Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 509: Here Comes the Sun

by Herb McCormick, cruisingworld.com

Today, you can count on one hand the number of builders of contemporary production cruising boats—and by that we mean companies that regularly manufacture at least dozens and dozens of any particular model—that fully embrace the somewhat elusive notion of “performance.”
However, by any measure or definition, Jeanneau is one of them. I’ve been a fan of its Sun Odyssey series for years, ever since sailing one of the company’s earlier 44-footers on a stormy trip up the coast of New Zealand. When Jeanneau introduced its new Sun Odyssey 509 earlier last year, I was eager to take a spin. And while there were a couple of small matters that gave me a moment’s pause, overall I came away duly impressed.

There’s nothing revolutionary about the Sun Odyssey formula: Design a sleek, easily driven, moderate-displacement hull that’s strong and well built, then load it up with good gear and systems and comfortable accommodations. Renowned French naval architect Philippe Briand took care of the platform, delivering a handsome double-spreader fractional sloop with a low coachroof/profile that carries its considerable beam well aft.

The hand-laid hull is solid fiberglass, and the balsa-cored deck is injection molded (which saves weight and reduces emissions in the construction process). The long and complete equipment list includes a full Harken hardware-and-winch package, dual Lewmar helms and windlass, and a Yanmar diesel with saildrive. In other words, it’s all top shelf.

That broad transom accomplishes two things, above and beyond making the boat an absolute beast on a reach. (We made an effortless and powerful 7.5 knots reefed down in about 15 knots of wind.)

First, down below, the voluminous interior features a pair of huge aft double cabins. Second, the wide cockpit and drop-down transom allows for a single centerline backstay rather than the dual backstays that’ve become an industry standard but which sometimes make for cramped driving conditions when you’re helming all the way aft and outboard (the best place to see the jib telltales).

The entire cockpit layout is pretty nifty, especially the steering pedestals, which double as curved seatbacks for the cockpit benches. My only quibble here is that the double-ended mainsheet and jib sheets share the respective primary winches just forward of the wheels (coupled with dedicated rope clutches). You need to be extremely quick and dexterous when handling the lines in a windy jibe.

For the full test go to…

Download a copy of the test from Australian Sailing + Yachting here.