Jeanneau’s line of family-friendly sport cruiser has just gotten a little bigger with the launch of the new flagship of the fleet, the Leader 40. At first blush she seems to have the usual cast of features for a boat in this class, but closer inspection reveals that there seems to be a little something extra at each turn. This is a characteristic that has seemingly come to define the brand. The Leader 40 is also available in two versions, open and hardtop.
- Available in either Open or Sportop versions
- Electric trim tabs
- Wood cockpit console
- Audio system "sonic hub"
- Fresh water electric toilets
- Protection for cockpit sofa
- Front cold water sundeck shower
- Vanity and washbasin with seat in aft cabin
|Length Overall||40' 5'' / 12.33 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||4.8 sec.|
|0 to 30||11.4 sec.|
|Load||5 persons, 3/4 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||63 deg., 39 humid.; wind: 5-10 mph; seas: calm|
2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta D6 370
2 x 320-hp MerCruiser 377 MAG 6.2L DTS
2 x 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2L MAG Bravo 3XR
2 x 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2L MAG Bravo 3XR with Axius
Three twin Volvo Penta engines at 300-hp and 370-hp
The Leader 40 was designed to be a capable cruiser with sterndrive power. She was planned from the start as an extension of the Leader lineup, and now as the flagship of the Series she exemplifies all that Leader has to offer in terms of usability and functionality. This boat is the first model of a renewal of the Leader Line, so expect more models in this style to appear soon!
Which is the Master and Which is the Guest Stateroom?
Usually the distinction is pretty clear but in this case both have features that blur the line between owner and guest.
The forward stateroom seems to be the contender for owner’s rights as it has a single queen-sized berth, a large hanging locker and a private entrance to the head. However, even though the aft stateroom has dual berths, it can be converted to a queen with a filler cushion, and it has a desk that reveals a sink for convenient cleanups before turning in and a separate settee with a view out the hullside windows. It can also be used as a third berth.
So who wins? A quick survey around the BoatTEST.com office showed an even split, so we’ll leave it up to the owners to decide for themselves.
Headroom in the forward stateroom is 6’4” (1.9 m) while in the aft stateroom it’s 6’1” (1.85 m).
Trunk Storage Taken to the Next Level.
We’ve seen trunk storage in this class of boat before and it usually consists of a hatch at the transom that opens to reveal limited storage for fenders and lines, maybe a shore cord. But that’s about it. Here, the storage compartment runs all the way under the aft sun lounge, and it’s even got a separate compartment to the side to hold even more. Jeanneau says it is big enough to hold a life raft together with a deflated tender and its auxiliary engine
Unique “Observer’s” Seat.
To the portside of the helm we nearly always see a bench seat that sits either facing forward or facing the helm. Here we see one that does both. Not only can we sit two people facing forward, one lounging, but we can also lounge aft and watch the wake shrinking in the distance. And of course we can always face the captain directly. This feature allows boaters to enjoy the sun under the electric sunroof while being protected of the wind by the windshield
When adding a gangway or “passerelle” the typical move is to bolt one onto the stern and call it a day. That’s the easy way out and one that deserves a slap to the back of the design team’s head.
Here the gangway extends from the riser in the step to the cockpit deck from the swim platform. It also extents from the walkway to the cockpit making it a natural position for boarding the Leader 40 from a Mediterranean moor. By being to one side, it does not bifurcate the swim platform.
Stern Drive Propulsion.
This is the classic choice for boats under 40 feet. It corresponds with the boat and they give the operator the ability to trim the boat with the engines. Additionally, it allows the boat to be fitted with joystick for easy docking and great control.
Gas or Diesel.
Our test model was powered by a pair of 370-hp Volvo Penta D6 diesels turning DP outdrives. This is a popular choice in Europe where gasoline prices are through the roof. Twin D4 300-hp engines are also available plus 380-hp MerCruiser gas engines.
A Place for Everything.
Every boat has items that need to be stored. With the Leader 40 everything that needs a place has a dedicated space. The filler cushions for the twin berths? They’re actually the seat back cushions that one of the berths utilizes when sitting. The boards to support the cushion? They slide out from under the berth. Cutting surfaces on the galley counter… they slide into position under the counter.
Extendable Forward Berth.
The design team at Leader has created a 6'6'' (2 m) long forward island berth for sleeping. By day, the foot of the bed can be folded down to create more sitting room. By using this simple device, Leader has created more utility below.
What We’d Like to See--
The Leader 40 has a screen in the overhead hatch in the forward stateroom. We'd like to see them as standard, instead of optional, on every portlight, and on the companionway sliding door.
We counted only two at the helm. What about everyone else onboard with a drink? Surely they will want to put that can of soda down at some point.
The Leader 40 has a LOA of 40’5” (12.3 m), a beam of 12’5” (3.8 m) and a draft of 3’7” (1.1 m). With an empty weight of 16,603 lbs. (7,531 kg), ¾ fuel and 5 people onboard we had an estimated test weight of 18,442 lbs. (8,365 kg).
With the twin 370-hp Volvo Penta D6 diesel engines turning DP outdrives, we reached a top speed of 38.2 mph at 3500 rpm. At that speed we were burning a combined 41.2 gph for a range of 214 miles.
came in at 2600 rpm and 28.7 mph (25.0 kts). At that speed the fuel burn was reduced to 20.7 gph.
We reached planing speed in 4.8 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 7.2 seconds, and continued accelerating through 30 mph in 11.4 seconds.
We tested the Leader 40 on a fairly snotty day in the Mediterranean and she showed herself handling the conditions quite well. Naturally, if we pushed her to her limits in a head sea at full speed, she gave a pounding ride, but dialed back to a more comfortable cruise setting had her cutting nicely through the waves with little discomfort and no creaking or groaning of any components.
She did produce a wet ride but under the conditions -- 25 knot winds and 3' 4' seas -- we’d expect nothing less. The large wipers did a good job of keeping the windshield cleared and we also came to appreciate not only the self-returning feature when switched off, but also the freshwater washdown integrated into each blade.
In Beam and Following Seas.
She was clearly at home in these conditions but more so when taking the seas on the beam. She kept a level keel and simply rode up and down the waves and managed to do so at any speed. In following seas, she had enough buoyancy to her bows that we saw no tendency towards stuffing the bow but we did back off from maximum speed to a more subtle cruise speed to keep the ride most comfortable.
In Head Seas.
It was the head seas that gave the roughest ride, but again, that’s always the case with any boat. It was just a matter of finding her niche speed and then letting her ride through it and do her thing. We would have had no hesitation about continuing on for hours once that “sweet spot” of speed was found, and it was an easy target to nail, and would be in any conditions.
Michael Peters-Designed Hull.
For the last decade American Michael Peters has been widely-acknowledged to have zeroed-in on an ideal powerboat hull shape for challenging offshore conditions. He has designed hulls for dozens of builders, including Viking Yachts and Cabo Yachts, two fishing boat brands intended for rough blue-water work.
Back at the dock we put the sterndrive joystick to the test and as expected, it performed flawlessly. We were Mediterranean-moored and had to slide in between two other boats with exact precision, but the joystick made it an effortless endeavor, even with a stiff wind blowing us off the quay.
The Engine Room
The engine room is accessed through a hatch in the cockpit deck and a ladder that allows for a safe entry. The compartment is gleaming white making it easy to spot problems before they arise, or get worse. The installation allows for plenty of room to get between and to both outboard sides of the engines. All service points are accessible, hoses are double-clamped and all wire runs are appropriately supported.
The swim platform is available in either a fixed or hydraulic version, and extends 4’3” (1.3 m) from the transom. The latter being used for launching water toys or for use as the hugely popular “teak beach”. A large amount of storage is under the aft sun lounge, accessed through a “transom” hatch and a secondary hatch under the port side sun pad seat.
The spacious sun lounge is ideally suited for relaxing. The aft seatback to the settee is convertible and flips to form a chaise or to lie flat. This, of course, requires that the table be rotated to create space for the seat back to flip in to.
The cockpit makes a good place to relax while underway or at rest. A fresh-air dining venue is present with the U-shaped settee to port and the table rotates to allow easy entry/egress, as well as extending to accommodate more people. Teak decking is optional.
Directly across is a “cockpit galley” that is standard on the Leader 40, however, the only standard feature is the unit itself and the sink. Otherwise storage options are offered. An electric grill can go next to the sink and a 44 quart (42 L) cockpit refrigerator can go below.
The helm is all-white which creates a bit of a glare issue on bright days. Visibility is excellent through so much glass and the forward windshield is properly equipped with de-fogger vents.
All the analog gauges are in a upper module allowing for quick checks at a simple glance downward from the windshield. Below is a larger module with open real estate for a 14” (36 cm) display. Our test boat was Volvo Penta powered so the EVC engine display was over to the left side of the helm. To the right is the digital engine controls with its host of optional features (single lever, docking mode, …etc) and our test boat was also fitted with the Sterndrive Joystick.
Temperatures are kept in control with both a side opening window and the opening hardtop.
Open or Hardtop
The Leader 40 is offered in two versions. The open and the hardtop. The open version has a GRP arch that can accommodate a Bimini top for shade. A sprayhood and side curtains are also available.
The hardtop, or to use the Jeanneau-ese term, the sport-top, adds more aesthetic protection by completely enclosing the cockpit in glass. A retractable GRP sunroof will allow the sun shine in. It opens electrically with the buttons just over the captain’s right shoulder.
The galley is down in the cabin area to starboard and this lower-deck location makes sense in a boat in this size and class. Not many owners will be spending time on cooking, but if so, it’s a small matter of moving down below to do it. The galley is located near the companionway to increase ventilation. There is an option for having a second grill at the entertainment center behind the helm.
This galley is pleasing to look at with its combination of dark colored hard woods and white solid surface counters. A gas cooktop includes sea rails to hold the cookware in place. In the U.S., the Leader 40 will come standard with an electric cooktop.
The stainless sink is recessed into the counter and cutting surfaces fit in place to create more usable counter space. When not in use these boards will slide into dedicated storage slots under the counter, taking no space in storage areas that are needed for other items.
Otherwise, the usual cast of appliances are present, some on the optional list. For example, a microwave oven is optional. An 84.5 quart (80 L) refrigerator is standard, and an optional 137.4 quart (130 L) refrigerator is available. Additional storage is under the deck in three removable and stackable bins.
Across from the galley is the dinette, which of course converts to a berth when needed. It is U-shaped and one leg of the “U” is removable and can be re-located to the opposite side of the table for a more comfortable dining arrangement. It also makes it easier to get in and out of the couch.
As with the galley directly across there are opening portlights for ventilation, and we'd go for optional bug screens to keep unwanted visitors out. There’s storage under each of the seats.
The forward berth is tucked into the bow as we would expect. Being mounted on the fore and aft centerline makes for a more comfortable sleeping arrangement and the stateroom is well lit from opening portlights and an overhead hatch. There is one hanging locker and additional storage is underneath the foot of the berth.
The bed itself is short, which adds more space for moving about and getting dressed. But for sleeping, a filler cushion stored in the compartment under the foot of the bed and then the bed can be extended to “normal” size when it’s time to turn in.
The berth measures a full 6’6” (2 m) in length, which includes the additional 6” (15.2 cm) extension. The width is 5’1” (1.5 m). From the berth to the overhead we measured 3’6” (1.1 m) and from the deck to the overhead we measured 6’4” (1.9 m).
This stateroom has the added advantage of claiming a private entrance to the only head onboard. A second entrance allows the head to serve as a day head as well.
The aft stateroom, or mid cabin if you choose, is quite unique. It features the normal twin berths but that’s where the normalcy of this cabin begins and ends. It also allows for one of the berths to be used as a couch with a padded seatback. Lighting is recessed into the starboard bulkhead and opening portlights add ventilation.
Headroom here is 6’1” (1.85 m) at the entry. Over the berth the headroom is 2’6” (.76 m) increasing to 3’ (.9 m) as we move to the outside of the hull. The individual berths measure 30” (76 cm) across and when formed into a single berth the width is 6’ (1.8 m).
An optional desk
in front of the entrance provides a private place to sit and catch up on texts and emails for those who have to continue working through playtime. When it’s time to turn in, lift the desk and a sink will serve as a great place to wash up and brush the teeth while not having to go forward to use the only head onboard.
Against the port bulkhead there’s a settee with a wonderful view out of the portlights. In a pinch, this can also be used as a third berth in this stateroom, but it won’t serve for tall persons. But bring a kid onboard and it’s a perfect solution. Armrests are offered as an option for this settee. Additional portlights are also available.
It’s easy to see the appeal of the Jeanneau Leader 40. She offers a lot of boat with a fair amount of clever uses of space and innovative solutions to the problems associated with trying to please so many cross segments of the target audience. Yet, she manages to pull it off while still keeping an eye pleasing profile and good handling characteristics.