Jeanneau Sun odyssey 42DS

To be honest, I probably would've missed it had it not been pointed out to me. But Boat of the Year judge Bill Lee saw it straightaway. "Check that out," he said, gesturing to the deck-stepped Selden spar on the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42 DS. "They've got a separate groove to accommodate the luff of the storm trysail." We looked at one another and nodded approvingly. Very clever. Very cool. Before I stepped off the boat, I'd find myself saying the same thing again and again.

The 42 DS is Jeanneau's latest, and smallest, swing at a deck-saloon sailboat--a 49-footer and a 54-footer are previous incarnations and it's very safe to say the company has the concept well figured out. Like its siblings, the 42 DS features a sloping raised deck to accommodate the distinctive cat's-eye windows that are the centerpiece of the boat's aesthetic profile. One of the nice things about this 42-footer is that they didn't try and do too much with it. The 42 DS has a nice double cabin forward, the airy saloon/nav area/galley in the middle, and a totally inviting owner's cabin aft. That's it. Oh, yes, there are a couple of heads, one tucked up front in the V-berth cabin and another to starboard, at the foot of the companionway (which can be accessed from the central living space or the owner's quarters), but both have been integrated into the interior plan so well that they're in no way intrusive. From stem to stern, the 42 DS has lots of smart little features. The forward cabin boasts a well-thought-out and roomy hanging locker, with generous storage shelves included. Tanks are stashed under the V-berth. The laminated-wood floor is both handsome and durable. The Scheiber electrical panel graphically displays voltage and fuel and water levels. There's an abundance of handholds, as there should be in such a beamy boat, and they're stylish as well. The port and starboard settees will also work as excellent sea berths. In the aft owner's stateroom, the 77-inch-wide bed ("berth" doesn't do it justice) is something you won't see on many 42-foot sailboats. By pulling a couple of pins at its base, the companionway-ladder module can be removed for excellent engine access (though it might be a bit of a challenge stashing the stairs, especially under way). The engine starter can be serviced via a watertight hatch in the central head. We sailed hull number five of the production run in breezes up to 20 knots, the 42 DS made an effortless 8 knots close-reaching with main and full genoa. In the puffs, the boat was definitely overpowered and required the helmsman to bear away to keep it on its feet, but a few turns on the Profurl headsail furler addressed the matter. Our test boat was equipped with the 5-foot-2-inch shoal keel and a fixed, three-bladed propeller that will be replaced with a folding prop, which makes a lot of sense for a vessel with very good sailing potential. There is space in the aft locker to port for a generator, though the owner has no plans to install one at this time. Steering the boat from one of the two twin wheels was fun and satisfying. There's a wealth of Harken hardware employed in the deck layout. Our boat was fitted out with a radar and chart plotter right at the helm station; there were no repeaters down below. To me, if you're going with one set of instruments, this seemed a bit backward. But to each his own; I did appreciate having the information at hand as we negotiated the thin water off Annapolis. Of all the larger production builders, I've always had a soft spot for Jeanneau. Inspecting the new Sun Odyssey 42 DS did nothing to dissuade my opinion.

On deck
Again, the most striking feature is the coachroof. Rather than simply being perched on the deck to increase interior headroom, the lines of this coachroof flow beautifully into those of the cockpit and deck. This is a high-volume boat that has considerable freeboard, but you don’t really notice it. The curve of the hull and the inward slope of the coachroof create a sleek, pleasing look. Side decks are wide and easy to navigate. Visibility over the coachroof from the dual helm stations is excellent. Two large cockpit-seat lockers can swallow everything from fenders to a deflated tender. The cockpit seats themselves are deep and the coamings are comfortably tall. I should mention, however, that the cockpit seats have a small step adjacent to the companionway that makes them not quite as comfortable as a simple straight seat.

You can’t help but be impressed with the open, airy feel of the saloon, but what really caught my attention was the master cabin. Most boats this size have a large aft cabin, but my notes from the test read “aft cabin feels like it belongs on a center-cockpit boat, not an aft-cockpit boat.” This aft cabin has excellent headroom, especially over the double berth, despite the intrusion of the cockpit. Here’s another example of boat design being a game of inches, and it should result in a much more comfortable night’s sleep. The aft cabin also has lots of lockers and drawers with easy access to the head, which can also be accessed from the base of the companionway steps. Other aspects of the design work just as well. I’ve seen bigger chart tables, but the nav station still has plenty of room to plot a course on a folded paper chart and to mount a chartplotter. Counter space and food stowage in the galley are more than adequate. The saloon settee isn’t radical, but it does provide seating room for six and two seaberths. The forward cabin has a smaller berth and its own head. Over all, the fit and finish of the joinery is good, and the interior is both comfortable and functional.

Under sail
I wasn’t surprised by the boat’s performance in the 8 to 10 knots of wind and light chop we had for our test. The helm provided just enough feel, and the balanced hull seemed eager to stay in the groove. Upwind, we hit 6.5 knots in the light air and tacked through 100 degrees. We could have pointed higher, but footing in the single-digit winds kept us powering nicely through the chop. The standard 6-foot, 11-inch keel with 5,628 pounds of cast-iron ballast helped keep us from being thrown around in the powerboat wakes near the entrance to Government Cut. The boat tacked and accelerated predictably and was generally easy to handle. I found the helm seats to be particularly comfortable; they have sufficient brace points, are within easy reach of the chartplotter and other electronics, as well as the primary winches. As noted, visibility was excellent from both helm stations.

This boat seems to have found the sweet spot in several areas. It has an updated look that is not too radical, and its comfortable accommodations satisfy both form and function. Light-air performance is good, and I’d guess it could handle plenty more wind without much trouble. All the necessary ingredients for cruising—stowage, comfortable bunks, and galley space—are there. Engine access is a bit tight and the cockpit has a funny step in the seat, but these are small issues in a generally successful design.

LOA 42' 5" (12.93 m.)
LWL 38' 0" (11.58 m.)
Beam 13' 6" (4.11 m.)
Draft (deep/shoal) 6' 11"/5' 2" (2.11/1.57 m.)
Sail Area (135%) 872 sq. ft. (81.0 sq. m.)
Displacement 18,080 lb. (8,201 kg.)
Water 94 gal. (355 l.)
Fuel 34 gal. (130 l.)
Engine 53-hp. Yanmar
Designer Marc Lombard/Garroni Designers/Jeanneau Design

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