All of the production builders are progressively making their yachts more easily handled short-handed, though they are often approaching it in very different ways, but fundamentally a yacht that handles well does so because it has been designed to do so. From the moment the naval architect starts on the design inherent will be the characteristics of that yacht. Certainly a yacht can be improved by tweaking the sail-plan, rigging and so on, but if the basic hull form and balance are wrong this becomes a much more difficult if not impossible task to remedy.
This is where Jeanneau is leading the industry. The hull design of the latest yachts in the range are a step ahead of competitors in the sophistication of the chined hulls, and rudder and keel packages. Designer Marc Lombard knows a thing or two about designing yachts that have extraordinary balance, having designed many single-handed racing yachts including Open 60’s, 50’s, the Figaro II and Open 40’s. A look at his design office website gives an idea of the breadth of the designs, see this link
So the latest Jeanneau, the Sun Odyssey 349 is at the very fore-front of modern production yacht design. The hull form is wide with a pronounced chine for stability, twin rudders for control, and reverse shear plus a sophisticated swept L-shaped keel which also adds stability. The combination has to be experienced to be believed and the earlier short-comings of poor handling under power in reverse on some other twin rudder designs are not apparent at all on this yacht, so every aspect is a positive.
The other elements that combine with this architecture are Jeanneau’s patented injection moulded decks, producing a much lighter and stronger deck than competitors, but also solid glass hull and generous keel weight. In fact the Sun Odyssey 349 is by far the stiffest yacht in its class, yet light and responsive even in lighter winds with the self-tacking jib option.
Add the fat-head mainsail and full size headsail and you have a potent yacht that will gobble up the miles effortlessly, or twilight race at a high level. With any sail-plan option the boat is light on the helm, incredibly well balanced and remarkably forgiving.
In addition to the extremely successful launch of the 349, Jeanneau’s ‘Black Label’ special offers on the 379, 409 and 439 are also selling incredibly well and as a result Jeanneau’s yacht sales are currently up 30% from last year. The consequence of this is that availability on most new Jeanneau’s at the moment is June 2015, so if you are thinking a boat for next summer, now is the time to put your order in.