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Jeanneau’s newest deck saloon design takes “bright and airy” accommodations to a whole new level.

The new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 41DS is billed as a quick performer with bright, airy, uber-comfortable accommodations. I took a brand-new example for a test sail off Annapolis, Maryland last fall to see how it lived up to its advanced billing.

As I’ve seen over the years, the term “deck saloon” can mean different things to different manufacturers. Some DS models I’ve tested have made use of oversized coachroofs and large wrap-around windows to achieve the desired light, visibility and headroom below. But the lines of this boat are much more subtle and, to my eye, more attractive than the past generation of deck saloon models from other manufacturers. I was struck by the boat’s balanced proportions, and particularly by the way the curve of the coachroof blends into the cockpit, worked so beautifully. The only detail that gives the game away is the well-placed teak step that makes it easy to step over the higher-than-usual coaming when going forward from the cockpit. Pretty clever.

The deck layout features plenty of the good ideas that most modern cruising boats deliver. The cockpit is wide and wraps around a sturdy and stylish teak cockpit table. The cockpit seatbacks are deep while the seats are wide, comfortable and long enough to stretch out on. The boat’s significant stern sports a small swim platform, and the dual helms and walk-through transom make it very easy to step into the cockpit. Several deep lockers are ready to swallow docklines and fenders.

The jib sheets lead back to primary winches mounted directly beside each helm, so trimming while steering is easy. More control lines lead back from the mast under the deck and are easily tamed by two coachroof-mounted winches. I loved the multiple recessed hatches and the generous use of teak in the cockpit.

But one feature that really distinguishes this boat is the companionway door. While most 41-foot production boats will simply have some sort of removable hatch boards (that need to be stored and often forgotten somewhere), the 41DS has an elegant companionway “door” that slides down and out of the way when not in use, and is easy to pull up and lock when you want it to. Nice.

I’m usually not so obsessed with companionways, but I was just as impressed with the companionway steps as I was with the drop-down door. They’re wide and solid, with outer edges that curve up just as they are supposed to. There are lots of positive brace points, plenty of anti-skid on the treads, and a not-too-steep angle of descent that feels just right.

The main living space at the bottom of the steps isn’t too shabby either. This is largely a result of the incredible amount of natural light admitted by the large windows on each side of the coachroof. The 41DS differs from some deck saloon models in that it doesn’t have any real forward-facing windows. To have any real visibility outside you have to stand or look up from the settee rather than simply sit and look out, as you do on raised saloon models. That said, the view from a seated position at the settee out of the two long hull ports is good and the whole space is quite bright and airy.

Overall, I found the fit and finish of the accommodations to be excellent. Almost too perfect – all the furniture and bulkheads are built of ultra-smooth varnished Alpi walnut veneer that I almost mistook for laminate.

It’s difficult to get too radical with the saloon space of a 41-footer so the layout – featuring a good-sized galley, a large settee and an aft-facing nav station with flat-screen TV – is pretty conventional. But Jeanneau’s designers made great use of the space, and the accommodations have a clean, modern style that works well. Headroom is well over seven feet.

Unlike some 41-footers that feature two cramped cabins aft, the 41DS has just one well-designed owner’s stateroom. The island bed is much bigger than the berth in the forward cabin, especially at the foot, and light and ventilation are much better than you’ll find in conventional aft cabins thanks to a large port in the transom. Since the cabin is situated under the cockpit, headroom is compromised a bit when you’re in the berth, but the large cabin also features excellent stowage, quality fixtures and woodwork, and easy access to the main head. The forward cabin may be smaller, but it’s also brighter and provides access to a smaller but more private head.

The weather cooperated during our chilly test sail on Chesapeake Bay last November. The skies were grey, the seas were flat and the breeze was in the 8-to-10-knot range. While I was unable to see how the boat would stand up to a serious blow, I was able to see how it handled the light stuff, and you can learn a lot about a boat by the way it performs in light breeze.

First, I was impressed with the feel of the helm. It was smooth and responsive and provided just the right amount of feedback. Visibility over the coachroof was good, and I liked the clean, quiet wake we cut through the water. We saw speeds in the six-knot range upwind and the boat consistently provided the pleasing sensation of being powered up and balanced. It had a nice upwind groove and didn’t require too much concentration to keep it in the sweet spot.

I enjoy seeing how boats perform in the light stuff because most of us sail in light air quite often. And let’s be honest, we’ve all turned the engine on when the wind has dipped into the 10-knot range because we’ve been on boats that “come alive” when the wind gets up into the high teens but don’t perform well in light air. But boats that are fun to sail in the light stuff force me to think twice about turning the engine on. The 41DS is one of those boats.

When the time finally did come to turn the engine on and head back to the marina, there were no surprises under power. Speeds were in the 6-to-7-knot range. The boat stopped and backed predictably, and engine noise was minimal thanks to significant engine room insulation.

I can see this boat having a pretty broad appeal. It’s modern and stylish without being radical. It’s quick and easy to sail. There’s tons of space on deck and the accommodations are well-executed. And is varnish down below being “too perfect” such a bad thing? In fact, the Sun Odyssey 41DS more than lived up to its advanced billing and is well worth a look.

Specifications
Length Overall    40’ 5”/12.34 m
Hull Length        39’ 3”/11.98 m
Waterline Length    36’ 1”/11.00 m
Beam            13’ 1”/3.99 m
Displacement        17,292 lbs/7,860 kg
Standard Draft        6’ 10”/2.1 m
Shoal Draft        5’ 1”/1.55 m
Sail Area        718 sq ft/66.7 sq m
Fuel Capacity        53 gals/200 L
Water Capacity    87 gals/330 L
Waste            42 gals/160 L
Auxiliary Power    40 hp Yanmar diesel

Dealers:

Navy Point Marine, Port Credit ON
www.navypointmarine.com

Performance Marine, Quebec
www.pmarine.ca

Fraser Yacht Sales, Vancouver BC
www.fraseryachtsales.com

Sunnybrook Yachts, Chester NS
www.sunnybrookyachts.com

By Bill Springer