New Sun Odyssey 349 Proves Once Again to be a Fun and Easy Boat to Sail

One of the better perks of being in the business of building and selling new boats is having them available from time to time to go for a sail on. Such was the case yesterday when some colleagues and I found ourselves with an available Sun Odyssey 349 to sail, a lovely sunny afternoon, a solid 15 knot breeze and a bit of time on our hands. Who could say no to that? Definitely not us, so with a couple of bottles of cold beer in hand, we shoved off and headed out for a late afternoon/ early evening sail.

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A nice shot taken from the cockpit of the Sun Odyssey 349 sailing on the Chesapeake Bay in the late afternoon.

The 349 is a new addition to the Sun Odyssey range with just a handful of boats being delivered thus far. This particular 349 is headed for charter with Sail Caribe in Puerto Rico and is fitted with a deep keel (6’5″), traditional main and 110% jib. The wind was blowing a steady 12-15 which was more than enough to put the lee rail close to the water and get us up to the boat’s theoretical hull speed of 7 1/2 knots. Because the 349 features twin rudders and a well-balanced sail plan, it trucks through the water like a train on a track. The boat pretty much sails itself, even in heavy air.

We made a long stretch to windward across the bay and when we had polished off our first beer, we came about and went off on a new tack that took us more south down the bay. It was a beautiful night to be out sailing and we were enjoying every minute of it. After a while as the sun was beginning to set, we fell off the wind and eventually jibed around and headed for the barn. The sun sank fast into the west and before we were even half way back to the dock, we had pretty much lost our light. Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem but this boat was brand new and we didn’t quite have the running lights up and working yet. The wind however pushed us along at a good clip and by the time we had drained our last beer we were sailing into the channel leading into Back Creek where our slip was waiting for us.

Mr. Frederic Gillier, head of the Jeanneau IT program, compently  drives the Sun Odyssey 349 to windward across the Chesapeake Bay
Mr. Frederic Gillier, head of the Jeanneau IT program, competently drives the Sun Odyssey 349 towards home.

In my mind the 349 is a tough boat to beat. It’s priced well, is a blast to sail, has plenty of room in the cockpit, has a great interior layout, and has what it takes to go off cruising in grand style. What else do you need? Well, we could have used just one more cold beer. C’est la vie…

On we go…

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – Part 1

Corsica
Corsica is a rugged and an amazingly beautiful island. Although not part of the original plan, I’ll end up spending 10 days here sailing aboard the new Jeanneau 64

We landed on the French island of Corsica at 10:30 at night. Located about 200 miles south of the French mainland and just west of Italy, Corsica is one of those quintessential Mediterranean Islands that rises up out of the sea like a rough-cut diamond. Lonely planet describes Corsica as “an island designed for beach lovers, culture buffs, hikers, and divers. It combines vast stretches of shoreline with the beauty of the mountains, plenty of activities for your body and some rich history to engage your mind.” I along with my two associates, Valerie Toomey and Jeff Jorgensen, have come for a different purpose, to see, sail and help launch the Jeanneau 64, the new flagship of the Jeanneau range.

I had seen the 64 while under construction back in December. And, while my friend and colleague Erik Stromberg, did his usual great job walking me through the boat and describing what the finished product would eventually look like, artist renderings and imagination can only get you so far. Now it was time for seeing and believing.

Jeanneau 64 at night
The Jeanneau 64 sits stern to in downtown Porto-Vecchio. While it may not be the largest yacht in town, it’s impressive none the less.

By the time we arrived at our hotel it was late. But we had no sooner gotten out of the car and headed to check in when out on the water under a bright canopy of stars, came the Jeanneau 64 gliding by in all its brilliance headed for the marina. My first thought was “where is she coming from and why is she out so late?” My second thought was, “wow, this boat looks awesome.” The 64 sports a triple spreader rig and this specific boat (hull #1) has the optional double headstay with a 110% genoa on the outer stay and a smaller, self-tacking jib on the inner stay. The combination of the white painted mast, triple spreaders and double headstay, immediately left me with the impression that the 64 was much more than just a big boat, it was a true yacht.

Since the marina was just a few steps from the hotel, Valerie, Jeff and I quickly dropped our bags and made a bee-line for the boat. I was excited to find on board a bunch of my friends from Jeanneau including Erik Stromberg who I have worked with now for 15 or 16 years. Erik welcomed us on board and handed each of us a glass of red wine. We all made our way below and stood for a while in the main salon. “Well, what do you think” said Erik. My initial response was “don’t rush me, I’m taking it all in.” And I was, this was a lot of boat. Huge master cabin aft, two guest cabins forward, a fourth cabin to starboard with upper and lower berths, beautifully appointed galley to port, and a main salon that screamed “come on in, sit down and enjoy yourself… all of you!”

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A view of the dining table in the main salon. Notice the light oak wood with off-white leather upholstery. Large hull ports bring in plenty of natural light and provide for a view to the sea while seated

The red wine continued to flow as did the conversations. Those of us who hadn’t seen the boat before took ourselves on a self-guided tour. Some of us first went forward while others started aft. Some hung in the galley, others stretched out in the owner’s aft cabin. Soon we all settled around the table in the main salon. “Well?” Erik said. “Really comfortable” I replied. “It just feels really warm and comfortable” I added.

The interior of the Jeanneau 64 is a lot more than just big. It’s also extremely well proportioned, things just fit together nicely. The seating for example around the dining table is super comfortable, it’s just the right height. You feel like you can sit there for hours just hanging out with friends, wine glass in hand, solving the problems of the world. The colors and choice of materials go together extremely well. For example the wood that is used is a light oak while the color of the salon floor is dark, almost an ebony. Dark leather is used to accent the light oak as well. The contrast is amazingly nice. And while the interior is definitely modern, it’s not so modern to be impractical or cold. In fact it’s just the opposite. It feels very practical and very warm.  Andrew Winch, the interior designer on the project really nailed it.

Paul on 64
Yours truly seated at the aft end of the main salon enjoying a fine glass of Bordeaux shortly after my arrival in Corsica

It’s easy to be impressed by a big boat, especially one that’s 64 feet. The Jeanneau 64 is a lot more than just a big boat however, it’s a real yacht. And what makes a yacht a yacht? Follow more of the story at Love at First Site – Part 2, when I go sailing with the designer Philippe Briand, and ask him that very question.

On we go…