Tartan was faced with a sales drop with its previously-successful 33. The boat was selling well enough, but a model change was due in order to keep market attention. It would have been simple, but very expensive, to go back to S&S and ask for a new design and build new tooling, but Tartan chose to revise the existing 33 hull by extending the stern and reworking the interior. The hull is still by S&S, but it appears that the other modifications are by the in-house designer for Tartan, Tim Jackett.

The Tartan 34.

The Tartan 34.

The hull is quite conservative but a good combination of elements to ensure performance with good usable volume. There is certainly nothing IOR-ish about this hull. The D/L ratio is 205. One of the more interesting aspects of this design is that of the 34s built to date, 80 percent have had Shoal keels. There is the option of going with a straight fin with 6-foot, 3-inch draft or the Shoal with 4 feet, 5 inches. The word from the factory is that the deep draft boat is definitely faster upwind, but they feel the Shoal keel may be faster off the wind than comparable boats with centerboards.

The extension of the stern gives the 34 a sleeker look and I would suppose that there is some miniscule increase in sailing length, but the biggest difference between the new 34 and the old 33 is the interior layout. The angled bulkheads add some interest and open up the navigation area a little. The new galley is an implied U-shape. I say implied because it is a very shallow U, but still it is far better than a straight-bench type galley. Apart from the angles there is nothing tricked-out or European about this interior. The big double quarter berth is a great place to throw your sea bags to keep the main cabin clear.

Taking a look at the sail plan, we see that the rig has remained largely unchanged. The traveler is in the cockpit and that is always the best place for it. Note the sweet spring to the sheerline. Sometimes when you extend the overhangs of an existing design you get an unbalanced look to the sheerline but in this case the result is pleasant.

The Tartan 34 comes with a 27-horsepower Yanmar diesel, tankage for 57 gallons of water and 23 gallons of fuel. The hull and deck are laid up with balsa core. Tartan has always impressed me with its ability to build strong boats.

Boat Specifications
Draft4'5" (Scheel) or 6'3"
Displacement11,000 lbs.
Ballast4400 lbs.
Sail Area536 sq. ft.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.