Tweaks to the Jeannau NC14 improve upwind ride

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Jeanneau NC14 comes good

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Waves up to three foot high at their worst, plus a gusty Force 6. Not the ideal test conditions for a boat that we’d described back in our original July 2013 issue report as banging and crashing its way through the waves, having strangely detached steering, and being completely unresponsive to its trim tabs.

But here we were again a year later, at Jeanneau’s annual press event in Cannes, retesting the NC14. I suppose it could have been worse – at least the two metre waves and the 40 knots (the top end of Force 8) that I’d seen on the Jeanneau Prestige 750’s anemometer, a mile out at sea an hour before, had subsided considerably.

Well, I bring good news from the (storm) front. In these conditions, I could drive the NC14 directly upwind into the choppy head seas at 20 knots or more, without rattling my dentures. In fact, the boat reached 25 knots before I felt that any more speed would have been inconsiderate to the boat and to its crew.

Note that the NC14 did need 100% trim-tab to achieve its reasonable ride in these conditions, but then I would expect similar of many IPS powered boats.

Downwind, however, the tabs could be lifted, and likewise when I tested the boat again the following day in calm conditions, and in this case no upwind or beam sea tab was needed either.

You only have to examine the before and after running shots to see why. In its original form, the NC14 ran along with an acute bow up attitude. However, our improved NC14 ran much flatter, immersing those sharp bow sections and smoothing out the ride.

Below is a picture of the NC14 before the changes:

And after:

Jeanneau was a little vague about the exact nature of all the changes, but they seemed to involve fiddling with weight distribution and changing the trim tabs. They clearly changed the settings on the IPS legs too, because I reckon the steering was spot on for a cruising boat; not too sporty but certainly responsive enough for everyday cruising.

So now the NC14 responds to its trim tabs and steers well. Be aware that in rough conditions you will still not mistake this boat for the best that the likes of Windy and Scorpion can conjure, but given its cruising credentials, I do not think you would be disappointed now.

Two things to ponder. Although the banging has disappeared, in the rough conditions we experienced, there was a relentless rattling and squeaking emanating from the front end of the boat. If ever a boat needed rubber gaskets fitting between its loose plywood floors and the hard glass fibre tray mould they sit on, this is it.

Secondly, our test boat had no cruising stores, nor any tender weighing its stern down, and that almost certainly affected the trim and the ride. Fitting the smaller and lighter 300hp IPS400 (our 30 knot boat had 370hp IPS500) would see the NC14 loose three knots, but it would also shed 214kgs from its back end and improve engine room access.

Otherwise, the changes Jeanneau have wrought have transformed this boat from a flawed cruiser into what I think is one of the most the most versatile and practical hardtop cruisers I’ve ever come across.

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