Jean-Pierre Dick’s JP54 – Racing Applied to Cruising. 2


One of the greatest races in the world took place in France on the weekend. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is an event that has everything – history, legend, iron-fisted management, spectators and more. Sailing event promoters could learn a lot from Le Mans, but so could yacht manufacturers. The 2010 event saw sailing sponsor Audi claim the top 3 positions on the podium – a perfect platform for the brand to launch it’s new product – the Audi A1.

The reason that Le Mans and sports car racing in general is a good model for sailing is that both prototype and production classes are eligible. For a company like Audi, the race serves not only as valuable R&D, but winning allows them to back up marketing claims.

While we would normally not welcome yet another new boat design in a crowded and overcomplicated market, it is fantastic to see a yacht that makes a direct connection between racing and cruising. Most of the mass-market yacht producers swear that the audience for their boast don’t care about racing – the new JP54 will test that claim.

French sailor, Jean-Pierre Dick, has imagined a top-of-the-range fast cruising yacht. Designed by Guillaume Verdier with the interior designed by Stéphanie Marin, the JP54 will be produced in a limited series by Absolute Dreamer.

Jean-Pierre Dick said:

“I imagined the cruising yacht of my dreams during my last two Vendée Globe races. I wanted to sail offshore and at the same time enjoy stopovers. I therefore conceived the JP54, a uniquely designed light and fast yacht, to retain the pleasure of surfing at 20 knots more comfortably than on my racing yacht. With the JP54, you can share the sensations and the pleasures of sailing with your family and friends.”

Just as Audi use Le Mans to test innovative new technology under extreme conditions, the JP54 takes ideas from Dick’s Open 60 ‘Paprec-Virbac 2’ and applies them to a production boat.

In order to optimize the performance of the JP54 and to create a new indoor living space, the boat has a ‘satellite’; a rotating carousel. This innovative concept was developed on board Paprec-Virbac 2. The satellite is a galley-chart table unit into which all the systems such as the batteries, hydraulics and storage are fitted. The loaded weight (600 kg) can be transferred windward in a few seconds just by pressing a button. It is the first time that a similar concept has been put into use on a cruising yacht. The gain is important both in terms of performance and comfort on board. The sailors are always windward when at the chart table or cooking, while the guests enjoy a large space leeward.

Jean-Pierre Dick has also called upon his single-handed race experience to make the boat more manoeuvrable. He says:

“Through the experience of single-handed sailing, I have been able to design a boat that is really simple to use.” The hydraulic winches remove the physical side to manoeuvring. In 10 minutes, all the sails are hoisted! The cockpit is uncluttered making movement easy on deck and allowing you to enjoy the sunbaths comfortably. The whole of the pit is brought back to starboard on an electric winch. There is no mainsheet rail. The JP54 can easily be manoeuvred double-handed in all circumstances.”

Vital statistics:

Hull length: 16.45m
LOA: 18.235m
Beam: 5.3m
Air draft: 25.10m
Draft: 3.5 m (2.5 m with the keel canted)
Displacement: 9 tonnes
Sail area upwind: 216 m2
Sail area downwind: 434 m2
Architect: Guillaume Verdier
Interior designer: Stéphanie Marin
Concept: Jean-Pierre Dick
Builder: Absolute Dreamer

Photo Credit: Ivor Wilkins