UPDATE – Jan 18 : The new SUN ODSSEY 440 has just been recognised as the winner of the prestigious European Yacht of the Year award. This is awarded by a panel of twelve jury members consisting of testers and editors from different publications around Europe.
They commended the Sun Odyssey 440 for her ‘welcoming, sea worthy spirit’ and managing to be at once both ‘cosy and sporty, masculine and feminine, as likeable inside as outside.’
Its hardly surprising either given that they are such a radical evolution from everything else in the market, and from a major builder like Jeanneau its refreshing to see that they are not opposed to pushing the boundaries of accepted yacht designs.
This has always been a mantra in Jeanneau, several years ago they were one of the first big four to push twin wheels into sub 50ft yachts, which although it still divide opinion is now largely accepted as the better option and has since been adopted by all the other manufacturers.
The next major architecture innovation they made was in the current line of Sun Odyssey boats where they adopted a hard chine hull, in keeping with their performance oriented mindset this was an idea they borrowed from the racing yacht world, the advantage of the hard chine giving better upwind performance for less heel angle whilst reducing hull drag downwind and under motor, not to mention the huge amount of additional width it affords at the back of the boat and in the aft cabin, chine’s like this make a lot of sense and its an area where, almost 10 years after the first iteration of them, the competition is only just now catching up – indeed several of them are still utilising old hulls that are a few generations old and are still on soft chines as a result.
So we come to the current generation and there are not one, not two but three of these major innovations to be found for the first time in a production sailboat. The first, and most striking is also the one that most people miss that first time, the inclined side decks, for the first time there is no longer a need to climb out of the cockpit to get up forward, you simply walk around the side of the yachts, through the rigging and up towards the bow. In fact you can walk the entire circumference of both boats without ever having to lift your leg over anything or duck under rigging (thanks to the split cathedral rig!) which allows ease of circulation around the decks, until you actually experience this its a hard thing to envisage but will certainly strike you as strange when you realised you’ve walked up to the bow and back again without and climbing or ducking.
One of the concerns we had with this deck design was whether or not it would encourage a lot of water to flow aft, but from test sails we’re pleased to confirm its not the case thanks to the very wide forward section on this latest range of Sun Odyssey which is discussed again later, fundamentally though you have to push both boats very very hard to windward in very stiff conditions to get any water-flow down the decks and, even then, there are massive scupper holes to siphon it off before it reaches your feet, any that does reach you is evacuated straight off the stern. And in any event, as one client pointed out, wet feet are still preferable to getting a wet behind from water coming down a traditional side deck to the seating which is the traditional route for water in heavy weather!
That next innovation then links into the large forward section mentioned earlier, the trend in production yacht design, driven in large part by the previous Sun Odyssey range has been to move to a wider stern section, this supports a proper sailing chine, allows more space in the cockpit and more room in what were previously tight aft cabins, all of these features are supporting a wider chine. The more recent trend has been to add volume up front in the yacht as well, carrying the beam not only aft but also forward of midships, which in many ways offers the same values and benefit that previously carrying it aft achieved, namely more room below deck, more room on the side decks and, crucially, when sailing to windward the additional lift provided by this buoyancy gives more righting motion and keeps the boat flatter in the water, again improving performance.
The final little neat innovation is all around comfort, the new boats in Sun Odyssey range are still cruising yachts at heart and comes with all the creature comforts you’d expect such as, large front loading fridges, cockpit BBQ’s, cosy saloon and much more, but the real ‘party trick’ of this model is the folding down seats in the cockpit. As a result of having the wider side deck, and no need to have lower backs to step out of, the designers have come up with a brilliant idea that allows the whole seat back, on both sides of the cockpit, to fold totally flat, which when combined with sun cushions makes for two large sunbathing pads. This is not some whimsical after thought either, the factory has spent several years creating, testing and refining the brackets and hinges that facilitate this, testing it for repeated use, weight and ease of maintenance, it is designed to last with the boat – and don’t worry about where you’ll store the extra cushions, thanks to that extra volume up front even the Sun Odyssey 440 now has a sail locker!
This is only a really brief overview of the core changes on the new Sun Odyssey range, many more innovative ideas can be seen in practice with one of our team who are always excited to show off such unique boats, just ask if you’re attending a boat show or would like to find out more and we’ll be happy to assist.
Other than that the future only remains to see where Jeanneau to push the envelope next but its fair to say that a study of the current racing yacht fleets would not be a bad place to start, whatever they do its always done in a considered and well thought out way that has typically translated well into the cruising yacht market and we are always excited to find out!
Contact us today at our Swansea branch to discuss the whole Jeanneau range, click here to find out more about either boat or to arrange a test sale with one of our team.