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This is a big year for Jeanneau in Australia, with several new Sun Odyssey yachts making a splash at this month’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. ALLAN WHITING checks out the new 49i during a perfect Moreton Bay day

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49i

Jeanneaus are noted for their value-for-money credentials and the Sun Odyssey 49i continues this tradition, with the test boat retailing for well under the half-million mark. She is therefore one of the lowest priced 45 to 50-footers in the market.

The first impression stepping onto the broad swimplatform and through the wide transom walkway is the amount of cockpit space, despite its centre being dominated by a huge, drop-side pedestal table. The cockpit could easily seat eight around the table, with four more perched at the helm positions. And the test 49i was kitted with a set of neat fitting cockpit cushions in weathered-teak colour that closely matched that of the teak-faced helm seats.

The optional German mainsheet system means that the forward cockpit winches are needed only for halyard duties, clearing the forward end of the cockpit from working sheets - an ideal arrangement when cruising or entertaining under way.

A gently-sloped companionway leads to a vast saloon and a large dinette that's big enough to fit 10 people in comfort. The full-length galley is sized to match and kitted out with a two-burner, gimballed gas stove and oven (three-burner optional); double-box, top-opening fridge with front door access to the forward section; and deep double sink.

The huge galley could be a hazard zone in a seaway were it not for the high-grip, holly teak-look floor, and well-placed stainless steel handrails including some ingeniously recessed in the ceiling. Fixed hull and cabin ports, plus five roof hatches - three with ventilators - give the saloon plenty of light and fresh air.

Aft of the galley is the day head/shower with an access door from the portside cabin. The two stern cabins have double beds, ample stowage space and opening ports. Aft of the dinette is a large nav. station with swivelling screen that does double duty as a TV/DVD. A forward lift-up section of the nav module reveals a spacious cocktail cabinet.

Forward of the saloon is the owner's retreat on the three-cabin Jeanneau 49i, dominated by a double island bed. There's a large head and shower room to starboard, a desk with padded stool to port and ample hanging, cupboard and shelf space, plus a repository under the bed. Two screened hatches with blinds are fitted above the bed.

The 'i' in 49i indicates a Prisma Process resin-injected deck structure with discontinuous balsa block coring and ISO gelcoat surface. The hull is monolithic handlaid FRP, also with ISO gelcoat surface and with kevlar reinforcement in the bow and front bulkhead sections.

Jeanneau uses a conventional aluminium mast, two-spreader rig on the cruising Sun Odyssey 49i, with a spinnaker pole track that allows vertical stowing. The standard boat has 1 x 19 standing rigging, gas-strut vang, a fixed backstay and cruising furler arrangement, while the Performance version has Dyform wire, Dyneema halyards and sheets, Harken 60 sheet winches in lieu of the 53s, a slightly taller stick, longer boom, tackle-adjustable backstay and a lower-profile jib furler.

Our test boat was a standard model, 'hot rodded' with an adjustable backstay and lowered boom, to increase mainsail area.

The cockpit area has storage under the transom walkway that's large enough to house a generator and there's cavernous storage space under both helm and cockpit seats, including vented space for two gas bottles. A Raymarine E80 chartplotter is tucked under the aft end of the cockpit table, where it's out of the way and its screen shaded at least some of the time.

Optional spray dodger and bimini kits were fitted to the test boat and they worked well: a zip-in panel shades the cockpit between bimini and dodger. Davits were another test-boat option that hoisted the tender well clear of most following seas.

A 1500W electric Lewmar windlass with remote controller is fitted inside the large anchor locker.

The 49i design maximises interior volume, so the mid-sections of the hull are quite flat-bottomed, with a choice of bolt-on bulb keels in shoal, standard and Performance drafts. Water storage is divided beneath forward and aft beds and fuel is stowed under an aft bed.

The standard layout is three-cabins with two heads, but a four-cabin, four-head charter model is available. Cleverly, the dinette and galley remain the same, but the owner's desk area is replaced by a head and the large nav. station loses space to another head. There's a downside to this inbuilt flexibility: an unpleasant, proud moulding in the owner's cabin that's a receiver for the optional fourth-head wall.

Under one of the saloon access panels I was surprised to find some patches of rough-finished lay-up on the inner hull and fridge water flow being 'dammed' in shallow pockets around the bilge sump gauze filter.

I took the matter up with Jeanneau after the test and was told that the bilge sump has been redesigned on later production boats so that there's no need for a gauze filter around the lip of the sump. The test boat's bilge has since been refitted with the new arrangement and the fridge water flow path smoothed to suit.

The test boat will be on display at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, where visitors can inspect it at will.
The engine compartment is well planned, with most tasks being performed from the front and the rest from secondary access panels in the aft cabins. There's ample room for owner-fitted accessories, such as a second high-power alternator in lieu of a generator as in the case of the test boat. Sound deadening proved effective, with no vibration and only a subdued hum from the donk at 7kts.

Engine power was one of the key deciders for owner Ross Perrins when he chose the Jeanneau 49i. "My wife and I have done trans-Pacific cruising and we know the importance at times of having plenty of auxiliary engine power - the 110hp optional engine fitted to this boat gives it motorsailer performance when we need it," he said.

This first of the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49i models in Australia is the cruising version, but Ross has already made a few alterations to improve its twilight-racing performance.

He organised for Phil Gray, from the local Jeanneau agents Mooloolaba Yacht Brokers, to lower the boom height and have additional panels stitched into the cruising mainsail.

The cruising rig has the mainsheet running from the traveller, just forward of the spray dodger, to one of the two roof-top winches under the dodger, but on Ross's new boat the mainsheet has been converted to a German system, with port and starboard  falls running to the aft winches near the wheels. It's not as precise as an end-boom system, with cockpit traveller, but it works well and keeps cockpit clutter to a minimum. That's important when you're racing with a large drop-side cockpit table in the middle of proceedings.

The forward cabin-top powered winches are now devoted to halyard and spinnaker work; the primaries handle the headsail and the aft winches run the main. The backstay was altered from fixed to variable, via a block and tackle system that's adjusted at the starboard helm position.

Ross is pretty happy with the changes that, we hear, see the new 49i consistently at the front of the RQYS Wednesday evening twilight fleet.

However, a relatively short stick and shallow-draft keel mean that this Jeanneau 49i remains an easily shorthanded cruising boat. The main has little roach and the headsail is heavily cambered and hollowed at the leech, keeping the centre of effort low and out of the boat ends.

Ross reckons the handling is viceless and I had no trouble in balancing the headsail and main trim so that it self-steered upwind. It was also easy to balance for self-steering on a reach.

During our photo session Ross (and the autopilot) steered the boat and trimmed the sails, with no-one else aboard.

Helm feel was heavier than you'd want in a racing boat, thanks to the drag of a ram-type autopilot, but this linkage can be easily disengaged. The twin-wheel layout worked well, with comfy teak-faced seats outboard for leeward steering and radius-shaped wells under the wheels for a sure foot-grip. The swivelling, centrally located chartplotter, nestling below the cockpit table, is easily viewed from either steering position.

The cruising Sun Odyssey 49i felt happiest off the breeze a tad, in the high-30? pointing zone with the sheets eased slightly, at which point it hummed along at more than 7kts in 8 to 12kts of true wind. A set of flatter sails would improve the pointing ability somewhat and I wouldn't be surprised to see some other racing kit added to Ross's boat before too long.

Moving around the cockpit and decks while underway was easy and safe, thanks to ample handholds.

The beauty of starting with a cruising boat and optimising it is that the inbuilt ease-of-handling isn't compromised. The powered halyard winch makes main hoisting easy, the furling headsail opens and shuts like a bedroom blind and the low-aspect ratio rig is a breeze for shorthanded sailing. It's much more difficult to tame a racing craft for cruising work.

There are some places you can see where Jeanneau reduced costs to bring the Sun Odyssey 49i in under the magic half-million-dollar mark, but these compromises don't affect functionality or performance. As an owner's cruiser/racer, or four-cabin charter boat the 49i is very well specified and equipped. It's not claustrophobic below decks and would also make a great liveaboard vessel.

One-make regattas are increasingly popular and a great way for likeminded sailors to socialise and enjoy relaxed competition. Jeanneau's most recent event was a whopper, attracting a record 48-branded French yachts, and was attended by Denis Quartier from Jeanneau, France. He seemed quite happy with the view across Pittwater: tree-covered national park hillsides with nothing but Jeanneaus in the foreground.

The day kicked off with a casual breakfast and registration at the Halyards forecourt at Pittwater's Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, followed by transfers around the bay to various Jeanneaus, and an orderly sequence of starts. The Rendezvous was split into two racing divisions and an observation rally, so there was competition to suit everyone's tastes.

We crewed for Trudy and Brian Strange, aboard their brand new 50DS <I>Andiamo</I>, which raced in Red Division on a course across Broken Bay, around Lion Island and back to the RPAYC finish line. Our target boat to beat was a 50DS Performance version, <I>Pyrenees</I>, which we managed to do... just.

Blue division and the observation rally boats ran a shorter course and staggered starts avoided a start-line crush.
The autumn breeze was at its typical Pittwater best, leaving much of the fleet inching across a glassy surface for the first hour or so, then freshening nicely for the sail across the Bay and back. Seemingly every boat won a prize of some description. Great fun! <I>- Allan Whiting</I>

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49i


LCD TV, 82kW engine, Raymarine E80, davits, bimini and spray dodger


Material: FRP hulls and decks; balsa resin composite deck and monolithic hull
Type: Monohull
Length overall: 15.07m
Hull length: 14.75m
Waterline length: 12.98m
Beam: 4.49m
Draft: 2.15m (1.69m and 2.35m optional)
Weight: 12,600kg
Ballast: 3750kg; 3640kg (deep-draft keel)

Berths: 3 doubles (four doubles optional)
Fuel: 240lt
Water: 615lt
CE category: A10/B12/C14

Mainsail: 49.2m²; 55m² (optional)
Headsail: 62.1m²; 67m² (optional)
Spinnaker: 141m²; 162m² (optional)

Make/model: Yanmar 4JH4 TE; Yanmar 4JH4 HTE 110hp (optional)
Type: Diesel
Rated HP: 75
Prop: Shaftdrive with three-blade bronze fixed; folding Max-Prop (optional)

Mooloolaba Yacht Brokers,
33/45 Parkyn Parade,
Mooloolaba, Qld, 4557
Phone: (07) 5444 4822
Fax: (07) 5444 4163


Find Jeanneau Sun Odyssey boats for sale.


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