The eighth generation of the Sun Odyssey line kicks off a new era for Jeanneau with a boat that is brimming with innovations based on 60 years of boat building experience (published November/December 2017)
It was a gray, sultry morning right after the Annapolis sailboat show last October when we met up with the gang from Jeanneau USA—Paul Fenn, Jeff Jorgenson and Catherine Guiader—to take the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 out for a test sail on the Chesapeake Bay. But at least there was breeze, which is often lacking on the bay in October.
The boat was moored stern to the floating dock so it was easy boarding via the large fold-down transom, swim platform. The first thing you notice about the new 440, with its 14-foot beam, is the huge cockpit and large bench seats that have quite high backs for support. The twin helms are far apart and each has an L-shaped seat that provides excellent views forward around the cockpit dodger while you are steering. The boat we sailed was equipped with small B&G charterplotters and sailing instrument repeaters at both helms.
The centerline console with the large folding table has storage lockers and a space for a cockpit cooler for drinks. This boat had the optional varnished teak table that certainly added to the boat’s yachting style.
The second thing you notice about the 440 is the walk around access to the side decks. The decks actually slope downward as they flow aft and join with the cockpit behind each helm so you don’t have to climb over the coaming to get in and out of the cockpit, you just walk around. This innovation is so brilliant that it made me wonder why no one had thought of it before. The bulwarks aft along the sloping deck get to be knee-high at the helms so you can stand outboard and trim the sheets while standing upright instead of down your knees or hunched over. The boat we were sailing had electric sheets winches, so this feature was of only academic interest.
The third innovation we noticed was the convertible cockpit coamings that fold from vertical seat backs into horizontal sun beds. In two minutes you can change the cockpit from a purposeful sailing configuration to a padded playpen for whiling away afternoons in the sun.
The fourth innovation that struck us as we walked forward along the side deck was the placement of the lower stays, the D1s. These are attached to chainplates on the cabin sides while the cap shrouds are attached to chain plates on the toe rail, outboard. This simple innovation means you don’t have to duck under a diagonal stay as you move fore and aft.
The new Sun Odyssey 440 is the first boat in the new generation of Jeanneau’s most popular line and is the first in what is in fact the eighth generation of boats to bear the Sun Odyssey name. It was obvious right from the moment we stepped aboard and took in these design innovations that Jeanneau was moving confidently into the future with some very interesting contributions to cruising boat design.
The boat was parked in a tight slip in the marina but Jeff got it clear of the pilings and into open water without much fuss. The twin rudders provide a positive bite on the water so the boat turns easily. The one thing about twin rudders, however, is that you do not get prop wash flowing over the rudder’s surfaces. In forward, this reduces the helmsman’s ability to kick the stern sideways with a sharp pulse of prop wash; in reverse, you need to maintain more speed than you might think to enable the rudders to work effectively.
We motored out Spa Creek into the outer harbor where we put the boat through its paces under power. Straight ahead at full revs of about 3000 rpms, the 45 horsepower Yanmar drove the boat at 7.8 knots. At cruising revs of 2000 rpms, we were able to make 6.8 knots and at 1500 rpms we settled down at 6 knots. Given the boat’s fuel capacity of 53 gallons, the 440 has a working powering range at 1500 rpms (while burning 0.7 gallons of diesel per hour) of about 400 miles.
The 440 stops quickly when thrown into reverse and has a turning radius in both forward and reverse of just over its own length. In other words, the boat is fast under power, efficient on a long-haul passage and nimble around the docks.
Once clear of the inner harbor, we rounded up into the wind and rolled out the mainsail, sheeted it in and then fell off on port tack. We rolled out the 110-percent genoa and sheeted it for close hauled sailing so we could clear the shoals off Eastport.
With 10 knots of true wind and about 15 knots of apparent wind, the 440 put its shoulder down and began sailing easily at seven and a half knots. The boat has a pronounced chine just above the waterline that actually works like a proper chine; as the boat heels to about 12 degrees, the chine hits the water and increases buoyancy and thus initial stability quite noticeably. This stability transforms sail power into forward motion—boat speed.
We put the 440 through a series of tacks and were pleased to see that the boat carried its speed nicely through the tacks and was able to sail comfortably inside 45 degrees on both tacks. Managing sheets with just two cockpit winches takes some coordination because the mainsheet is double ended and leads to both winches. So, when tacking, you have to secure the mainsheet with a stopper as you use the new leeward winch to trim the genoa; the main is then trimmed from the new windward winch. The sheets can all be tucked away in large line bags next to both helms.
The ergonomics of the cockpit work well with all sail handling managed aft at the helms while the halyards, sail control lines for the roller furling and boom vang are handled with the winches and line stoppers on the cabin top on either side of the companionway. Having one of the small winches electrified can be a real boon, too.
We spent an hour sailing the 440 and enjoyed every minute of it. When I had first seen the drawings and initial photos of the boat, I had high expectations for how it would sail. The boat did not disappoint. It is easy to sail but it is also weatherly, enjoys being sailed upright and is fast. We did not see more than 12 knots of breeze, but the boat feels very solid underfoot and under a press of sail. There is no question that the new 440 is a proper seagoing cruiser that will make fast and comfortable passages.
In keeping with Jeanneau’s mission to create an entirely new eighth generation of the Sun Odyssey line, the designers took what was best in the interiors of the last generation and completely refreshed the look and feel of the living spaces. The central ideas were to maximize natural light and ventilation throughout the interior while giving the boats a bright and spacious feel.
To accomplish all of this, while still providing all that is necessary for living aboard, the designers made some innovative decisions. The plan on the boat we sailed has a three sleeping cabin layout with the master cabin and head forward and two double quarter cabins aft. Instead of a single door to the master cabin, double doors open up the space between the saloon and the cabin so the two spaces flow together. The large mirror at the head of the forward berth enhances the feeling of space, too.
To let in a lot of light, the hull windows run nearly the full length of the saloon and all three cabins. There are no storage cabinets above waist level so the boat is open right out to the hull’s inner liner, which adds to the sensation of spaciousness and light.
As you come down the four steps of the companionway, you have the two quarter cabins on both sides aft, the chart table—yes, a proper chart table—to port and the aft head to starboard. This aft head will make a good wet locker for days when you come below in wet foul weather gear.
The galley and dinette are amidships. The dinette will seat six comfortably and eight in a pinch. Seated around the table, you can see out on both sides of the boat through the hull windows. The galley is an unusual shape with low storage cabinets that provide a good place to brace a hip while cooking in lumpy conditions. There is a large side loading fridge, a two-burner stove and oven and a nifty system for stowing or hiding a microwave oven that pops up to counter level when you open the lid.
The boat we sailed had oak themed Alpi wood panels on the bulkheads and cabinets and solid wood fiddles and hand holds around the counters and storage lockers. There were no overhead handholds but there is one strategically placed on the starboard bulkhead amidships and the fiddles on the counters offer plenty of places to steady yourself when the boat is moving.
All in all, the new Sun Odyssey 440 is a dramatic evolution for the old brand and is both a bright vision for the future of cruising boats and a nod to the things that have always made Jeanneau a favorite among cruisers—great sailing qualities, attractive and comfortable living spaces and the deep attention to quality that gives owners confidence.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440
Draft (std) 7’2”
Draft (shoal) 5’2”
Displacement 18,874 lbs.
Fuel 53 gals
Water 87 gals
Engine Yanmar 45 hp.
Sail area 972. Sq. ft