Monday, October 22, 2012

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 41 DS

DS 41: New Look from Jeanneau

Recently I've been looking at the new Sun Odyssey DS line of cruising yachts and had a chance to go aboard one of these uniquely styled boats at a recent boat show. In reviewing this design I'll start with the overall proportions of the boat because we can learn a lot about a boat's sailing qualities just by assessing the juxtaposition of the keel, rig and hull volumes. Boats can be beautiful or not, but I think boats that perform well are always better looking than those that don't, regardless of dimensions and coefficients. In the profile view above, notice the relationships between the hull, keel and rig. The nearly vertical leading edge of the keel is slightly forward of the mast.  On the deckplan you'll see that there is a jib traveler also just forward of the mast along with a pair of jib tracks just aft of it, with the shrouds led to chainplates that are located almost at the gunwales. All of this dictates that the 41DS will carry small headsails, while the mainsail shown in the photos is a good looking fully battened and lazy-jacked unit with lots of power. This arrangement looks to me like it will generate a good deal of weather helm, so it'll be interesting to take this boat out for a test sail.

Beamy and full ended, the DS 41 offers plenty of room below, but how does she sail?

In studying the shape of the hull, I see that Jeanneau has embraced the current fad of chines from about station 6 to the transom. This may add a bit of visual interest to this hull but won't appreciably affect its performance. I would call this a chubby boat in which accommodations were perhaps more important to the builder than speed. The rudder is deep and powerful and will be appreciated when the boat is on a reach.

I think the DS 41's deck is a bold, even audacious, design. The height and bulk of cabin trunk is visually mitigated by the clever use of smoked plexiglass windows and molded-in steps aft. With the jib tracks mounted on the cabin top, side decks are uncluttered, making fore and aft movement easy. The cockpit coamings are an extension of the roofline of the cabin trunk, curving downward to a point just forward of the helm station. I leave it to you to judge the aesthetics of this design, but I will say that I found the slope of these coamings to be uncomfortable for sitting. Of course there are seats aplenty in the cockpit, but I still think the coamings should be more than just styling points. While I'm on the subject of the coamings I'll mention the winches. I appreciate that they are conveniently located for the helmsman, and that they are electric (at least on the boat I was aboard). But the location of them means that under sail, the helmsman is going to be very busy at times managing the sheets and other controls that are led to this pair of winches. Given their location, there is no good way to get any real leverage to pull on any of the lines that are led to them and the crew who jumps in to help will likely be a distraction for the helmsman. The mainsail is controlled by a German style sheet system without a traveler. We're seeing this arrangement on many new designs and I think it is an inexpensive alternative, but I prefer to  have a traveler.

Twin wheels are really a requirement on the 41DS because of the very wide stern of this boat. They enable the helmsman to sit well outboard so he or she can see the jib teltales, and they have the added benefit of making access to the swim step easy. I really like the swiveling instrument pod on the aft end of the cockpit table. I'm not sure how far it swivels but I'd like it to go far enough so that I could sit in the cockpit and see all the data. The cockpit is large and will be a fun place to congregate when the boat is on the hook.

Going below, you can see the benefits of that buxom hull. The wide open spaces, light colors and natural light from the plethora of hatches and ports make the 41DS a very inviting boat. More so when at anchor than at sea.
Condo-like accommodations
The DS designation stands for Deck Salon and, combined with the tallish cabin trunk, the cockpit sole is raised far enough to create a massive aft cabin with sitting headroom above the centerline berth. I think this arrangement is going to be a huge selling point for the DS 41 among buyers whose sailing ambitions are oriented more toward weekends at the island than passagemaking, which is the vast majority of sailors these days. The galley is reasonable for a boat of this size. The sinks are a bit smaller than I would like but still usable.  Opposite the galley is a large head with the shower integrated into it. There is lots of counter space and storage room here. The main cabin incorporates a large and deep dinette to starboard and a short settee to port.

Large chart table, plenty of light and even a wine locker...very French.

I like the large chart table. That enormous monitor can display all the ship's data, including navigation, radar, wind, etc. as well as movies. I like this new technology, but what's missing is a good sea berth. Forward of the main bulkhead is a private cabin with ensuite head, plenty of room and lots of light. Once again, this will be an inviting place to hang out when the boat is at anchor.

Dining table converts to coffee table.
The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 41DS represents a growing trend in the sailboat market. Except for racing enthusiasts, sailors want a roomy, comfortable place to spend time with their families. They want reasonably good performance but not at the cost of comfort. I think the 41DS fulfills these requirements very well. I would add that given these harsh economic times, which are even more so for sailboat builders, providing for the needs of their customers at a cost they can afford is an extremely difficult proposition. Synthetics are replacing wood, square corners and modular structures are replacing handcrafted interiors, and closed molding is the method of choice for making fiberglass parts. The result is boats that are strong, lightweight and have the aura of 'styling by IKEA'. This can be a good thing if your yachting taste runs in that direction.