From its twin anchor rollers to its scooped-out, teak-covered swim platform, the new Jeanneau 42i sports the sort of rugged good looks that would make a betting man wager the boat would deliver solid performance under sail. And that’s a bet that would pay off.
Close reaching in 9 knots of wind off Miami’s South Beach, my Garmin Gekko GPS had us sailing 5.8 knots over the ground. And even more impressive was the fact that had I not taken a hold of the wheel and put us on a port tack, the boat in all likelihood would have kept right on sailing by herself until we could step ashore on the beach. With its shoal-draft keel (deep keel is standard), spade hung rudder, and balanced sails, the 42i tracked straight as an arrow when left to herself, a good trait for a cruising sailboat.
And that’s what the Sun Odyssey 42i is-a comfortable, performance-oriented coastal cruiser that helps fill out a model line that also includes the SO 36i and SO 39i. All these boats feature injection-molded decks (hence the “i” in their name), which look neat and clean, and which, according to the builder, mean less weight, a lower center of gravity and better structural properties since resin is more evenly distributed.
The 42i we sailed after Strictly Sail Miami last February had the optional Seldén in-mast furling rig, rather than the standard full-batten main, and a 122-percent genoa. If I were buying the boat, I probably would go with the raise-able sail or else would pony up for vertical battens so as not to have to look at the hollow roach cut, but that’s my preference. I’d probably also look into a good off-the-wind sail and go for the bow sprit Jeanneau pictures in its brochures for better down-wind performance.
The boat was well set up for short-handed crew. All sail-control lines ran aft from the mast, through organizers to clutches and Harken 40 winches on either side of the companionway. Harken 46 primary winches were mounted just ahead of each of the twin helms. The two wheels made it easy to find a comfortable spot from which to steer, watch the telltales, or monitor traffic.
Under power, the SO 42i cruised at about 7 knots with the 54-horsepower Yanmar at 2,400 rpm and felt pretty stable as it spun about in its own boat length. We gained about a knot with the throttle wide open at 3,200 rpm. Slight prop walk to port when backing was quickly overcome once we had way on.
The deck layout of the 42i is user-friendly. Stepping aboard across the swim platform, there’s built-in storage for a six-man life raft, or according to the crew at Florida Yacht Charter and Sales, six cases of beer. Your choice. A drop-leaf, teak-covered cockpit table folds up for entertaining or down to leave lots of room to pass by, and also provides a solid brace while heeling. Wide coamings are covered with non-skid, which provides solid footing when moving about or heading forward. Cabin top handholds running all the way to the mast were also appreciated. By bringing the lower shrouds inboard to the cabin house and the uppers all the way outboard, the side decks are uncluttered and easy to navigate. Deck construction includes discontinuous balsa block coring with solid mat under winches and other hardware. The hull is solid glass.
The SO 42i comes with two configurations, a two-cabin, two-head layout and a three-cabin, two-head plan. We sailed the two-cabin model that features a roomy double berth aft to starboard, and a head and separate acrylic glass shower to port at the foot of the companionway. Aft of the shower compartment, behind a water-tight door, is a finished storage area that could easily double as a small shop.
Fine Teak laminated panels and solid trim are used throughout and contrast warmly with the light-colored upholstery and liner. The owner’s cabin forward features a full head and second shower.
In the main saloon, a galley with two-burner propane stove and oven, double sinks, and top-loading fridge and freezer are to starboard. Forward of this is a dinette that can fold down to make an additional double berth. To port is an interesting nav station arrangement that allows for the desk to slide forward when in use, and aft, out of the way of the settee, when not. Behind the desk, there’s plenty of room for the electronics you’ll want to add.
Jeanneau is a builder that knows its customers, that they want a boat that sails well, will turn a few heads, and yet not (entirely) drain the bank account. An iron keel and the ability to add options like in-mast furling, electronics, and other features-or not-keeps the base price of the 42i at under $200,000. The boat we tested in Miami would cost you $205,777 delivered to Baltimore or New York, which, for an East Coast sailor, aren’t bad places to start a cruise on a good-looking new boat.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42i Specs
LOA: 42′ 2″ (12.85 m.)
LWL: 38′ 1″ (11.61 m.)
Beam: 13′ 6″ (4.11 m.)
Draft (standard/shoal): 7′ 0″/5′ 3″ (2.13/1.60 m.)
Sail Area (100%): 761 sq. ft. (70.7 sq. m.)
Ballast (standard/shoal): 5,629/6,131 lb. (2,553/2,781 kg.)
Displacement (standard/shoal): 18,541/19,044 lb. (8,410/8,638 kg.)
Ballast/Disp (standard/shoal): .30/.32
D/L (standard/shoal): 150/154
SA/D (standard/shoal): 17.4/17.1
Water: 94 gal. (356 l.)
Fuel: 34 gal. (129 l.)
Mast Height: 60′ 2″(18.34 m.)
Designer: Marc Lombard, Jeanneau Design Team
Jeanneau, (410) 280-9400, www.jeanneau.com