Jeanneau Leader 12.5
Being back in the market for a boat has helped me evaluate new models through a completely different prism. It allows me to walk through a boat and better imagine how I would use it and if it would work for my growing family.
As a certified boat snob, I have a lot of boxes that a boat needs to check. Box one is the eye test. Seeing the Jeanneau Leader 12.5 out of the water at last year’s Düsseldorf show, I was struck by how much volume the hull had (not necessarily ideal when it comes to waxing, but I digress) and how masculine the lines were. In the crowded world of walkarounds, the look is distinct. Check.
Box two is performance. A trio of 300-hp Yamahas should, according to Jeanneau, offer a 30-knot cruise and a 45-knot top end. That zippy cruise speed, when paired with a deep-V (21-degree deadrise at the transom) and a sharp entry, should offer comfort on those snotty crossings to the Bahamas. The fact that the bottom is a proven Michael Peters design only adds to the peace of mind this model engenders.
Jeanneau Leader 12.5
The versatility of the outdoor spaces is, frankly, staggering for a 40-foot walkaround. There are sunshades fore and aft, a fold-down gunwale to port (complete with a human-sized ladder) and a boarding door to starboard. I estimate you could have as many as 10 guests aboard before it starts to feel crowded. I pride myself on not watching too much television, but with the addition of a newborn to my crew and Disney+ permanently downloaded on my phone, I appreciated the large fold-down TV above the grill station. Movie night under the stars after a cookout? Check.
Belowdecks is where things really get interesting, and where my first impression about the hull volume comes to fruition. The space in this boat—again, for its type—is impressive. A forward berth quickly converts to a dining area for five with the raise of the table. Amidships there is a stateroom that’s equipped with a double and single berth. Now, I don’t know that you would want to pile three guests in there, but it’s nice to know that you could in a pinch.
I opened the door to the head with trepidation. Seeing how much space was given to the stateroom, I suspected this was where concessions were made. But, again, I was impressed with the civilized amount of room and happy to see a separate stall shower. Livability: Check.
After touring this boat at the cold indoor show, I rested my feet for a minute while compiling my notes in the cockpit. I watched as boaters young and old filed through the boat. Grandparents, parents, beer-slinging buddies, showgoers of all different nationalities—they all seemed impressed with the versatility this newcomer had to offer. I listened closely for any gripes they might have. I don’t want to admit in writing how long I lounged in that cockpit, but let’s just say I didn’t hear complaints during my time aboard.
With an approximate base price of $403,000, I expect this model to garner a lot of attention stateside after she officially debuts in Ft. Lauderdale. As much as I enjoyed the boat while anchored at an indoor show, I’m looking forward to getting aboard while the boat is afloat (hopefully on some warm clear water) with the sun pouring down. That’ll be the only way to prove what I already suspect: This boat checks all the boxes.
Jeanneau Leader 12.5 Specifications:
Displ.: (approx.) 14,606 lbs.
Fuel: 304 gal.
Water: 53 gal.
Standard Power: 3/300-hp Yamahas
Cruise Speed: 30 knots
Top Speed: 45 knots