The 44DS boasts bold contemporary styling both above and below decks that sets the design apart from its sisterships – the boat is a new addition to Jeanneau’s established deck saloon range, slotting between existing 42 and 45ft models,
The distinctive coachroof of this yacht is immediately striking, with the curved line of the deck saloon seamlessly blending into the cockpit coamings. Coloured GRP panels – which cover halyards and other sail controls led aft – make the boat instantly recognisable.
However, the appeal of the 44DS is more than skin deep – this is a boat that will be bought for it’s light and spacious accommodation, with two very large cabins at each end of the vessel, as well as the big saloon.
The natural light that floods into the interior via the big deck saloon windows and a variety of overhead hatches is impressive, even compared to other contemporary designs. Headroom is also generous, even for the tallest people, at up to two metres.
The saloon is a wide space – taking up the full 4.24m (13ft 10in) width of the hull. Handrails under the windows on each side and inset into the deckhead assist in moving safely around at sea. There’s ample seating and lounging space, as well as a large navigation station with dedicated stowage for a laptop computer. The galley is of a decent size, with moulded worktops that benefit from deep fiddles. However there’s limited fixed worktop space and the twin sinks are relatively small.
The standard layout features huge ensuite staterooms at each end of the boat. There’s also the option of a smaller forecabin, which makes space for an additional midships cabin with twin bunks. This has ample standing space and decent stowage under the lower berth and in a generous hanging locker.
Even with this layout, the forecabin is still a decent size, although it inevitably loses floor and stowage space compared to the two-cabin layout. In the standard version this cabin occupies all the space forward of the mast, with room for an island bed, a generous en-suite heads and a huge dressing table.
The aft cabin is sure to win over many potential buyers – there are a few boats in this price range that offer such a feeling of space. An enormous king-size bed is fringed on both sides with banks of stowage, plus a pair of corner seats. The opening transom window above the head of the berth is a neat touch that adds to the natural light and feeling of space. The only disappointment is likely to be for taller people as this area doesn’t benefit from the generous headroom found elsewhere on the boat.
Equipment and options
The standard boat comes with a limited inventory – even mooring and anchoring kits are extra – although this is perhaps to be expected given the competitive basic price. On the plus side, there’s an extensive options list that will enable owners to specify the boat that suits them, whether they want a joystick controlled docking system, heating and air conditioning, electric sheet winches, wine cabinet, or upgraded sail inventory including asymmetric spinnaker.
At the time of writing, a Premiere trim pack including items such as extra batteries and water tankage, LED navigation lights, entertainment system, and shades and screens for ports and hatches adds just under £8,000.
On deck and performance
The cockpit has more sculpted curves than those of existing models in the range, with space for guests to relax away from the action – all sheets led aft to the twin wheels for ease of handling. The hull is a typical long-waterline high volume design, with maximum beam carried well aft. A soft chine right aft a little above the waterline hints at the style of the latest racing yachts, but looks too subtle to make a significant difference to handling.
The nine-tenths fractional rig has in-mast furling fitted as standard, although a conventional mainsail with slab reefing is available as an option. The 106 per cent roller headsail is easier to sheet home than the genoa of earlier designs, while a self tacking jib can be supplied, making for effortless tacking.
The moderately-sized rudder is mounted far enough forward to be clear of turbulence at the stern and should ensure positive control and feedback, unless the boat is pushed to the limit before shortening sail in a rising breeze.
The extra weight and height of superstructure will inevitably sap some speed potential and pointing ability compared to the Sun Odyssey 439 that shares the same hull. However, a deep low centre of gravity bulbed keel promises better windward performance than would have been expected from a boat of this style of boat a decade ago, especially if the optional laminate sails are specified. The boat can also be expected to put in quick passage times, especially when off the wind.
What it does best and compromises
The 44DS is one of the rare high-volume production boats that genuinely stands out from the crowd. It offers excellent accommodation, with no attempt to squeeze in as many cabins as possible and will certainly find favour with many for this reason.
This design offers a lot of space for two couples to live aboard for extended periods in comfort. Those who value this as a high priority are likely to overlook her few foibles. The dark walnut interior trim looks good at a distance, although on close inspection it arguably lacks the appeal of the woodwork typically found on more expensive brands.
For time Jeanneau stood out as perhaps the only volume builder with a line of deck saloon designs, however, Bavaria’s Vision range now competes head to head in this sector. The German builder’s Vision 44 and newly-launched Vision 46 offer many of the benefits of the 44DS, although neither can match the Jeanneau’s huge aft cabin.
Otherwise, it’s difficult to draw direct comparisons other than with craft that are significantly more expensive. However, the new Hanse 445 offers similarly spacious accommodation, with the option of a large forward stateroom, but again not an equivalent cabin aft.
One of the appeals of a deck saloon layout is the light and airy saloon. The Beneteau Inspire 43 achieves this in a different manner, with the interior and cockpit spaces almost seamlessly blending together. However, this boat is also not match for the 44DS in terms of the sleeping cabins.
For more information about the boat see Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44DS or find your local Jeanneau dealer here.
Rupert Holmes has cruised and raced more than 60,000 miles, between 60 degrees north and 56 degrees south. He writes about all aspects of boat ownership and marine travel, including destinations, seamanship and maintenance, as well as undertaking regular boat and gear tests. He owns two yachts, one currently based in the Aegean and the other in the Solent.