GRANDEZZA 34 OC
Full test of this classy new compact sportscruiser
The west coast town of Kokkola on the Gulf of Bothnia, the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea, has long been recognised as the spiritual heartland of Finnish boat building. It’s a region of fractured landmasses and wild, exposed waters, offering every kind of challenge from shallow brackish backwaters to aggressive open seas. It’s a place where boating is not so much a pastime as an everyday necessity, so it’s an ideal place to test and develop powerboats.
However, such has been the success of the Grandezza brand since its launch in 2005 that the modern fleet is required to offer more than just stoic Scandinavian practicality. With dealers in 16 countries, including Slovenia, Croatia and Monaco, it also needs to cater for the Med-style boater and, while its six-strong fleet features a Day Cruiser, a Flybridge, a Sport and a Cabin model, its two Open Cockpit (OC) craft look well-equipped for the job. Available in lengths of 28 and 34 feet, the OC models adopt an identical approach. They eradicate the traditional partition between saloon and cockpit, with a single-level, open-plan main deck and a hardtop that extends out over the aft space. The side decks are then kept as narrow as possible in order to maximise the internal beam – and that is used to provide a starboard dining station opposite a long port galley that butts up against the back of the co-pilot seat. The layout also features a broad walkway, slightly offset to port, which exits onto the port side of a large swim platform, granting access to the side decks and to the storage behind a ram-assisted hatch inside the back end of the big sunbathing section.
So far so good, but it’s only here that we really begin to discover what distinguishes the new 34 from the old 33. The hull windows have been increased in size, the internal spaces have benefited from new colour options and there is a very welcome extendable section that enables you to increase the size of the double berth in the main cabin. But the key change revolves around the saloon’s convertible dinette, which now features a large fixed sunbed as standard, alongside an integrated swim platform that has been extended to avoid a reduction in space. As a result, while the hull remains unchanged, the new Grandezza has increased its overall length by a foot, changed its name from the 33 to the 34 and upgraded its standard features to reflect its status as a key part of Oy Finn-marin’s most prestigious brand.
As an ‘open’ cruiser the main deck needs to feel in touch with the sea, and in that regard the 34 excels. In addition to its
unobstructed integration with the aft cockpit, the ‘internal’ space comes with nearly 2m of headroom, impressive breadth, a large forward sunroof and long, virtually mullion-free windows. It all helps make the space feel very free and expansive. And yet this is still a genuine Nordic cruiser, so it’s by no means a problem to close off the main deck. On the contrary, a set of linear plastic guides enables you to slide the canvases firmly into position without endless straps, ratchets, tie-downs and poppers. It halves the time it might otherwise take and still leaves the side decks, swim platform and aft locker easily accessible.
Another rewarding example of Grandezza’s design approach is to be found in the sturdy fibreglass fin, topped with a stainless steel grabrail, on the aft edge of the extended roof. Not only does this enable much easier movement around the aft end, but once underway, the airflow beneath the fin helps eradicate any low-pressure zones in the cockpit, which might otherwise suck in spray and fumes, spoil your lunch and ruin your hair.
Down below, the 34 OC features a main cabin with an extendable double berth, a starboard seating area and full-height port storage, plus a port heads compartment and a guest double with a compact bench and plenty of elbow room. There are lots of storage options throughout, plus well-placed grabbing points everywhere you look and some attractive little details like bevelled table edges and grain-matched lids and doors.
However, there are some imperfections. For instance, the external guardrail is angled a little too far outboard to operate as a useful leg brace; and the mobile galley work surface, which is rigged against the bottom of the upturned co-pilot seat, feels a bit ‘home-made’. But, as on the smaller 28 OC, the chief issue concerns the forward-facing seat to port of the companionway. The seat sits quite a way aft of the dash moulding and, because the sliding companionway door is externally mounted, it stands a good chance of pinching the co-pilot’s feet as it opens. When closed, the co-pilot’s console becomes a glaring expanse of white fibreglass, with no grabrail, storage compartment or even a cup holder. If Grandezza could give the door its own internal cavity and make more practical use of the dash it would radically improve the usability of this area.
The helm position, however, feels superb. You get a pair of independently operable seat bolsters, an angled foot moulding and a folddown foot brace for a comfier seated position. Visibility is excellent too, not just fore and aft but to both port and starboard, even with the boat heeled hard over and an easy line of sight through the sunroof. The matt grey dash with tinted side windows minimises glare very effectively and the confidence-inspiring ergonomics are matched by the unerring composure of the handling and performance.
Treat it to some generous trim and it responds as you would hope an authentic sportsboat might – shifting the waterline aft, lifting the hull and increasing pace and efficiency without compromising the running attitude or
ride quality. There’s not a hint of ‘porpoising’, nor of excessive bow lift, and what windage is incurred by those traditional looking topsides is dextrously dialled out by the tabs.
However, while both the handling composure and the 200nm cruising range promise good things for extended passages, this is also a very enjoyable boat to drive. Certainly, with a single D6 370 under the hatch, it doesn’t exhibit a radical degree of pick-up but its performance, like its aesthetic, is about subtle quality rather than flamboyant extremes. It’s the kind of boat that enables you either to set the autopilot and relax; or to drive hard, revelling in the big views, the heel-happy handling and the endless reserves of grip.
The new 34 OC is a very pleasant paradox.: it’s a hard top seagoing Category B cruiser with a relatively open Med-style layout; it’s a spacious six-berth family platform with the handling of a compact sports boat; it’s a luxury vessel with moments of extraordinary design quality tempered by the occasional moment of imperfection; and while some may find its external styling safe by modern standards, it still looks and feels like a very high-end product. At a shade over £250,000 it’s not cheap, but as an understated but capable family cruiser, the 34 OC deserves a place towards the top of any shortlist. CONTACT Gibbs Boat Sales Tel +44 (0)1202 233000. www.grandezza.fi
The convertible dinette has another sunpad further aft
DASHBOARD There is a Raymarine Axiom chartplotter and hydraulic steering HELM The position has excellent visibility, seat bolsters and an angled foot mould
Heel-happy handling and endless reserves of grip
The sunroof makes the boat feel open even when it’s closed
L E F T The shared heads compartment RIGHT The master cabin has an extendable double berth, a starboard seating area and full-height storage with plenty of space and natural light
The guest double has a compact bench and under-bed drawers