Bright and roomy down below and ready for business up on deck, the scrappy new Beneteau Oceanis 34.1 is a thoughtful model in a size range that often gets overlooked as builders and buyers go big (and bigger).
Designed by Marc Lombard, with an interior by Nauta, the 34.1 is the latest addition to the seventh generation of Beneteau’s Oceanis line of cruisers. The 34.1 replaces the 35.1 in the French builder’s lineup, and offers a bit more volume forward in the owner’s stateroom than its predecessor did, thanks to a flared bow and hard chines that run stem to stern.
The 34.1 that made its North American debut at the Miami International Boat Show in February was the two-stateroom, one-head version, which should appeal to sailors who don’t necessarily want a crowd spending the night but enjoy occasional guests. A double-berth stateroom is aft, to starboard of the companionway. Just forward, the L-shaped galley has a two-burner propane stove and oven, refrigeration, and a stainless-steel sink.
The boat’s head is opposite, with a separate stall shower aft. A door from there provides access to a workshop/stowage area under the cockpit (that area can also be reached from above, through a cockpit locker). The shower compartment and stowage area can be sacrificed to add a third stateroom, if desired.
The central feature of the saloon is a drop-leaf table flanked by two settees that would both make excellent berths for additional friends and family. The after end of the port settee drops down to make room for a fold-down nav station adjacent to the boat’s electrical panel. Forward, double doors to the V-berth can be closed for privacy or left open to enhance the sense of space below.
On the exterior, the deck is also well-thought-out. Twin wheels and fold-up helm seats allow for easy passage from the drop-down swim platform past the cockpit table to the companionway. The table can seat six for meals with its leaves up, and the benches to either side are long enough for a person to stretch out, if not lie down.
The 34.1 comes with a few different packages and configurations. A base boat is priced at $192,000. This includes a traditional main, self-tacking jib, single halyard/sheet winch on the cabin top, and 21 hp Yanmar diesel and saildrive. The boat in Miami had the optional 106 percent genoa, and upwind and downwind packages that added a bowsprit (set up to fly a code zero off-wind sail), a second electric cabin-top winch for hoisting the main, and winches at either helm to handle the genoa sheets. Rather than fairlead tracks and cars, the genoa sheets were led to adjustable friction rings, an arrangement I liked because of the control they give you to shape the headsail. My only nit to pick: I wish they had led the mainsheet aft as well.
All up, including double 30-amp shore-power circuits (to accommodate the AC while at the dock) and an upgraded Yanmar 30 hp diesel and saildrive, the sticker on a boat similar to the one we sailed in Miami is $295,000, ready to sail away.
Three keels are offered for the 34.1: a shallow (4-foot-11-inch) cast-iron foil, which the boat in Miami sported; a deep (6-foot-7-inch) fin, also of cast iron; and what Beneteau calls a “performance draft” hydraulic retractable keel that draws 4 feet, 1 inch up and 8 feet, 4 inches down.
Both the traditional mast and optional in-mast-furling spar have an air draft of 51 feet, 1 inch, making them suitable for trips up and down the Intracoastal Waterway. The traditional mast has no backstay, and a square-top main is an option.
Under sail, the 34.1 handled like a sports car on a mountain road. The twin rudders provided good control and feedback, and visibility forward from either helm was excellent. In 10 knots of breeze, we beat upwind at just under 6 knots, and I saw the GPS speed jump to 7.8 knots when we bore off to a beam reach. A code zero and spinnaker are two additions I’d add to my wish list if I were buying the boat. They’d be a lot of fun on a long reach home.
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Mark Pillsbury is a CW editor-at-large.