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Prestige 38 S ‘lets the sun shine in’

French boatbuilder Jeanneau has introduced another Prestige series express cruiser to the North American market.

The latest arrival is the Prestige 38 S, a hardtop model with two staterooms, contemporary European lines, and joystick-controlled Cummins MerCruiser Axius sterndrive propulsion.

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While Jeanneau builds four different powerboat lines, in addition to its sailboats, it only exports its top-of-the-line Prestige cruisers to the United States. The 38 S debuted at the Düsseldorf (Germany) Boat Show in January 2008 and arrived in Jeanneau America’s home port of Annapolis, Md., late last year. While the boat ships from overseas, the hull was designed by Florida-based Michael Peters Yacht Design.

Jeanneau offers powerboats up to 50 feet in the United States, and the 38 S incorporates several design features from its larger siblings, including joystick operation, storage for a 7-foot tender (a carryover from the 50 S and 42 S), and multiple topside seating and entertaining areas.

“The first thing that sets it apart [from other express cruisers] is the ergonomics of the boat,” says Paul Fenn, president of Jeanneau America. “The design is executed excellently.”

The “S” in 38 S stands for “sport top,” or the boat’s hardtop and its wide, opening sunroof. The hardtop cuts a sweeping profile as it rises from the open foredeck to meet the angular, integrated radar arch at the aft end of the deck house. A full windshield and large side windows afford good weather protection and visibility for the bridge deck area.

“People don’t want canvas anymore,” Fenn says. “So you can completely get out of the sun or open the roof to let the sun shine in.”

There’s a large dinette area along the port side of the bridge deck, across from the double helm seats, and a second large dinette aft. The aft dinette converts to a sunpad, is served by a nearby wet bar, and sits atop the tender storage, which opens electrically and doubles as the main access to the engine room. The boat also has an integrated swim platform.

There is more seating below deck in the open saloon and galley area, where a large U-shaped dinette along the starboard side converts to a double berth. The L-shaped galley is to port and comes equipped with such equipment as a stainless-steel sink, stove and refrigerator. An enclosed head and shower compartment is to port and forward of the galley.

The boat has two private cabins: a master stateroom forward and a midcabin guest stateroom. The master stateroom is laid out with a centerline island berth, a pair of hanging lockers, private access to the head compartment, and a private dressing room with standing headroom and an additional hanging locker on the starboard side. The full-beam guest stateroom, forward of the engine room, contains twin single berths that can be converted to a double berth, a bench along the port side, a hanging locker and additional storage, and a large side window.

In addition to design elements, the 38 S ended up with propulsion that’s similar to its predecessor, the Prestige 42 S. The 42 S is powered by Volvo Penta IPS pod drives. Jeanneau chose Cummins MerCruiser diesel sterndrives for the smaller boat, Fenn says, in part to hit a price point that could not be met with IPS or Cummins MerCruiser’s Zeus pod drives.

The MerCruiser Axius system, which applies the pod drive concept of independently articulating drives and joystick operation to sterndrive power, wasn’t available with diesels while the 38 S was in development. However, Jeanneau jumped on the Axius system when they became available with diesel power, becoming the first boat to use the propulsion combination, Fenn says.

“One of the premier reasons people are looking for a pod system is because of the joystick option, and Axius gives you the joystick option,” he says. “People are looking for that joystick option for docking, whether it be Axius or IPS or Zeus.”

With its twin 320-hp diesels, the 38 S burns 21 gallons per hour at 3,000 rpm for a cruising speed of 26 mph. The boat tops out at 40 mph (3,800 rpm).

“It’s a great performing machine,” says Fenn.


LOA: 39 feet

BEAM: 12 feet, 9 inches

DRAFT:2 feet, 6 inches

DISPLACEMENT: 16,535 pounds

HULL TYPE: modified-vee

TRANSOM DEADRISE: 17.9 degrees

TANKAGE: 243 gallons fuel, 85 gallons water

POWER: twin Cummins MerCruiser diesels to 640 hp

SPEED: 40 mph top, 26 mph cruise

PRICE: $399,000

CONTACT: Jeanneau America, Annapolis, Md.

PHONE: (410) 280-9400


This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue.

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