At last winter's Düsseldorf boat show nearly all the Jeanneau cruising models were lined up stanchion to stanchion. Only the smallest, the Sun Odyssey 30i, had to stay home. The French had a big agenda for Europe’s largest watersports show with their cruising program that encompasses vessels from 30 to nearly 50 feet and which is now complete with the introduction of the Sun Odyssey469.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 469, shown sailing with the standard 106-percent genoa.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 469, shown sailing with the standard 106-percent genoa.

Back in the spring of 2010, Jeanneau announced the extensive revamp of the entire line. The first boat, the Sun Odyssey 409, won the 2011 European Yacht of the Year award right off the bat, and within two and a half years the builders in Les Herbiers on the French Atlantic coast re-issued the entire Sun Odyssey line, and also managed to design two deck saloon models.

Performance to suit

No other builder has a program that’s as homogenous, thought out, and nuanced. Its key features also distinguish the 469, the last and the latest model of the cruising line: hard chines in the hull, twin wheels, a large swim platform on the stern, and a flexible sail plan to match a variety of sailing venues. Like the smaller models, the 469 was nominated for EYOTY, which amounts to advance praise for looks, concept, performance, and quality. And the boat has not disappointed.

In our test, this 13.65-meter vessel with a displacement of 10 tons had to deal with light winds on the Gulf of La Spezia and a sea breeze that topped out at a measly six knots. Still, there was plenty of sailing fun to be had, due to one useful option: the furling code-zero that gets the Jeanneau moving with surprising ease. With a true wind angle of at least 70 degrees, the speedo quickly climbs to six knots, which was about the same as the true wind speed. It’s also indicative of good aero- and hydrodynamics.

The three-cabin layout has an optional third head compartment and linear galley arrangement.

The three-cabin layout has an optional third head compartment and linear galley arrangement.

For real upwind sailing, hoist the standard jib, which is offered in several different sizes. In addition to the standard headsail with a 106-percent overlap, there’s a self-tacking jib and one with a long foot and 140 percent of overlap. Compared to others, Jeanneau offers more varied sail configurations, matching more different conditions in different venues.

With the short standard genoa the boat still managed five knots upwind, tacking through 90 degrees. On the previous day as the sea breeze hit 10-12 knots, the Jeanneau managed a respectable 7.2 knots at tacking angles that were much narrower than 90 degrees. Philippe Briand, Jeanneau’s designer for all vessels above 40 feet, has a reputation for boats with well-balanced sailing characteristics. Steering is a pleasure too, since the rudder system is geared well and relatively smooth, delivering feedback to the helmsman at light pressure and slow speeds. In addition, this portly boat is moving through maneuvers with refreshing ease, which makes sailing it fun, even in a light breeze.

Sheeting for small crews

Like Hanse Yachts, Jeanneau follows the trend of leading jib and main sheets on the cockpit coaming all the way aft to the steering pedestals. For cruisers who sail with small crew or solo, it’s a proven arrangement.

However, operating two winches requires some training and preparation as the mainsheet has to be uncleated and stripped from the old winch prior to the maneuver before reloading the new one. Therefore a second winch on the coaming would be desirable, especially as a backup on longer passages, but alas, that option is not available.

The saloon, shown here with the standard L-shaped galley, is filled with natural light.

The saloon, shown here with the standard L-shaped galley, is filled with natural light.

The primaries can be fitted with electric drives, which is sensible on cruising boats of this size. The cockpit has been copied from the Sun Odyssey 509: cockpit table, steering gear, and the seats have the same dimensions, except that the maximum width of the cockpit is 15 centimeters (6 inches) narrower. The impressive swim platform (1.83 meters by 90 cm or roughly 6 by 3 feet) remains unchanged, which means it is substantially larger than on the smaller models. The hinges on the stern are set lower, which also brings the platform down to 40 centimeters (16 inches) above the water, hence making it easer to get back on board after swimming. Opening and lowering the platform with the electric mechanism takes a whopping 32 seconds while the manual pulley system is simpler and faster.

There is a large dedicated stern compartment that swallows a life raft that carries 10. However, because the backstay is attached to the hull on centerline, this compartment can only be accessed from above. In an emergency, the raft has to be extracted upward with a lot of force. On the other hand, there is plenty of storage that is easy to reach under the cockpit seas, in the anchor well, and the sail locker in the bow.
Sun Odyssey 469
LOA13.65 m
Beam4.49 m
Draft, std/shoal2.24 m / 1.65 m
Displacement10.8 t
Ballast3.1 t (29%)
Mainsail49.6 sq. m
Furling genoa (106%)46.5 sq. m
EngineYanmar 40 kW/54-hp
Price285,380 euros

Interior with variations

The 469 sticks close to the interior concept of the 509, keeping the general layout and large proportions of the fixtures and furniture. The cabins on both boats are uniform, with small variations in the aft berths. On the 469, the paltry shoulder width of 1.41 meters (55.5 inches) barely satisfies the comfort requirements for a boat this size. The base version is equipped with three cabins and two head compartments. Alternatively, a small head without separate shower can be installed aft. In this configuration, the galley changes from an L-shape to inline, which is an arrangement that has gone out of style a little bit in the last few years, but still is in demand occasionally.

An option directed at the charter market separates the forward cabin. This produces a total of four cabins, however in terms of space it gets a bit cozy even with the galley in an inline configuration. But if three cabins suffice, the version we tested offers the best compromise for seaworthiness and comfort.

Both the space and the harmonious interior are remarkable. Jeanneau’s stylists managed to create a contemporary, bright, and friendly ambiance for a very pleasant stay belowdecks. Ventilation and lighting are outstanding, just like the views through the windows in the hull and deckhouse.

A positive impression overall

There’s only one aspect of the Sun Odyssey that has potential for improvement: On the test boat, a faint squeaking developed in the seaway that clouded the good overall impression. Sailing through waves, some built-in furniture, including the lavatory on the port side, was audibly rubbing against hull and deck. It’s more of a nuisance than a structural deficiency, but it can get on the nerves during longer passages. And it won’t get any better over the years; hence a better isolation process or cushioning in these areas would be helpful.

All in all however, Jeanneau delivers an excellent cruising vessel with the 469. Measured against the flagship 509, nothing critical is amiss, except perhaps a little airiness and luxury in a visual sense.

The 469 is offered for 285,380 euros, which is more than her German competition. But those who don’t mind this surcharge get a stylish boat with a cogent concept that deservedly was nominated for the European Yacht of the Year.

For more information, visit Jeanneau.

yacht-logoThis story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.