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It has been a long time since I reviewed a production yacht this small, other than the Cygnet 20 trailer sailer back in April last year.

The forty to fifty foot range is indeed a crowded market with these size boats now built to be easily handled by crewing couples and novices. So it was refreshing to step ‘down’ onto Jeanneau’s latest Sun Odyssey in Australia, the 319.

What makes it even more interesting is that its owner has also stepped ‘down’ from previously owning larger 30’ yachts. What was he thinking? Does not everyone follow the usual path of upgrading to a larger yacht?

Given the interiors of yachts nowadays provide the feeling you are in a yacht five feet longer, surely there are more factors at play here?

Santai

Jon Davies is a long term yacht owner, this being his third keelboat. Previously he was like most yacht owners and slowly increasing in boat length. What he was finding, however, was the increased size did not increase his enjoyment. Yes, bigger is better in many ways but it also involved more work and a higher state of awareness when sailing, therefore less time for relaxation.

 

With his yacht moored just outside his apartment window he often liked to just wander down at any time and go for a relaxing sail, so his sailing was predominantly solo. Why make difficult for yourself in sailing a yacht that required more time and effort to get to that state of relaxation? It was time to downsize the yacht and upsize the relaxing. Hence the name of his yacht is the Indonesian word ‘santai’ translating as: relax.
 
Jon’s requirements were fairly simple: an easy boat to sail; two cabins minimum with all berths at least at the two metre mark as Jon himself is 6’4” on the old gauge; and a relatively shallow draught so he can get into his favourtie haunts on the Pittwater and get away from it all. He settled on the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319. For this hull, Jeanneau have apparently taken the sea-kindly cruiseability of Poland’s Delphia Yachts six year old 31 footer and rejigged it with the Sun Odyssey style. What we see then is above the water the nice rising sheer line to the bow, as first seen on the large-selling SO349, with an underwater profile of a nice rounded hull shape.
 
There is the same full bow sections with the angled back forefoot but it slopes nicely down to a stubby, wide keel before sloping smoothly back up to the stern sections. A sharp chine above the water only presents itself at the last metre or so aft, this appears to allow the interior to stay full, well aft, while allowing the hull shape a nice curve into the stern.
 
This six year old design appears to give a deep canoe body draft in the hull, which will make itself apparent when we discuss the interior. But the rounded shallow bow design and curved aft sections may negate the hobby-horsing effect this depth may attract.
 
This suggests to me a low heel angle when on the wind, enough to increase waterline length on the short chine without sacrificing a gentle motion through the waves usually caused from a larger-chined flat stern section. Off the wind the reduced underwater area from the rounded aft sections should keep the boat speeds up.
 
Certainly, when looking at the velocity prediction program chart, the SO319 gets up to theoretical hull speed in quick notice: just eight knots true wind at 75 degrees apparent and you are doing 7.3 knots. When hard on the wind, the hull speed is attained at 16kn, also quite quick.
 
Probably the most stand-out statistic is its resistance to capsize capability. Looking at the SO319 Gz Curve its angle of vanishing stability (AVS) is set at 140°. With most production yachts nowadays usually coming in a, still safe, band between 120° and 130° it is a sight to see a similar yacht set at more than 10° over that. If you are unsure as to what the AVS is, it’s a calculated figure defining a yacht’s heeling angle, which is so far over that its centre of bouyancy has passed the centre of the yacht’s gravity; it will most likely capsize from this point.
 
It is not a significant figure that determines whether a yacht is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ per se, but it does provide an insight into the inherent stability of the hull design. After seeing this figure I then looked back over the other yachts I have tested and found a trend from Jeanneau to design yachts with higher AVSs than many production yachts. Is it a conscious move by the builder or just a result of its individual design path?
 
All other numbers on the specification table are quite presentable suggesting a comfortable ride with no shocks on any particular point of sail: sail area to displacement puts it comfortably in the ocean and coastal cruising category; its displacement to length ratio places it on the safer side for a light cruiser/racer.

 

Go to it

The New South Wales Jeanneau agency of Performance Boating Sales and I had been trying to find a weather window to test the Sun Odyssey 319 for several months, then Christmas intervened. Finally, to get this review into this March issue, the date was set in stone.

Upon reflection it was a fortuitous moment. Due to the early morning start there was little wind out on Sydney Harbour; so, not only did we manage to test the engine at full open throttle, we also had to take the little boat out through the Sydney Heads to get any significant breeze. A long held desire of mine has been to be able to properly test a yacht in real life sailing conditions: open ocean.

Could not have asked for better: ten knots of breeze, enough to get her moving, plus a large nor’easter swell running through the heads. A fine opportunity to test the hull shape in sloppy seas.

Motoring down the Harbour I checked the noise level coming from the engine box. It has a nice thick insulation layer covered in flame retardant, oil-resistant foil that keeps the decibels down to an automobile-level quiet 85dB when at cruising revolutions of 2600rpm. When we opened the throttle to get to the wind quicker she maxed at 3600rpm and the noise level down below at the mast only peaked at 95dB, equivalent to being in an underground railway subway.

Cruising speed was just under 6kn and, at full throttle, pushed her over the hull speed to 7.5kn. Smooth ride, no jiggle from the Dyneema-rigged quadrant connecting the twin rudders to the single wheel.

Finding the nor’easter slowly drawing in from North Head we unfurled the mainsail from the roller-furling mast, optioned by owner Jon for easier single-handed sailing. Then unfurled the headsail out on the extended sprit and pointed her to New Zealand. The swell was large and the wind was light.

As a test of the sea-kindly nature of this Delphia/Jeanneau hybrid, the weather was perfect. Hopefully it can be seen in the images that, while Santai’s bow would rise high over the top of the swell, it would not pound back into the sea nor would it continue to hobby-horse.

It would appear that this little yacht likes the lighter breezes, the VPP shows big leaps in performance with each wind increase. Getting to hull speed in only eight knots reinforces my belief that hull design is so sophisticated nowadays the old calculation needs to be updated.

As we worked our way through the sailing angle quadrant there was a marked increase in speed as we went from 35° apparent wind angle to 75°: from 4kn to the hull speed of 7.5kn. Speeds plateaued from that angle on as would be expected but, according to the VPP graph, Santai would sit comfortably above 7kn in boat speed with the spinnaker set in just 8kn of true wind speed. Very efficient.

All of this was while we sailed in the mixed choppy swell of the Heads.

It is powered by a standard high aspect ratio rig, the boom is two metres off the cockpit floor yet the gooseneck is only a metre off the cabin roof. This, plus the rigid boom vang ensure it is both safe and easy to work and move around.

The double swept back spreaders are long to get the rigging out to the side decks with not much angle.

Live those dreams

One of owner Jon’s requisites was to have a large cockpit. At 195 centimetres he likes to sleep under the stars when he can and a long cockpit bench was a necessity. The SO319 delivers.

The starboard bench hides a massive lazarette where normally there would be a third cabin. So long is the bench that Jeanneau have provided two hatch access into it. Jon stores his inflatable dinghy along with its outboard and all his fenders and spares. He has measured it and found he could just about stand his outboard upright on brackets and still be able to close the hatches.

Aft on the port bench, there is the gas bottle hatch in a shallower lazarette. There is space for two big LPG bottles.

On such a small yacht there is no fold down transom swim platform. Jeanneau have made one that is available as an option, otherwise there is a long fold down ladder on the starboard side of the transom.

Under the skipper’s feet is a large access hatch to the steering gear and room for watermaker and generator set if needed.

The skipper’s binnacle includes a leather-clad wheel, compass, engine controls and panel. The side decks alongside are sans coamings so the skipper can sit right out to the pushpit without having to kink his legs over the coamings.

The rest of the cockpit has large coaming sides.

The long benches curve outboard around the wheel allowing easy access to the sail handling winches. The two halyard winches sit either side of the companionway with a full suite of jammers.

Adding to the aesthetic of the side profile the cabin top is low. While there are handrails on top it would take a bit of leaning over to use them. The lower shrouds are sharply angled but the side decks are strikingly wide to allow easy access forward.

One of Jon’s other favourite relaxing spots on board is forward of the mast on the low sloping cabin top. Due to the large hatch in the cockpit the forward locker is shallow and not designed to hold more than the necessaries.

The pulpit is open at the stem for easy access to the headsail tack and anchor. It also makes for nicer headsail setting shape.

Scheme those schemes

In a departure from many production yachts nowadays, the SO319 has a set of four rather steep steps down the companionway. The outcome, of course, is to take you into a full headroom cabin.

A further bonus this deep drop from cockpit to cabin provides is a tall engine room. The headroom above the engine is quite extraordinary and the nearly two inch insulation is impressive. Mention has been made earlier about the noise deadening such insulation delivers.

Starting up forward is one of owner Davies’ reasons for purchasing the Sun Odyssey, a step down from the main saloon gives Jon his required 6’4” headroom at the bed base. A triangular insert at the centre of the bed end can be moved to a lower position to provide a seat facing into the cabin.

Port and starboard aft of the bed in the cabin are large lockers: one of shelving the other as a hanging locker. Inside these lockers is the access to the chainplates.

The cabin door is offset to starboard, sidestepping the mast step and providing easy access down the side of the cabin table.

The plush white leather saloon bench seats are quite wide, but you can still raise the table leaves to make the full dining table without having to spread the legs or bang your knees.

These bench seats are over two metres long, same as the cabin beds, but the seat backs can be easily lifted up, put aside and the bench seats become long wide single berths, big enough even for maybe two small children.

The downside may be a loss of storage space usually held behind these seats but there are two large lockers on the side hulls above. The port side saloon seat holds the batteries.

On the starboard seat, at the rear, is the navigation table facing aft. Everything is easily accessible and ready to hand but, other than the lift-top table, there is little storage space here.

To port is the galley. this is compact as you would expect, but the L-shape provides security. The benchtop going athwartships is wide and covers two top access lids to the refrigerator, which is necessary for such a large fridge space; plus there is one lid over the sink.

A gimballed two burner stove and oven lie against the hull and will suffice.

In this space there is plenty of small and large storage available, as required in a galley.

The port aft cabin is behind with the same size bed as the main. One nice treat Jeanneau have added, is to put hinges on the bunk boards; no longer do you have to struggle holding the bunk cushions up while you juggle those large plywood boards to get them to fit back in place.

The head is to starboard of the companionway steps. The toilet position faces inboard with the seat going well back out of the way of being broken. The shower head is the sink faucet and, once hooked up for showering, there is plenty of elbow room with the door closed; although the toilet roll may require better moisture protection!

The cabin top has two centreline hatches and the only other opening hatches are in the cabin side windows at the galley and head. There are two large hull windows beautifully situated opposite the saloon table giving a lovely view across the water.

Most likely due to such a deep cabin, there is not much in the way of bilge under the floorboards. I could not fully count all the keel bolts but they appear to be inline and excellently backed with thick steel backing plates crossing most of the bilge frame. A deep centre bilge holds the electric pump.

The overall side profile is, like other Sun Odysseys, pleasing to the eye. A nice raise in the sheer to the stem not only provides that rakish look but also helps to keep the foredeck dry. Look at the images of the hull from aft to the fore and you see a quite sharp flaring of the topsides along with those now standard plumpish bow sections.

Such an easily driven hull allows for a smallish sailplan for its displacement, another tick for single-hander Jon.

Currently, Jon engages in mostly coastal work, preferably into Pittwater. But, in a short time, he has racked up some significant sea miles and experience with Santai and is already looking at South East Asia in the not too distant future. This is something he believed he could not envisage achieving in his previous larger yachts.

The Sun Odyssey 319 may be small compared to the current average cruising yacht, but its small size is perfect for this owner and offers the same, in fact greater, capability to take him places he only dreamed of.

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