Jeanneau, the volume French boat builder, now part of the Beneteau Group, has a long-standing reputation for innovative and often fast cruising yachts and cruiser-racers.

Jeanneau 1959

In the beginning, Jeanneau's was a shop selling leisure marine goods - mainly powerboats and engines - called 'the nautical boutique of the west'.

The first Jeanneau yacht dates from 1964, but it was not until 1970 and the launch of the 26ft Sangria, that sold some 2,700 boats in 12 years – 10 per cent more than the UK’s Westerly Centaur – that the company first hit the mainstream in a big way.



The 1970s saw a period of rapid evolution in yacht design, with hull shapes changing almost by the year as designers got to grips with the possibilities offered by fibreglass construction and new shapes gained acceptance among a predominately conservative boat buying public.

The jeanneau yacht Melody

With plenty of heft, 1978's Jeanneau Melody won't shy away from beating through a rising gale and there's plenty of room down below as well.

The 34ft Melody, launched in 1978, is one of the first ever Jeanneau yacht designs with a double aft quarter cabin in place of the more traditional open-plan quarter berths. It therefore offers excellent accommodation for a boat of this era – there’s also a double forecabin, a private heads compartment between this and the saloon, with a useful hanging locker in the passageway opposite.

The comfortable saloon has two settees that double as excellent sea berths, as well as an impressive amount of easily accessible stowage, although the sapele woodwook can look somewhat dark compared to the lighter veneers that are typically used in more recent boats. There’s also a navigation station, with its own forward-facing seat and a fabulous galley – larger and with more stowage than almost any other boat of this size, even in more recent designs.

However, the Melody is no light weather caravan – an impressively high ballast ratio of almost 50 per cent, married to a 6ft 4in (1.93m) draught, plus ample form stability from the generous beam, means this is a boat with the potential to power to windward efficiently in a rising gale long after lesser craft have given up.

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Sunrise 34/35

Launched in the mid 1980s, this is a slightly later model in the same size range as the Melody and was again an adaptation of a race-bred design.

Jeanneau yacht Sunrise

An evolution from the Melody with a wider stern and flat run aft to promote surfing.

The newer boat benefited from a larger quarter cabin, aft heads compartment and a more spacious forecabin than the Melody. The Sunrise was also offered in a three-cabin format, with two double quarter cabins, a smaller forecabin and the heads opposite the galley. However, this version feels a little cramped compared to the two-cabin model, which tends to be preferred by private owners.

The hull shape of the Jeanneau Sunrise had notably moved on from the Melody, with a lighter displacement and a wider transom, with a flat run aft that helps to promote surfing downwind on large waves. However, unlike some wide-stern designs, the hull shape remains nicely balanced and the larger rudder, hung on a substantial half skeg, provides good control.

A choice of tiller and wheel steering was offered – don’t be deterred by boats with the former, although fashion now dictates that almost every boat of this size has wheel steering, loads in the helm are not excessive, even for family crews.

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JOD 35

In addition to the mainstay of its cruising boat ranges, Jeanneau also has a long-standing reputation for producing successful racing yachts.

JOD 35  _MG_5619

A state-of-the-art raceboat that took over from the Selection 37 as the one design used for the Tour de France a la Voile.

The JOD 35 originally was selected as the one-design boat used for the Tour de France a la Voile, replacing another Jeanneau, the Selection 37.

Although a number are in British ownership, most JOD 35s have stayed in France, where they remain a popular offshore racing yacht. Many have been fitted with water ballast tanks, which makes them ideal for short-handed racing. Even with the ballast tanks fitted they satisfy the STIX requirements for ISAF Category 1 events, which can make them a good budget choice for this purpose. This tradition of producing state of the art raceboat continues today with Jeanneau’s Sunfast 3200 and new Sunfast 3600 models.

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Sun Odyssey 42i

Jeanneau’s recent series of performance cruising models, including the 30i, 33i, 36i, 42i and 44i, offer a mix of good accommodation combined with a modern hull shape that promises good all-round speed potential. The deep-draught keel, with a hefty bulb on the bottom, also confers excellent stability and sail carrying ability.

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey

Still an ideal boat for Mediterranean cruising (and mooring) with easy access to the stern through the cockpit and plenty of space for al-fresco dining.

As with most of the company’s contemporary yachts, the wide cockpit features twin wheels, plus an unobstructed walk-though from the transom which is ideal for stern to Mediterranean berthing, swimming in warm waters and easy, safe boarding from a dinghy. The central table is ideal for entertaining al fresco and helps to provide a feeling of security in big seas or strong winds. Three large cockpit lockers, plus a dedicated liferaft locker, provide ample easily accessible stowage for longer-term cruising.

Below deck there’s a choice of spacious two or three cabin layouts. Both have the same owner’s cabin forward with an en suite heads and decent stowage. The two layouts also share the same saloon, with a large seating area to starboard, plus a shorter settee and navigation station to port. The two-cabin model features a large heads compartment, with separate shower stall to port, although in the three-cabin version this is more compact to give access to the extra cabin.

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Sun Odyssey 44DS

As with other boat builders, in recent years Jeanneau has moved into building ever-larger boats and the company’s distinctive range of deck saloon of 41-50ft cruising yachts has proved popular.

Jeanneau 44DS

Aimed at the private owner market, the accommodation below is princely and the sail controls are easily handed by a shorthanded crew.

The 44DS is the result of a collaboration between Philippe Briand, who designed the hull, and Franck Darnet and Flahault Design, who were responsible for the interior and deck layout.
The interior is geared towards the requirements of private owners, rather than charter companies, with large double en suite staterooms fore and aft. The forward of these is a particularly impressive size, including plenty of standing room, stowage and a dressing table/desk. There’s an option to carve a separate twin berth cabin out of part of this area.

The deck layout is designed with all sheets led aft to the twin helm positions, which makes sail handling easy for short-handed crews and keeps the main section of the cockpit predominately free for use by guests.

Find out more about this boat here: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44DS: Big cabins and bold styling

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For more guides to the world's most famous sailing marques, see: 5 wonderful Westerlys: Centaur, GK24, Discus, Fulmar and Oceanlord or Six Bargain Bavarias: Family Cruisers that Won’t Break the Bank on


Written by: Rupert Holmes
Rupert Holmes has more than 70,000 miles of offshore cruising and racing experience, in waters ranging from the North Sea to the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn. He writes about all aspects of boat ownership and marine travel, including destinations, seamanship and maintenance, as well as undertaking regular new boat and gear tests. He currently sails around 5,000 miles per year and in the past couple of seasons has cruised from the UK to the Azores, as well as winning his class in the 2014 two-handed Round Britain and Ireland Race. He also owns two yachts, one based in the Mediterranean and the other in the UK.