The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 is a popular and spacious family cruiser that was also offered in a more performance-oriented guise, as the Sun Fast 37.
This Jacques Fauroux designed 37-footer helped to set new standards in accommodation in cruising boats of this size when it was first launched at the very end of the 1990s. In addition, it also provided reasonable sailing performance, especially in the Sun Fast version, which offered a deep bulb keel with a draught of 2.07m allied to a larger rig. As a result both models proved popular, with production continuing for some seven years.
By the standards of its time the generous 3.7m beam provided plenty of internal volume, which Jeanneau’s designers exploited to good effect. A choice of two or three cabin layouts was offered, both of which had the benefit of a decent size saloon and galley, along with a proper forward facing chart table, with its own seat. Both versions had cabins of a decent size, with the forward one being particularly good and incorporating a large amount of stowage plus commendable standing room at the head the double berth. A key distinguishing feature of the two-cabin version was the heads compartment that incorporated a separate shower stall – a welcome feature for many owners.
On deck and performance
Both models were built on the same high-volume hull, with the Sun Fast version having the benefit of a taller rig and a slightly deeper keel. It’s important to appreciate that these tweaks did not really turn the boat into a full-on racing yacht – instead they maximised the performance that could be extracted from the spacious hull shape. The relatively wide beam helps provide plenty of form stability, while a bulb at the bottom of the iron keel also helps to increase righting moment, although this is somewhat smaller than the bulbs fitted to most later designs.
While the single wheel arrangement may look dated compared to today’s designs, it’s sufficiently large to be able to get a good view of the luff of the headsail when sailing to windward. Owners who find it takes up more space than they would like in harbour could replace it with a folding wheel, which would also free up access to the aft bathing platform.
Otherwise the deck layout is exactly what you’d expect of a volume produced boat of this era, with a spacious cockpit, including a central table, and wide side decks. Sun Fast models benefitted from marginally improved deck gear, which makes it easier to sail the boat efficiently, although as standard this still did not match that of out-and-out race boats from a similar period. Both variants are well mannered under sail, with better performance than a number of ostensibly similar boats and can be set up to be easily handled by a small crew.
What it does best
More than 15 years after the model was originally launched, the Sun Odyssey 37 offers great accommodation both by the standards of the day and relative to the price at which typical boats change hands today. At the same time, the boat’s qualities under sail have were not unduly compromised in the quest for more space or to shave a little off the price, particularly in the Sun Fast variant.
Compared to the most recent designs the boat is beginning to look a little dated. In particular more recent designs tend to have plumb, or near-plumb bows, vertical transoms and carry their maximum beam further aft. These factors can both increase interior volume for a given length, and increase stability and therefore sail-carrying ability. However, the 37 still offers the prospect of good sailing for many years to come at a price that’s hard to beat and, overall, the accommodation has stood the test of time well.
Many cruising boats don’t live up to their sailing potential, partly as boatbuilders perceive they have to pare down the costs of the rig and deck hardware in order to be competitive. However, the Sun Fast 37 offers those who value extra speed, a boat with excellent accommodation and better performance than the Sun Odyssey.
Other models in the range
Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey range of high volume cruising yachts is one of the most comprehensive from any builder and spanned models from 29-54ft during the time the 37 was in production. (See also the boats.com review of the recent Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44DS). The Sun Fast 37 was also complemented by similar models at 32 and 40ft. It’s important not to confuse these boats with the more recent Sun Fast 3600 and 3200 models, which were conceived from the outset as stand alone racing yachts and are therefore a different breed to the rest of the company’s products.
When new, the best-selling competitors to the Sun Odyssey 37 included the Bavaria 37 and Beneteau’s popular Oceanis 361. The slightly larger Dufour 385 and Hanse 371 may also be worth a look, while those who place value on performance and better handling characteristics could also consider the Elan 37. For a full-length boats.com comparison of Jeanneau yachts, see: 5 Jeanneaus: Melody, Sunrise, JOD 35, Sun Odyssey
For more information visit the Jeanneau Sun Fast 37 specifications pdf online.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey/Sun Fast 37 specifications
Hull length: 10.96m
Draught (standard keel): 1.95m
Draught (shoal keel): 1.45m
Draught (Sun Fast 37): 2.07m
Standard engine: 40hp
Diesel: 136 litres
Water: 320 litres
Mainsail: 29.3 sq m
Furling genoa: 38.5 sq m
Spinnaker: 85 sq m