Video test: the Oceanis 34.1, a sailboat that sounds good!

The Oceanis 34.1 is the nice surprise of this spring 2022. With its balanced hull, its remarkable habitability for a unit of less than 10 meters at the waterline and a noticeable speed, the youngest from Bénéteau is a great success. Everything at a very competitive price!

ERRATIC WIND and a mean little heel, not really the panacea to take this new Oceanis 34.1 forward, especially dedicated to comfortable cruising. However, we are trying to take advantage of the small south sector gusts coming in to send code 0 to its bowsprit. Thanks to the Seldén roller roller coupled with a quality line assembly, operation is child’s play!

Heading the mainsail on this classic two storey aluminum rig with pushing spreaders and code almost inflated, we attempt to sail in these less than ideal conditions caused by a small depression to the west of the Balearic Islands responsible for this time worthy of a Breton autonomous.

A well-born torso

And it’s the good surprise of the day: where many cruisers would throw in the towel, our Oceanis 34.1 expertly emerges thanks to the tulip shape of the front part that provides extra volume without increasing the wetted surface. Also a result of this deliberately advanced center of the hull: the boat crosses the sea without ever stopping, always well carried by its wanderings. In addition, compared to its predecessor, the Oceanis 35.1 is 500 kg away from the initial weight estimate, with a larger sail area as the icing on the cake.

A comparison that pays off in light air and this was seen during our test. It must be said that for this seventh generation of the range of the same name, the design agency Bénéteau has pulled out all the stops in terms of innovation and the search for good arbitration. It was indeed up to the yard to release a small cruiser that was competitive in price but also comfortable, easy to maneuver, good walker and very habitable.

An ambitious set of specifications that we put to the test with a two-day trial “made in Voile Magazine”. Arriving late at night the day before, we only discovered early in the morning the shapes of this modern hull, signed by Marc Lombard Associés, and the realization of the exterior and interior design by the Italian firm Nauta.

Although the rough-hewn stern by the formwork may seem a bit rough to purists, the general lines are quite harmonious with this projected volume and this slight bilge, the hallmark of the range, which runs from a straight bow solid to the transom.

An imposing rear line practically at anchor thanks to this tilting platform.
An imposing rear but practical at anchor thanks to this tilting platform. © Bertrand Duquenne.

The only drawback is the presence of fresh water tanks (230 l) and diesel tanks (130 l), which limit storage under the fore and aft berths, even if the lockers accessible under the saloon benches provide a minimum of storage space. Again and as always it’s all about compromise!

If the journalist commits himself by taking a seat in the salon, our reader, Jean-Marie Vitrac, a member of the Voile Mag Club (see box) from the beginning and therefore invited to participate in this trial, will occupy the large triangle forward separated from the saloon by a double door.

A voluminous front

In this XXL cabin for a sailboat of this size, there is a beautiful wardrobe overhanging by a tray on the port side that overlooks a large closet, while two large side pockets allow you to store personal belongings. Clarity is ensured by two portholes in the hull and an opening panel that also contributes to the ventilation of the whole.

In the aft are the two large double cabins, generous with storage space and frankly comfortable, the responsibility of the photographer and Oceanis project manager, Valentin Moreau. It should be noted that the catalog offers two interior layout configurations with a choice of two or three cabins.

Also spacious is the large bathroom with shower, sink and maritime toilet placed on the port side of the corridor. On the other hand, the card table has been reduced to its simplest expression and has the disadvantage of being in the opposite direction of the march.

Jean-Marie G
Jean-Marie Vitrac, member of the Voile Magazine Club.

But in use it still seemed functional to us with its single blade and its “high-tech” electrical panel… appreciate the habitability of this voluminous hull. It has yet to be validated, helm and sheets in hand, the implementation of this Lombard plan on the water.

As for the movements in the cockpit, they are ensured by a large number of handrails placed on the helm consoles and on each side of the central table. Not forgetting the absence of backstays on the Oceanis 34.1, which is more pleasant when cruising… On the other hand, the presence of pushing spreaders to the limit tends to limit the overflow of the mainsail as you go further down want to float.

A sensitive but never hard beam

Over the harbor of Vilanova the wind comes back but is now too sharp to let us do one last tack under code 0. Never mind, we unfurl our little FlatDeck overlapping genoa. And it is in a dozen apparent knots that we are now closely following our course.

The ability to see our mount increase in speed as in angle of inclination and to push a little on this hull. Here too, the Oceanis 34.1 behaves in its favor: the rudder remains sensitive but never hard, even if a light strong shower surprises us, a little overpowered by a few cables from our arrival at the marina of Torredembarra.

The four of us sit comfortably around the large table in the salon. Chests under the seats are suitable for storing essentials.

And it is soaking wet and shivering that at the end of the outage we dock in this totally lifeless harbor in the low season. Before long we took refuge in the saloon for a well-deserved aperitif – fine wines from the South West and excellent foie gras, brought especially for this Spanish navigation by our good-hearted reader.

Too bad, we retaliate in a snack bar, the only establishment open at this time of year, by feasting on charcuterie and delicious fried “chipirones”. After a good night’s sleep, it is a charming sun that wakes us up in the early hours. If we want to have breakfast at the foot of the beautiful medieval castle that borders Tamarit Beach before returning to catch our plane, time is running out.

Ice cold

Half an hour later we are here, alone in the world, in this place, straight out of Cervantes’ novels. The moment was too good not to test the detachable transom that transforms into a beautiful bathing platform in an instant. Too bad the water temperature is so unappealing to go for a little swim next time!

With toast in hand, the crew, seated around the pleasant teak cockpit table, fully enjoy the sweetness of the Mediterranean. But the clock is ticking and it is already time to leave this little corner of paradise.

The ergonomics of the cockpit are well thought out with its two steering wheels, its large table and its practical piano that facilitates maneuvering.
However, a second storage box is missing.

No sooner said than done, here we are loaded a few minutes later with as much canvas as possible in a nice breeze. And again, the Oceanis 34.1 does not ask for its calm to accelerate, while guaranteeing a reassuring ease of maneuver when steering and lowering. If we tell you that the youngest of Bénéteau ticks all the boxes.

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