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Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54DS: Begin the Journey

When she was launched twelve years ago, everything about the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54DS (Deck Saloon) suggested this was a flagship that took a new tack in the Jeanneau fleet. From the design of the distinctive coachroof with its swoopy cat’s eye, to the curvy lines of the deck and transom, Jeanneau set this boat apart from the rest. Given that the model was built for the next seven years, it seems the company hit its target and today, this prolific design represents quite a bit of value on the brokerage market.

jeanneau sun odyssey 54
The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54DS was built from 2002 through 2009.

Design and Construction
The Sun Odyssey 54DS was born of the combined effort of two large yacht designers – Jacques Fauroux for the performance side, and Vitorrio Garroni for the comfort and sleek Italian design aspects. Fauroux came from the IOR racing world and focused on creating a powerful, fast and easily-sailed boat. Garroni optimized the interior volume and created the distinctive look and appeal of the overall design. The result of this two-designer effort was a well-integrated, rather memorable boat that quickly became noticed.

Despite its new appeal, the hull was built in a traditional manner with a solid polyester fiberglass hand layup and no coring. The nearly plumb bow gave her a respectable waterline length of 48’ 6”. The keel was iron to reduce cost and increase impact resistance, and two versions can be found today: 6’ 6” and 7’ 6”.

Cockpit, Deck & Rigging
The entry to the boat is via the rather impressive stern, with a very nice swim platform and steps up to the enormous cockpit. There are two lazarettes under the helm seats of the dual steering stations. The boat also has a central locker under the cockpit sole for a life raft or additional stowage. Due to the split backstay, there is direct and unencumbered access from the transom to the huge and ergonomically-designed cockpit.

Moving forward, the decks are wide and clear with a good space on the foredeck for anchoring work or lounging. Twelve opening hatches penetrate the deck and two dorade vents add air flow. For a boat with an offshore rating I think the stanchions are short, leaving the lifelines at a level that could be ineffective at keeping taller boaters aboard.

The triple-spreader, keel-stepped rig supports an enormous mainsail that came with the option of an in-mast furling system. Downwind, the furling genoa may be blocked by the main, but the huge headsail is easily handled with the assistance of electric winches.

Layout & Accommodations
The difficulty with describing the layout of the yacht is that there were five standard versions available—so there’s no telling what you’ll find on the secondary market. Initially the boat came with as few as three cabins, to as many as five, providing sleeping accommodations for up to 12 people. The owner’s stateroom could be either aft or forward, with any combination of guest cabins on either end. For charter, there was also an option to have isolated crew quarters in the bow.

What remained standard in the interior design was the voluminous saloon, the nav station and, to some extent, the galley.

The slightly raised saloon has a U-shaped settee with a fold out dinette table and a two-seat bench to starboard. The dinette converts into a double berth and there’s adequate stowage all around. Two angled seats with a bar area are to port. The navigation station to starboard is forward-facing and near the companionway for good communication with the helm. The galley to port offered a 37-gallon, seawater-cooled refrigerator, a four-burner stove and oven, and double sinks inboard. Depending on the layout choices, the galley is either U-shaped when the master is aft or L-shaped in the case when a walk-through to another aft cabin was necessary. Either three or four heads were offered, depending on the rest of the layout choices.

Two complaints I have about the interior are that despite the size and attention to comfort on a boat of this class, the interior doors are so narrow that an adult – of any size – can’t walk straight through, but instead must turn sideways. Also, the overhead was great for tall crew but anyone under 5’5” can’t reach overhead handholds. Such is the tradeoff in a boat built to maximize interior volume.

The standard auxiliary power on the Sun Odyssey 54DS was a 100 HP Yanmar, mounted on fiberglass stringers under the companionway. With the stairs and entryway box removed, engine access is not bad, although getting to the raw water strainer could be challenging even with the secondary access in the passageway.

Original tankage included 106 gallons of fuel and 246 gallons of water but there was an option to replace one stainless-steel water tank with a fuel tank, thereby extending the boat’s range under power. Another option included an Onan 9KW generator below the cabin sole amidships, to which there’s very good access. Among the many other original options were a bow thruster, a folding three-blade propeller and prop shaft line cutter, a diesel heater or air conditioner, a watermaker, and a second alternator. That means that a pre-owned boat today may be loaded with value that’s not reflected in the price.

Under sail, I’ve found the boat to be light and responsive, able to sail at seven knots in a 10 knot breeze on a beam reach and powering at 9.5 knots on flat water. It’s as easily maneuvered as a boat 20 feet shorter. The design was used heavily in charter, so a good value on hulls built between 2002 and 2009 may be found in the Caribbean as well as in certain Mediterranean countries.

Specifications – LOA: 54’11” * Beam: 15’11” * Draft: 6’6″/7’6″ * Displacement: 37,479/38,361 lbs. * Sail Area: 1,496 sq. ft. * Fuel Capacity: 106 gal. * Water Capacity: 246 gal.

See Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54DS listings.

Written by Zuzana Prochazka

Written by: Zuzana Prochazka

Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to and, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site,