Sun Odyssey 1Author: Zuzana Prochazka
Photos Courtesy of Jeanneau

Practice Makes Perfect 

Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the launch of their new 490. Coming fast on the heels of her 44-foot sister, the Jeanneau 490 took all the innovations that were introduced previously in Annapolis and, with the luxury of five more feet, added some flair. The results are applause-worthy.

Sun Odyssey 2

 

 

 

On Deck

What Jenneau practiced on the smaller boat, they perfected on the 490 and it’s hard to know where to start with the new features. Of course, the most noteworthy is the “walk-around” cockpit created by designer Philippe Briand. The decks slope down either side toward one of the twin wheels. Instead of climbing over the coaming, you simply walk from the drop-down transom to thebow and back. Judging from the reaction at the boat shows, this newfangled thinking will easily find an eager market because even those with limited mobility can move around easily. An added bonus is that this may help keep people in the sport longer.

Another head-smackingly brilliant feature is the backrests of the cockpit settees that lift and extend outward like gull wings to form large sunbeds on either side. This simple trick transforms deck space into lounge territory in less than a minute. This idea was introduced on the smaller model but with extra room in the larger cockpit, the concpet has grown into itself on the 490.

Newly added are two fun features if you want to party ashore and take along a portable galley of sorts. The optional 12V refrigeration unit that drops into the cockpit table can be lifted out and used ashore, as can the portable grill that hides in the transom seat behind one of the wheels. Just pack up the beer and appetizers and take the party to the beach.

Primary winches, which typically reside on the coaming, had to move inboard, but that’s a good thing. It allows the weight to shift toward the centreline and lets the crew face forward when grinding in genoa sheets so they can see the telltales.

The final benefit of this radical deck design is that the driver can now sit facing forward and that’s way more comfortable on long stretches of watch-standing or when tacking around the bouys. Deck drains were added by the wheels in case green water washes over the bow and rolls down toward the driver. If it’s that wet and lumpy, I’ll just drive from the high side.

Sun Odyssey 3Overhead hatches, hull windows and indirect lighting at floor level floods the master suite with light so nobody will feel buried in this sumptuous cabin

What’s New Below

Belowdecks is where the extra length really served this new model well. Most of the additional space was dedicated to the galley and the navigation station. The forward-facing nav desk is close to the companionway for easy communication with the helmsperson. It also forms a part of a small dinette with another bench seat forward between the desk and the galley. A dedicated double-seat nav space is a rarity on this class of cruiser and it makes a great place to sit with a cup of coffee and discuss the day’s plans with your mate.

The galley was reconfigured too. The refrigerator drawer that was in the 440’s aft utility cabin is now at hand in the galley so the cook won’t have to go far for the steaks. There’s even an opening hatch directly over the three-burner Eno stove to vent cooking heat and odours. This functional kitchen can be used under way, even on a port tack, because the chef can brace against the small centreline island and keep both hands free to work.


Sun Odyssey 4The large cockpit ensures that relaxing with sundowners will be a favored part of the day.

The Jeanneau 490 comes in three configurations with three to five cabins and two to three heads. The centre section with the saloon, galley, and nav desk remains mostly the same while the ends of the boat change. The exception here is that the fabulous nav desk can be replaced by an over/under cabin or another head. It’ll make more room for charter guests but otherwise, it’s a shame to mess with that lovely captain’s retreat.

Sun Odyssey 5The Jeanneau 490 looks much bigger below as the eye is drawn along the entire length of the boat from the companionway all the way forward to the master stateroom.

In the standard owner’s layout, the master is forward with an island berth, a head to port and a separate shower stall amidships with its own sink outboard. The front side of the shower compartment, which faces the bed, has been used well. It holds a flatscreen TV, a bookcase,and drawers. For charter, two cabins and two heads can be wedged in here,but for private use that wouldn’t be my choice. Oh, and take note and rejoice in the use of rectangular beds that won’t need custom sheets – isn’t that nice for a change?

 

Under Way

Our test day in Miami was an ideal mix of bright sunshine,lots of wind, and flat water – the kind of conditions that make you want to stay out all day and then maybe head to a nearby island to use that portable beach galley.

Sun Odyssey 6The very functional galley ensures that the chef will have bracing points even on a port tack.

With 16-18 knots of true wind, the1,188 square feet of sail area produced 8.1 knots at 60 degrees apparent wind angle. Not satisfied, we unfurled the Code 0 and that bumped us up to 9.1 knots. This boat loves to point and delivers snappy tacks through 70 degrees. The integrated composite sprit is convenient, too, as it does three things: Elongates the boat’s profile; moves the anchor well forward of the plumb bow to minimize stem dings; and adds sailplan versatility so you can use a Code 0 or a gennaker to blast downwind.

The rig and hull deserve a nod, too. The lower D1 and cap shrouds terminate at different chainplates – one on the outside and one on the coachroof – so it’s easier to make your way forward on the wide decks. Our test boat had inmast furling but a performance-oriented traditional hoist mainsail is available in a package that also includes tri-radial Mylar sails and adjustable backstays.

Sun Odyssey 7Unique in the industry, the Jeanneau 490 offers a nav station where the captain and her mate will be able to sit together and discuss the day’s itinerary.

The new hull is flat in the forefoot with a noticeable chine that runs from a foot aft of the stem all the way to the transom. This creates volume below for the staterooms and helps the model stay on her feet in a blow. With shallow forward sections she may pound upwind in a seaway, but we didn’t have a chance to test that on the flat waters of Key Biscayne.

Slipping along at nearly double-digit speeds, I found everything at the leather-covered wheels (composites are an upgrade) quite user friendly. The twin backstays are high and out of the way and the sheet bags help keep the cockpit sole clear. A few times, I tripped over the foot braces by the wheels and would have appreciated the pop-up variety to save my toes. As on the 440, the B&G multifunction displays here are mounted low on the pedestals and angled outboard. That placement makes them just about invisible to anyone in the cockpit. Maybe a single chartplotter on a swivel at the table would be more effective.

Too soon, we had to head back to the dock, so we fired up the upgraded Yanmar 80 (57 hp is standard) and scooted along at 9 knots and 3,100 rpm. Unlike the 440, the Jeanneau 490 has a Saildrive transmission,so Jeanneau offerstheir optional 360 degree Joystick Docking. However, it’s hardly necessary, especially with the optional retractable bow thruster that makes tight quarters maneuvering a snap, even for newbies.

Being number two has its advantages. With even a short time of market feedback, it’s easy to work out the kinks and introduce refinements. Jeanneau’s 490 did that and also has the additional length and beam to provide more elbow room. Otherwise, she’s a copycat in the best sense of the expression.

Sun Odyssey 8The Sun Odyssey 490 cockpit is a design highlight.

It turns out practice really does make perfect.

 

Specifications
LOA: 48' 6"
LWL: 43' 5"
Beam: 14’ 8"
Draft: 5’ 4” shoal, 7' 4" deep
Displacement: 24,890 lbs.
Sail Area: 1,188 sq. ft.
Fuel/Water: 63/169 gallons
Engine: Yanmar 57 or 80 hp
Designer: Philippe Briand
Builder: Jeanneau Yachts

 

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