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An interesting cluster develops

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 28 Jun 23:00 BST
Sunfast 3300 © Jean-Marie Liot

So Jeanneau's Sun Fast 3600 has certainly been a bit of a giant killer, especially short-handed. Races like the 5500nm Melbourne to Osaka lie as testament to that. Now its smaller sister, the 3200, might not have grabbed as many headlines, but it too has done very well. Thank you for asking. Neither, however, has captivated sailors around the globe quite like the new Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300.

You may choose to call it ungainly (some said that about Comanche when she first appeared too), mainly due its double concave hull form down the keel line that reduces pressure, but early form in races sees her uphill speed, both form and dynamic stability, and ability to handle a blow get some pretty serious accolades for her diminutive 10x3.4m stance. Add in an IRC rating well under 1.3, and all of a sudden everyone has the same hymn sheet and we're waxing on like it's Handel's Messiah, or Beethoven's 'Choral' (Ninth) Symphony.

Now we've just mentioned man of the hour Guillaume Verdier by virtue of the reference to the mighty Comanche, and his name is all over the 3300's hull form, with Daniel Andrieu applying his deft IRC wand over everything else. Chasing balance, both inshore and off to make it easier shorthanded, along with outright performance, the team went after minimal wetted surface area, and low drag/high lift from her appendages. She's also fully resin infused for strength, and best possible mass and uniformity. The by-product is feel, and responsiveness.

Naturally, in these times she holds a lot of volume aft, especially when heeled over, and the stick placement also reflects this, but interestingly her transom is not quite full beam. Her scow like bow means she is also determined not to go down the mine, nor get driven around by her tail. One thing she is definitely not is the folded piece of A4 paper that has defined so many designs in recent times. Vive la difference...

Another notable element is her fin only keel, which is slightly swept aft to assist with debris removal. Both the chord and thickness (profile) are thin, she draws 1.95m, but remember she is just 10.11m LOA. However, that keel is also about 1m further aft than would be the normal placement in a craft of this size, so she has a centre of gravity that can work to the centre of effort from the huge square top main (even the heady is a flathead), and hold form stability, despite the lack of bulb. In a way, the keel reminds me a lot of the Nelson/Marek 43, Quest.

Other things we like are the adjustable foothold for the helmer, moulded in toerail with chamfer for hiking, main traveller aft of tiller and traverses the full cockpit width, transverse heady tracks, clean central trimming pedestal, moulded in seats below for watch keeping, clear for'ard vision from below, large bunks with lee cloths and everything is symmetrical, and importantly, water ballast, so that there is always two big guys on the rail!

Over 400 Jeanneau Sun Fasts are racing around the world, and it would seem the 3300 is going to expand that smartly. Back in Howzat! Lee Condell from Performance Boating said, amongst other things, "Though multiple boat designs have been put forward to be chosen (for Paris 2024), most of them will not have the capacity to produce the required number of strictly controlled boats in the limited time-frame, whereas Jeanneau is well placed to do so, and with a design that lends itself perfectly to the event."

Australia, and especially Melbourne, do seem to be taking to the Sun Fasts with vigour. No fewer that three 3600s, and at least five 3200s are already racing here. Representing Jeanneau in Southern Australia is two-time Moth World Champion, Rohan Veal, himself no stranger to different thinking, for he was at the forefront when the Moths went from low ride to hi-rider, and arguably began the modern foiling era.

Veal stated, "We already have one 3300 racing in Perth, and now two in Melbourne. By the end of September we will have one more here in Melbourne and one racing out of Hobart. I have another on order now, so if you're interested, please let our team at 38 South Boat Sales know."

"It is very clear to us that owners and potential buyers are all saying the same thing. They are sick of finding reliable crew every week, but they still want a boat that goes fast, is fun and easy to sail, with low maintenance costs, and can actually sail to its IRC rating. Note that we are quietly confident that the Sun Fast 3300 will actually exceed its rating, due to some unique design features, high form stability, modern rig set up, optimised sail plan, and optional water ballast."

Veal added, "We should also have around five Jeanneau Sun Fasts racing in the double-handed division (one will be a mixed crew) in the Sydney to Hobart this year, so that in itself will attract other owners to short-handed racing. I would not be surprised if some of these crews end up placing high in their divisional results against fully crewed boats, just as it happened in the 2019 Fastnet Race, where a newly teamed up British, mixed, double-handed crew finished second overall in IRC3 on a five-day-old Sun Fast 3300."

Looking back locally, Veal finished by saying, "Last weekend we also tried a new format of practice racing; three crew with only three sails to choose from, and a handicapped, stern-chaser start. This seems to be the ideal introduction to short-handed racing, which will only grow over the next few years due to COVID-19 and the mixed-gender offshore keelboat event at the 2024 Olympics. Not only does this meet the social-distancing regulations, but having an extra pair of hands on deck means you can set up, and then pack up 50% faster too!"

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the site for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

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Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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