Regular visitors to boats.com will know I wasn’t a great fan of the Velasco 43F. When it made its debut in Cannes, it aimed to offer a sleeker, more dynamic alternative to Jeanneau’s more traditional, trawler-style 43. But in pursuit of that, it was quite wasteful in its use of internal space – particularly given that its V-drive fit-out offered so much potential for internal improvements over a conventional shaft-driven rig. When you consider therefore that the new Velasco 37F shares the same stylistic bloodline as its larger sibling, but that it does so on a shorter, shaft-driven hull with a considerably reduced air draft, there seems to be little cause for optimism (to see for yourself, take a look at the Jeanneau Velasco 37F First Look Video). And yet with sleeping facilities akin to those of the 43-footer, the spec sheet suggests that the new 37F actually makes much better use of its restricted dimensions...
Long lines and simple layouts
The 37F (like its larger sibling) is designed to prioritise brightness and space, with a generous window area offering largely unbroken 360-degree views from the main deck. However, the characteristically angled screen of the F-line, coupled with Jeanneau’s commitment to a long saloon on this relatively short boat, means that the aft deck is quite small. With access to the swim platform and the lateral walkaways on both sides, plus further access points to the saloon and the flybridge steps, this small patch of deck is more a sacrificial hub for traffic flow than a space for pleasurable loitering in its own right. In fact, in the absence of dedicated ‘inside-outside’ features like a fold-out bar at the back end of the galley, all you really get out here is a three-man bench nestling in the shade of the flybridge.
Meanwhile, back inside the saloon, the designers have opted to use a straight, deviation-free walkway that runs directly between the cabin steps and the aft deck. On the port side of that walkway, a galley runs fore and aft behind the single co-pilot seat; and on the starboard side behind the two-man helm seat, a rectangular dining section does the same. Of course, this all works perfectly well in a simplistic, mind-salving, easy-to-grasp sort of way, but I often find that a staggered walkway makes a compact main deck feel larger, more interesting and more generous than a simpler arrangement of parallels.
And if the main deck is largely free of design extravagance, the same is pretty much true of the flybridge. As you emerge on the starboard side, the clearly defined lines of the Jeanneau’s clutter-free layout continue unabated. To port of the helm console is a twin seat with swinging backrest to help convert it into a sun lounger. Behind that sits a small dining area and at the very aft end on the port side, next to the access hatch for the steps, is a dedicated two-man sun pad. Certainly, it’s quite formulaic (and devoid of the trickery you might witness on the likes of a Galeon flybridge) but it remains an impressively complete space for a cruiser of these compact proportions.
Good value down below
Shaft-drive inevitably shortens the useable space on the lower deck to around half the boat’s overall length. That means there’s no room for a galley down here, or indeed a dining area. Instead, both are installed up in the saloon where better space, light, views and ventilation make them much more enjoyable. There’s no space for wholesale en-suite luxuries on the lower deck either, but what you do get down here is a master double in the V, a twin guest cabin to starboard and a shared heads compartment to starboard, complete with a separate shower space.
It is also notable that in order to maximise the headroom, the below decks layout closely follows the contours of the main deck furniture above it. To starboard, for instance, the guest twin inhabits the space generated by the forward part of the dining area and the helm station, enabling it to feel much brighter, loftier and more pleasant than you might expect. And to starboard, the heads compartment enjoys some excellent space by following the line of the portside console as it tracks the angled passage of the stairs. Happily, the line of that console also creates a large, deep section behind the heads on the port side. This can be accessed through a hatch on the main deck walkway – and with its generous internal volume and very practical shape, it is ideal for the storage of large, bulky items that are only occasionally required on a long-distance cruise.
In short, while I may have been disappointed with the 43F, the 37F does a really fine job of mitigating the impact of its shorter hull and shaft-driven propulsion by means of careful space management, attention to detail and some very sage, ‘percentage’ solutions.
Jeanneau Velasco summary
Plainly, a sleek and vogueish craft is always likely to struggle in terms of practical living spaces against its trawler-style equivalent. That was exactly the case with the new 43F when it was compared to the existing 43, but happily, there is no trawler in the Jeanneau fleet to take the shine off this new 37-footer. On the contrary, despite the use of conventional shaft drives in a hull more than seven feet shorter than the 43F, the Velasco 37F sleeps the same number of people in the same number of cabins and appears to offer living and dining spaces of a very similar order. For my money, it’s still not quite as clever as it could be with the layout and versatility of the main deck, but as a shaft-driven, three-deck, 30-knot family cruiser at a sensible price, it is one of the most convincing platforms yet to emerge from Jeanneau’s Velasco line.
Jeanneau Velasco 37F specifications
Fuel: 2 x 400 litres
Water: 330 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo D4 300
Price: From €300,000 (£218,000)
For further flybridge cruiser news and reviews on boats.com, see our Monte Carlo MC6 First Look Video or the Beneteau GT 49 Fly video.