As far as a type of boat.....a race cruiser which Jeanneau is NOT currently advertised as, the old Sun Fast models were, the Sun Odessey models have all mostly been cruise /race to currently "Performance Cruisers". Catalina gets advertised as a cruiser! Cruiser vs performance cruiser means slower! just as cruise/race will be faster than aperf cruiser, but slower than a race/cruiser or racer! WIth in a given relm of boat, a slow race cruise may be slower than a fast cruise/racer! or have a nicer interior, but that manufacture chooses to sell as a race/cruise vs cruise/racer!
Just to make this clear. In Europe a performance cruiser is a denomination for all boats that can cruise in a fast way, boats that are fun to sail are meant for the ones that want to have fun sailing and have all controls that allow a perfect control of sail shape like a big traveler car on the back of the boat, 4 winches on the cockpit (or a direct main and two winches), fractional rig, back-stay adjuster and so on.
Some of these boats are also designed taking racing in mind, in what regards handicaps and the needs of space for a crew to sail the boat and they are called also cruiser-racers, some are just not designed taking that in consideration, they are designed just to go fast solo, or with a reduced crew and they are not called cruiser-racers, just performance cruisers. All cruiser racers are performance cruisers but not all performance cruisers are cruiser racers.
Some examples of the last ones: The Pogo cruising boats, the JPK 38, the Cigale and many others.
Every sailboat can be used for racing. What makes a cruiser racer is to have been designed thinking specifically in a dual function and purpose.
The Jeanneau 409 is not a cruiser racer and even if some for marketing purposes call it a performance cruiser it is not. It is a fast cruiser and has won the European boat of the year contest in the class of Family cruisers, not performance cruisers. That one was won that year by the Elan 350.
For the ones that don't know the European boat of the year contest is very different from contests of a boat of the year chose by a single saol magazine. They are chosen by testers from many European magazines, one for each country and as many countries have boats on the contest while others have not and that kind of balances the odds in what regards favoritism. In that year the Jeanneau 409 beat several other nominated (and not all boats are nominated, only the best): the Bavaria Cruiser 45, the Bénéteau Océanis 58, the Comet 26 and the Hanse 445.
At that time on the interesting boat thread I posted the positive and negative comments of all those testers from Yachting World, Fare Vela, Waterkampion, Batnytt, Yacht Revue, Seilas, Yate, Voile Magazine, Yacht, Badnyt and Marina.ch.
This Philippe Briand designed cruiser has many modern design features such as plumb ends, hull chines, an aft cockpit and twin wheels, but it is her accommodation that says more about what really lies at the heart of her design.
Her modest and elegantly fitted teak or oak interior is the first thing to grab your attention. While subtle in colour, the horizontal grain might not be a major feature, but it sets the scene for a boat that challenges the norm. ....
The message is clear, Jeanneau are heading back to their roots with a good looking, solidly built boat that has an eye on the future as well.
... Just in front of each of the wheels lies a Harken 50.2 self tailing winch onto which the mainsheet and genoa sheets are led ensuring the primary controls are close to hand for the helmsman, while also allowing the crew can operate them easily as well.
...At a starting price of €128,740 she is very good value for money for a well built boat that has looks that will last.
The 409 does not only have a very elegant appearance. She also features clever details on and below decks. The option of different headsails is a big plus. And the accomodation is both warm and roomy - something that doesn't always go together well. In fact, even though she is fairly priced she feels rather rich and very comfortable.
The more complete boat of the category, she looks more luxurious and refined than her class. She seems to be back to the Jeanneau best times, when they were realized in medium quality and far from cusins Beneteau.
+ very well designed
+ good deck solutions, many details well resolved
+ functional interior layouts
+ well done interior finishing, quality materials
+ good value for money
Those guys from Jeanneau are very clever : you can hardly beat them in term of value for money. You have lots and lots of space, the boat is rather good under sail and you feel you are on a special boat. Still, it is a mass production boat and the price is very good but you really enjoy living aboard and nothing reminds you of anything « low price ». Well done.
You feel the experience of the yard, when you are sailing the boat: good upwind performance and comfortable trim options, when you have choosen the electric sheetwinshes. Other fine features:
- Variable sailplan: especially the possibility to use three different foresails
- Ambiance under deck: The interior is made with brain and charm; well done woodwork with good working fittings; multifunctional navigation place and salon table.
I you want a boats to give good vibrations, Sun Odyssey 409 is a splendid example. It combines trendright chines, big beam aft with a coachroof ending in "shoulders". If EYOTY was a beautycontest, 409 would have won it too.
Besides having Philippe Briand onboard again, Jeannau has included some new neat features for relaxed sailing, like selftacking jib, low integrated jibtrack on the coachroof, sheets led under a deckcover to electric winches in the cockpit, This demonstrates fresh thinking.
Inside Sun Odyssey 409 collects even more points with inviting space, clever layout with one or two aftcabins and toilets, and a genious charttable doubling as bar.
Finishwise the 409 feels de luxe, with leatherhandles, leathercovered charttable, rounded fronts.
Under sail the boat balances a family´s needs, enough sailarea for good speed in light air and solid ruddergrip with lots of control in high winds. Even more familyplus is proper ballastratio for comfortable ride when wind picks up.
Overall Sun Odyssey 409 represents a new level on family cruising in design, sailing, inside volume, finish and value for money.
Better by design: Jeanneau have managed to make an affordable family cruiser witch looks luxurious, but not on the price tag. ...
Jeanneau has the skill to keep things simple and functional. The 409 feels like a bigger boat especially down below.
...And as opposed to the Xc where you get a lot of boat for a lot of money the Jeanneau gives just a lot of boat for the money.
Where the layout struggles a little is in the friction of the sheet systems and in winches that are a bit underpowered fro the task.
A bit stiff on the helm, maybe. And with a bit too much friction in the rope arrangement that leads all aft.
- not fast or funny under sail, heavy at the helm.
You could argue that it feels a bit heavy and numb on the wheel but never the less I'm quite certain that Jeanneau targets their audience close to spot on.
Regarding the American market it is a bit more confusing. Brian and many call race boats to performance cruisers, some magazines call performance cruisers to relatively fast cruisers (I have seen Tartans to be called performance cruisers, as well the Jeanneau 409) so it is all very confusing. I guess that because on the American market there are much less boats than on the European market the distinctions are more difficult to make since there are not many boats on each class and there is not a clear distinction among them.
On American market you can also find still in production boats basically designed 20 years ago or more and that puts what one consider the performance of a mainstream cruiser more on the slow side, compared with European patterns.