Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319 is a cool entry-level cruiser or ideal for skippers looking to downsize.

Odyssey 319
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319Jon Whittle

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319 had me at hello. Well, more accurately, it won me over soon after we'd hoisted sail last October off Annapolis, Maryland, during our Boat of the Year sea trials in a gusty 15- to 20-knot northerly on Chesapeake Bay. With a couple of reefs in the mainsail and a turn or two on the 85 percent self-tacking furling jib, the 32-footer put on a peppy display of get-up-and-go, easily knocking off a solid 6 knots hard on the wind. The 319 has a single wheel (a Lewmar number that folds inward when dockside to open up the cockpit) but twin rudders, and the helm was buttery smooth yet totally precise. What a joy it is to drive an extremely capable, compact little sloop in a fresh breeze.

Created by Jeanneau’s in-house design team and built in Poland at a new facility for the company, the 319 is a model of simplicity. That said, there are options galore, and you can really trick the boat out to your own liking depending on where and how you sail. For example, our test boat was equipped with an in-mast furling main, a swing keel and the aforementioned blade headsail. But you can also get one with a traditional stack-pack main, a fixed keel, an overlapping 110 percent jib and a dedicated, fixed ­bowsprit off which can be flown code-zero-style reaching sails. That’s a lot of choices!

"In recent years, we've watched a lot of production and semicustom builders go up and up in size," said BOTY judge Tim Murphy. "I think they've been addressing the rising age and wealth of the sailors who buy their boats. One of the goals of this boat was to bring younger sailors into the market. But the Jeanneau representatives said they were surprised to find that there were also other longtime ­sailors, older sailors, downsizing to this boat. And I think that makes perfect sense."

Down below, there is only one layout available, but it’s a fine, time-tested one (although the interior space will be slightly altered and opened up if you go with the fixed keel instead of the swing version, the trunk of which is ­incorporated into the central dining table). There are two double cabins in the opposite ends of the boat, with a particularly roomy berth aft to starboard. Given the size of the boat, an impressively large head is opposite, to port. A good-size galley and a real navigation desk are flanked to either side of the companionway, and just forward of those features is a pair of long settees with the folding dining table ­sandwiched between them.

It’s funny, you step aboard a lot of boats a good 10 feet longer and are hard-pressed to find a decent sea berth on any of them, but on the 319, there are three good ones (make that four if you don’t mind sleeping in the bow). And while you probably don’t want to take six folks on a cruise of any duration on the boat, you certainly can.

The team at Jeanneau is having a very good year, having earned multiple prizes in the 2019 BOTY contest (see “Hail to the Chiefs,” January/February 2019). Of their three new models, the 319 — the only one not honored — sort of slid under the radar. But perhaps that was an oversight. This is a neat little yacht, clearly envisioned and ­assembled by sailors who love sailing and kicking around on boats. It’s hard to lavish any more praise than that.

Herb McCormick is CW’s executive editor.