Yacht Class n°13 (june-july-august 2018)


New representative of the 8th generation of Sun Odyssey, the 490 offers a high level of performance, with facilities designed for navigation and performance characteristics of the architect Philippe Briand.

Written by: Christophe Varène – Photos : All rights reserved & C.V

A member of the worldwide yachting leaders is strongly recommended to demonstrate its ability to develop new units with innovative solutions. In short, it must always be one step ahead of the competition. The Vendee-based shipyard Jeanneau has perfectly grasped this challenge and makes every effort to meet it. The Sun Odyssey range thus represents this constant evolution: the 440 and the 490 embody the eighth generation of this sailboat family launched early 2000’s. And while most of the research and development is carried out in-house, the yard does not hesitate to call on external talent and expertise. Philippe Briand thus conceived her contemporary exterior design – straight bow, marked forward volume, long chine and large transom -, while Jean-Marc Piaton took care of her modern, practical and bright interior.

An ergonomic and ingenious cockpit

Boarding her is easy when the wide transom is lowered. We immediately discover the spacious and functional cockpit. There, the two wheels are offset to ensure good visibility on the deck and sails, be it upwind or downwind. There are flaps on the large central table to facilitate access to the companionway, especially on the port side, as the starboard L-shaped sofas takes more space. From the first moments at sea, we immediately appreciated the side decks sloping down from the foredeck to the helm stations: the absence of step and a well-placed rigging (especially the lower shrouds placed inboard) create an easy and safe passage, like on larger units. Another nice ingenuity: the backs of the side sofas easily unfold to create a pleasant sunbed that can also be expanded to the starboard table thanks to an additional support. For U.V. aficionados, there is another sunbed on the foredeck.

11 knots at force 6

A light breeze in the bay of Cannes, off the Lérins Islands, gave us the opportunity to assess the Sun Odyssey 490’s seaworthiness. The cockpit hosts four Harken winches, including three (optional) electric ones, all lines leading to the two main ones near the companionway. Hoisting the mainsail is thus easy and fast. Note that the low boom should facilitate the dropping when near the awning and the lazy jacks. Handling the furling genoa is also effortless. With a true wind at 5.0 knots, the Sun Odyssey 490 exceeded this speed when upwind. Bearing away 10° by 10° then made it increase by one knot each time. Onboard during this trial, Hervé Piveteau, the sailboats project manager, revealed an average speed of 8 knots in standard sailing conditions, and up to 11 knots with winds between 20 and 25 knots. The sails were made at Elvstrom (or Technique Voile) from a fabric specially developed by and for Jeanneau and the Performance range brings stability and longevity at a competitive price. Thanks to the two rudders, the helm is soft and precise, while the hull is well planted on its chine. We sailed back with the Code 0, mounted on an electric furling system, a request of the owner conceived outside Jeanneau: the large black sail with the yard’s white star logo clearly improving performance. When approaching the port, the 80 hp Yanmar engine (57 hp is standard) provided a cruising speed of just over 7 knots and a max one of 9 knots. Overall, we only noted one downside: the mainsheet circuit diagonally crosses the deck, slightly obstructing the passage to the mast foot.

Either two or five cabins

The interior fittings offer many – good – surprises. Down the companionway, the saloon is spacious and bright, its white upper parts nicely contrasting with the grey cedar furniture and the turquoise upholstery. Whether seated or standing, the many portholes (salon, hull, coachroof and deck) offers an impressive view on the sea. On port side, the chart table, with its little settees, is a perfect place to discuss future anchorages and routes. On its side, slightly offset to the left, there is a long piece of furniture with drawers at each end and high fiddle rails that will be convenient to protect glasses, laptops, keys … and also act as a handrail for a safe circulation inside. The rest of the saloon is divided between a beautiful kitchen with remarkable worktops, a double sink, a stove and a fridge accessible from the top (a front door is available in option). On the other side, there is a pleasant U-shaped salon whose central table lowers to create an additional double bed. Clever detail, the ends of the table can be folded down to ease passage. Also note that behind the backrests, there are many discreet and useful stowaways for all kinds of equipment.
Aft, on both sides of the companionway concealing the soundproofed engine room, the two guest cabins feature large double beds. The starboard one has a direct access to the bathroom. Different layouts are available : for instance, the aft cabin can be replaced by a convertible workshop / sail locker for great travelers, a bathroom can be fitted in lieu of the chart table… there are many variations : from two cabins with two bathrooms up to five cabins and three bathrooms. On our test unit (3 cabins, 2 bathrooms), the forward master was a real small suite with a central double bed, facing a storage cabinet with TV screen and book shelves, a bathroom with a beautiful shower cabin on starboard and an independent toilet on port side. This generous place features nice woodworks and plenty of storage space, drawers, wardrobes and storage pockets. Note that thanks to the portholes, the stopovers settings can be enjoyed from the bed.
The Sun Odyssey 490 must be seen as the smallest of the large units. She features many components of pleasure yachting including an ease of use and sea maneuvering combined with remarkable performance. In addition, her well-tough-out interior layouts were smartly and pragmatically conceived to offer comfort both in navigation and anchorage. 

Hervé Piveteau

Jeanneau sailboat project manager

“The range is regularly renewed and the 490 is the second sailboat of the 8th generation, taking over the 440’s assets, with an additional 1.50 m overall length. We relied on two key words: performance and circulation. For the latter, we opted for gently inclined side decks from the bow to the cockpit, with no step nor hindrance, and kept the rigging lower shrouds placed inside this walkthrough. Performance was mainly about weight saving: we aimed for 10%, we managed 7% thanks, among other things, to a “cathedral” rigging: above the second spreader, the shrouds bring a stiffness equivalent to a third floor. Which means a thinner and lighter mast, hence also a lighter rigging, a lower center of gravity and ultimately a smaller ballast for a great weight saving. We are developing this new generation through its mid-range, which concentrates all the issues and problems. When everything has been resolved for them, we can easily adapt these solutions to larger and smaller units.”

Technical sheet

14,42 m
4,49 m
2,24 m
57 hp Yanmar
Fuel capacity
240 l
640 l
fibre de verre
11 290 kg
Mainsail area
56,80 m2
Genoa area
53,60 m2
Price incl. VAT
à partir de : 292 920 €
Naval architect
Philippe Briand
Designer ext.
Philippe Briand / Jeanneau Design
Interior designer
Piaton Bonet Yacht Design Jeanneau Design

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