Just when it seemed as if the Jeanneau 379 was going to be the entry-level model for Jeanneau’s revamped Sun Odyssey 9-Series, the company launched a 34-foot version that is now the baby of that family. As with all its designs, Jeanneau built six of the new 349s and put them out for review by dealers and the press, fully expecting to make improvements based on feedback. I tested one of those first half dozen in Miami, FL, and came away thinking that the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 has a few bugs, but also has a definite appeal and offers a lot for the price.
Watch our first look video on the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349.
Like on the 379, Marc Lombard drew a hull with a plumb bow and a hard chine that begins well before the boat’s maximum beam. The flat aft section helps keep the boat on its feet, even in a breeze. The standard fin keel draws six feet, five inches, while the available shoal draft keel draws four feet, 10 inches. A swing keel may be in the works, but to keep the base price at $125,000, it’s not clear whether that will happen or not. The beam is 11 feet, three inches, so the 349 uses twin rudders for better tracking, even when heeled.
The Jeanneau 349 has twin wheels that open up the cockpit nicely, and there's a walk-through to the handy drop-down transom. When deployed, the swim platform is actually bigger than on the Sun Odyssey 409 (two models up) and really adds to the space while at anchor. The 349’s fractional rig supports double aft-swept spreaders and a total sail area of 613 square feet with the classic main and a 106 percent genoa. The Selden mast is tall, and the boom relatively short, so the boat takes advantage of wind higher up but still has a mainsail that's easily managed by one or two. There's no backstay on the standard model, and while one can be provided, it's not necessary. Without it, it’s possible to fly a square-top mainsail, which adds 11 percent to the sail area. A traditionally-shaped furling main is optional.
To keep the base price $50,000 below the next bigger model, Jeanneau has adapted some features from the Sun Fast racing series, which incorporate friction rings rather than using tracks and fairleads for the genoa sheets. The “Y” bridle main sheet also uses these friction rings, eliminating the need for a traveler. A rigid vang is standard and four winches (two on the cabin top and two primaries) combine with Spinlock line clutches to manage the sheets and halyards well. A B&G multifunction display provides navigation information where it’s needed, at the helm.
The 349 is available with a choice of layouts, including two- or three-cabin designs with a single head, which changes size depending on whether or not the third cabin is specified. The two-cabin version is likely to have the most appeal with buyers because it offers a large lazarette and a separate shower stall where the third cabin would normally be. The L-shaped galley to starboard is small, but proportionate, and comes with a single sink near the center line, a two-burner stove, an optional microwave, and top-loading refrigeration. The countertop space is sparse but will serve well enough for simple daysailing and weekend meal preparation.
The master stateroom is situated forward in the v-berth and quite honestly, it's a bit tight. Jeanneau created an ingenious double door that's half the normal width, so it doesn’t catch on the mattress when open. For a couple not concerned with privacy, leaving that door open full time will create a nice airy feeling throughout the interior.
The main saloon has two straight settees located on both port and starboard sides, and a drop-leaf table in the middle. A dedicated, aft-facing navigation station uses the port side settee as a seat, and an optional stool lengthens the settee into a full berth when the navigation station desk is hinged upward and secured.
Our sail was on Biscayne Bay in Miami and our test boat came equipped with the shoal keel and a fixed prop (a Flexofold folding prop is optional.) In 10 knots of true wind at 40 degrees apparent wind angle, we sailed along at 5.3 knots. At 11 knots of wind we cracked off to 60 degrees and touched 6.1 knots. On a broad reach we managed 4.9 knots at 130 degrees in about nine knots of true wind speed. Not too shabby!
|Draft (hull)||5'3" (Shoal)|
|Sail Area||613 sq. ft.|
|Fuel capacity||34 gal.|
|Water capacity||54 gal.|
Tacking was easy, and the boat was extremely responsive. For anyone not used to the friction ring controls, there may be a short learning curve with sail trimming. An asymmetrical spinnaker (which attaches to the forward sprit) is optional, but unfortunately we didn’t have it on this pre-production model to see how the 349 sails downwind.
The 21-horsepower Yanmar diesel motored us along at 6.1 knots and 2900 rpm. Another way Jeanneau has kept costs low is by using a straight shaft rather than a Saildrive and the 349 does not have the 360 Joystick Docking option. However, being a small, light, and responsive boat, it hardly needs it.
Our test boat priced out at around $155,000, which Jeanneau hopes is an attractive entry price point. The idea with this small model is to attract couples and young families and have them grow with the model line as their sailing experience also grows. Personally, I can also see seasoned couples downsizing from large family cruisers to this more manageable model, which is both less demanding to sail and easier on the wallet.
Other Choices: The Hunter 33 is another relatively inexpensive sailboat shoppers may be interested in. A slightly larger, more expensive option would be the Beneteau Oceanis 38, which is semi-customizable and won the 2014 European Yacht of the Year award.
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