if they can make a dinner reservation for 200 people, they about pass out just thinking about it. And so we limited the trip to 25 boats and that turned out to be the perfect size for this great Caribbean adventure.

Flag Signing
The signing of the Jeanneau flag that’s been    tacked on the ceiling at Foxy’s since 2012

We started out on the island of Tortola and made stops at Cooper Island, The Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda and the very posh Peter Island. The trip lasted a full week which gave folks time on their own to discover other great cruising destinations such as Anagada, Norman Island and the famous Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke. The trip was a complete blast and provided the added benefit of getting to know the owner’s of our boats in a way that we could have never done by talking with them over the phone or running into them at a boat show. No, here in the BVI, under the warm Caribbean sun, cold cocktail in hand, is where you can really get to know your customers. And I did, and my staff did, and my family did and our customers got to know us; what a great time we all had!

Pirate Party
A fantastic Pirate Party held at the Bitter End Yacht Club brought out the best pirates from near and far!

In addition to dropping anchor in some fantastic spots, we also had some awesome events including racing around in our inflatable dinghys on a treasure hunt, a pirate party in full pirate regalia, a number of amazing dinners, a hike up Virgin Gorda and a great talk by author and ocean sailor, John Kretschmer who afterwards, signed copies of his latest book, Sailing a Serious Ocean. All of this together, added up to one great event and the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with our customers.

I’ve long been enamored with companies who have manged to make their customers fall in love with them. Companies like Southwest Airlines, Harley Davidson, TOMS, and Apple who’s brand loyalty is through the roof;  It’s a beautiful thing and well deserved for sure. And while I know Jeanneau builds a great boat, I would like Jeanneau to be known for being a great company as well; full of hard working men and women who love what they do and love to see their customers enjoying the boats that they build. And because of this, social events like the 2014 BVI Owner’s Rendezvous will just have to continue. And, It’s a tough job, there’s no denying it. But, since somebody has to do it, that somebody may as well be me; C’est la vie.

IMG_1216
Paul Fenn, President of Jeanneau America with Carolyn Schmalenberger, President of Norton Yacht Sales at the 2014 BVI Rendezvous. A tough job but someone has to do it 🙂

On we go…