The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35.1 is designed for people who crave delightful, responsive sailing and a lot of accommodation space for the dollar. Jeanneau has made a major effort to balance the compromises that necessarily accompany these goals, drawing on years of research in materials and large-scale production. Out of all the vessels entered in Cruising World’s 1996 Boat Of The Year Midsize Cruiser class, the Sun Odyssey was chosen winner in the Best Value category.
Given the length of the boat, the accommodations are roomy and comfortable, with more than a little thought given to making it all work well. As you descend the companionway you can ditch weather gear handily into a wet locker that resides with the shower in the head at the base of the companionway. Hull portlights add to a feeling of overall spaciousness. The back of the dinette settee between saloon and galley is kept low to allow for the exchange of food, beverages and conversation. The rest of the lounge seat backs are higher and more comfortable. This is an aft-cockpit boat, but still it offers an after sleeping area that boasts a huge berth, hanging locker, shelves and drawers. Of course the cockpit lazarette storage area is limited by such an arrangement. The airy stateroom forward has a nice vanity, although the V-berth is cramped at the foot end. These caveats only reflect the inevitable: If you want maximum accommodations in a 35-foot boat that sails exceptionally well the way this one does, you are going to have to make a few compromises.
The galley niche, a secure “L” to starboard, has a two-burner LPG stove with oven and two sinks. The working space allows you to interact with the rest of the crew. It is convenient both to the cockpit and to the lounge area. The top-loading refrigerator box has at least 3.5 inches of insulation on the top, better than many others we saw in our Boat Of The Year inspections. The navigation area, while not large, is surprisingly adequate for a boat of this size. Access to overhead wiring in the living area is facilitated by Velcro-fastened overhead liner sections.
Moving topside, the cockpit has a folding table forward of the aft-mounted wheel along with many other thoughtful user-friendly features aimed at making this boat fun to be aboard. The stern sugar scoop enhances sailing characteristics by elongating the waterline, and it provides a safe swim platform easily accessed from the cockpit — great for lazy-day anchoring and swimming, windsurfing or diving. A freshwater shower in the cockpit tops it off. There are several viable storage areas here, despite the space consumed underneath by the after stateroom. Most sail handling is done conveniently from the cockpit. The propane tank holder hangs within one of the cockpit storage compartments with requisite drainage overboard provided.
On deck, wide, easy-to-negotiate gangways are compromised by low lifelines; other design flaws here include bow cleats located rather far aft from their fairleads and an absence of midship cleats.
The mast is stepped on deck, with loads carried to the keelson by a very hefty chrome-plated stainless-steel compression post below. The rig is stayed with wire secured to heavy-duty mechanical fastenings that tie the system into integral framing members extending down to the full depth of the boat.
The deck hatches are not mounted on raised coamings, but do have reflective shades installed inside. Raised hatch coamings are recommended because they keep standing water at bay; obviously they require from the builder more labor-intensive tooling. Opening portlights on the trunk cabin over the galley and head may experience some residual dripping when deployed after a rain or spray event because the cabin sides are sloped in toward centerline and the portholes lack a lip or outwardly sloped drain ridges to overcome that angle.
As conscientious a production laminator as you’ll find anywhere, Jeanneau uses various types of glass cloth to suit the different stress and wear characteristics of different hull areas. A computer-designed grid of glassed-in structural supports adds strength throughout. A vinylester gel coat below the waterline enhances impermeability and provides osmotic protection on this solid hand-laid hull. The deck is balsa cored, except for high-stress areas in which you’ll find solid glass. The hull-deck joint is thru-bolted every four inches and sealed with a high-grade flexible sealant.
The cast-iron wing keel is epoxy coated and bolted to the hull with galvanized steel bolts. The bolts are then glassed over on top, a strategy believed by the builder to be the most effective defense against leakage or corrosion. The Yanmar 3GM30F diesel is located under the companionway, and offers very reasonable access. It is mounted on long stringers that run fore and aft and provide a combination of strength and vibration dampening. Jeanneau maintains that every structural component is subjected to strength testing in salt- and hot-water environments; this includes accelerated aging tests to assess and assure longevity. Hand-laminated frame members, GRP-embedded wood reinforcement pieces, sophisticated automated woodworking machinery, and diagonal-weave Kevlar cloth reinforcing are among the materials, shop equipment and products used. Jeanneau offers a five-year limited structural warranty and a five-year limited warranty for osmotic blisters.
Standard equipage, in addition to features noted above, include mainsail with reefs, furling genoa and self-tailing winches, manual bilge pump, pedestal steering and electronics console.
One of the more alluring of this vessel’s many fine attributes is its performance under way, as we found out one sparkling autumn morning on Narragansett Bay in a moderate breeze of about 10 to 12 knots. In these conditions she maintained a solid six knots upwind and tacked easily through 85 degrees. The helm was light and responsive, the rudder ideally balanced. The boat accelerated nicely and, once we trimmed her up and put her in the groove, she heeled slightly and flew. When we rolled up the jib and sailed with the main alone, speed, steerage and control remained excellent — an important dividend for those who enjoy impromptu shorthanded harbor cruises or close-in maneuvering under sail.
If you’re thinking about long-term cruising, the Sun Odyssey 35.1 is by no means a “big” boat, but then again at 35 feet she’s not supposed to be. She is an enjoyable boat, however — satisfying to sail, easy to work on and comfortable to be aboard. And as we judges concluded, she’s a deal, too.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35.1 Specifications:
LOA 34’11” (10.6 m.)
LWL 30’6″ (9.3 m.)
Beam 12’2″ (3.7 m.)
Draft (deep) 6’3″ (1.9 m.)
Draft (shoal) 4’7″ (1.4 m.)
Ballast 3,300 lbs. (1,497 kgs.)
Disp 11,000 lbs. (4,990 kgs.)
Sail area 530 sq.ft. (49.2 sq.m.)
Mast above water 49’3″ (15.0 m.)
Fuel tankage 28 gal. (106 ltr.)
Water tankage 78 gal. (295 ltr.)
Auxiliary Yanmar 3GMF30F 27-hp
Cabin headroom 6’3″ (1.9 m.)
Designer Jeanneau Design Group
Base price $95,900 POE US East Coast
Jeanneau North America
128 Howard St.
New London, CT 06320
Phone (203) 444-2072