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Production boat builders appear to be settling down on design for the popular range of boats under twelve metres (40 feet).

Chines, wide transoms, twin wheels and twin rudders are becoming de rigeur for both cruising and racing. In fact the designs are so good that the delineation between cruising and racing has almost disappeared with boats being promoted as hybrid cruiser/racers or vice versa.

How well does Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey 349 fit in?

 

Light of day

The owner of our test boat was in the market for just such a multi-purpose boat, wanting to race with a crew and go single-handed cruising. He optioned his 349 a further $20,000 to provide those extras he felt he needed. Coming from a low base boat price made it easy.

To satisfy the two previously irreconciliable markets: cruising and racing, Jeanneau have packaged the boat with various options to modify the standard hull shape to a prospective buyer’s desires.

So the Sun Odyssey 349 comes with three different keel types: a short draft winged shoal keel, a lifting swing keel and standard deep draft.

There are various options in the sail plan ranging from all-out racing gear to self-tacking jibs and roller furling for cruising.

Down below is fairly settled, the only major choice is for a two cabin or a three cabin version. Although there are four different upholstery designs for taste.

As to the hull design, Marc Lombard has drawn what appears to be a deep canoe body with a flat line running from the keel halfway aft, before angling up to the small rudders. With twin rudders there is less of the need for deep spades to provide the bite when heeled, another crossover advantage from racing to cruising now that wide sterns are ubiquitous.

Most striking to me, however is the marked reverse sheer line from transom to midway. This is a good looking boat when it is heeled over: rising reverse sheer, slight flaring of the topsides, quite severe chine angling back from the mast along with full use made of the hull length. It made choosing this month’s front cover quite easy.

 

Steady as she goes

As mentioned, hull shapes nowadays make for easy sailing and the Sun Odyssey 349 is no exception.

In a flat 10 to 15 knot breeze Liz Coleman and I compared the boat performance against its provided velocity prediction plot. On the three main apparent wind angles of sailing, 30, 60 and 90 degrees, she glided along beautifully keeping track with the VPP. Beating into the wind she hit a sweet spot at about 37° doing 6.3 knots, where the VPP said it would do under 5.5kts.

The flat chine once again comes into effect reducing the roll on the hull and helping to drive the boat forward with little effort required on the helm.

The steering stations are self-sufficient, each with compass, instruments and headsail winch all to hand; plus a neat built-in rope bag for headsail sheet neatness and skipper’s essential steering item stowage.

Steering sightlines are good even with the bimini dodger raised.

The spreaders are swept well back (30°) so there is no backstay to get in the skipper’s way. This also means the mainsail is smaller than usual so, under cracked sheets, the Code O may be an option if you wish to keep up good mileage. Having no backstay with the twin wheels, however, makes easy access to and from the drop-down transom swim platform.

No backstay makes the mainsail smaller so the boom does not encroach over the cockpit. It is sheeted using a bridle forward of the companionway and the German sheeting system.

The cabin top bulkhead slopes nicely to provide the perfect back rest facing aft.

The port lazarette under the bench is so large it comes with its own glass hatch so it can be converted into a single berth when needed. There is also access to this cabin via the only head/shower cabin down below.

The furling, self-tacking jib and no spinnakers means there are no trip hazards on the foredeck. The headsail sheeting system borrows from its racy sister the Sun Fast range, as does the mainsheet bridle. Both use moving parts.

Shroud base is well aft of the mast and while the grab rails on the cabin top are low down it is not a cramped side deck and easy to move around.

There are good strong hand and foot holds in the cockpit table.

A large anchor locker is offset to port so the boat can be optioned with a racing bowsprit if desired.

 

By the numbers

Sail area to displacement ratio places the Sun Odyssey 349 on the cusp between coastal cruiser and offshore racing boat.

It has a fairly small sailplan due to the small boom length and three quarter rig but it is very light in comparison to other boats in its class. This means the ballast ratio is a good high number due to a deep keel to maintain stiffness. This is also borne out with its displacement to length ratio, placing the boat again on the cusp of light cruiser to ocean racer.

However, Jeanneau has managed to get the highest angle of vanishing stability (Gz curve) of any comparable boat this size: 139.2. CE rating is for Category A and the European Stix program rates it 43.

While the beam is not overly huge it is carried all the way to the transom to make most of the chine when heeled and to give good downwind speed and stability when running.

 

Downunder

Our test boat opted for the two cabin version down below.

This provides a large queen size berth in both cabins with, oddly, the main forecabin being slightly smaller than the starboard aft. Both cabins have hanging lockers which is good to see and ample headroom. The width of the hull down aft means the cockpit floor does not impinge on a good night’s sleep in the aft cabin.

The port head/shower in this version is roomy. Plenty of elbow room when both sitting on the toot or having a shower in the separate cubicle.

The aft bulkhead in the shower provides access to the aft lazarette with a large hatch/door. Be careful of elbowing the shower tap on when backing out!

Engine room access from the front is different in this production boat, the companionway stairs fold down and lie on the floor. This provides excellent access to the top of the engine but it is difficult to work over the top of the cover on the floor. Access via the starboard cabin gets you to all the necessary engine items. The Yanmar 15.3 kilowatt motor is a proven performer and at cruising speed hardly dented any downstairs conversation.

The 130 litre fuel tank should give nearly two full days of motoring.

Galleys are usually compromised in 34 foot boats but Jeanneau have managed to provide a good two burner stove and oven, dual sinks and a 100l ice box in its L-shape. Bench space is short but adequate and there is plenty of big item storage space underneath.

The water tank is 206l and has a digital readout at the nav table.

I have always like the strong large fiddlework on Jeanneaus, an added feeling of safety.

There are also wooden grab rails on both sides of the centreline of the cabin ceiling.

Both cabins and the saloon have LED strip lights for added nighttime mood.

The navigation station is to port forward of the head. You sit on the saloon bench and face aft. This too is quite simple and does not have space to store proper paper charts but the table is deep enough for electronic devices. The table can be dropped down against the hull to make the saloon bench another single berth in a pinch.

The compression post for the desk-stepped mast runs about halfway through the saloon table. The forward bulkhead to the forecabin is well forward of this. It has double doors so it can be accessed by walking down either side of the table.

Both this bulkhead and the mast post are enclosed in two ring frames to take the loads and stop torquing forces. This stress framing method helps to keep the deck and hull construction light.

Seven keel bolts, each with separate washer, connects the keel to the hull.

The rudders are set in stainless steel stocks and the hull glands are above the waterline.

 

Take the bait

Given all its capabilities mentioned here this is still only a ten metre boat.

You could easily fit gen sets, watermakers, solar panels and all the other trappings of an ocean cruiser to this and take it offshore. But it is better suited to sticking to coastal hopping.

Guaranteed it will be a fast, fun but easy, cruise.

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