Sunday, October 29, 2017


More than a lovely boat the GS34 is for Grand Soleil a return to its origins. They are now making more and more expensive boats, luxury fast boats and luxury main market cruisers but their origins lay on small and not very expensive cruiser racers, fast boats that were used for racing and cruising.
Grand Soleil success history started 45 years ago with a 34ft boat designed by Finot, a great little boat, good on the racing field and on the cruising grounds. It was not made only in Italy but also in Japan (under license) and more than 300 boats were built during 11 years.

The new GS34 aims to be a modern version of the same concept: “The project is aimed at owners who love fun, sportive cruising and offshore racing, and was inspired by the open ocean boats. Great attention was put in the design and naval architecture process in order to create an offshore racing boat that is easy to sail at maximum performance but at the same time a very comfortable fast cruiser”. 

When they talk about the GS34 being inspired by open racing boats we would think of other fast boats that come directly from that line of development, namely Pogo, the ones that are truly inspired by that concept, but this hull is very different sharing with those boats mostly the transom design, with all the beam pulled back, but that happens with many other types of racing boats, for instance the TP52, that would be a better reference in what regards inspiration.

Just to make clear to you the difference, a Pogo 30 has 3.7m beam, a Pogo 36 has 4m and the GS 34 has a beam of only 3.6m. The hull is close to the one of a JPK 1080 or a Sunfast 3600, not close to the ones of open solo racers (like Pogo is).

This is a very different type of hull and while Pogos are maximized for downwind sailing this one, like the Sunfast or the JPK , is a much more balanced boat in what regards the upwind/downwind compromise. This is a boat that aims to win the Transquadra but also one that will be successful on the Middle sea race, on the Fastnet or even on the Sydney Hobart (like the JPK 1080 was) and that will be competitive on traditional coastal regattas.

It is also a boat that being able to perform well while racing is also a nice boat for cruising, having a modern and very nice interior, much better than the one on the Sunfast. It is as good as the one of JPK even if with a more contemporary design, a very nice design, I would say.

Regarding this size, the JPK 1080 is the best performing sailing boat with this type of hulls (in what regards racing). So let’s compare it with the GS 34 to see the similarities and the differences (first the dimensions from the JPK, in meters and kg) ): LOA – 10.80/10.70; LWL Beam – 3.64/3.60; Draft – 2.20/2.18; B/D (with same type of keel) – 45.3%/44.9%; Displacement – 4750/4900; Sail area upwind – 73/ 71; Sail area downwind – 160/150.

Two very similar sailboats, the JPK being slightly more powerful. The JPK is designed by a very experienced and successful French designer, Jacques Valer an autodidact that designs all JPK. Valer designs have won almost everything that there was to be won. The GS 34 is designed by a team (Skyros), fresh from Spezia, the Italian School of naval design (Genova) with limited but innovative design experience, mainly on a Mini racer. 

Nice to see a big company betting on an innovative but inexperienced team composed by very young NAs, some of them very good sailors! I really hope this design turns out really well on the racing field. New blood on boat design is always a desirable thing.

Both boats are very well built using vinylester resins and a sandwich foam core but while GS uses a structural matrix that includes the basic “furniture”, laminated to the hull, the JPK uses vacuum infusion and the boat structure is not laminated but part of the hull. The superior built technology of the JPK probably explains why the boat weights 150kg less and I bet it is not less strong, probably more.

The two have IRC maximized keels, meaning lead keels without a bulb and both can have, if the client wishes so, torpedo keels. It is sad that the IRC still gives advantage to less efficient keels while this is already solved on ORC rating, where torpedo keels are the norm.

The GS34 looks just great and I believe it will be a success, or not, mostly depending on the price. In regarding fast cruising there would not be any significant difference between the two boats, except in what regards the interior, that have a different style.

Regarding prices I suppose, that like on JPK, they will vary hugely depending whether the boat is intended to race on top races (and win) or if it is just a fast cruising version or something in-between. A JPK can go from a bit over 164 000 euro to close to 300 000, depending on sail wardrobe and equipment. A basic GS 34 would cost about 139 000 euro, all prices without VAT.

In what price is concerned the comparison between the two boats, with the data I have,  it is not really possible to make, since it will be depending on the equipment each boat has for a given price, but at a first look they seem not to  have a very different price.... and the GS 34 should cost less than the JPK. I have some doubts if in what regards price and concept a comparison can be made with the original old GS 34, that was not an expensive boat.
That price is about the same as for instance the one of an Oceanis 38 and it shows why main market cruiser boats are built the way they are, including a very basic sail hardware: If they would be built like these two, they would cost a fortune. 

It explains also why Beneteau has finished (at least for now) with the First line that was on the origin of its proper existence: the built is too expensive for a boat with a considerable share of the market.

 There are not enough cruisers liking sportive sailing while cruising to generate a decent profit for a boat built in large numbers, the racing market is too small and has the competition of faster small series boats. A  pity! Praise to Hanse, the only one among the big mass production builders that maintain a line of fast cruisers, the Dehler line…even if I doubt that for much longer (I hope not).


  1. Paolo, A very appealing design in a competitive end of the market. I've been watching closely to see how the GS34 presents in the flesh after only having design renderings to view. Not too bad at all.
    Is there a preliminary IRC or ORC rating yet?
    Any thoughts of the GS34 considered also with the J112E as Racer/Cruiser? Slightly different dimensions of course but would appear a similar target market. Thanks, Jason.

    1. I would say not the J112e but the J111 with different hull lines and a better cruising interior. The J122e has a more luxurious and conventional interior being more pointed to cruising and less for racing.

      They say that one of the races the GS34 is designed for is the Transquadra. Not the only one, the JPK 1080 and the Sunfast 3600 where also designed with it on mind. The max IRC for the race is 1050 and the boats that aim to win have the max rating possible.

      I would say it would not be far from that, depending off course on the equipment and sails (carbon masts, rudders, type of keel and so on).

  2. Is there headroom for 6'2" standing upright in the galley, saloon, head, bunk areas?

    1. I did not find that information. I will visit the boat in January at the Dusseldorf boat show. If you are really interested ask me after that. I have 1.88m so it would be easy to see if I am comfortable inside or not.

    2. Any feedback about the Paul’s question.
      Thanks in advance and congratulations for the blog

    3. Hi; did you check the space that Paulo asked you.
      Thanks in advance

    4. The standing height is 1.86/1.88m.

    5. Thanks, so it’s quite high for a 35’ it seems a really equilibrate boat in the binomial performance/comfort

    6. Yes, very well designed. I was surprised with the height on the cabin. The information was provided by Grand Soleil.

  3. Thank you Paulo for including the video of Sanremo (Italy), my hometown! and the rowing club showing off in the very first few secs is actually where I spent most of my youth ! Hopefully one day will be able to come back home from San Diego with my Sunfast 3200 via the Long Way across South Pacific...even if I may decide to just stop there for good ;-). BTW I actually find the GS34 strikingly similar to the 3200 (a 2009 design...). Thanks Alex

    1. Some important new information regarding the price of the Grand Soleil 34: the boat costs almost 40 000 euros less than what I posted!!!

      I posted the price that was on a add on the Yachtworld, being those adds posted by dealers from GS I trusted the information.

      I have received a email from GS stating that the boat price at the factory without VAT is 139 000 euros. I corrected also the value on the post.

  4. How does the Jeanneau 349 compare with the gs34? Similar specs I would say.

    1. Not at all!!! very diferente boats. The hull is not that different even if the GS 34 has more fine entries and a bit more beam( 3.60m to 3.44m):

      The weight is very different, 4900kg for the the GS, 5350kg for the Sun Odyssey. The difference is even bigger if you consider that the GS has 2200kg ballast with a draft of 2.18m and the SO 349 has a 1580kg ballast with a 1.96m draft.

      The GS 34 is a much more powerful boat, lighter an with a much bigger B/D. Not really the same type of boat being the GS a much more sportive and fast sailboat.

      The building methods are also different (that's why the GS is lighter even if with much more ballast) and prices reflect those diferences too.

      They don't point to the same market segment. Probably if you like one you will not like the other. ;-)