Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490, natural born cruiser

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 shows good performance at all points of sail  and a high level of comfort, both above and below decks. More or less all you need for a perfect cruise

by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Bertrand Duquenne

 When you are driving a car, what happens if you take your foot off the accelerator? That’s a rhetorical question. You slow down. Something similar happens when the wind falls, or – as people who understand these things say – there is a hole. That is what happened several times to me during the test of the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490, given that on that day the Gulf of Cannes only had a fairly light wind for us.

Nothing dramatic, given that other people before us had a completely calm sea. And trying out a sailing boat in a calm sea is a bit like testing a sports car stationary in a car park. But, all in all, it turned out quite well for me. But let’s get back to the 490.

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 b

The first thing that struck me positively while sailing was its ability to not lose speed, not even when there were gaps in the wind. While I used the Code 0 to sail between beam reach and a close reach, the wind meter fell from eight to seven knots wind speed and despite that, the boat kept up the same pace. Of course, if the lack of wind continues, even the 490 slows down, but it doesn’t do so immediately. Great quality, especially because we are on board a cruiser.

Not a racing boat, or even a fast cruiser. A pure cruiser. As in the Sun Odyssey, even though it has been revisited. And doing six or seven knots with the Code 0 when the wind speed is seven or eight knots is most definitely a good outcome. I had the same good feeling with the main sails. Despite the light wind, we never pulled up, even when only using the mainsail and genoa. It is true that we were using the performance pack with a tall rig mast, halyards in dyneema and better-performing sails than the standard ones, but in any case it wasn’t anything excessive. And it is a performance pack for a cruiser boat. And you can feel this characteristic when sailing downwind, and also when it picks up sailing upwind. The hull, waterlines and weight reduction have been carefully studied.

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 m

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 beam, which is distinctly accentuated in the stern, favours sailing on a beam reach. So all in all it is a boat that can give satisfaction at all points of sailing, and which doesn’t make you want to turn on the engine. It is also very easy to handle. It is a good compromise between keeping a stable course, and responding quickly. There are two comfortable wheels, and they are presumably comfortable even when the wind is a lot stronger than what we found.

Sheets and halyards are exposed over the deckhouse. With this model, there are two electric winches that are located just a few centimetres from the wheels and a further two close to the companionway for the sheets. All of it is comfortable, without any excess. It is a boat to sail with a crew and not necessarily on your own.

The cockpit is the thing that I most liked. There are some details that you can appreciate while underway such as the tilted seats for the helmsman with the displays with sailing data, and these are also at an angle. In practice, while you are sitting down and at the helm, you can always see the screens without having to move to read the figures. Whereas the autopilot screen has been located at the end of the table in the cockpit and that can also be easily seen when needed.

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 m

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 bow fitting is useful, with space for two winders: one for the genoa, and one for the Code 0. Something else that is comfortable is the room for the self-inflating life raft, which is under the floor, and easily accessible if you take down the tilting stern. But the thing that has got this boat noticed from the first boat show that it appeared at are the side walkways which go down towards the stern, and end up at the same height as the floor of the cockpit.

No more manoeuvres or pole vaulting to reach this area. You just have to walk, and the walkways falls away gently. This is a surprising solution which you appreciate even more when you try it out. Also, together with the gentle falling-away of the walkways, there is a system that means that the back of the benches can be lowered.

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 c

That means that you can get a large sun bathing area, which is decidedly unusual for a sailing boat, and – most of all – for a boat of this size. Nothing is left to chance and, one choice in fittings leads to another. By having placed all the electronic instrument displays in the stern, and close to the wheel, means that the bulkheads which are on either side of the companionway are freed up.

And these, rather than being made from fibre glass, are glass, and so allow natural light to seep below decks. And so the dinette is very well lit. It isn’t just a matter of light, but also the view outside which is really satisfying.

You just have to look round and you see the sea, the cockpit, or the sky above your head. And that too is a pleasant sensation. Amongst the interiors I liked the map table, both because it provides a lot of space, and also because it has two seats opposite one another. It is a solution that means that you can decide which side you want to sit on, or means that a number of people can gather around a map. So you can share the choice of where to head, or where to anchor.

Other details that have been got right below decks are the shower box in the owner’s cabin. It doesn’t have a door, so the clutter is reduced, but it does have bulkheads, which mean that the inside can’t be seen.

Room size is also excellent, because all of them have significant headroom, as is the size of the galley and the width of the dinette square. From one side to the other there is as much as 410 cm and the owner’s bed measures 160 cm. If we split hairs, the only thing that didn’t completely convince me is the galley area. It isn’t small, but both the hobs and the single sink seem to be a bit sacrificed. Perhaps a solution could have been found which used the space available better.

 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490
Philippe Briand Yacht Design, Piaton Bonet Yacht Design and Jeanneau Design
Hull: LOA with bowsprit 14.80m LOA 14.42m Length 14.0m Waterline length 13.24m Maximum beam 4.49m Ligh mass displacement 24,890 kg Draft 2.24/1.65m Water tank volume 640 Fuel tank volume 240 Sailing surface 110.4 m2
Main Propulsion: Yanmar 4JH80 Outlet mechanical power 58.8 kW (80 hp) •  4 cylinders in line • Bore&Stroke 84mm X90mm Maximal rotational speed 3200/min Dry weight 229 kg
EC Certification: CAT. A
Price: 244.100 €, Excl.VAT

32 Avenue des Sables
Les Herbiers Cedex, France

(Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490, natural born cruiser – – Ottobre 2018)