A bevy of breezes best described as ‘untidy’ greeted us as we arrived for a test sail aboard the all-new Jeanneau 39 DS at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s Manly Boat Harbour marina. Moreton Bay did not look inviting; the winds were every which-way and ominous black clouds hinted that rain was a likely arrival.
Nevertheless, it was a happy crew on deck and despite the less than ideal conditions, the sprightly sloop was untroubled as we made for open water. Taking a good look at the Jeanneau prior to casting off, it presented a profile that many hard-core traditionalists might rate as radical – a seemingly low roof line with a huge rakish window each side, giving the vessel an extremely modern appearance.
Those big windows proved winners down below, where the Jeanneau 39 DS interior could only be termed as superb. Light, spacious and boasting meticulous attention to detail, one could not avoid the feeling that plenty of thought had gone into the layout and general design here.
The main saloon is beautifully done, with big lounges both sides, more headroom than one would have thought, outstanding joinery and an adjustable dining table. Conveniently placed to the saloon, the L-shaped galley is on the starboard side at the foot of the companionway, and makes serving meals to the saloon easy.
Slightly forward of, and to port of the galley, a well-fitted navigation station offers seating and a chart table, with electronics alongside for ease of use.
Another surprising feature incorporated into the design is a vast aft cabin, quite possibly boasting the largest king-sized berth ever fitted to a craft of this size. Opposite the galley area is the head/bathroom, complete with vanity and shower recess enclosed by an efficient curtain.
The engine, a 40hp Yanmar, is housed behind the companionway, directly between the galley and head areas. By simply lifting the companionway out and up, the Yanmar is revealed and there is ample space for routine maintenance.
Forward of the saloon area is another cabin, this one featuring another double berth, again with ample headroom and plenty of storage.
Throughout the interior, the attention to detail was obvious, with custom stowage for crockery and cutlery, a double sink, gimballed stove, well-fitted cupboard doors that would not fly open under sail, and excellent joinery work everywhere.
But enough is enough; delightful as the interior is, we’re here to go sailing – and having cleared the final marina arms it’s all hands on deck. With a beautifully shaped hull designed by the renowned Marc Lombard and deck layout penned by Vittorio Garroni, the Jeanneau 39 DS showed itself easily capable of undertaking – and in many cases winning – inshore and offshore events. In the words of the Jeanneau management team, the 39 DS was “created by sailors for sailors”.
With a high performance Selden rig encompassing boom and spars, a totally uncluttered deck layout and a dual steering system allowing unobstructed vision on any tack while leaving the cockpit free and clear, this was a very fine sailing platform, indeed.
Sail handling could not have been easier, with winches aft all easily reached. Response under sail was perfect, a big spade rudder giving excellent control to the helmsman.
Rob Elwell and son Jared, who operate Vicsail Manly Harbour Yacht Brokers, one of three Queensland agents for the Jeanneau breed, said the 39 DS would be quite capable of 150-190 nautical miles a day under the right conditions.
“She handles with the greatest of ease, particularly to windward, and at 30 to 35 degrees off still points very well,” said Rob.
Scudding across Moreton Bay, the wind on our starboard bow, the Jeanneau was untroubled to return 6 knots; about 6.5 knots over the bottom. “If I was the owner, I would probably fit a folding propeller to the Yanmar shaft,” Rob added.
Under power, the Yanmar does its job perfectly, imparting a quick 8 knots with a wide open throttle, and 6 knots easily on offer. The weather conditions had improved markedly since leaving Manly Boat Harbour and taking the helm under clearing skies and a fresh south-easter proved a delight.
Going about was equally simple, winches easily to hand and main and genoa quick to fill as we straightened on the new tack.
For those who may not be aware, Jeanneau these days is owned by what was once its fiercest rival, Beneteau, under the parent company for both names, Group Beneteau. The two operate totally independently of each other and in a sense remain what they once were – rivals.
Jeanneau’s manufacturing plant is as modern as tomorrow, and the company has invested heavily in the latest technological production techniques. All its new designs see the light of day as 3D models prior to production, and five-axis milling machines allow for every component to be produced to the finest tolerances.
Close inspection of the 39 DS certainly gives rise to Jeanneau’s claim of it being a decisively innovative design. Needless to say, as with any boat, be it power or sail, a buyer can ‘belt the budget’ with optional extras.
Rob said he would definitely opt for an efficient bimini and probably a dodger for the companionway. “And as I said earlier, I’d definitely go for a folding propeller,” he added.
Nevertheless, with a base retail of $319,892, the Jeanneau 39 DS is highly competitive in the pricing stakes. In fact, it’s not hard to find considerably smaller sailboats with that sort of asking price. Our test boat carried about $4000-worth of options, primarily electronics, but it still presented very well indeed at its base cost.
The sail wardrobe comprises main (with two reef points) and the genoa (with three). Other upgrades available that a skipper would consider include cockpit speakers for the CD/radio system, air conditioning (an absolute must if one was considering north Queensland waters) and additions to the sail locker.
However, the bottom line is that the Jeanneau 39 DS is an impressive package, and one that certainly lives up to the claim of being a comfortable cruiser/racer of the first order.
JEANNEAU SUN ODYSSEY 39 DS
Standard keel draft: 2.0m
Water capacity: 355lt
Fuel capacity: 130lt
Sail area: 67.4sqm
Base retail price: $319,892
Price as tested: $323,892
Test boat supplied by Vicsail Manly Boat Harbour Yacht Brokers, tel: (07) 3893 1855. Also available through Brisbane International Yacht Brokers and Mooloolaba Yacht Brokers.