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by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-WorldCruising.com 9 Aug 2018 06:45 UTC
Could this be the best feature of the jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490? © John Curnow

Over the last two years we have spoken a lot about the crossover between cruising and racing. The early signs were reasonably subtle. There were Lazy Jacks and furlers going to racing, and then Code Zeroes and prodders (bowsprits) coming into cruising. More recently there were all the short-handed running rigging changes, and control lines going aft from the coach house roof to the helmer's position.

That's all wonderful, but is Jeanneau's new Sun Odyssey range the first to take total innovation, and apply it to the entire craft? Answer. Could well be! And how marvellous is that? Well it is tremendous, and a sail as soon as one can be arranged is bound to only confirm it. They all embody the essence, but there is a certain (and yes, wait for the cliché) je ne sais quoi with the 490. Note to buyers, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere you can have the very one in these images for just AUD575k, which is a boat show special.

It is not that the others don't have their own personalities; it is simply that the lines are most pleasing with the larger sister, which was penned by Philippe Briand. He also did the SO440 that packs an enormous amount in, so it is absolutely no wonder it is a multi-award winner. Marc Lombard created the ultra-new 410, and it would seem to be like the bantam-weight fighter. Not to be messed with...

So indeed you approach these craft with an appreciation. An awareness. You certainly cannot mistake them, and you are totally incapable of missing them, as well. There is more than an IMOCA feel to them. There are bold statements everywhere. From the chamfer along the upper edge of the topsides, to the even more pronounced chine that runs along the bottom above the boot topper, and together they enhance the slab-sided nature of the craft.

Looking up only a little farther, and you immediately see how low the gooseneck is to the deck, and in turn the boom goes up to the tip. Immediately it says power reaching, and that a bit of vang sheeting will be required. This, along with the form stability afforded by the chine will see many a passage mile disposed of quickly. Really quickly, actually.

The rig itself is purposeful, and you take in how the D1s are inboard to make use the wide decks for getting around the vessel. As you head aft to see the ramps that take you from the cockpit to the side decks, and appreciate that they are as effortless and safe, as they are intelligent and practical.

Walking around the starboard quarter that is nestled in tight against the quay at the Darling Harbour instant marina, and once more your gaze is sent down as you note the twin rudders tucked in below the beamy stern. Accessing through the transom platform, and there are the winches and jammers immediately ahead of the twin helms to take control of the lines carefully run from up for'ard. They are pretty cool, but there is something urging you past, with only just enough time given to take the capstans in.

Moving on deck to go and inspect the gooseneck that almost looks like an Open 60 of yore, and you come across the German mainsheet system. Totally practical, and so utterly safe, it has rendered the space between helm and mast as a zone for all landlubbers. No travellers, no messy lines to take fingers off, or travellers to shoot along a track, just space. It is one of the reasons the designers were able to adopt another innovation.

The coamings on the back of the cockpit seats that fold down to create enormous sun beds. Great for Europe and so forth, but alas in the Southern Hemisphere I cannot see too many ticking the box for this option.

Yet is it possible that the substantial bowsprit is the coolest feature? The integrated bobstay, anchor roller, and tack mount for the code zero furler may well suggest so. Right out at the tip is the pad eye for the asymmetric spinnaker. This too highlights the boat's desire, nay pedigree, to get out there and put a smile on your dial. Vive la France.

Down below now, and the almost de rigueur (did I promise somewhere I was only doing one?) multitudinous ports everywhere ensure you're bathed in light, and that air will flow effortlessly around on the warmer days. There are generous cabins to each side and aft, but it is up for'ard that the Master Stateroom gets to enjoy some of the innovation from outside. There is the volume afforded by the chines stepping out to the slab sides, and in and of itself that is pretty handy, for there is the walk around bed.

However, we're not done. The head is to starboard, but intelligently, the designers took the space around the mast to make a separate wet room amidships. Hard to like anything more when it comes to amenity, as I hate having to contort this body into stupid positions to clean up. Also, given where it is over the keel, you're less likely to have worry about waves from passing tenders when you're in your favourite anchorage. Me likey, a lot.

Antoine Chancelier, Jeanneau Sail Boat Product Development Manager, was on hand representing the factory, and also communicating the strategy behind it all. A very affable fellow, I would have to say that one of the best things I learned was how Jeanneau are continuing to develop their Assisted Sail Trim, which they pioneered with Harken a while back now.

Antoine now informs me that they have the package so that you can set your parameters, and the craft will operate seamlessly for you inside this. If you have people on board who don't like heeling for instance, then it will dump the main for you in a gust, allowing the rudder to keep track, and avoid any unwanted roundups in the process.

That's just one of the things it can do. When you consider that today's jetliner can essentially do your whole flight, including take off and landing, well it is not too hard to see the parallels, and to work out where it might all go. One day...

So these are vessels with some very cool features. Ones that work in the real world, especially if you have been sailing for a while. It would also seem that Jeanneau are hard at work to continue to ensure that even if you are a bit newer to the game, then you too can enjoy all the wonders of time at sea without any additional concerns for your safety, or that of others on board. All of which means happy days, and last time I checked, that really was the name of the game.

Tacking now, and speaking with Antoine Rioton from the Amel factory at the Sydney International Boat Show, I learned that they have now sold 25 of the new Amel 50. Well done, and not surprising at all. Based on the 20 or so craft they can make a year comprising all of their range, this takes you out to a 24-month waiting list. I am also told that there is one available for an Australian client for delivery in January of 2019, so if that sounds like you, then call Flagstaff Marine now. Otherwise it will go to another location.

Now before we go, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, and still need accommodation for Hamilton Island Race Week, then Whitsunday Holidays still have some vacancies. They have also reduced the rate for a last minute booking! Here's what's available: -

Shorelines 13 - luxury 2 bedroom double storey apartments located nice and close to the marina village. Boasting spectacular ocean views, modern furnishings plus large balconies - perfect to entertain! Includes a 4-seater buggy.

Edge 11 – luxury 3 bedroom apartments in a great location close to the marina.

Whitsunday Apartment – 1 bedroom apartment directly opposite the beach.

Oasis 3 – 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom.

View the Whitsunday Holidays website for descriptions and photos. Please also free to call us 7 days per week on 1300 653 997 or for our international guests, call our mobile on +61 434 004 029. Our consultants know the island and the properties well and can help you with your decision about which is the right choice for your group. We look forward to hearing from you.

OK. Today you will find that we have information for you about sharks, halyards and sheets, Lisa Blair, gear from Musto, cruising highlights from Red Roo, Jack and Jude, and also Crystal Blues, the scourge of single use plastics, reefs, ye grande olde days of sail, lifejackets, the BVI's, as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top and the drag down menu, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow, Editor, Sail-WorldCruising.com

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