Cranchi Zaffiro 34 Review

Issue: April 2004

The brand name Cranchi is not one that easily springs to the minds of Aussie boat buyers, even though these luxurious Italianbuilt vessels have been imported into this country since 2001, albeit only in relatively small numbers. At present there are only around 20 Cranchi boats gracing Aussie shores. But Fabio Grassia, the new Australian importer of Cranchi boats, intends to change this ‘ big time. How’ By offering these superbly built luxury Italian boats at prices well within acceptable Aussie buying parameters he’s kept his margins at a sensible level.

This commitment to service also includes Cranchi boats previously sold in this country to keep their owners part of the Cranchi worldwide family. Cranchi is an old family-owned Italian company that has been in the business boat building that is, not the other family businesses some Italian families are notorious for for more than 134 years. They build their boats with a passion and an expertise that comes from all those years of striving to get it right, everything right. And as the team at Cranchi will tell you themselves No detail solution or accessory no matter how difficult to spot is able to avoid our rigid, durability and resistance testing if it’s to become a part of the standard equipment of a Cranchi boat.

But at the same time, we never neglect the aesthetic and practical sides of things, as we regard these as both complementary and essential’. Attention to detail, aesthetically pleasing and practicality in design are just a few of the pluses for these boats. But under the guise of my prerequisites for the title of a top boat, it’s her offshore sea-keeping abilities that make her a winner for me. Don’t take me the wrong way here, but there are some express cruiser styled boats out there that work 2 ne in their role, as long as you remain in sheltered waters that is. Any sign of wind chop, or a half reasonable swell and anyone seated in the main or aft cockpit gets drenched.

The Cranchi Zafirro (it means sapphire in Italian) 34 truly is a jewel in the crown of the Cranchi stable. She’s powered by twin 230hp Volvo KAD43 P/DP-Es, driving through Volvo Duo Prop sterndrives. These give some performance bene2 ts over shaftdrives, even if they are not quite as manoeuvrable around the marina. And one of these advantages, rarely considered by boat buyers, is the lack of exhaust smoke from the legs around the stern. To appreciate the Zafirro 34’s excellent handling ability, you only have to take a look at her hull ‘ it’s classic bluewater. She boasts a sharp entry deep-vee hull, with oversized chines that extend well forward, all the way to the bow. These control the hull’s lateral stability and even though the hull isn’t overly flared at the bow, the chines ensure water and spray is thrown down and away from the hull as the boat slices through the swells.

Out on the water with a clean bottom the hull/engine combination recorded the following speed-to-rpm readings: 12.4 knots at 1800rpm; 14.8 knots at 2000rpm; 16 knots at 2300rpm; 17.6 knots at 2500rpm; 23.6 knots at 2800rpm; and 34 knots at 3600rpm. These readings were extremely close to those supplied by Cranchi, but the top speed of 34 knots at WOT, was actually half a knot better than the factory 2 gures. With a dry weight of 6100kg this boat is no lightweight, but this weight also contributes to the hull’s excellent ride over rough water and helps eliminate noise being transmitted through the hull. The ride was stable and surefooted. The boat tracked straight, even in a following sea and the bow reacted almost instantly to even minute movements of the helm. Throttle controls were smooth, as was the entire operation of the boat when underway. Smooth, hassle-free and extremely user-friendly.

Driving the Zafirro 34 is just like driving the family car, but with a lot more grunt under the bonnet. Below decks this smooth performance transforms into harmonies of form and materials. Cranchi blends its use of materials and textures perfectly to offer classic elegance in a comfortable, solid and easy to maintain environment. The cabinetry and panelling is nished in cherrywood, but unusually, this is an original pale shade, not at all what we have become used to in a cherrywood nish. But its paleness, coupled with the cream colours of the walls and roof, add to the light and airy feel of the main saloon. The below decks area is divided into three completely separate compartments saloon, forward stateroom and aft stateroom. Both staterooms have doors to seal them off from the main saloon for total privacy.

The saloon has a large U-shaped lounge to port with ample cupboard storage above and a stylish, shaped dining table. A compact galley is to starboard, which features a stove, fridge, sink unit, Corian bench tops, microwave oven and plenty of under bench storage. There are two opening hatches in the saloon roof and two portholes to bathe the saloon in natural light. Up for’ard the main stateroom has an enormous island double bed, hanging locker, wide storage shelves and enough room around the bed to make it easy to climb into. The aft cabin is surprisingly roomy and features a double bed, small lounge and a hanging locker and, like the rest of the 34, it’s lavishly nished. The head is also surprisingly roomy with a vanity unit, opening port, overhead cupboards and a reasonably sized loo and a showering area.

Topside the main and aft cockpits are designed for entertaining. The skipper’s seat and helm position should keep even the most fastidious captain satis ed with full instrumentation, a large, easy to read compass, adjustable sport steering wheel and plenty of open dash space to mount an extensive electronics package of the new owners choosing. To port is a large L-shaped lounge that can accommodate four people in comfort and allows the skipper to stay in the conversation once underway. The rear cockpit has a sizable U-shaped lounge surrounding a rectangular table, which is easily removed and stowed when not in use. It’s the ideal place for an evening meal as the sun sinks below the horizon.

On the starboard side there’s a sink/tap unit and cabinet. Out on the teak-laid swim platform there’s ample room to move around when launching water-sport toys, there’s a retractable swim ladder to make getting out of the water a lot easier and a hot/cold water shower to wash off the sand so it doesn’t get traipsed through the entire boat. For’ard of the curved glass windscreen is a pair of sunpads for those wishing to soak up a few rays and two double fender holders mounted on the high bowrail. This rail is also split to make exiting onto a beach or the likes easier.

Cranchi and the team at Sydney Boat Sales have done their homework well and targeted a popular sector of the market with the Zafiro 34 Express Cruiser. She’s stylish, opulent, designed for hassle-free boating, displays top bluewater performance characteristics and has a good cruising range of around 300nm at 2300rpm. But now for the part that’s going to blow many potential buyers away, she has a drive-away price tag of only $419,000. This includes a genset, bow thruster and air-conditioning. For a classy Italian stallion with all the goodies like this Cranchi 34 that’s definitely good value for money.

Words + Photos: Ian Macrae