Boat Review Date: April 2012
Author: Mike Brown
While most builders are marking time Jeanneau, the world’s largest builder of yachts, is steadily revamping – and in many cases replacing – its entire line. The latest new model had its worldwide release at the last Sydney Boat Show: the Sun Odyssey 379.
Sun Odyssey is Jeanneau’s brand name for their cruiser racers, and the 379 would look the part around the buoys. On the other hand it is also set up for shorthanded cruising, as so many of the current crop of boats are. Genoa sheets and the German main sheet are led back to winches at the twin wheels. The winches are beefy Harken ST46s, but there are just two of them; two more are optional if you want to dedicate them to the main sheet. Another nice shorthanding option is an autopilot.
The hull form is contemporary, with a plumb stem, a sharp bow, and beam that is carried almost to the transom. The after part of the hull has a hard chine that gives form stability as well as adding internal volume.
The rig has a high aspect ratio main that, at 35m2, is the same area as the genoa. The detail of the rig is familiar and simple: twin spreaders, and twin backstays, lazy bag on the main, plus two slab reefing points, and furler on the genoa. The shrouds are set well inboard to allow tight sheeting angles. There is an option on a self tacking headsail that reduces total sail area to 58.3m2; a reduction that could be easily tolerable by a cruising owner in WA’s wind strengths, especially with the 379’s light displacement.
6.7T is light for an 11+m boat. Its easily driven nature is shown by the modest 29hp saildrive motor’s ability to get it up to eight knots in brisk time.
A lot of boats have shoal draught options, but probably none with the 379’s range. The standard 1.95m draught is matched with a high aspect ratio rudder, the 1.5m winged shoal keel with twin rudders. The third option is a swing keel that retracts into an under-keel box for a retracted draught of 1.1m, and deployed of 2.25m. It could be tailor made for the Kimberley.
There are two and three cabin versions, which is usual in this size of boat. The unusual feature is the quantity and variety of storage space provided in either version. Opt for two cabins and the aft cabin is bigger, and extra storage for serious items like inflatable dinghies becomes available. A delightful touch is the aft cabin windows that curve from cabin top around the aft bulkhead. These are in addition to side ports in the hull.
The saloon can seat an offshore racing crew to dinner. The U-lounge to starboard and the port side settee both get the use of the extending table. Food for these hungry people is provided by a large and competent galley. The double sink is fed by a 40L hot water system, the top loading fridge holds 185L, and the stove is large and gimbaled with a twin burner top.
The cockpit has room for a busy racing crew or a relaxed social group, sitting on teak sheathed seats and coamings. The cockpit table is optional, which makes sense for a mainly racing owner. The wheels are well placed and each has a set of analogue readouts in the coaming alongside it. The Simrad plotter is centrally mounted and swivels towards whichever wheel is in use.
Lack of clutter makes the cockpit apparently larger, and this is partly due to the amount of dedicated storage. The gas bottle locker takes two bottles, the life raft has its own compartment, all the sailing gear has a compartment, and even the Perspex wash boards have their own hideaway.
The hull the Yanmar moves so easily responds just as well to light airs, but it gives distinctive sensations when responding to gusts. The vessel heels initially, then the effect of the chine comes in and puts something of a brake on further heel. The 379 is a satisfactorily stiff vessel without a large ballast ratio.
The 379 has been nominated for both European and US boat of the year, and despite the financial problems in both places is reportedly selling fast.
Price from $233,000
Length overall 11.24m
Hull length 10.98m
Sail area 70 m2
Engine 29hp Yanmar
Fuel capacity 130L
Fresh water 200L