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Back in 2004, Jeanneau caused quite a stir with the launch of its stylish Sun Odyssey 54 DS (deck saloon). Italian designer Vittorio Garroni had worked more with cars than boats when he came up with the fresh-looking 54 DS, and he wasn’t bound by any conventional sailboat-design sense. By rounding out the coachroof, Garroni tweaked the deck-saloon concept just enough to create a new look that has since been imitated by others. Buoyed by the success of the 54 DS, Jeanneau subsequently launched a similar 49-footer and then the 42 DS, which I test-sailed off Miami.
Again, the most striking feature is the coachroof. Rather than simply being perched on the deck to increase interior headroom, the lines of this coachroof flow beautifully into those of the cockpit and deck. This is a high-volume boat that has considerable freeboard, but you don’t really notice it. The curve of the hull and the inward slope of the coachroof create a sleek, pleasing look. Side decks are wide and easy to navigate. Visibility over the coachroof from the dual helm stations is excellent. Two large cockpit-seat lockers can swallow everything from fenders to a deflated tender. The cockpit seats themselves are deep and the coamings are comfortably tall. I should mention, however, that the cockpit seats have a small step adjacent to the companionway that makes them not quite as comfortable as a simple straight seat.
You can’t help but be impressed with the open, airy feel of the saloon, but what really caught my attention was the master cabin. Most boats this size have a large aft cabin, but my notes from the test read “aft cabin feels like it belongs on a center-cockpit boat, not an aft-cockpit boat.” This aft cabin has excellent headroom, especially over the double berth, despite the intrusion of the cockpit. Here’s another example of boat design being a game of inches, and it should result in a much more comfortable night’s sleep. The aft cabin also has lots of lockers and drawers with easy access to the head, which can also be accessed from the base of the companionway steps.
Other aspects of the design work just as well. I’ve seen bigger chart tables, but the nav station still has plenty of room to plot a course on a folded paper chart and to mount a chartplotter. Counter space and food stowage in the galley are more than adequate. The saloon settee isn’t radical, but it does provide seating room for six and two seaberths. The forward cabin has a smaller berth and its own head. Over all, the fit and finish of the joinery is good, and the interior is both comfortable and functional.
I wasn’t surprised by the boat’s performance in the 8 to 10 knots of wind and light chop we had for our test. The helm provided just enough feel, and the balanced hull seemed eager to stay in the groove. Upwind, we hit 6.5 knots in the light air and tacked through 100 degrees. We could have pointed higher, but footing in the single-digit winds kept us powering nicely through the chop. The standard 6-foot, 11-inch keel with 5,628 pounds of cast-iron ballast helped keep us from being thrown around in the powerboat wakes near the entrance to Government Cut. The boat tacked and accelerated predictably and was generally easy to handle.
I found the helm seats to be particularly comfortable; they have sufficient brace points, are within easy reach of the chartplotter and other electronics, as well as the primary winches. As noted, visibility was excellent from both helm stations.
This boat seems to have found the sweet spot in several areas. It has an updated look that is not too radical, and its comfortable accommodations satisfy both form and function. Light-air performance is good, and I’d guess it could handle plenty more wind without much trouble. All the necessary ingredients for cruising—stowage, comfortable bunks, and galley space—are there. Engine access is a bit tight and the cockpit has a funny step in the seat, but these are small issues in a generally successful design.
Price: $209,000 (base, FOB Baltimore, MD), including sails
and wind, speed, and depth instruments.
Builder: Jeanneau America, Annapolis, MD,
Designer: Vittorio Garroni, in collaboration with Marc Lombard
Construction: Hull is solid hand-laid fiberglass reinforced with a one-piece structural grid. Additional reinforcement is added to the keel area and chainplate mounts. Deck is built using the Prisma (closed mold) resin-injection process.
Pros: Updated look, comfortable accommodations, good light-air performance.
Cons: Step in the cockpit seats near the companionway, tight engine access.
LOA - 42'5"
LWL - 38'
Beam - 13'6"
Draft (standard/shoal) - 6'11"/5'2"
Displacement - 18,080 lbs
Ballast (standard/shoal) - 5,628/6,131 lbs
Sail Area (main and jib) - 872 sq ft
Power - 54-hp Yanmar, 3-blade fixed prop
Tankage Fuel/water/waste - 34/94/22 gal
Electrical - (1) 110-Ah starting battery, (2) 110-Ah house batteries
Displacement-Length ratio - 147
Sail Area-Displacement ratio - 20
Ballast ratio - 31%