Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300

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Though best known for its cruising boats, Jeanneau has long kept a hand in competitive racing with its Sun Fast line. The newest of these French-built speedsters is the Sun Fast 3300, which takes the place of the long-lived 3200.

Design & Construction

A collaboration between veteran Sun Fast designer Daniel Andrieu and Vendée Globe/America’s Cup naval architect Guillaume Verdier, the Sun Fast 3300 is expressly configured for solo or doublehanded offshore competition. However, it can also be used for fully-crewed racing, both inshore and off soundings.

The hull is infused in vinylester with a balsa core and features a moderate version of the powerful wedge shape that serves so well for power-reaching aboard today’s IMOCA 60s—no surprise given Verdier’s experience in this area. Twin rudders ensure the boat remains under control even at dramatic angles of heel.

In addition to the full bow sections and blunt stem, a dramatic reverse sheer is combined with full-length soft chines and a fair bit of tumblehome to reduce beam at deck level. This, in turn, serves to lower the center of gravity and reduce weight in the ends without compromising sail-carrying ability. What Jeanneau describes as a “double concave profile forward and aft” works to further reduce wetted surface area under sail and help the boat get up onto a plane. Of course, the downside to this extra volume forward will be some pounding when sailing to windward in a seaway. Similarly, the absence of any kind of bow overhang or hull flare forward will mean plenty of spray making its way aft. But hey, getting beat up a little is part and parcel of racing!

Aloft, the Sun Fast 3300’s deck-stepped, double-spreader Axxon carbon rig carries a 374ft, high-aspect, square-top main. So dramatically large is the head of the sail that Jeanneau had to go with a double backstay that is cranked on and off when gybing like a pair of runners (via both coarse and fine-tune cascades) in order for it to get from one side of the boat to the other—a feature that pretty much obviates the boat’s use by casual cuisers, but is again all part of the fun when racing.

Dyform rigging comes standard, but you can specify rod instead. Though our test boat carried an aluminum boom, a carbon version is also available. Forward, there is a fixed, carbon sprit for flying the voluminous A-sails that are the raison d’être for this kind of offshore thoroughbred. The keel is a simple fin sans bulb. Water ballast is available as an option, with a 52 gal tank to either side just aft of the companionway providing slightly over 400lb of weight outboard when full.

On Deck

The deck (like the hull infused with a balsa core) and cockpit on the Sun Fast 3300 are also all about racing. The single tiller is set low so the helmsperson can easily step over it when gybing or coming about. Sail controls abound, including both coarse and fine-tune on the end-boom mainsheet (which runs down to a traveler spanning the width of the cockpit sole) and a 3-D lead that allows you to position the genoa sheet precisely where you want it.

Sheet winches and all controls are well within reach of the helm, with the main and backstay controls running to a “pod” in the cockpit sole immediately forward of the tiller. Halyards and control lines on the cabintrunk are also well within reach of the helm, in the interest of shorthanded or solo sailing.

The cockpit benches are of minimal length, opening up the rest of the cockpit and creating plenty of room for a full crew. Jeanneau thoughtfully includes a pair of adjustable, tubular stainless steel foot braces on either side of the tiller for whoever is driving, and the hull-deck joint is slightly beveled for the sake of keeping the rail meat happy with legs outboard.

Going forward, a molded-in toerail provides extra security in the foredeck area, and there’s a beefy stainless steel handrail on either side of the cabintrunk. Side decks are nice and wide, and molded-in antiskid provides excellent footing when the boat is on its ear.

Winches and hardware are Harken with Spinlock stoppers. Sails on our test boat were 3Di from North, the result of a collaboration that will include North Sails CEO Ken Read taking an SF3300 out for a number of doublehanded offshore events this year. 

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Accommodations

Although there are few frills below, there’s still plenty of room to stretch out in on passage, especially when shorthanded. The forepeak is empty save for a toilet and small sink, providing more than enough space for storing sails, lines and other bits of gear. Mirror-image settees on either of the saloon are plenty long enough to serve as sea berths and come equipped with a pair of burly lee cloths and pipe-berth racks for sacking out to windward. Mirror-image double quarterberths aft provides additional storage space or room to crash out in.

To port of the companionway is a small galley, to starboard a satisfyingly, large nav station, equipped with B&G electronics. Both include stainless steel handrails along their inboard edges for security moving about in rougher conditions. Also flanking the companionway is a pair of nifty, inward-facing molded-in seats that will make for a great place to stand watch when the weather gets stinky. In addition to being a comfortable place to sit to windward when the boat is heeling, they are located directly beneath a pair of window cutouts in the cabintrunk overhead that affords an excellent view of the rig.

Under Sail

Underway, what most surprised me most about the Sun Fast 3300 was how well it went to windward. I was also pleased by how much room there was for the five crew we had aboard, this in spite of the spider’s web of control lines running about. Heading up to a 32-degree apparent wind angle in 7 knots quickly produced 5 knots of boatspeed and a lively, responsive helm. As expected, we pounded a little in the chop. But coming about was a piece of cake, and the boat felt wonderfully balanced throughout.

Bearing away and hoisting the boat’s massive A2 spinnaker, we easily kept the boat moving at the same speed as the true wind, even as the latter faded away to 6 and then 4 knots. Again, the feel of the helm remained light and lively, making the boat an absolute joy to sail. One of the underappreciated things about a boat like the 3300 is that it’s a blast to sail in the light stuff as well in a stiff breeze. Similarly, while a boat this size may feel like a big boat, the loads are such that you can still muscle it around in the event things ever go sideways, for example, while gybing the spinnaker. Think “IMOCA 60-lite” for the non-pros in the audience. I can’t wait to try the 3300 out in some rough stuff.

Under Power

The 15hp auxiliary was plenty adequate for getting us to and from the dock and out to open water. This isn’t the kind of boat you’re going to motor around in much. Nonetheless, revving the engine up to 3,000 rpm provided 5.4 knots of boatspeed.

Conclusion

The Jeanneau Sun Fast line has long provided thrills aplenty, and this may be the best Sun Fast yet. Sailboats are in many ways the stuff of dreams, and if your dreams happen to include shorthanded or singlehanded sailing offshore, I can think of no better boat for making those dreams come true. Better still, the SF 3300 will also work equally well in between adventures racing with friends.

For video from this program, visit here

Specifications

LOA 33ft 2in LWL 29ft 2in BEAM 11ft 2in

DRAFT 6ft 5in

DISPLACEMENT 7,716lb (light ship)

Ballast 3,086lb

SAIL AREA 667ft

FUEL/WATER (GAL) 13/26

ENGINE 15hp

SA/D RATIO 27 D/L RATIO 140

Ballast RATIO 40

What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios

DESIGNERS Guillaume Verdier and Daniel Andrieu

BUILDER Jeanneau, Les Herbiers, France

U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Jeanneau America, Annapolis, MD, 410-280-9400, jeanneauamerica.com

PRICE $260,000 (sailaway) at time of publication.

March 2020

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