C&C 34/36+
Custom construction in series production

By Lloyd Hircock

Hammered to the canvas in the early '80s by a combination of receivership, ownership changes and revolving-door management, C&C proved bloodied but not out. Overcoming the public disenchantement that goes hand in hand with such turmoil, C&C is steadily winning back market share. A big reason is the new stars in its product line, which includes the new 34/46+.

Launched in the spring of '89, the new 34/36 (originally just called the 34) comes in three versions (+, XL and R). The design is actually 35 feet, six inches overall, sporting a "performance plus" 30-foot, 10 inch waterline. The design has already had broad international success, both with buyers and on the race course. Already 61 units have been shipped, and demand remains high.

Three versions

Let's clear up the names. The "+" version is for the club racer-cruiser. The "R" is the full-blown racing version. The latest version, the "XL", is meant to satisfy the sailors who want "R" performance but with more creature comforts below.

"We're naturally pleased with the response and remain extremely optimistic," said Rob Turner, VP of sales and marketing in the late-'80s. "We believe we're making history as the 34/36+ is the first production design to be built with exotic hybrids. The result is a lightweight, stiff and exceptionally strong yacht."

Indeed, the layup schedule for the "+" reads like the formula for a state-of-the-art racer. Built to Lloyd's standards and American Bureau of Shipping specifications, the molded hull incorporates end-grain Baltec balsa core, a biaxial fibreglass/Kevlar hybrid laminate and a Hydrex isopthalic NGP gelcoat. The deck is a lightweight cored composite of Kevlar hybrid laminate in concert with unidirectional glass in high-stress areas. Coremat is employed under deck hardware mountings to withstand compression loading.

Two keel profiles are offered: a lead/antimony elliptical fin sporting an incredible no-room-for-error seven-foot, three inch draft, and a more civilized wing keel version with five feet of draft. The moulded elliptical fibreglass ruddr contains a pressurized foam core with an internal stainless-steel webbing welded to a standard stainless-steel rudder post.

The designer, Rob Ball, speaks...

According to designer Rob Ball, the use of such exotics in a production yacht results in superior construction, lightness and, ultimately, performance. "I designed the 34 with as long a waterline as possible within the bounds of specific criteria." Like its cousin, the 37+ (actually more than 39 feet overall), the 34/36+ is designed to adhere to the IMS Rule.

To maintain leading-edge technology in production design, C&C has created an exclusive R&D program with duPont, which manufacturers Kevlar. One development payoff is the composite grid system for the sump area, which uses Nomex laminated honeycomb board and Hydrex epoxy resins. Composite engineering expert Ken Reybould of England has been retained as a consultant. "Reybould is the guru of high-tech composite engineering," say Turner. "He's at the top of his field of expertise. What he doesn't know about hull composite engineering isn't worth knowing."

So what does all this mean to us common folk, besides a hefty price tag? "A solid cruising boat you can seriously race," says Turner. With a high stability factor and a Kevlar composite skin, Turner says the hull, under racing conditions, will not deflect, the usual response of production hulls using standard lay-up schedules. That, says C&C, means more value for your money.

Like most C&C models, the 34/36+ is aesthetically appealing. A graceful sheer rises gently to the narrow forward entry. Gone is any long, rakish overhang. There's a handsome, curved transom with swing-down swim platform, and the package is tied together with a pleasingly proportioned cabin trunk boasting three hatches and twin forward side ports. With a sail area of 669 square feet, a "J" measurement, a tad shy of 15 feet, and a lofty 42-foot, six-inch mainsail hoist on an aluminum Offshore Spar section, the yacht is bound to continue to inflict serious damage on the race course.

Delivery trip

So when North South Vacations asked if I would deliver their new 34/36+ lying in New York to their Virgin Gorda fleet last January, I readily agreed. Gingerly avoiding the ice floes festooning the harbour in Cow Bay, Port Washington, we headed south. Having delivered a new 37+ for Misty Isle Yacht Charters the previous season, I was eager to compare performance (see Sept. '89 CY).

Accompanied by Bob Faulkner (an insurance broker when he's not sailing) and Roger ("I've Never Been Seasick In My Life") Tiller, an indestructible ironworker when he's not being seasick, we quickly left the confines of the harbour aboard Alegro Entende, owned by Frank Heiligenthal, and ran smack into a savage sou'wester.

For three days we were blasted. Fortunately the weather was only slightly forward of the beam, so we managed good mileage. Equipped with a Harken headsail furling system and a North slab-reefed mainsail, we were able to adjust easily our canvas as the weather dictated.

Not so easy to change or adjust was Roger's fluctuating attitude to his first offshore adventure. Fortunately, the 34/36+ cockpit is extremely user-friendly and spacious, so Roger could stretch his burly frame flat out and catch some needed sleep. And the wide side decks offered a sufficiently large kneeling surface when Roger offered his last meal to Mrs. Neptune without interfering when we tacked as the weather, in all its perversity, clocked to the north.

Seldom does a new boat receive such brutal initiation. Her resilience is a testimony to the quality of design and workmanship from C&C. For six days the yacht rode a roller coaster. She jumped of the tops of cresting waves, careened, spun around, bounced up, slammed down, stood on her head, sat on her tail and shot through the backs of solid green coamers, emerging unscathed from it all. Belowdecks resembled the inside of a washing machine. Her crew ressembled a load of laundry.

All the while I kept crew morale razor sharp with assurances of storm abatement within hours. Utopia, I pursuaded them, was only a degree of latitude south. Gradually my astute weather forecasting was greeted with catcalls, hoots and various other forms of abuse. Their utterances from the abyss belowdecks would had made a logger blush. The storm raged harder.

Storm sailing

Working the boat in such conditions proved quite easy. All deck hardware was well organized and efficiently positioned. Running rigging was led aft -- deck climbing at night could be avoided. A bank of line stoppers and self-tailing winches made reefing or bending on a new sail a snap. The mainsheet placement was where it should be on a performance cruiser -- forward of the companionway, away from the high traffic flow.

Alegro Entende boasted a double-spreader Offshor Spars section with standing rod rigging. Extra halyard sheaves were incroporated at the masthead, providing the facility for numerous jib-top configurations -- a necessity during an ocean passage.


Belowdecks, the yacht is a smaller flipped version of the 37+. The entrance to the large aft cabin is to port, aft of the galley, while the head and shower facilities are starboard, adjacent to the companionway.

The aft cabin is large and comfortable. My only complaint is with the lack of ventilation. Two small opening ports and a small hatch at the entrance are not adequate. The added warmth generated by an operating galley ensures a stuffy cabin.

In my opinion a large hatch should be installed. Hidden under a false cockpit lid, it should not be intrusive for the crew, while underway. When ventilation is required, one would lift the locker lid, fasten, and open the hidden cover. Presto: instant outdoors.

The focal point of the main cabin is the large L-shaped settee to port and the centre drop-leaf table and starboard passage to the V berth. The large starboard settee with a removable backrest (which I found poorly executed) stretches aft to form the seat for the diminutive chart table.

Cheap chart table

I thought the chart table ill-conceived; it's too small to accommodate even a micro-chart. The unit was designed with a small, finger-sized space between the table surface and the cabinetry above - an extremely good spot for losing pencils, glasses and other items left on the table surface. Without the services of a ruler/straight edge, the only way of retrieving lost articles was to tack.

The problem of the pencil-stealing space has been eliminated in newer models by lowering the chart table. But it's still a useless platform for laying off a course. The catch-all drawer below, however, will accommodate a few charts. An alternative is to rip the existing table out altogether and install a home entertainment centre. I do concede that with nav electronics burgeoning, it's only a matter of time before the chart table goes the way of the dinosaur - or at the least becomes a galley prep table.

Generally, the 34/36+'s interior is warm and extremely functional. Features include a varnished teak-and-holly sole; a central drop-leaf table with built-in liquor locker; and oiled teak ceilings, bulkheads and overhead handrails. Foreward and aft hanging lockers and plenty of storage areas throughout provide a family with adequate individual cupboard stalls.

Great galley

The galley includes dual molded sinks, cupboard storage above and drawer storage below, a full-service icebox and a Force 10 propane stove - one of the best, in my opinion. An enclosed head/shower is to starboard.

The propane gas bottles are set into a compartment below the cockpit sole, under the helm seat. The arrangement in unobtrusive and tidy. We found the compartment captured considerable water during a blow, but most of it vanished out the drain. In sloppy seas the two cylinders set up a nasty chatter until we stuffed a life preserver between them. Tanks should be firmly secured in all propane installations. I like the head being positioned adjacent to the companionway. After a shift on deck during inclement weather, one's foul-weather gear can be hung to dry in the shower, eliminating the need to drag soggy duds through the main cabin to the usual head position forward of the saloon. Hot and cold pressurized water with a 110-volt/heat exchanger system is standard. Water tankage is 60 U.S. gallons split between two deck-filled and vented plastic tanks. A 17 U.S. gallon holding tank with deck pumpout is provided; a Y-valve is optional.

Electrical system

There was enough juice provided by our twin 12-volt storage batteries to operate our navigational equipment and running lights during our voyage. Also on hand is 110-volt shore power. Courtesy lighting throughout the interior was a welcome touch; its switch was handily located at the companionway. We topped of the batteries by running the Universal diesel engine an hour daily. (A 27-hp Yanmar 3GM series is now standard.) Oil changes and minor maintenance is fairly easy - the engine compartment has three entrances - and engine noise is kept to a minimum with the addition of acoustic insulation throughout the compartment.

Four new exterior features are a simplified deck plan for sailors who are looking for flat-out cruising, gates placed at maximum beam, a proper molded bow roller and midship cleats. New interior innovations include the lowered chart table and added shelving to accommodate a TV and microwave.

I enjoyed my passage aboard the 34/36+. Alegro Entende was fast, seaworthy and generally comfortable. This design gives sailors a chance to compete on a level playing field with larger yachts while retaining the ease of small-boat handling.