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Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 -'family cruiser' European Yacht of the Year

by Des Ryan on 31 Jan 2011
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 with self-tacking headsail Jeanneau France
The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 has just won the prestigious European Yacht of the Year in the prime category of 'family cruiser', surely an award which will bring it the potential of high sales. Eleven sailing journalists from disparate organisations test sailed the contenders, and the winner was announced at the recent Dusseldorf Boat Show, aka BOOT.

To win the award it had to beat some other high-flying names to make it to the top spot on the podium - the Bavaria Cruiser 45, the Beneteau Oceanis 58, the Comet 26, and the Hanse 445.

The panel assesses performance, comfort, construction quality, price-performance ratio, design and unique selling features.

So what makes her special amongst such competition?

This yacht replaces the 39i, of which more than 1,000 were built, so it started from a pretty firm base, and the innovation starts from there.

Mostly the changes are smart details, but the biggest departure from the 39i is the fact that the 409 has a hard chine running from about midships aft, fairly high on the topsides. This is meant to give more interior volume in the aft cabin, and extra stability when sailing.

Like her predecessors, the 409 is solid hand-laid fiberglass, with cored decks, and comes with either a 6'10' or 5'1' cast-iron keel, depending on how you intend to use the boat. Most long-range cruisers would probably opt for the longer keel.

Designer Philippe Briand and the Jeanneau design team have given a lot of thought to the cockpit layout. With short-handed sailing growing ever more popular, all the sail handling lines and winches are laid out within easy reach of the person on the helm. This means that the 409 can be easily sailed without by the ever growing band of cruising couples.

The winches are also ideal for the short-handed cruising couple. They are electric winches with a very important innovation. Just by flipping a switch, you can EASE a line, without taking the line out of the self-tailing mechanism - a great safety feature, and perfect for those of lesser strength. They are Harken winches, their new Rewind Radial Electic winches, which are also designed to reduce overrides.

Having said that it's suitable for short-handed cruising, it will, however, accommodate a crowd, whether crewing or just enjoying a sundowner. Talking of sundowners, then there's the removable helm seat which opens the transom down to a swim platform, vital for every true cruising boat. Back there there's good stowage, the perfect place for the life raft, offering ease of launching.

There's an optional self-tacking jib, with a curved lateral track set forward of the mast, and the 40 hp Yanmar gives plenty of power.

Down below the interior has a good hardwood trim and traditional woodwork for which Jeanneau is known. There's plenty of light and visibility because of the abundance of hull and opening ports and flush hatches.There are multiple layouts below - two or three cabins, depending on how you intend to use the boat.

For power, the Jeanneau is now sporting two solar panels as a factory-installed option. At least it's a beginning, and LED lights are utilised throughout, so it shows that Jeanneau, finally, is getting a little Greener.

For more information, go to the Jeanneau www.jeanneau.com!website

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