With its lift keel option, the Jeanneau SO410 has a potent trump card: It has the draught of a Class 40, yet can also nose into the shallows. Toby Hodges was intrigued
If you sail in tidal harbours or shallow waters, your choice of midsize new production yachts is more limited than you may realise. While most manufacturers offer a shallow draught version of their fixed keels by adding more weight to the bulb to compensate for the reduction in righting moment, this is not a compromise all sailors are willing to make. Jeanneau, on the other hand, has long offered a lift keel on its smaller models, yet by doing so on something the size of the new Jeanneau SO410, it has established a clever niche.
The Vendée yard certainly didn’t follow the status quo when it developed its eighth-generation Sun Odyssey line three years ago and the Jeanneau SO410 adds to a string of innovations for this latest range.
First came the groundbreaking bow and hull shape, together with the walkaround deck design on the SO440 and SO490. Now comes this lift keel option, which is technically a hinging ballasted keel. It is a similar concept to that employed by Pogo for its performance yachts, yet Jeanneau is the only large scale cruising yacht manufacturer to offer such a system.
Consider the fact that the standard draught of a Jeanneau SO410 is a conservative 2.25m and the shoal keel version just 1.6m deep. Alternatively, this lift keel version reaches down to 2.97m/9ft 8in, which is the draught of a Class 40 race boat and a substantial difference in potential pointing ability. Then, at the push of a button at the helm, this swings up to reduce it to just 1.37m/4ft 5in.
This €20,000 option is therefore a prospective game-changer for those wanting to sail efficiently to windward. For example the owner of the test boat, which is the first lift keel version of this model in the UK, wants to sail regularly from Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly with his large family. So he wants to cut passage times when sailing against the prevailing westerlies yet be able to tuck into the coves on arrival.
We had a brief opportunity to sail his new boat with agents Atlantic Yachts in Plymouth before it was handed over the following day.
Jeanneau SO410 under sail
The SO440 and SO490 were the forerunners for this modern trend in hull shapes and first impressions of the Jeanneau SO410 are of another contemporary, powerful, aggressive-looking design.
This Marc Lombard interpretation continues and refines that full bow, chined and chamfered look – elements which help give maximum internal volume yet keep the wetted surface narrow. The forefoot and first 0.5m below the dreadnought bow is also noticeably dry.
A bow thruster is an option most owners reportedly take and while that sounds like overkill for this length of boat, I can understand why. The light, voluminous bow gets taken by the wind easily when under motor, which makes manoeuvring tricky, particularly in reverse.
Typical British summer conditions greeted us in Plymouth Sound, with 15-20 knots westerly winds that were really puffy under the dark clouds. It was the first time the boat had sailed, so I was surprised and impressed with how quickly and easily the Jeanneau SO410 found its groove. It never felt pressed and was easy to maintain good speeds (very close to the polars in fact).
We averaged 7 knots beating and 9 reaching. It was also a fun yacht to sail off the wind, deep reaching with the swell, where we nudged 9.5 knots with the Code sail. I was left wanting more, which is always a good sign.
Worthy of note were the form stability of the hull shape and the ability this keel gives you to point high to the wind (tacking through 70°). It remained very light on the helm, yet with enjoyable and direct control. Marc Lombard is a veteran designer of race yachts around this length, so the performance and handling of the SO410 should perhaps come as no surprise.
The grip of the deep twin rudders and deep keel gave me plenty of confidence to sail around the moored yachts in Cawsand Bay. Sailing heeled and powered up on the wind is addictive. The mainsheet and genoa sheets are on neat bridle systems and while the latter allows for adjustment to lead the sheets inboard for tight pointing, the lack of a traveller option means it’s almost impossible to trim the main to a similar high angle.
Managing the sheets from the two aft winches is a little fiddly. You need to pre-plan tacks to ensure the new working genoa sheet will be on the correct winch, swapping it with the German-led mainsheet. However, a real benefit the ramped side deck design brings is the option to stand outboard to work the winch yet with the security of over 1ft of bulwark to brace against.
Both sheets on the test boat had clutches, which allow you to free up the winch, but can cause issues for genoa sheets during tacks if accidentally left on. We also found these sheets consistently snagged the forward mast base cleat during tacks, so moving or covering that cleat would be prudent.
The winches and pedestals are positioned right aft to maximise cockpit space, leaving a compact space behind the helms. However, you do have the option to either sit athwartships, or take the unique position of sitting facing forward with your legs outstretched on the side deck.
The resultant cockpit size is impressive, as is the protection afforded by the deep coamings and large sprayhood. There is no stowage for sheet tails so bags would need to be fitted to keep things tidy. Elsewhere, deck stowage is adequate in two shallow bench lockers, a quarter locker and a sail locker.
Jeanneau SO490 down below
The SO410 offers plenty of accommodation options, from two cabins and one heads to three cabins with two heads, and it is arguably the excellent proportions and the amount of space it provides in all areas that help it stand out from the competition.
This space allows for the inclusion of a proper navstation, ample aft cabins and an impressive en-suite owner’s forecabin. The slab topsides between the upper and lower chines helps create the beam in the galley, saloon and forward cabin.
Below decks has a modern apartment feel and I liked the fabric on the bulkheads and neat stowage solutions throughout. The central galley configuration, which has a practical C-shape for working at heel, is one of the main differences over the old SO409. It includes a deep fridge and ample stowage.
The door to the forward cabin has been offset to allow space for the keel box, which removes the option of a convertible double berth in the saloon. The central chaise longue is a great feature and makes clever use of the keel box. A very comfortable seat in the heart of the boat, it also extends out flat to make a nice child’s berth. The manual pump for the keel ram is mounted below and there is a spy glass for checking the ram position.
The forward cabin has an intelligent layout too. By angling the headboard and berth against the forward bulkhead it creates room for a proper rectangular berth (as opposed to a typical V-shape) as well as a good en-suite heads and shower compartment offset to port, which is the same size and configuration as the aft heads.
There is also plenty of space and light in the near identical aft cabins, which have low berths, modest stowage, and large side access panels into the engine room. The curved and fiddled joinerwork, notably the central stowage unit between navstation and galley, provide good support when walking around at heel. Dampeners and spacers are used on the soleboards to prevent some creaking, but unfortunately much of the plywood endgrain has been left exposed and unsealed.
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The SO410 has a smart modern hull shape which offers good sailing manners and behaviour, and has been used wisely to create an appealing accommodation layout. It’s another versatile model from Jeanneau, and one with an added twist – a proper trump card option. If you want a 40ft+ production yacht with shoal draught but deep keel performance, this is the only option. It will allow you to effectively take the competition at the traffic lights and claim the inside track, then when you get to your destination you’ll be able to pick the best parking place too.