When does a boat cease being a weekender, and jump up to cruiser status? It’s a tough call, and one that denotes a few downsides along with the upsides. Cruisers generally can’t offer the high speeds and sporty handling of a weekender, but of course, to many people the additional cabin space and livability are a worthy trade-off—if, that is, you have to make that trade-off in the first place. The Jeanneau Leader 9.0 is one of those few boats out there that really does offer the best of both worlds.
Just how sporty is the Leader 9.0? With a pair of Yamaha F250 outboards hanging on the transom, top-end hits 50-mph and cruising speed is a hair over 30-mph. While zooming down the South River, carving out a series of S-turns that would make a Porsche jealous, it felt solid underfoot, and thanks to a bow thruster the boat’s nimble around the docks as well.
Wouldn’t many of us be willing to give up a cruiser’s multi-berth cabin with a fully enclosed head and separate shower stall for that kind of performance? Maybe so, but in this case, you don’t have to. In its cabin the Leader 9.0 has a forward V-berth with a convertible dinette table; aft of it there’s a half-galley to port across from the stand-up head with shower stall, and aft of that there’s a surprisingly large mid-cabin berth carved out under the helm. All you really give up as opposed to opting for a full-blown cruiser is privacy, since neither berth closes off to become a stateroom. But you still get enough sleeping space for an entire family plus a surprising amount of belowdecks elbow room.
Wait a sec—what good does a half-galley (with cabinets, a sink, and a countertop) do for you, especially if you’d like to take the kids on an aquatic multi-day mini-vacation? Don’t worry, you won’t be stuck eating sandwiches and chips for the entire trip. Jeanneau simply moved the rest of the galley outdoors, in order to make the most out of the cabin’s footprint. Under the helm station seating you’ll discover a refrigerator, and a separate console houses a single-burner stove, a sink, and additional stowage. That means you have the basic ability you need to prep a hot meal and perhaps even fry up that fresh rockfish the kids just caught.
Speaking of fresh fish: while the Leader 9.0 certainly isn’t what you’d call a dedicated fishing machine, it does have an open aft cockpit and you could certainly swing a rod or two back there. The cockpit also has a large dinette table, an L-shaped settee along the transom and to starboard, and a swing-open gate that leads to a swim platform extending beyond the outboards. You’ll also spot a freshwater shower for post-swim rinses and a tow bit for pulling water-toys back there. Additional lounging space can be found up forward on the bow, where a large sunpad with tilt-up backrests sits on the cabin top.
One note about walking up to the bow on this boat—there’s a step up to a deeply recessed flush walkaround that’s topped by a bowrail. This is an absolutely fabulous arrangement for family boaters who have kids aboard often, since it makes for a safer, easier transit forward and aft than on many boats. Having the deep recess does mean sacrificing a bit of interior cabin volume, of course, but we’re pretty sure 99.9 percent of the parental units out there will feel this is a worthy design choice.
So when push comes to shove, is the Leader 9.0 really a cruiser? Or, is it a weekender? Call it a cruisender. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll call it the cruiser/weekender that ended the search for your ideal family boat.
Jeanneau Leader 9.0 Specifications:
Displacement: 5483 LBS
Max HP: 500 HP
Fuel Capacity: 140 GAL.
Water Capacity: 26 GAL.
Price: Approx. $123,670
By Lenny Rudow
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