interior designer Jean Marc Piaton.
On the port side by the steps is a full size chart table with a twist: instead of one lonely seat in an enclosed space, this table can be accessed from both sides. The conventional navigator’s seat faces forward, however facing the opposite direction there is a slightly longer sofa backing onto the galley. I love this idea, and can imagine two people comfortably sitting at the table in port to discuss routeing together.
The three-cabin layout has two double aft cabins, both of which are roomy and have plenty of light, a forward en-suite master cabin and a small heads with shower opposite the chart table. The galley is a sensible size for the boat and wraps around the user providing plenty of worktop space and everything in reach from a single central point. The fridge is huge and can be accessed from both the top and the side. The saloon is roomy and comfortable, with a table that could comfortably seat six to eat and a pull-out bench seat, which is securely stowed under the table while sailing.
In an effort to maximise the potential power of the hull design, interior weight has been kept to a minimum, placed low down in the hull and within 1.5m The moment a chine appears on a cruising boat, it brings a temptation to jump on the ‘powerful hull shape’ bandwagon, so it’s important to keep these statements in context. Jeanneau has made a concerted effort to keep the SO490 light, while the sail area to displacement ratio of the performance rig is certainly on the high side for this type of boat. The increased volume created by the new hull shape should provide a stiffer boat and better performance in mid-range breeze, with the trade-off being poorer performance in light winds due to increased drag. Though the
SO490 quickly and effortlessly powered up in the maximum 12-knot breeze on the test, to unlock the full potential of this hull shape we needed either more sail area, or a lot more wind.
The ocean racing boats that lay across the dock in Les Sables had more than twice the sail area to displacement ratio of the SO490 and they challenge their skippers to go harder with bigger sails and in stronger winds. But the speed is directly linked to the daring and the effort of the crew. With a cruising yacht such as the SO490, the hull shape will allow good speeds and controllable handling in mid-range breeze compared to previous models and some of the competition, however the power output will be capped at how much effort a potential owner really wants to put into sailing with big spinnakers or staying out in big winds.
Above: the full bow shape helps create a particularly voluminous forward cabin
Left: a vanity unit drawer cut around the sink plumbing highlights the efficient use of space on the SO490