Full test of this classy new com­pact sportscruiser

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - WORDS: Alex Smith

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.

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

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