Jeanneau Leader 7.5 Center Console
This family-friendly boat may be small, but she packs quite a wallop.
Now and then I come across a boat that conveys a stand-out level of attraction, a boat that rises above the rest, sometimes even a little dramatically. Not all boats have personalities, in my opinion, but those that do tend to produce either warmth and confidence in those who use them or, more’s the pity, the sad absence of such outstanding attributes. The Jeanneau Leader 7.5 Center Console fits squarely in the former group, I’d say, based on a test drive I thoroughly enjoyed not too long ago in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Granted, the weather was perfect. The waves slowly rolling across Boca Ciega Bay were pint-sized, stretched thin and glowing green in the sun. But there were other factors—related specifically to real-world, behind-the-wheel performance—that cranked up the synergy between me and this spirited little 24-footer.
The first materialized when I discovered, after launching the boat out of the hole several times in succession, that the Lenco electric tabs were not at all necessary to facilitate a rousing transition from displacement to planing mode. All I had to do was tuck the single 300-hp F300 Yamaha outboard in and firewall the throttle—with regularity (and without lifting her nose appreciably), the boat dang near spritzed onto plane in roughly three seconds flat. Which is speedboat stuff, no question.
The second factor revealed itself shortly thereafter, just north of Treasure Island Causeway, when I spun a hardover turn to port at approximately 31 knots and then straightened ‘er out for a WOT beeline run. Within seconds we were doing approximately 43 knots, with a fuel burn of 26 gph. Whoooeee! The sense of control was not only palpable, it was downright exhilarating. I’d seen virtually no sideways slide in the turn and, although I’d never bothered to trim in the Yamaha even slightly prior to yanking the steering wheel to port (which, to be technically correct, I should have done), the tach readings on the dash had dropped by only a couple of rpm. From whence came such impressive happenings? I pulled the sticks gently back to find out.
“Now that right there,” I emphasized to Nick Harvey, president of Jeanneau America, “was one of the most enjoyable little test runs I’ve experienced in quite some while. What gives with this boat—why does she perform the way she does?”
Harvey grinned excitedly. “Well,” he said, “this is the eighth iteration of a 24-foot hull we’ve been working to tweak and perfect for the past 20 years. So, little by little, we’ve fine-tuned it and fine-tuned it. And we also, of course, always try to achieve the best compromise between power, engine weight and hull design—we don’t offer a whole lot of engine options on any of our boats. This one has just two, 250 and 300 horsepower—they’re what works the best.”
Back dockside, I examined the layout of the 7.5, a fairly simple, straightforward affair. At the rear, there’s a U-shaped lounge that can be easily converted into either a bench (to leave both aft quarters of the boat free for fishing) or an ample sundeck. Up forward, there’s another U-shaper with a removable table. And behind the sliding door in the center console there’s space for an optional MSD.
While the base version of the new Jeanneau Leader 7.5 Center Console is fairly spartan in terms of equipage (options include, among other things, seat cushions, Garmin electronics, trim tabs, Fusion stereo, an electric windlass and a folding bimini), the starting price is relatively affordable—just $77,860. Which, I suppose, is yet one more reason why I’m so attracted to this little family-friendly speedster.
Jeanneau Leader 7.5 Center Console Specifications:
Displ.: 3,175 lbs.
Fuel: 74 gal.
Water: 21 gal.
Power: 1/Yamaha 250-hp or 300-hp outboard
Base Price: $77,860