Grand Soleil 34
Moderately sized racer-cruiser is a reinvention of a classic design
This new Grand Soleil model is an attempt to produce a boat with the same impact that the previous Finot-designed GS34 had. More than 300 of the early 34s were built. But to replicate that success takes more than good design and build. It takes good timing and an element of good fortune. The new 34 is designed by a team with
Skyron doing the naval architecture and the builder Cantiere del Pardo collaborating with Skyron on the interior and styling. Where the X49 put the emphasis on comfort in the racer-cruiser blend, the GS34 puts the emphasis on performance while not ignoring comfort. This is my first review of a Skyron design.
The first thing that jumps out when you look at this hull is the reverse rake to the bow. This is fashionable. Is it fast? I’m not sure. In some extreme, wave piercing hull form I suspect it is. But in a moderate boat like the GS34 it may be more like spoilers on Toyotas. It looks fast and maybe that’s all that counts. There is a chine that is quite high on the hull at the transom and runs in an almost straight line to the stem knuckle. The D/L is 178. The sheer runs almost dead straight. The topsides above the chine are cut off in a straight line at the transom. This maximizes sailing length and stability. There are twin rudders because with a stern as wide as this one you will need at least one rudder in the water at high heel angles. To my eye this is a fast looking hull. L/B is 2.88, indicating a very beamy boat for its length. Notice how many boats are beginning to look like wedges?
The GS34 has a large cockpit so usable interior volume is reduced. Note how far forward the companionway is. There are V-berths forward. The galley and nav station occupy opposing spaces port and starboard. This means the nav station is generous while the galley is undersized. I don’t see much cooking going on in this galley. There is a double quarterberth to port but access to the large berth is constricted and I’m afraid I would struggle getting in. Getting out would not be pretty. There is a head to starboard and a large cockpit locker aft of the head. Like I said at the beginning of the review, this design is more about performance than comfort.
The sailplan shows a svelte profile not unlike that of the X94. The rig is also of similar proportions to that of the X94, call it a nine-tenths rig but this one has double spreaders. The SA/D is high at 25.05 and that should give you some muscle in the light stuff. The chute tacks to a 28-inch-long bowsprit. There are no sheeting provisions for overlapping genoas.
The focal point of this design for me, hull aside, is the large cockpit. It’s hard to find a cockpit that is too large and easy to find cockpits that are too small. If you are going to race the boat you need elbow room so the crew can do its work efficiently without any orthodontic reconstruction needed. The mainsheet traveler is aft of the rudder head.
This would be a fun boat for weekend races.
LOA 35’1”; Beam 11’10”; Draft 7’2”; Displ. 10,803 lbs.; Ballast 2,200 lbs.; Sail area 764 sq. ft.; SA/D 25.05; D/L 178; L/B 2.88; Auxiliary 30-hp.; Fuel 19 gal.; Water 45 gal.