Jeanneau 349 – sailing made easy

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 has been making waves around the world and it isn’t surprising why. The price point is right for a boat that can go from cruiser to round-the-cans racing easily. With over 25 in Australia, and 400 worldwide, there is something special about this boat that makes sailing simple and enjoyable. The Marc Lombard design features a sharp chine on the hull and nice curved lines from the hull to deck. The new swing keel option adds to the versatility of the boat and the ability to tailor a yacht to the owners needs. The yacht comes with a basic cruising package but can be upgraded to a performance set up for those that want to do a bit of racing.

KEEL OPTIONS

The 349 comes with three different keel options, the standard keel, the winged shoal draft keel and the swing keel. The winged shoal draft keel allows access to shallower water while gaining draft with the wing for performance and lift.

The introduction of the swing keel option earlier this year has proven the racing capabilities of the 349. The concept behind the design is to combine ballast and lateral stability in a single moving part rather than the traditional lifting keel system. The obvious benefit to this set-up is the ability to change the draft but the key advantage is the improved performance at all angles. The weight of the swing keel remains the same as the fixed ensuring there is no weight penalty while the keel creates less drag without the addition of a bulb.

The keel remains on the exterior of the yacht resulting in no impact to the interior and all parts are easy to access.

DECK LAYOUT

The 349 is definitely set up for short-handed sailing. With all ropes leading back to the twin wheels. The test boat only had the two winches at the wheels and I would recommend adding an extra one or two to the cabin top just to make manoeuvres a little bit easier, I was assured this is on the extras list. The breeze was light the day we sailed but it was easy to manage putting the sails up, tacking and gybing and putting the sails away easily. Once you get the hang of manoeuvres, with only two winches, it is an easy boat to sail single handed.

Forward of the twin wheels is the large cockpit table with storage and drink holders. To either side is storage lockers – including a huge sail locker I will talk about later. Ropes lead down either sides of the cabin with minimal fuss. The mainsheet is rigged using a bridle on the cabin top and the jib sheets are set to each side.

The rig has huge swept back spreaders which means back stays aren’t necessary. The rigging is by Selden and deck gear by Harken and Spinlock. The sail set-up we were using is the basic package but was enough for the owner who wants to cruise and do a little bit of racing. There is the option to making everything that bit easier with a self-tacking jib and furling mainsail. You can also go the other way with a performance sail set up. You can add a spinnaker or a Code Zero depending on your sailing needs.

DOWN BELOW

When you first go down below there is the feeling of having everything at your fingertips. The galley is set to starboard with the head to port. A large settee in the middle with the navigation table. Then you have double doors to the forward double cabin. For a 34 footer the interior is spacious. The settee could sit up to six people but the impression I get is that this boat is designed for four people.

The boat we tested had the two cabin configuration, this made extra room for the head and a huge storage locker, which can be accessed from both the interior and on deck, for sails, fenders and toys.

The galley has all the necessities. A two-burner stove/oven combination, a deep fridge with top access, hot and cold water tap and storage with a bin under the sink. Next to the settee there is a compartment for some nice bottles of wine. There is also a power point in the galley for that all important appliance you can’t leave behind – coffee anyone?

The head is large. At first glance there is the toilet and basin – with plenty of bench space for your toiletries. Under the sink is some more storage. Behind the toilet is a large shower with a hanging rack for all your wet gear plus a shelf for the toiletries. There is also a door to the huge storage that replaces the third berth option.

The strip LED lighting thoughout the interior is recessed so you are not being hit with direct light when heading down from on deck. The windows allow natural light to flood in during the day and the hatches have dual screens to ensure no flies or direct sunlight can get in.

PERFORMANCE

The day we tested the Sun Odyssey 349 was very light – a typical dying breeze on a Winter day on Pittwater. Despite the light breeze the boat had some pace through the water. The helm was very light and the boat was easy to manoeuvre.

We didn’t get the best opportunity to see what this boat could do but there is definitely some promise. It was quick and easy to set up and get going when we did get to the puffs.

I would love to go for an afternoon race in a bit more breeze and see what it is really capable of.

The Sun Odyssey 349 is a great all rounder boat, while predominantly a cruising boat it is able to go round-the-cans and with a performance package can step-up. It would be a great boat for a race week with some friends. The swing keel is a great addition to the boat.

For more information on the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 and the new swing keel head to www.jeanneauaustralia.com

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