Sun Odyssey 1Conventional Thinking – Turned On Its Ear

By Zuzana Prochazka

There are few things more satisfying than watching someone thumb their nose at tradition and introduce something revolutionary that kicks convention to the curb. French designer, Philippe Briand, has done just that for Jenneau’s new line of Sun Odyssey family cruisers. By starting with a clean sheet, Briand re-thought how we move about on deck and below, and the results on the Jeanneau 440 are game changing.

Sun Odyssey 2Departure in Deck Design
Jeanneau unveiled the first hull of their 440 in Annapolis with dramatic flair. On command, the plastic that sheathed half the boat, from midships back to the transom, was sucked down through the companionway, leaving us blinking in the morning sun at the new deck design. A drop-down transom, twin wheels, and a cockpit table met our gaze and seemed fairly standard. Stepping aboard however, I realized that it was all different.

Briand developed a “walk-around” cockpit. You can walk from the transom to either wheel, up around to the sidedeck, all the way to the bow and back to the opposite wheel on deck without once encountering a barrier to step on or climb over. The deck mold slopes down at a gentle and continuous angle so you never have to climb up onto the settee and over the coaming again - that will be welcome by those with creaky knees or young families with toddlers just getting their sea legs.

Sun Odyssey 3Almost as a secondary benefit, the helmsman can now drive facing forward. No more torso angled inboard while you crane around to look at the headsail telltales for hours on end. Hooray for the neck! Even grinding in the genoa sheets is easier with Harken primary winches set inboard onto pedestals that allow crew to stand aft and actually face forward to see what the headsail is doing.

But the cockpit differences haven’t been limited to just the practicalities of sailing. Lounging comfort and ergonomics were considered too. In the first true innovation to cockpit coaming design, the 440 settee backrests lift up and fold out to form wide sunpads on either side. The starboard pad expands with a filler cushion all the way to the drop-leaf table to form a triple-wide playpen that will make the rest of the anchorage sit up and take notice.

And speaking of the table – it’s offset from the centreline, leaving a nice wide path between the companionway and the lowered transom that forms the teak beach. Now, that’s attention to detail!

 

 

Life Below Decks
With so much new thinking on deck, I was curious to see what Jeanneau had up its sleeve below. I was not disappointed.

Sun Odyssey 4Although not as ground-breaking as the cockpit, the accommodations offer some head-smacking change-ups as well. For example, the aft end of the boat can accommodate two cabins or one cabin to starboard and a utility room to port. The cabin is larger for guest comfort while the smaller utility room can be accessed via the cockpit settee or a door from the interior. It houses a variety of systems like the A/C units and also a drawer freezer that doesn’t need to be taking up space in the galley.

Moving forward, a traditional nav station is to port with a head and shower stall to starboard and that’s pretty standard. But just ahead is an island that does double duty: It moves much of the traditional outboard stowage space inboard away from the hull to keep the weight on the centreline; it also serves as a bracing point for the chef to work at the stove, even under way on a port tack. That’s what separates boats that work well under way from those that simply look nice at boat shows.

The galley has a two-burner Eno stove and oven and two small(ish) sinks. There is no brace point at the sink so the dishes will have to wait until the day’s sailing is done. Bottle stowage is embedded inside the sliding drawer in the island and also beneath the cockpit sole as befits a French boat.

The master suite is forward behind double doors. At first, the split door seems to be an affectation. However, the Jeanneau 440 comes in a choice of up to four cabins where the master splits into two staterooms, each with its own door so the single version makes sense. In the owner’s version, with the double door open and the island berth visible, the interior is very open and makes the boat seem larger than its 44 feet. With the door closed, there is a large dressing area inside that will be enjoyed by any owner wishing for a bit more elbow room.

And here’s some really good thinking: The beds are rectangular so you can buy standard household fitted sheets. Why has it taken decades for someone to recognize this? The only exception to standard bed shape is in the case of the double cabins forward, but isn’t it nice that we no longer have to curve ourselves into strange shapes for the night?

The interior is light and airy due to fixed hull and deck ports and also thanks to the many overhead hatches including two side-by-side over the saloon as well as the master berth. Interior details include fiddles on most surfaces (except the hi/lo saloon table), courtesy lighting installed below cabinetry, a choice of Alpi wood colours of teak or grey cedar, leather wrapped handholds, and neatly finished corners and doors. Nobody will be roughing it aboard the Jeanneau 440.

 

Sun Odyssey 5Performance Under Sail and Power
I’m delighted to say that our test day actually produced wind – lots of it. With a breeze of 16-18 knots true, we had perfect, sunny conditions on the flat waters of Biscayne Bay. Florida was behaving itself for a change.

The 440 comes standard with an in-mast furling main and a 106% genoa for a total upwind sailing area of 972 square feet. Other options include a traditional hoist main, a 125% genoa, a self-tacking jib, and a Mylar Code 0, which is really de rigeur if you want to have the most fun. The Code 0 attaches to the new composite sprit that also houses the single bow roller and pushes the anchor forward to protect the hull. Another attachment point forward on the sprit is for a larger downwind gennaker. The sprit is nicely integrated and elongates the boat, giving it a low, sleek, and aggressive profile.

Our test boat had in-mast furling and the Code 0 and in 15 knots of breeze we heated up to 7.9 knots at 60 degrees apparent wind angle. That came up to 8.1 knots as we cracked off to a beam reach, and then slowed to 6.8 knots at 125 degrees apparent wind angle. This boat loves being on the wind and points well – up to 38 degrees off the wind. The long hard chine that runs from just aft of the bow all the way to the transom keeps the boat on her feet. She just leans in, finds the chine, and takes off. This hull shape not only keeps her off her ear, it creates quite a bit of interior volume all the way forward into the master stateroom.

The D1 and cap shrouds terminate at different chainplates – one on the outside and one on the coarchroof. I moved easily along the wide deck all the way to the anchor locker without ducking and weaving between the lower rigging.

Sun Odyssey 6The wheel was responsive with clean and snappy tacks. I found my favourite position, seated outboard on the low side, one finger on the wheel, facing forward with ankles crossed just over the deck drain. My neck didn’t complain a bit.

On the flat water of the bay, the upgraded 57 hp Yanmar delivered 7.8 knots at 2,400 rpm and topped out at 8.5 knots at 3,200 rpm. The 440 has a straight shaft (no Saildrive) and therefore doesn’t offer Jeanneau’s 360 Docking option with joystick. A 40 hp Yanmar is standard and a Flexofold folding propeller is optional.

 

Overall Impression
I sail a lot of boats, most of which become a blur once I get back to my desk. Not so with the Jenneau 440, which has set a high bar just by being different. Hopefully, this bold approach will toss out other preconceived notions of how we use boats and what sailing can be. Because let’s be honest, convention belongs at the curb.

 


Specifications
LOA: 43' 11" (13.39 m)
LWL: 39' 4" (12.64 m)
Beam: 14' 0" (4.29 m)
Draft: 5’ 2” (2.2 m) shoal, 7' 2" (1.6 m)
Displacement: 18,874 lbs. (8,561 kg)
Sail Area: 972 sq. ft. (90.2 sq. m)
Fuel: 53 gallons (200 L)
Water: 87 gallons (330 L)
Engine: Yanmar 45 hp
Designer: Philippe Briand
Builder: Jeanneau Yachts

Test boat and pricing supplied Jeanneau America, www.jeanneau.com

 

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