1999, April; Sydney Harbour: Four decades of French tradition and style have produced these new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey yachts.
Australia is one of those fortunate markets that attracts the best products from all around the world. Although our total market size is relatively small, in areas as diverse as yachting and computers we have a wealth of international manufacturers competing for our business. Australia’s healthy and stable economy is probably one factor that helps to encourage overseas companies to bring their products all the way to (what is, for most) the other side of the planet. It would also be a positive point that our “multi-cultural” population has a variety of tastes to give worthwhile market opportunities for products with any of the individual “styles” associated with Europe, Asia or the USA.
From a boating perspective, the international diversity of craft that graces our waters means only good news to anyone fortunate enough to be looking for a new boat. You can shop around and select the particular style that appeals most to you personally. And, if true “style” is at all one of the requirements on your shopping list for a new yacht, then Jeanneau will undoubtedly be a manufacturer with which you’ll be talking.
Actually, “manufacturer” is not an appropriate term here, for it creates an impression of production-line automatons churning out products lacking any character or soul, albeit though they may be of high quality. “Boatbuilder” or even “craftsman boatbuilder” is more like it, with an immediately-implied tang of products braced by salt-water tradition and showing classically-appealing lines fairly imbued with those yachting necessities of character and soul.
The name leaves no doubt as to the country of origin, and Jeanneau first came to market in France with timber dinghies and runabouts from 1957. Today the company has a vast production facility totalling 60 thousand square metres. Along the way, the company has built nearly 60 thousand boats that have been sold through more than 235 dealers and distributors around the world. Best known in Australia for its yachts, Jeanneau also builds a range of power boats. Experience with fibreglass construction dates back to 1960, and years of experience and research have led to Jeanneau holding numerous patents as well as being recognised for quality with ISO 9002 certification.
Earlier this year, Jeanneau’s distributor, European Marine, launched a number of new models within the cruiser-racer Sun Odyssey range (there’s another fleet termed Sun Fast that reverses the emphasis to be racer-cruisers). The four yachts now available in Australia share a similar style, and range in size from 10.3 metres through 14.15 metres with pricing from just under $200,000 to around $550,000 (at the time of writing). Curiously for a company based in the home country of the metric system, the yachts actually carry imperial-type designations of Sun Odyssey 34.2, 36.2, 40 and 45.2 with the numbers fairly obviously referring to overall length in feet.
Of the four, the 34.2 is the latest design and comes from the drawing board of Jacques Fauroux. It has typically sweet lines with uncluttered decks and a spacious cockpit. Accommodations are also roomy with beautifully finished Burmese teak cabinetry highlighting all the facilities you’d expect in a yacht of this calibre. Jeanneau actually has its own teak forests, and this must help with the quality evident in the lustrous glow of the timbers throughout the yachts. A straight-line galley running down the port side makes the most of the available floor space aboard the 34.2, with a curved dinette opposite (optionally convertible to an extra double berth). The main double-berth cabin is forward and another double cabin is set back under the cockpit. The bathroom is aft of the galley and, a bit surprisingly for a 34 foot yacht, there’s a separate navigation station more or less opposite the bathroom behind the settee of the dinette. There’s an alternative three cabin layout that has another double under the cockpit to port; the two cabin approach uses this space as a huge lazarette-style stowage area under the cockpit seating.
The 36.2 and 40 Sun Odysseys use their extra length to give more room below, especially in the saloon area where an L-shaped galley is located to starboard at the foot of the companionway (which, incidentally, has the most delightfully scallop-shaped timber steps). A more expansive dinette is forward of the galley with a navigation station across to port. The same double staterooms are forward and back under the cockpit.
The 40 uses its extra beam and size not only to enhance the below-decks areas, but also to place a twin-wheel set-up in the cockpit. This looks very professional and makes time at the helm even more delightful. All the yachts are designed under the auspices of the Jeanneau team, but the naval architect for the 40 is Daniel Andrieu whilst the 36.2 shares the same designer as the 34.2.
Moving up to the 45 Sun Odyssey, the forward main stateroom becomes even more impressive with an island double berth. An alternative layout has two smaller cabins in this area, and these can be cleverly arranged so that the intervening partition can be removed and the two single berths made into a double - very versatile indeed, perhaps particularly for a charter yacht. As might be imagined, the saloon is larger than for the smaller Odysseys, and there’s a navigation station the size of a compact office aft to port behind the settee. There’s an even larger 52.2 Sun Odyssey if you truly crave room to cruise.
All the hulls are completely hand laid with strength and safety as primary considerations. A framework of stringers and cross frames is bonded to the mouldings with structurally reinforced bulkheads adding rigidity and further fortitude. High-tech, high-strength and light-weight kevlar is used in the lay-up of all these Odysseys. Whilst there’s no doubting the craftsmanship that completes the interiors, the fit and finish is aided by computer-controlled equipment that cuts the timber pieces to accuracy within one tenth of a millimetre. Computers are also used in the design process to efficiently explore optional layouts and to refine each design for both hulls and deck layouts.
The Sun Odyssey hulls have easily driven lines, although with quite full volumes to provide the extra space that makes cruising more comfortable (the Sun Fast hulls are less beamy and sacrifice some room for greater speed). The Odysseys are nearly all sold with just the main and a furling genoa, although spinnakers (with extra winches) are readily available as an option. Masts and booms are anodized aluminium, with stainless steel shrouds. The rigging is neatly arranged for carefree, but responsive, operation with lines running cleanly aft along the top of the cabin to the cockpit. Side decks (optionally teak laid) are wide and clear with non-slip surfaces aiding fast movement around the boats.
Jeanneau yachts are popular not only with private owners, but with charter operators as well. That makes possible interesting finance packages that can be negatively geared to give both the enjoyment of sailing and the potential for financial rewards.
SPECIFICATIONS – Sun Odyssey
Length (metres): 12.20
Sail Area (sq. m.): 76.10
Displacement (kgs): 7,250
Price (approx): $315,000
Note: Images of Sun Odyssey 40