YL racing editor Andi Robertson takes to the Clyde with Jeanneau’s new Sun Odyssey 33i a simple family cruiser racer which ticks all the boxes at this popular length.
THE SIMPLE pleasures of summer: glorious sunshine, warm breezes, familiar waters and the enthusiasm for a Clyde test sail on Jeanneau’s new Sun Odyssey 33i swells.
Were it a wet, windy day in November then, in truth, the outcome would have been much the same.
It is the simple basics in which the new boat majors. It handles exceptionally well, looks after those on board well, is spacious, light and airy and offers a high level of accommodation and comfort for what is neither a big boat these days, nor an especially small boat.
First impression is how well proportioned the 33i appears. In some senses it really satisfies a traditional expectation: nice wide sidedecks, well styled coachroof with a couple of well proportioned windows, big cockpit with ergonomic coamings and an elegant transom.
In fact there is no single thing which is exceptional, but I certainly came off this Sun Odyssey 33i marvelling at the overall package and thinking of all the circumstances and locations for which it would be just the perfect boat.
At 32ft 8in it is a manageable size for a family, where the loads are not too heavy and the difficult bits, such as they are, can be controlled short handed, even by one adult.
It is also a perfect size for those who are perhaps a little less experienced, a great first time modern cruiser, not too small that it is inherently slow and time consuming to go anywhere.
This is a real go-anywhere, fast, modern cruiser which will grow with an owner new to the sport. It is CE rated Category A ‘Unlimited Ocean’ which is quite uncommon for a boat of this size. Equally it would be a great, simple charter boat for companies who want a compact, simple and easily handled boat suitable for two couples or a young family.
The sail plan is well proportioned. On our test boat it was set up with the standard ‘stack pack’ style mainsail and furling headsail, but with the full 100sq.m spinnaker option and all the gear.
The standard package is with 80% length battens on a classic polyester mainsail with a 115% roll away jib. But the performance version adds a taller rig, an extra 1.2sq.m to the main and nearly 3sq.m to the genoa and the mainsheet comes to a cockpit track, otherwise on the standard version we sailed, it is led to the coachroof winches.
This new boat, fresh into Largs, was heading to a Northern Ireland customer within days of our sail.
There are two different keel versions, but the majority will be sold with the 1.9m fixed keel, and three rig choices – a taller rig for the 33i Performance, the standard rig and a version with in-mast furling which would be a mistake on a boat like this which is so easily handled and sailed so well with the exact set up we had.
And while it does the basics well, there is great attention to detail and the overall specification is good. Hot water and 12v refrigeration come as standard.
The cockpit is excellent - we liked the proportions both for sailing and for sitting around at anchor or docked to enjoy the sunshine. It is deep enough and enclosed enough to make you feel secure, but the all round vision is also excellent with good forward visibility from most steering and trimming positions.
The helm has good space behind the wheel and secure foot holds and seating. There is easy access through the stern, whilst the transom and back of the cockpit also incorporates an excellent liferaft locker.
There is also a good, climb in full depth cavern/locker to port and the centrepiece of the cockpit is a rather excellent fold down table which really is an essential for the after sail ambience as well as a useful foot step when folding down the main and zipping up the mainsail cover.
Also what could be better than burbling gently through the Kyles on a hot summer day than sitting with the table up for cool drinks and snacks.
It is a good looking boat which will appeal to the traditionalist’s sense of proportions, but it looks totally modern as well with a pleasing deck and window line, good, wide sidedecks and a large cockpit.
The Marc Lombard hull shape is definitely quick, and once again it is worth remembering that this 33 footer will outpace a design which is bigger but of perhaps 10 or 15 years vintage, such have the advances in CAD/CAM and knowledge of what makes a quick hull and modern foils progressed.
While it proved to slip along really nicely in the weight of breeze we had in the Largs Channel, the hull also provides a substantial volume to offer an airy, comfortable and simply executed interior.
The breeze was perfect for our afternoon with the Sun Odyssey 33i, seven or eight knots of summer southerly and beautiful sunshine.
Along with Euroyachts’ supremo Angus Scott we had two novices, including my 11 year old daughter. Underlining just how easy the boat was to sail, they did just about all the sailing exercises, other than this correspondent doing the statutory checks and balances.
It really was a delight to sail.
Not only was the SO33i quick for her length, but it tracked beautifully. Angus pledged that there had been no additional work gone into tuning or setting up the boat, but upwind the balance was excellent.
It rather took the wind from the sails of our two less experienced crew to see the boat sail upwind on its own for four or five minutes at a time with absolutely no input from the crew! It tracked extremely well and just trucked along in the modest breeze.
It proved pleasingly close winded too, even with the standard sail package and settings, a GTI in family saloon clothing. This is definitely a turn key, ‘go sailing’ project even in its basic form.
The cockpit ergonomics are excellent: Good space and working areas, but plenty of foot and hand holds, again the fold away table is a nice reference point, and inevitably you find yourself kicking against it or using it as a hand hold.
The SO33i tacked neatly and swiftly for the type and class of boat, to accelerate evenly. It would have been good to try the boat in 20 knots of breeze, but clearly there is good grip from the helm and the sail controls all worked well, which would indicate that the vices would be minimal. Certainly she seemed stiff enough, with good form stability as well as ample ballast.
For all that she proved simple, safe and easy to sail with an inexperienced crew so the SO 33i is well set up for shorthanded sailing, with the sail handling winches close to the helm.
Down below the over-riding impression is of a tidy and simple layout which is easy on the eye, spacious with plenty of natural light. The satin teak finish is appealing, and there is good headroom in all the main areas.
The main saloon does not try to be too clever with a central table and two good full length settee berths either side. Outboard, hull side there are a corresponding full length series of smaller lockers which are nicely done.
Moving forwards through the main bulkhead the forecabin is also pretty conventional, with a large double berth. There is no infill, no messing about, but a small living area with excellent hanging lockers either side.
The main working area does not scrimp on space or user friendliness. There is a good nav station to port with a big WC/shower room aft. For her size there is good space here, too.
To starboard is the galley which does everything it should with work spaces and ample stowage, while behind in the aft cabin a massive lateral double berth is really of King sized proportions.
Overall it was hard not to be impressed by the whole package which the Sun Odyssey 33i delivers, not that we were trying.
But as well as being just the right size of boat for a young family to grow their sailing experiences, it is also an excellent choice for those whose ambitions extend beyond waterborne caravanning.
It will eat the miles to allow the holidays to maximise the places seen and enjoyed in comfort.
They say that no other new boat offers the same level of choices and options and that assertion is delivered well beyond the configuration and hardware that is the Sun Odyssey 33i. Top marks all round to Jeanneau.
• Jeanneau’s SO33i will make its first Boat Show appearance at Southampton this month carrying a ‘commissioned Clyde’ price tag of £85,000 inc VAT.