The Jeanneau Leader 36 is put to the test in the choppy seas off Cannes
We were lucky enough to have both the Open and Sportop versions of the Jeanneau Leader 36 at our disposal during Jeanneau’s press sea trial event in Cannes.
And though the Open version with its traditional radar arch and properly exposed cockpit is aimed more at the sun-drenched Spanish and Italian markets, the Sportop version that we focussed on makes good sense in places with less reliable weather.
The layouts of both versions are exactly the same apart from the Sportop gets an electronic GRP sunroof that covers the forward section of the cockpit.
On this size of boat it tends to make more sense to opt for a canvas roof to make the opening as large as possible, plus GRP roofs add weight and tend to be noisier. But Jeanneau has made its bed and is happily lying in it.
The cockpit layout works nicely with an aft sunpad that has a folding back rest to either make a bench seat at the dinette or give you room to lie down, there is a small wet-bar to starboard and a single forward facing navigator’s seat next to an aft facing chaise longue.
We’re aren’t massive fans of the chaise longue on a boat like this – it seems like wasted space – but then it does create a huge amount of headroom in the cabin below so there is some merit.
The layout below decks on the Leader 36 is brilliant, some of the best use of space you will find in the section of the market.
At first look it seems to be a standard open plan layout with a galley amidships and a small dinette leading up to a crawl-in double berth with separate twin cabin aft.
However, there is a sliding door just aft of the dinette that slides across and partitions off the entire forward section of the interior giving you privacy as well as plenty of space to get changed.
It’s brilliant for the odd occasion that you might sleep four on board but most of the time, as a couple, you might use the midcabin as your sleeping area and leave the saloon open the entire time.
The chaise longue may be wasted space on deck but it creates huge amounts of headroom across the entrance of the midcabin giving you bags of space to get changed.
The twin berths can be made into a large double with an in-fill cushion and there is even a temporary third berth with a trotter box running athwarthsips that can also be used as a sofa.
The interior is littered with useful amounts of storage voids in various shapes and sizes.
The Michael Peters hull is shared with the larger Leader 40 and sterndrive propulsion from a pair of Volvo Penta D4 260s or 300s – good for 35 knots – makes for enjoyable, agile handling that is perfectly suited to a family cruiser.
In a pretty severe chop off Cannes the hull rode smoothly and confidently, even as we went head in to it at full speed.
Landings were soft and controlled but Jeanneau could do with beefing up the roof seals to stop it rattling and there were a few unsettling noises coming from the companionway hatch too.
All in all, though, the Jeanneau Leader 36 is an excellent package with a clever layout and sensible pricing.
The Jeanneau Leader 36 is what the Leader range is all about. Safe and fun family boating in a well-priced package