Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

Author:
Publish date:
More out-of-the box thinking from a major builder

More out-of-the box thinking from a major builder

True innovation in monohull sailboat design can be a bit elusive these days. That’s not to say that there are no more new ideas, but it does seem that many new tweaks and introductions are a bit incremental: let’s say evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Just when it seems that we’ve seen it all, though, something comes along that breaks with conventional thinking and pushes old habits into new directions. A clear example of this kind of thinking is the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490.

Design & Construction

As was the case with the SO 490’s little sister, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440, which won a SAIL magazine Best Boats award this past year in the monohull cruising category, designer Philippe Briand started with a blank sheet of paper when it came time to draw the boat. At the same time, though, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 still also very much carries on the company’s tradition of reliable, rock-solid construction.

Topside, for example, the hull consists of an infused sandwich with a balsa core and a protective barrier coat to stave off blistering. The deck is also injection molded using Jeanneau’s proprietary “Prisma” process, and like the hull includes a balsa core to produce an exceptionally light structure while maintaining the necessary strength.

The double-spreader aluminum mast is held aloft with stainless steel 1 x 19 wire rigging and a double backstay. In-mast furling is available as an option, and Harken tracks and winches are used throughout. Twin rudders ensure a firm grip on the water, even in rougher conditions: a feature that is in many ways a prerequisite for any modern cruiser that wants to call itself a true sailer, given today’s beamy designs. Good on Jeanneau for making the extra effort in this important area.

On Deck

On deck, the aforementioned innovations are especially noticeable in the cockpit, which differs from anything on the market in several ways. First, the side decks slope down toward the twin helms with no break or barrier at all. You can actually walk from the transom, around the port wheel, all the way to the bow and then aft back to the starboard wheel without ever once having to step over a coaming or seat cushion. This configuration means you can also sit outboard and drive while facing forward. No more craning around to watch the sails ahead while your torso faces inboard, which on prolonged outings can be real pain in the neck—literally. This is huge, as the industry continues to seek ways to keep everyone in the sport longer, including those with aging joints.

However, Briand didn’t just leave it there, as all the dead space that usually comprises the coaming is now also put to use in the form of settee backrests that lift up and out to form a pair of sun pads. Not only that but with a filler cushion the starboard pad reaches all the way to the drop-leaf table (now offset to provide a clear path between the companionway and the transom) so that with both backrests down, the entire cockpit becomes a huge lounge that will be the envy of the anchorage.

As a corollary, to accommodate these convertible coamings, the Harken primary winches have been moved inboard onto pedestals just ahead of the twin wheels, with the headsail and the mainsail sheets led there via a set of clutches. In addition to moving the winch weight inboard, this means the crew can now grind facing forward and watching the telltales rather than facing aft as on other models.

Forward, the rig has been changed up with the lower D1 and cap shrouds terminating at separate chainplates—one to the hull, the other outside the coachroof—creating an open, unobstructed way forward on the wide side decks. A Code 0 attaches to a point on the newly designed composite sprit that not only elongates the boat’s profile but moves the anchor forward of the plumb bow to minimize the inevitable stem dings that can result as it swings clear of the water. A performance package is available with tri-radial Mylar sails, a traditional hoist main and an adjustable high-modulus backstay.

Stowage has been moved inboard, keeping weight inboard as well

Stowage has been moved inboard, keeping weight inboard as well

Accommodations

The Jeanneau 490 comes in three configurations with two to five cabins and two or three heads. The saloon, galley and nav desk remains the same throughout, and only the staterooms change. In the standard owner’s layout, the master is forward with an island berth, a head to port and a separate shower stall amidships. Two cabins can also be shoehorned in here for charter purposes.

The forward-facing nav desk to port is large and close to the companionway for good communications with the cockpit. It’s also a part of a small dinette with another bench seat between the desk and the galley. This will be a nice place to rest during the off watch or for a couple to have a quick breakfast while discussing the day’s itinerary.

Most of the stowage options (and there are many) have been moved inboard to keep the weight closer to the centerline. A small island by the galley provides bottle and provision stowage, and you can also brace against it on a port tack while working at the stove underway.

The light below is exceptional, with hull and deck ports supplemented by multiple hatches, including one directly above the three-burner Eno stove—a nice touch.

Under Sail

We had a great test day, with 16-18 knots blowing over the flat waters of Miami’s Biscayne Bay. This boat likes to sail on the wind and sheeted in flat where it points up to 35 degrees. As the breeze backed off to 15 knots, our boatspeed settled in at 8.1 knots at 60 degrees with our in-mast furling main fully deployed. Foot bracing was quite good, although I’d like to see the fixed wooden brace on the cockpit sole replaced with a retractable one so it’s not a tripping hazard when not in use. Tacking was easy, and the boat responded quickly. With the Code 0 rolled out, we zipped along at 9.1 knots with just a finger on the helm—facing forward, no neck craning necessary.

Everything at the helm integrates nicely. The twin backstays are high and out of the way, so even tall drivers won’t be hit in the back of the head, and the sheet bags, though small, seem to contain the spaghetti fairly well.

Under Power

On the flat water of the bay, the upgraded Yanmar 80 (a 57hp engine comes standard) delivered 9.1 knots at 3,100 rpm. Jeanneau has kept the choice of engines under 100hp to be able to offer its 360-Degree Joystick Docking as an option. It’s hardly needed, though, especially with the optional retractable thruster that makes docking a breeze.

Conclusion

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey line now has nine models from 32-52ft. The new 440 and 490 (more recently joined by the 410) are the first to showcase the walk-around cockpit, and if it finds a market, chances are it will proliferate throughout the range. For now, it’s exactly this kind of out-of-the-cockpit thinking that will not only help attract new people to the sport but keep folks sailing longer: a great innovation in sailing if ever there was one.

Sun-Odyssey-490-Sailplan-

Specifications

LOA 47ft 3in LWL 43ft 11in Beam 14ft 8in

Draft 5ft 4in (shoal); 7ft 4in (deep)

Displacement 24,890lb

Ballast 6,327lb

Sail Area 1,188ft (main and 125% genoa)

Fuel/Water (GAL) 63/169

Engine Yanmar 57hp

Ballast Ratio 25

SA/D Ratio 23

D/L Ratio 131

What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios

Designer Philippe Briand

Builder Jeanneau Yachts, Les Herbiers, France

U.S. Distributor Jeanneau America, Annapolis, MD, jeanneauamerica.com

Price $497,000 (sailaway) at time of publication

October 2018

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more