Every now and then a boat just clicks. It has all the right bits, of the correct dimensions, in the appropriate places, and out of it all you get something that simply sings.
The Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 is one of these craft. It was designed and built in parallel to the other, more well known versions of the brand’s vessels, and benefits from being more geared towards performance, without going totally off and being a flat bottomed sled.
Yet Daniel Andrieu’s design has a couple of telltales that let you in on the secret. From the baby prodder on the prow, to the twin tillers (or wheels), noticeable chines for form stability, a moulded in keel floor, for’ard crash bulkhead, chamfer on the gunwale for better hiking, and a slick, almost stripped out feel to the application of the furniture below, you get to see she is all about business. Being resin infused means she only has the optimum amount of epoxy to bond her together, which saves weight, yet also ensures maximum strength. So at 4.7 metric tonnes, she’s on the money, without going off and using the exotics, and thereby racking up either a massive rating, or a huge price tag in the process.
Around the globe the boat has more than proven itself successful, and at the $280,000 mark, she really does offer a lot for the more dedicated sailor, whether they are on their own, two-up, or with four souls on board. Ergonomically, the Sun Fast 3600 has been designed to work to those sorts of numbers, whilst offering sustained and comfortable performance for mile after mile, which aids the crew and allows them to keep on doing it when the opposition has got tired. This is the case whether on deck, at the nav desk or in your rack.
In 2016 the boat also collected the coveted IRC boat of the year from the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large. Subsequent to that, they have continued to show up in the race results in the Mediterranean, UK, New Zealand and Australia. Melbourne based Jeanneau importer, and two-time Moth World Champion, Rohan Veal, is very excited by it all. “Locally, we have had some great wins under IRC with usually two to four crew on board, whereas our competitors were racing six or eight up.”
“It is wonderful that many are already seeing the potential for the craft, especially short-handed, which is why there are three Sun Fast 3600s and one Sun Fast 3200 in next year’s 5500nm Melbourne to Osaka two-handed race. Others are hoping the open up more spots are made available, including a very accomplished Sun Fast 3600 in New Zealand which recently won a big double handed race around the North Island.”
One of those Sun Fast 3600s that Veal speaks of is owned by Rod Smallman, who is presently working up the boat on Port Phillip and out into Bass Strait. Smallman commented, “I’m building a boat with the intention of competing in the Osaka race, then continuing on with a lap of the Pacific, and including a detour to Antarctica afterwards. It became clear that I wasn’t going to finish in time, and I have wanted to be involved in an Osaka race since the 1987 edition. Time and funds have kept me away until now. Clearly I needed another option to ensure I would be on the start line.”
There are plenty of boats that could do it, but I wanted one that was a relatively new design, fitted into my budget in the first place, had good resale afterwards, and importantly, rated really well under IRC. I got all of that, plus now as part of 38 South Racing Team, I also get mentoring from the likes of Rohan Veal, Nick Moloney and others!”
Jordan Sunkel-Lozell and Leeton Hulley did a lot of two-handed racing in the boat late last year, racing mostly against fully crewed boats. They never finished off the podium results in and across Bass Strait, as well as down and around the infamous West Coast of Tasmania. Sunkel-Lozell probably nailed the whole point with his opening comments. “The Sun Fast 3600 is one of those boats you’re going to miss, because it was pleasant to sail. She is a really nice boat to drive. We had the twin tiller version as opposed to the twin wheels, and I think this is better for shorthanded work offshore, as you can reach the primary winches, and operate the vang easily, so it all ends up in your hands. You can also cross sheet the kite.”
“The boat is comfortable and forgiving, and really drives off its chines. We really pushed her hard and you can throw power at it. Approaching Cape Grim we had the furling jib topper of the bowsprit in 25 knots, she was heeled over and fully powered up. It was an incredible feeling and very different to the normal displacement boat that pushes all that water around. You would call her a semi-planing hull.”
Jordan added, “The Sun Fast 3600 points high and does use the wind well. We went through the Banks Strait and were easily achieving 12-13 knots from the 25 that was on offer. Our maximum was 16 and averaged 15. She is very stable with her A2 flying, which was really only meant for 20 knots apparent. You could do an A4 of the same size and take it to 35 knots, the hull form really is that stable.”
“Sitting on high averages was what earned us all those second places, and it is something the boat does really well. The delivery back from Hobart was also really pleasant, and the boat does like to heel, say to 35?, which means the windward rudder is only just in the water, say about a foot. Heading up the dead flat water of River Derwent we had the J1 in 15 knots doing 25TWA and 18?AWA.”
“To be honest we did not take it off the deck for the whole race. We started under the A2, then the Code Zero, jib, and then jib topper, before going to the kite again in Storm Bay. I just loved the time under the bag there, and was very excited to get it up after almost three days under working sails.”
“You know in the light weather we just put the Archambault A40s over the horizon! Pressure came up we’d heel over and go with the reduced wetted surface area. In two hours we could put 3nm on them. Having some of the sails on furlers was awesome and matched the changeable conditions.” The Sun Fast 3600’s North Sails wardrobe consisted of 3Di Main, LM, MH and Heavy jibs, furling jib topper and also A5, as well as the A2 they enjoyed so much, and an A4.
“The mainsheet is so easy at 8:1 and the fine tune is 32:1. Nothing is hard to pull, and this adds to making it pleasant and rewarding. A cool boat to sail and you come away saying that was awesome! There are not many 36 footers that can do what the Sun Fast 3600 does. She’s comfortable, easy and it goes. Giddy up! I will remember moments of this race more than other races because of what we did and how we did it. Totally enjoyable.
So the Jeanneau Sun Fast certainly does seem to work, and work really well at that! If you only need the exact amount of furniture to make life palatable, and want reward for effort, then this is a boat you need to investigate. Many an accomplished sailor is either in love with it or out there racing on it right now, and that has to be worth noting! Why go out to grade the entire ocean when you can get a wiggle on, stay comfortable in the process and be in the running for the silverware.
Go to www.jeanneauaustralia.com, to review the boat or locate your dealer.
by John Curnow