BOAT REVIEW Jeanneau Sunfast 3300

October 2021 Yacht Reviews
Words by Kevin Green Photography by Kevin Green and Jean-Marie Liot/Jay Fleming
OUR RATING
4.5 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Jeanneau Sunfast 3300
DESIGNER Andreiu/Verdier
BUILDER Jeanneau
PRICE AS TESTED A$260000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 10.11M
BEAM 3.4M
DRAFT 1.95M
DISPLACEMENT 3500kg
ENGINE Yanmar 15hp shaft with folding propeller
FUEL CAPACITY 50L
WATER CAPACITY 100L
Mast & Rigging Aluminium and SS
Sail Area 61.9 SqM
Ballast 1400
ACCOMMODATION two cabins
HIGHLIGHTS
  • The rig and sailplan is manageable for both short-handed and fully crewed racing
  • Liveable cabin also suitable for cruising
OBSERVATIONS
  • Water ballast is easily pumped from one side to the other

Jeanneau’s Sunfast 3300 joins its well-established siblings, the 3200 and later 3600, which have made names for themselves in European offshore events and are popular double-handed race boats.


The launch of the 3300 in 2019 was much anticipated by budget-minded race crews, given the sharp pricing of the base boat. During my annual European assignments for the boat launching season, I caught up with the first-ever hull, and indeed the two designers, Guillaume Verdier and Daniel Andrieu, when we all raced it together at the Sunfast Cup in France.
For me it was also a precursor for racing in France’s largest regatta, Spi Ouest, and an opportunity to sample the rugged Bay de Quiberon’s huge tides and wild weather in the Bay of Biscay. During my weeks there, I experienced plenty of the natural elements and of course the Sunfast 3300.

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Since then, the model has become popular with dozens competing in events, including the 2021 Fastnet, which had 15 Sunfast 3300s in the 89-boat double-handed division. The result was a podium for Swell, helmed by Scottish Olympian Shirley Robertson and Henry Bomby, who came second on their 3300 behind the dominant JPK 10.30 Leon.
The high number of Fastnet entries attests to the popularity of this class of racing. The 3300 is highly competitive on IRC with a typical rating under 1.020 for a standard boat with typical optimised sails – or go the whole hog with a carbon mast and water ballast. Either way, it remains highly competitive, as has been proven in France and the UK. Or simply enjoy this yacht as a harbour or twilight racer that’s easily sailed with a small crew.

Le nouveau Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, le 23 avril 2019, Pohto © Jean-Marie Liot / Jeanneau

Slippery hull
The Sunfast is intriguing, as I found when walking along the pontoon in La-Trinty Sur Mer, where its squat shape bobbed. It’s a plump and perhaps not pretty-looking boat because of its reverse sheer, tumblehome and high-volume reverse bow. Forgivable, when you remember its raison d’être is winning races rather than beauty contests.
Also interesting are the full-length chines, chamfered toerail and fibreglass bowsprit – similarities with the Imoca 60 Hugo Boss that Verdier designed. The specs say there’s a double concave in the hull base fore and aft to minimise drag at higher speeds. Talking about this with Guillaume Verdier while waiting for the race start was interesting. Ruggedness was one of his main priorities, he said, given these boats are pushed hard by short-handed crews in one of the roughest sailing arenas in the world.
However, with a nod to IRC rating, unlike the 3600 with its L-shaped keel, the 3300 has a simple fin, so it could be much more ballasted with a bulb attached. Yet its keel is lower aspect with a thicker stem, fully integrated into the hull grid, rather than bolted on. “Also, I persuaded Jeanneau to put a lot of thin ribs into the hull for strength and lightness, rather than simply heavier fibreglass lamination,” explained Verdier.


Our other rather distinguished crewman sitting beside me was of course original Sunfast designer Daniel Andrieu, who was nodding his approval. Years before, at the launch of the new 3600, I’d raced against Daniel on that early 3600 and afterwards discussed some key design features for small race yachts. Daniel had emphasised the importance of a sturdy keel and explained his use of an L-shaped one “That is fully optimised and stiff but won’t foul with sea debris and fishing gear.”
For the design of the new 3300, Jeanneau had requested Daniel partner with whoever he regarded as the best designer, thus Guillaume Verdier’s involvement.
Other features of the hull are twin rudders with stocks accessed at the cockpit sole for emergency operation. Construction is balsa core for the hull with foam sandwich on the deck and a fairly high ballast ratio to hold plenty of canvas. The infused hull comes with similarly constructed bulkheads to maximise the power-to-weight ratio, but with longer hard chines to aid tracking and minimise heel.


Other ballast is available inside, on each side of the companionway, where two large bulkheads hold 200l/200kg of water with inlet and outlet piping led on deck. These are electrically-pumped and independent of one another, so they can be used on either tack. “It takes about two minutes to fill and about the same to empty,” said Guillaume. Alternatively, these bulkheads can be wardrobes if you choose to be in cruiser-racer mode.

Simple rig
Our review boat came with an Axiom carbon twin-spreader mast, held up by wire shrouds with running backstays and twin tracks on the forestay with Incidences carbon sails bent on, including a big-topped mainsail. Our mainsail had two slab-reefing points, but I’d add a third for Bay of Biscay bashing. Horizontal jib tracks led sheets into a pair of cockpit Harken winches with ringed/adjustable barber haulers (that worked effectively during our racing).

Le nouveau Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, le 23 avril 2019, Pohto © Jean-Marie Liot / Jeanneau

Another set of Harkens with jammers and turn buttons sat on the coachroof, so ideal for crewed operation as we found. Cleverly, the saloon curves inwards to improve the sheeting angle, just like on some of the IMOCA 60s.

Functional deck
Race boat decks are dominated by their cockpits, and so it is on the 3300, where the use of a tiller creates plenty space for crew to move around. Despite its shallowness it felt comfortable, with rounded gunwales to sit on. Interestingly, volume is removed forward by using two protruding bulkheads at each side of the companionway (creating cabin space below) which the single-hander can use as a more sheltered perch.
Thanks to hull beam taken fully aft, the cockpit is wide, so plenty of runway for the mainsheet track sitting behind the rudder stocks, which gives maximum control and twist of the mainsail. The main is easily controlled by the solo sailor, legs firmly braced by the foot bar, or a dedicated trimmer.

Le nouveau Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 Baie de Quiberon, photo Jean-Marie LIOT – www.jmliot.com

A good safety feature is the simple moulded slot on the transom for quick liferaft operation and a swim ladder. Not so ideal is the wide toe rail, but handy long handrails on the coachroof allow safe movement when going forward for sail changes. Sails are easily hoisted from the forehatch for deployment and that wide foredeck has ample work area.

Liveable saloon
Below decks is amply fitted-out for resting race crew or even weekend cruisers, thanks to two double cabins aft and saloon bench berths with pipecots. Handily, there are stern facing windows in these cabins so you can keep an eye on the opposition or the following waves.

Le nouveau Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 Baie de Quiberon, photo Jean-Marie LIOT – www.jmliot.com

In the forepeak is a head/sink and sail stowage in front of the bulkhead. Dinner can be eaten on the folding table adjoining the keel-stepped mast and cooked on the twin-burner gimballed gas stove. A great idea is inward facing seats at the navigation table and opposite, so that crew can use their weight to windward while resting. Bracing from several handrails is also good.
The inward sloping coachroof allows the side windows to act as skylights, allowing views of the rig when seated at the chart table – yet another IMOCA idea and great for solo-racers. The coachroof is also concave, allowing standing headroom along the centreline and across the width of the cabin at the companionway. Below the companionway is the Yanmar 15hp shaft-drive engine with folding propeller which can also be accessed at the side for easy servicing. Sensibly done, just like the entire 3300, really.

Le nouveau Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 Baie de Quiberon, photo Jean-Marie LIOT – www.jmliot.com

Regatta circuit
France is ground-zero for short-handed, one-design racing and traditionally many of these yachts – JPKs, Class 40s, Figaros, Sunfasts and so on – haven’t been seen down here in the Asia-Pacific region. But this is changing, as the recent influx of Sunfasts, including boats headed for New Zealand, illustrates.
Participating in race events in France, which is nearly entirely patronised by French nationals, is fascinating and challenging – learning all the race terms pushed my schoolboy French to the excruciating limit.


For our review boat outing on this prototype boat, we were joining the Sunfast World Cup regatta on the Bay de Quiberon to test it against the 3200s and 3600s. Our crew was led by Jeanneau product manager and experienced Mini Transat Racer Hervé Piveteau. On board the 3300 I had fun. Compared to the semi-foiling Figaro3 which I sailed double-handed on a rough Bay of Biscay, the Sunfast 3300 was a relatively simple yet nimble yacht to sail and helm.


When tacking in the medium breeze I really felt the bite from the twin rudders and clear vision along the decks allowed me to steer to the sail set and use the fine trim on the mainsail. The helmsman can manage the backstays and step over the tiller during tacking, leaving the rest of the cockpit free for crew to manage jib sheets and halyards. And there was plenty room in the cockpit for our four crew, an ideal number.
The early part of the day gave us the stronger winds, which the buoyant 3300 enjoyed, pointing high and fast without too much heel – I noticed the NKE mast jumbos showing about eight knots at 30o apparent wind angle in 12 knots of wind. We kept pace with several 3600s alongside us while steadily outpacing some 3200s. However, as the breeze fell and the bay calmed, our larger wetted area saw us slow considerably, giving six knots in the nine-knot breeze.


Then the west coast French weather arrived – a heavy, foggy rain that required us to check our compass headings and which made the decks slippery as I laboured forward to hoist the asymmetric kite. The conditions forgave our missteps on the hoist before we glided downwind at about 130o in light winds.
Back on the helm, with the kite sheet on the jib winch, the trimmer and steerer could easily coordinate. The fixed bowsprit gave enough separation for kite gybes, so perhaps 300mm more might be good, but nevertheless we gybed our way south towards the La Trinity Sur Mer. Around us the inquisitive looks from 3200 and 3600 owners in the fleet told an interesting story. Many would be planning to get a 3300 for the Transquadra Trans-Atlantic solo race for sailors over 40 years old and mostly amateur level, which is the major hit-out for Sunfasts.
Auckland’s Orakei Marine has just taken delivery of the first Sunfast 3300 in New Zealand, which is now ready for sea trials/>

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