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Beneteau Oceanis 34 1 under sail 400Families, first-time owners and salty couples will all find something to love

By Zuzana Prochazka

Boats have been in high demand for the past two years and there’s no sign of this easing. Sailboats, that can move with the power of the wind, have made an especially significant comeback probably because of the high prices of fuel. Even more interesting is the increased interest in smaller models that have been doing well at recent boat shows. These compact cruisers have definitely held their own even among the 50-foot behemoths at the docks. A good example of this is Beneteau’s new Oceanis 34.1, the second smallest in the line. After all, fun is a function of attitude and capability, not hull length, and this model proves that point over and over again.

The Oceanis 34.1 replaces the 35.1. She’s the sixth new model in the Oceanis “.1” line and is designed by Marc Lombard. She’s built in Poland and features multiple improvements over her predecessor. Beneteau’s Eric Levine calls attention to the solid glass hull and the hard chine that helps with stability. The new model has grown more svelte. She’s two and three quarter inches narrower on either side and 1,000 pounds lighter overall and both of these changes lead to better performance in light air. This more nimble hull has also been upgraded with additional sail area (up to 29% more) to ensure a good turn of speed when the wind turns fickle.

Beneteau Oceanis 34 1 helm seats 400Sails & Rigging

The combined upwind sail area is 531 square feet between the hoisted mainsail and a self-tacking jib. You can add the optional 106% furling genoa and the square top main (that adds another 40 square feet) for even more power. Beneteau has left out the backstay to make space for the big main and a great sail combination is the self-tacking jib and a Code 0 that attaches to an optional composite bowsprit.

The helm seats are great for bracing yourself while looking ahead and driving, and they fold away when not in use to for better access to the swim platform.

Underwater Profile

Below the waterline, you’ll find twin rudders and three keel options: shoal (4’ 11”), deep-draft (6’ 7”) and a hydraulically lifting keel (4’ 1” – 8’ 4” with no bulb). That last one will deliver the best performance when sailing upwind and will still let you anchor in shallow coves.

At First Glance

Once you step aboard via the manual drop-down transom, you’ll be standing between two helm seats which fold up and out when not in use. It’s a clever way to declutter the back when it’s time to have fun in the water. Twin wheels are mounted on integrated binnacles and a large drop-leaf table sits between two benches that can host four for dinner. An option worth considering is the upgraded chocks at the transom. They’re beefy and will handle big loads in a surgy marina with ease.

Other options here include teak slatting on the swim platform and an electric halyard winch at the companionway. Instrument repeaters are on port while the engine controls and the chart plotter are on starboard which will make it easier to dock starboard-to.

Beneteau Oceanis 34 1 cockpit 400Onboard Living

Accommodations are ample and deceptive. You don’t feel like you’re on a boat under 35-feet when standing in the saloon. An L-shaped galley is to starboard with a two-burner stove and a top-loading fridge. A microwave and a 2000-watt inverter are optional. It’s a small space but a good chef will lack for nothing.

Up to eight can get comfortable in the cockpit while underway and that’s impressive on a 35-footer.

The saloon is where things get interesting. Notice the wide settees that magically fit into a 12-foot beam. They’ve been made wider presumably so they’re comfortable for sleeping when you need extra berths. The port settee also forms the seat for the aft-facing nav desk that folds away when not in use. With it stowed, you make the port berth longer by adding a cushion insert.

Another nice touch is the head that can morph from a wet head in the three aft cabin version to a large bath with a separate shower stall in the two-cabin design. This will be a popular layout for North American buyers because, with two cabins, you also get extra storage aft that can be accessed from the shower or from the port bench hatch in the cockpit. You can never have enough space for toys and tools.

Beneteau Oceanis 34 1 salon 400The master stateroom is forward although Levine, who’s tall, likes to switch it up and treat the aft cabin as the owner’s accommodation. The V-berth has an overhead hatch as well as hull windows that make the cabin bright, but the aft cabin has a larger bed and better standing headroom for bigger sailors.

Dinner for four is no problem and with one leaf down, it’s easy to make your way forward.

Like her bigger siblings, the 34.1 offers an upmarket finish. The standard wood finish is Alpi walnut, but light oak is an option. When you pair either with light-coloured fabrics, the interior looks light and bright. Per Levine, the traditional darker colour scheme is popular with about 20% of the clientele. Some courtesy lighting wouldn’t go amiss for both safety at night and for a luxurious effect on this small yacht.

Performance

Light breezes weren’t what we encountered when we sailed hull #3 in Miami where the wind was kicking at 15-20 knots and the seas were serving up spicy three-foot waves.

In preparation, we reefed the furling genoa but opted for a full hoist of the Technique Voile mainsail. In 19 knots true wind speed, we sailed at 7.6 knots over the ground (SOG). That increased to 8.0 knots at 60 degrees apparent wind angle and reached even higher to 8.3 knots as we fell off to a beam reach. Even at a deep 135 degrees, we held onto 7.2 knots and that was with five people aboard. We stayed on our feet thanks to that hard chine and we never felt overpowered.

Beneteau Oceanis 34 1 forward cabin 400We saved the motoring for protected flat water and opened up the throttle on the upgraded 30-hp Yanmar to reach 8.1 knots at 2750 rpm. A better cruising speed was at 7.5 knots around 2300 rpm. The standard engine is a 21-hp diesel but the upgrade to the bigger motor is worth considering to better push through head seas and to get home faster. The optional SidePower bow thruster is a worthy option as well to take the stress out of docking.

Unless the owners are extra tall, the forward cabin will make a good master stateroom.

Easy Outfitting

Beneteau offers three outfitting packages so you can make the 34.1 your own. “Easy Sail” is the basic pack and comes with the self-tacking jib that’s great for novice sailors or for single-handing experts. The “Comfort” and fully loaded “Family” versions are more plush. Electronics choices are offered as “Coastal” or “Offshore” depending on how far you want to venture. There are also three levels of sail outfitting where the highest “Upwind/Downwind” option includes the Code 0, extra winches and jammers, and that sleek bowsprit.

Pricing will reflect your choices. The base price is $192,000 USD but our test boat had the Code 0, air conditioning, a large inverter and more, so it came in closer to $315,000 USD.

The Oceanis 34.1 ticks all the boxes and deserves to be on the shortlist for families, first-time owners, or salty couples because there’s little you can’t do with this 34-footer versus any bigger design. The enjoyment will be about the same but the impact on the wallet will be much less and that’s saying something in today’s inflationary times.

 

Beneteau Oceanis 34 1 large sink in head 400Specs for Beneteau Oceanis 34.1

Designer: Marc Lombard

LOA: 35’ 4”    

LWL: 31’ 2”

Beam: 11’ 9”

Draft: 4’ 1” – 8’ 4”

Air draft: 51’ 1”
Sail Area: 531 sq. ft.   
Displacement: 12,046 lbs.   
Water: 61 gallons
Fuel: 34 gallons
Engine: 21/30 hp Yanmar with Saildrive

The enclosed head has a large sink with extra counter space to the side.

Below left: The galley is compact but has all that the chef will require.

Below right: Twin rudders are a great help on a boat with a nearly 12-foot beam. 

Beneteau Oceanis 34 1 galley 400 Beneteau Oceanis 34 1 twin rudders 400