While Jeanneau is not generally a name associated with high end performance cruisers or race boats, the distinctive Sun Fast 3200 became a favourite for solo and short-handed crews, with more than 150 boats sold since that model was launched in 2008. Despite this success, Jeanneau waited until the company was certain there would be enough demand for a larger model to be built in a sufficient volume to make it viable. The result is the Sun Fast 3600, a boat that also incorporates a large amount of new thinking in design terms.
Take a quick tour of the boat: Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600: First Look Video.
More Jeanneau yacht reviews: 5 of the best Jeanneau yachts: Melody, Sunrise, JOD 35, Sun Odyssey
While this is a boat that’s primarily aimed at long-distance solo, short-handed and fully-crewed racing teams, it would also be of interest to yacht buyers looking for a pure performance cruiser offering superlative sailing qualities and who are happy to compromise on interior space.
On deck and performance
While today’s cruising yachts frequently claim to have hull shapes inspired by racing designs, no more than a quick glance is needed to realise that this boat is a very different proposition. Clearly defined chines run much of the length of the hull, which help contribute a huge amount of form stability. This is further enhanced by a heavy and deep bulb keel, with a 2.1m draught and in today’s terms a substantial 45 per cent ballast ratio.
The Sun Fast 3600 has proportionately less wetted surface area than the 3200, thanks to a more radiused transom profile and a little more rocker than the older design. This helps to make the new design proportionately quicker in light airs, despite the additional sail carrying ability in stronger winds thanks to the high stability. Although twin wheels are offered as an option, most boats to date have been set up with two tillers – the rudder loads on a well-designed performance yacht of this size make tillers a viable option that saves both weight and complexity.
The traveller and coarse/fine tune mainsheet controls are just forward of the helm, where they fall easily to hand. The forward part of the cockpit has short seats with coamings, while the after section is more open. Overall it’s a good compromise, with not too many levels to step over when moving around, but a degree of protection when racing offshore. For fully crewed racing the boat can also be specified with a German mainsheet system.
A lot of thought and knowledge has gone into the design of the deck layout, including details such as the neat rollers/fairleads built into the bottom of the pulpit legs for the asymmetric spinnaker tack line. For those racing short-handed, turning blocks for the jib sheets can be fitted just abaft of the primary winches, to facilitate cross winching. As standard, the boat is fitted with an aluminium deck-stepped double-spreader 19/20th rig, with a carbon rig offered as an option.
Although the cockpit looks exposed, in practice this is generally a dry boat as the light displacement means it tends to ride over waves and the high freeboard forward helps to keep water off the decks. Substantial foot chocks are strategically placed to make it easy to brace yourself in place when the boat is well heeled.
The benefits of the huge amount of stability are immediately apparent as soon as you start sailing – quite simply a short-handed crew doesn’t need to respond to every change in wind strength to keep the boat on its feet or avoid broaching in gusty conditions. Even in strong puffs the heel angle increases only slightly, with little need for constant trimming of the sails, even in race mode.
There’s a choice of 0.45m and 0.88m sprits from which to fly asymmetric spinnakers. Reaching with a big spinnaker set, the boat again feels almost unbelievably stable with plenty of bite on the helm, even when pushing hard in a strong breeze.
Although the volume below decks is much smaller than a modern cruising yacht of the same length, and quite a bit of effort has gone into minimizing weight here, the arrangement works perfectly for a boat of this style. There are two large and comfortable double quarter cabins, while the saloon is bright and well laid out, with a pair of settees that also make good sea berths each side and a large central table with folding leaves.
The galley on the starboard side is basic, but adequate, and there’s a decent navigation station with deep fiddles opposite. In the forepeak there’s a large heads/shower compartment, with room for sail stowage, plus a full collision bulkhead at the bow. Neat touches include a seat on each side of the boat just inside the companionway that allow short-handed sailors to grab short spell of rest whenever an opportunity arises.
Equipment and options
As with most racing oriented yachts the basic specification is relatively bare to allow owners to specify their preferred electronics, sails and domestic conveniences.
What it does best
The difference between typical cruising yachts of a similar size and the Sun Fast 3600 is as big as that between a quality contemporary performance car and a lumbering people carrier. Even if you’re not a racing sailor, if you appreciate speed and good design, this boat is well worth considering, providing you don’t need to maximise interior comforts and conveniences. Race results to date, both in fully crewed and short-handed races, are impressive and demonstrate this boat is competitive under the IRC handicap rule.
The most obvious compromise is that the below deck accommodation is neither as spacious nor as well appointed as in a 36ft cruiser. However, the space that is available is well configured and the boat certainly has potential for up to four people to be reasonable comfortable on board for extended periods.
Jeanneau now has two models in the Sun Fast range, the older 3200 and this model. The JPK 1080 was launched at almost the same time as the Sun Fast 3600 and was nominated for European Yacht of the Year 2015. This builds on the knowledge gained from the company’s hugely successful JPK1010 that has seen many victories, including an overall win in the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race. Another French design, the Archambault A35 has also won plenty of both fully crewed and short-handed races and has recently been revamped.
Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 Specifications
Hull length: 10.80m
Main and headsail: 69.8sq m
Spinnaker: 100-121sq m