Jeanneau's Cap Camarat range has been around for a very long time, with its walk around, centre console and it's day cruiser models (see 10 top cuddies). The 5.5 and the 6.5 bow riders are two new variants to join the range.
Over the years, Jeanneau has made a habit of lavishing long-term attention on a single product line. We’ve seen it with the Leader and Merry Fisher lines and we’ve also seen it with the well-established Cap Camarat. With Walkaround, Centre Console and Day Cruiser models from less than four to more than ten metres in length, the Cap Camarat fleet certainly comes with plenty of flexibility built in - but it has returned for 2017 with a pair of new outboard-powered bow riders added to its ranks to help maximise its appeal and turn the heads of an even broader range of boaters.
Internal design principles
Both the new 5.5 and the 6.5 BR models are apparently inspired by a Scandinavian style, “cleverly adapted for Mediterranean cruising” – and when you step on board, the versatility of that approach is quite pronounced. The central, through-console walkway is broad and open; and up in the bow, the elevated mouldings make the space feel relatively deepset. It’s not as deepset and workmanlike as you might expect of a true Scandinavian bow rider and the fact that it makes space for a pair of forward-facing sun-loungers tells you everything you need to know about the pre-eminence of recreational decadence over everyday seamanship. But it does come with a lofty forward rail, a usefully generous beam and that unmistakeable hallmark of all Nordic bow riders – a bow that doubles as a stepping off point.
There’s also plenty of space for a dining table up here, alongside a gap beneath the starboard bench seat that could easily accommodate a cool box, so you can enjoy food and drink without having to head aft. And as you would expect, if you drop the table into the space, you can generate a second sundeck to supplement the one at the transom.
The cockpit is broad, sheltered and comfortable. It features a C-shaped bench seating section aft and a pair of helm seats further forward, one on either side of the central walkway. With the screen, the gunwale-top grab handle, the wakeboard arch and the aft cleats, there’s really no way to enter this cockpit space directly from the pontoon, but with extended swim platforms and a convertible starboard walkway, that’s not as great an issue as it might otherwise have been. Having said that, I’m not sure it will really appeal to those who love fishing, as the designers apparently intend. There’s just too much furniture around for that. But with a secure forward space, an easy-to-navigate central deck and swim platforms that extend right to the back end of the cowling, there’s a rare degree of usability to the basic layout of this boat.
What is an issue for me, however, are the cushions – or more accurately, the means by which they are tethered to the boat. Jeanneau has used straps that loop through brackets on the seat top, through loops on the cushion’s underside and through ratchets on the seat’s frame. If you make the mistake of removing one, it will take you the best part of a minute to refit it. I tried several times over the course of three days and the best time I achieved was 45 seconds for a single cushion. Certainly, they keep the cushions firmly in place, but I’m willing to bet that if you owned this boat, you would grow to loathe them with quite some passion after a season or so.
Elsewhere there are some equally odd decisions on show. For instance, on the test boat, the device used to hold the big aft storage space open is not a ram or a catch but a piece of string, terminated with a plastic shackle, which you are expected to connect to a neighbouring cleat. Yes, it’s simple, light in weight, cheap to install and durable, but it’s far from the most user-friendly solution and, to my mind, it would be deserving of an upgrade however modest the price. And similarly, while it’s good to see decent storage spaces inside both consoles, there is no convincing reason to fit removable panels at the access points instead of hinged doors. They are heavy and unwieldy and there’s nowhere sensible to stow them when you’ve taken them out.
Sports boat performance
When you nestle into the helm seat, with its flip-up bolster and its generously proportioned dash, things feel much better sorted. While the position is quite basic and lacks the more advanced ergonomic niceties like a foot brace or an armrest for your throttle hand, it feels sufficiently supportive and comfortable to enable you to relax and enjoy the job at hand.
Put the throttle down and you’re planing within 5.5 seconds. That’s no more than okay for a boat of this modest scale and weight with a Yamaha F200 on the transom, but the fun really comes after that, with just another 13.5 seconds required to reach the 40-knot top end, plus a satisfying degree of agility and grip when you push her hard through the lumps. The F200 might be the top-rated engine for this boat but it’s by no means over-powered or excessively weighty at the transom – and if you enjoy the kinds of watersports that the Cap Camarat’s swim platforms, storage spaces, wakeboard arch and seating style make so easy, it would seem counter-intuitive to spec anything less.
This new 6.5-metre bow rider looks attractive, feels agile and drives without any flaws. It’s also spacious, sheltered and secure, with a greater degree of seating and sunbathing flexibility than most boats in its class. But those lids, hatches and cushions currently make an otherwise straightforward boating experience just a bit more clunky, sweaty and aggravating than it needs to be. It’s certainly a very competent example of its type, but there’s no doubt that with conventional door hinges, cushion poppers and hatch rams in place, this very credible family day boat would be an even easier platform to enjoy.
Jeanneau Cap Camarat 6.5 BR specifications
LOA: 6.4 m
Beam: 2.5 m
Weight: 1,035 kg
Power: 130-200 hp
Engine: Yamaha F200
Max fuel: 170 litres
Max people: seven
Price: from 20,916 Euros plus engine
Price as tested: 46,686 Euros
For more advice on choosing a fishing boat, read our guide to fishing boats.