• Yachting Monthly
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  • June 26, 2013

Yachting Monthly reviews the Rival 34

Product Overview

Manufacturer:, price as reviewed:.

What’s she like to sail? Her high bow is designed to give good protection in the cockpit and a secure feeling on deck. She’s best to windward, when her fine entry, modest beam and attractive sheer combine to provide an easy motion and a dry ride. But she’ll struggle to match the performance of a modern yacht for sailing downwind. A Rival 34 is superb for long-distance passage-making and very steady in heavy seas and strong winds, but in light conditions her performance and manoeuvrability will feel staid compared to modern fin keel yachts. With perfectly set sails, a Rival 34 should feel beautifully balanced. She’s quite a big boat to helm with a tiller, which sweeps across a cramped but reassuringly deep and well protected cockpit complete with a special liferaft locker – a wheel would take more space. A mainsheet traveller in front of the companionway and a fairly low boom put the onus for ‘health and safety’ on the crew! Top speed of this heavy-displacement yacht is likely to range between 6-8 knots under sail, with faster bursts downwind, or 5-7 knots under power. The deep keel version should be stiffer and point higher than the shoal draught version, but is less versatile for tidal cruising. Either one would do for drying out against a wall. Old sloops require extra physical effort. Winding in the 130% masthead genoa discourages short tacking, while Wild Rival’s piston hanks are more fiddly than a modern luff groove. Changing headsails is much more effort than shortening sail with a furling line and requires one or two crew to work on a pitching foredeck, but you get a far more efficient sail shape. Reefing requires one or two crew to work at the mast, but everything comes to hand without the increased complexity and friction of reefing lines led aft. Lazyjacks could be useful to catch the mainsail as it drops, but the relatively small area makes it fairly easy to flake along the boom. What’s she like in port and at anchor? When it’s time to berth in a marina, plenty of practice will be required for failsafe reversing with the Rival’s skeg and long fin keel and the turning circle will be wide compared to modern yachts. Unlike modern yachts, you also don’t get the luxury of spacious stern cabins with en suite heads and showers, and the main cabin feels narrow, but that means hand-holds are easy to grab. Wild Rival has neither a fridge nor pressurised water, so you don’t need to worry about drained batteries or constant refills for the water tank. With a solidly built teak interior and up to seven berths in a traditional ‘open plan’ layout, only the forecabin provides a degree of privacy. With four dedicated sea berths, she is clearly designed for sailing, rather than marina life – a good choice for a crew of hearties or a couple who really enjoy passage-making. Reflecting their traditional approach to cruising, Steve and Cathy drop and weigh anchor by hand without need for a windlass, a technique requiring complementary muscle and boat-handling skills. Would she suit you and your crew? If you really want a ‘sailing and motoring caravan’, or an exhilarating daysailer, the Rival 34 is not your kind of yacht. But if you’re after a boat that can sail around the world, she could provide a reasonably inexpensive solution to your dreams. A second-hand Rival 34 will be at least 30 years old. These yachts were extremely well built (to Lloyd’s Register 100A1), but a thorough survey is recommended, covering engine, rigging, sails, winches, electronics and all other bits that are expensive to replace.

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The Rival 34 Sailboat

The Rival 34, a masthead sloop, was designed by Peter Brett and built in the UK by Southern Shipbuilding Ltd.

A Rival 34 sailboat at anchor

Published Specification for the Rival 34

Underwater Profile:  Fin keel with skeg-hung rudder

Hull Material:  GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall:  34'0" (10.4m)

Waterline Length:  24'10" (7.6m)

Beam:  9'8" (3.0m)

Draft:  5'10" (1.8m) - Shoal draft version: 4'8" (1.4m)

Rig Type:  Masthead sloop

Displacement:  11,900lb (5,398kg)

Designer:  Peter Brett

Builder:  Southern Shipbuilding (UK)

Year First Built:  1972

Number Built:  174

Owners Association:  Rival Owners Association

Published Design Ratios for the Rival 34

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio:  13.9

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio:  39.5

3. Displacement/Length Ratio:  347

4. Comfort Ratio:  32.5

5. Capsize Screening Formula:   1.7

read more about these all-revealing numbers...

Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the  Rival 34

eBook: How to Avoid Buying the Wrong Sailboat

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of just 13.9 suggests that the Rival 34 will need a stiff breeze to get her going. In light conditions, unless you've got plenty of time on your hands, motor-sailing may be the way to go.

2. A Ballast/Displacement Ratio of 39.5 means that the Rival 34 will initially stand up reasonably well to her canvas in a moderate breeze, but she'll need a reef in the main to avoid heeling excessively in a gust.

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 347, tells us the Rival 34 is clearly a heavy displacement cruising boat. You can load her down with all your cruising gear and equipment and it will hardly affect her waterline. Not an ideal choice for coastal sailing, but she'll come into her own on an offshore passage in testing conditions.

4. Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio of 32.5 suggests that crew comfort of a Rival 34 in a seaway is similar to what you would associate with the motion of a moderate bluewater cruising boat - a predictable and acceptable motion for most seasoned sailors.

5. The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) of 1.7 tells us that a Rival 34 would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0. 

More about the Rival 34...

The Rival 34 is a classic long-distance cruising sailboat designed by Peter Brett and built by Marine Construction Ltd. in the UK since 1972. It is a sturdy, seaworthy and comfortable boat that can handle heavy seas and strong winds with ease. It has a high bow, a fine entry, a modest beam and an attractive sheer that give it a good protection in the cockpit and a secure feeling on deck.

Rival 34 Accommodation Layout

It is best to windward, when it can point high and provide an easy motion and a dry ride. However, it is not very fast or agile in light conditions or downwind, compared to modern fin keel yachts. It has a masthead sloop rig with piston hanks on the headsails, which are more efficient but also more demanding than a furling system. It has a deep or shoal draught fin keel with a skeg-hung rudder, which offer good stability and tracking but also limit the manoeuvrability and versatility of the boat. The Rival 34 is a superb choice for long-distance passage-making, but it requires some skill and effort to sail well.

Accommodation The Rival 34 has a traditional layout with two separate cabins, one forward and one aft, each with a double berth.

  • The forward cabin also has a hanging locker and some storage space. The aft cabin is accessed through the cockpit and has a small hatch for ventilation.
  • The main saloon has two settees that can be used as single berths, a folding table, a navigation station and a galley.
  • The galley has a two-burner stove with oven, a sink and some storage space. There is no fridge or pressurised water system on board, but these can be added if desired.
  • The head is located between the saloon and the forward cabin and has a manual toilet, a sink and some storage space. There is no shower on board, but there is an option to install one in the head or in the cockpit.

The interior of the Rival 34 is cosy and functional, but not very spacious or luxurious compared to modern yachts. It has plenty of hand-holds and ventilation ports for safety and comfort at sea.

Hull and Deck The hull of the Rival 34 is made of solid fiberglass with no core material. It is strong and durable, but also heavy and prone to osmosis if not properly maintained. The deck is also made of fiberglass with balsa core for stiffness and insulation. It has teak trim on the toe rail, handrails and cockpit seats, which add some elegance but also require some care.

The deck layout is simple and practical, with wide side decks, a large foredeck and a small aft deck. There are two large cockpit lockers for storage, one of which can accommodate a liferaft. The cockpit is deep and well protected by the high coaming and the sprayhood. It has a tiller steering system that sweeps across the cockpit when sailing, which can be inconvenient for the crew but also gives good feedback to the helmsman.

The mainsheet traveller is located in front of the companionway, which can be dangerous if not careful. The boom is fairly low, which can limit the headroom in the cockpit but also makes it easier to reef or flake the mainsail. The mast is deck-stepped and supported by stainless steel wire rigging with single spreaders.

The headsails are hanked on to the forestay or the inner stay, which can be removed for downwind sailing. The sail area is moderate for the displacement of the boat, which makes it easy to handle but also limits its speed potential.

The Rival 34 is a boat that appeals to sailors who value quality over quantity, who prefer simplicity over complexity, who enjoy sailing rather than motoring, who seek adventure rather than comfort.

The above text was drafted by sailboat-cruising.com using GPT-4 (OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model) as a research assistant to develop source material; we believe it to be accurate to the best of our knowledge.

Other sailboats in the Rival range include:

Rival 36

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  • Sailboat Guide

Rival 34 is a 33 ′ 11 ″ / 10.4 m monohull sailboat designed by Peter Brett and built by Marine Construction Ltd. starting in 1972.

Drawing of Rival 34

Rig and Sails

Auxilary power, accomodations, calculations.

The theoretical maximum speed that a displacement hull can move efficiently through the water is determined by it's waterline length and displacement. It may be unable to reach this speed if the boat is underpowered or heavily loaded, though it may exceed this speed given enough power. Read more.

Classic hull speed formula:

Hull Speed = 1.34 x √LWL

Max Speed/Length ratio = 8.26 ÷ Displacement/Length ratio .311 Hull Speed = Max Speed/Length ratio x √LWL

Sail Area / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the harder the boat will be to handle. This ratio is a "non-dimensional" value that facilitates comparisons between boats of different types and sizes. Read more.

SA/D = SA ÷ (D ÷ 64) 2/3

  • SA : Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay).
  • D : Displacement in pounds.

Ballast / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the stability of a boat's hull that suggests how well a monohull will stand up to its sails. The ballast displacement ratio indicates how much of the weight of a boat is placed for maximum stability against capsizing and is an indicator of stiffness and resistance to capsize.

Ballast / Displacement * 100

Displacement / Length Ratio

A measure of the weight of the boat relative to it's length at the waterline. The higher a boat’s D/L ratio, the more easily it will carry a load and the more comfortable its motion will be. The lower a boat's ratio is, the less power it takes to drive the boat to its nominal hull speed or beyond. Read more.

D/L = (D ÷ 2240) ÷ (0.01 x LWL)³

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds.
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet

Comfort Ratio

This ratio assess how quickly and abruptly a boat’s hull reacts to waves in a significant seaway, these being the elements of a boat’s motion most likely to cause seasickness. Read more.

Comfort ratio = D ÷ (.65 x (.7 LWL + .3 LOA) x Beam 1.33 )

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
  • LOA: Length overall in feet
  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet

Capsize Screening Formula

This formula attempts to indicate whether a given boat might be too wide and light to readily right itself after being overturned in extreme conditions. Read more.

CSV = Beam ÷ ³√(D / 64)

Shoal draft: 4.67’.

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Review of Rival 34

Basic specs..

The hull is made of fibreglass. Generally, a hull made of fibreglass requires only a minimum of maintenance during the sailing season.

The boat equipped with a masthead rig. The advantage of a masthead rig is its simplicity and the fact that a given sail area - compared with a fractional rig - can be carried lower and thus with less heeling moment.

The Rival 34 is equipped with a fin keel. A boat with a fin keel is more manoeuvrable but has less directional stability than a similar boat with a long keel.

The boat can enter even shallow marinas as the draft is just about 1.42 - 1.52 meter (4.66 - 4.96 ft) dependent on the load. See immersion rate below.

The boat is typically equipped with various Volvo Penta diesel engines at 25.0 hp (18 kW).

Sailing characteristics

This section covers widely used rules of thumb to describe the sailing characteristics. Please note that even though the calculations are correct, the interpretation of the results might not be valid for extreme boats.

What is Capsize Screening Formula (CSF)?

The capsize screening value for Rival 34 is 1.69, indicating that this boat could - if evaluated by this formula alone - be accepted to participate in ocean races.

The immersion rate is defined as the weight required to sink the boat a certain level. The immersion rate for Rival 34 is about 204 kg/cm, alternatively 1144 lbs/inch. Meaning: if you load 204 kg cargo on the boat then it will sink 1 cm. Alternatively, if you load 1144 lbs cargo on the boat it will sink 1 inch.

Sailing statistics

This section is statistical comparison with similar boats of the same category. The basis of the following statistical computations is our unique database with more than 26,000 different boat types and 350,000 data points.

What is L/B (Length Beam Ratio)?

What is SA/D (Sail Area Displacement ratio)?


Are your sails worn out? You might find your next sail here: Sails for Sale

If you need to renew parts of your running rig and is not quite sure of the dimensions, you may find the estimates computed below useful.

Mainsail halyard 30.1 m(98.7 feet)10 mm(3/8 inch)
Jib/genoa halyard30.1 m(98.7 feet)10 mm(3/8 inch)
Spinnaker halyard30.1 m(98.7 feet)10 mm(3/8 inch)
Jib sheet 10.4 m(34.1 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Genoa sheet10.4 m(34.1 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Mainsheet 26.0 m(85.1 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Spinnaker sheet22.8 m(74.9 feet)12 mm(1/2 inch)
Cunningham3.4 m(11.3 feet)10 mm(3/8 inch)
Kickingstrap6.9 m(22.5 feet)10 mm(3/8 inch)
Clew-outhaul6.9 m(22.5 feet)10 mm(3/8 inch)

This section is reserved boat owner's modifications, improvements, etc. Here you might find (or contribute with) inspiration for your boat.

Do you have changes/improvements you would like to share? Upload a photo and describe what you have done.

We are always looking for new photos. If you can contribute with photos for Rival 34 it would be a great help.

If you have any comments to the review, improvement suggestions, or the like, feel free to contact us . Criticism helps us to improve.

The Rival 34 is a 34.0ft masthead sloop designed by Peter Brett and built in fiberglass by Marine Construction Ltd. (UK) since 1972.

174 units have been built..

The Rival 34 is a heavy sailboat which is under powered. It is stable / stiff and has an excellent righting capability if capsized. It is best suited as a bluewater cruising boat.

Rival 34 sailboat under sail

Rival 34 for sale elsewhere on the web:

rival 34 sailboat review

Main features

Model Rival 34
Length 34 ft
Beam 9.67 ft
Draft 5.83 ft
Country United Kingdom (Europe)
Estimated price $ 0 ??

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rival 34 sailboat review

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Sail area / displ. 13.89
Ballast / displ. 39.46 %
Displ. / length 347.03
Comfort ratio 32.46
Capsize 1.70
Hull type Monohull fin keel with rudder on skeg
Construction Fiberglass
Waterline length 24.83 ft
Maximum draft 5.83 ft
Displacement 11900 lbs
Ballast 4696 lbs
Hull speed 6.68 knots

rival 34 sailboat review

We help you build your own hydraulic steering system - Lecomble & Schmitt

Rigging Masthead Sloop
Sail area (100%) 451 sq.ft
Air draft 0 ft ??
Sail area fore 239.14 sq.ft
Sail area main 212.34 sq.ft
I 37.72 ft
J 12.68 ft
P 37.75 ft
E 11.25 ft
Nb engines 1
Total power 0 HP
Fuel capacity 0 gals


Water capacity 0 gals
Headroom 0 ft
Nb of cabins 0
Nb of berths 0
Nb heads 0

Builder data

Builder Marine Construction Ltd. (UK)
Designer Peter Brett
First built 1972
Last built 0 ??
Number built 174

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rival 34 sailboat review

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Details and photographs are normally based on one specific yacht, but could be a compilation. No reliance should be placed on other yachts of the same class being identical.  Where common variations exist, we have endeavoured to indicate this in these archive details. 
, the Rival 34 having a a slightly deeper afterbody and longer overhangs to give steadiness in a seaway. There were two basic hull versions, one with a deep keel at 5ft 10ins, and a shallow one at 4ft 8ins draft. 174 Rival 34s were built in all.

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20-10-2023, 04:33  
Boat: Janneau Love love, 6,65m
to this forum, and I am french, which mean not perfectly fluent in , especially when it comes to nautical specific terms... But I will do my best, don't hesitate to correct me if I use the wrong words...

Anyway I am happy to participate to this forum which is very interesting, let's come to the point :

I am about to buy a rival 32, and actually reading this forum helped me make my choice ! In it is a bit difficult to get information about this .

I understood it is quite a reliable sailboat, which is what I was mainly looking for. But obviously I will have a lot of questions coming as I will begin to discover it !

I am starting with these questions :

- I read it is a steady, but pretty slow sailboat... What do you think of it and what does it mean exactly : how much does it need to start sailing ?

- I heard it could be possible to install beaching legs on it. Do you think it is possible ? It would be very useful for me according to the spots I am sailing to...

- Anything particular you would advise me to check before I sail it back to my place in Bretagne ?

20-10-2023, 05:35  
rather than on this predominantly American website..
The horses mouth so to speak.

Other possible useful info..

20-10-2023, 08:07  
Boat: Janneau Love love, 6,65m
you can't access to that forum, even to read it, not talking about writing on it. And to become a one has to fill a form and send it by mail, with the payment of the in pounds... I might do it but not right away.

As I found on this forum very interesting discussions, I still hope there might be one or to rival owners passing by and willful to give their impression about this ...
20-10-2023, 12:10  

leads to some basic observations which have to be seen in light of where you intend to sail your boat. are designed to sail in specific waters and do specific things. There is no such thing as a “universal” boat. “Jack of all trades, master of none!”, as the saying goes :-)!

You say you have been told that the Rival 32 is “slow”. Slow at what? Slow compared to what, slow in what conditions? Slow being sailed by whom?

The published SA/D ratio of 12.31/1 is indeed low in comparison with that of many other boats, but it's a fairly meaningless figure except to yacht designers who use that ratio (one among many!) for comparing designs. It is also quite useful for a who's been given a commission to design a boat to be used in specific waters, such as, , the coast of Brittany. The might say to himself: “Ah, yes - an SA/D of about 14 would be suitable for the conditions prevailing there”.

To shed a little further light on that, TrentePieds, two feet shorter, a ton lighter, than the Rival, in the Salish Sea, formerly, in days of empire, know as the Straits of . Her SA/D is 14 (or thereabouts). In the when the winds come howling in from the norwest, I have to reef. On summer afternoons when there isn't a breath of in the straits I wish her SA/D were 28! So the ACTUAL SA/D obtaining in given under actual operating conditions is NEVER the “design” SA/D.

So know not only what a particular ratio is, and means, but also what it is useful for :-)!

A to Length ratio of 353, the number given for the Rival 32, is high in comparison with many boats. But a statement as bland as that is meaningless. Are the boats the Rival is being compared to, to be sailed in the same , under the same conditions? What are the typical differences in boat behaviour, and in a boat's ability to “keep the sea”, between boats with high D/Ls and those with low D/L's?

Now it would seem to me that in the day's of the windjammers, no would take his ship into Brest or l”Orient without taking a pilot aboard. Those pilots got out to the ships in pilot cutters designed to “keep the sea” off Isle de Sein in all conceivable conditions, and indeed in conditions that could be pretty boisterous. What were THEIR SA/Ds and D/Ls? Even though pilot cutters were much bigger than a modern Sunday-sailor's cruising boat, ratios are ratios, so is there something a man who out of Brest might learn from studying them? up the famous :-)

How much wind a boat “needs to start sailing” is not all that important to a cruising man, though of course it is to a man. But the Rival 32 is not a boat a man would choose, so why even ask the question? “Waiting for wind” is part of what we cruising people do!

The Rival will show herself to be, as you say, a “steady” boat, but whether she will be slow depends on many interacting things including the cut of the sails (and how worn they are), on the skipper's ability to “play to puffs”, and on how clean the boat's bottom is. What we can say with some certainty is that she won't be as “weatherly” as boats designed for racing, i.e. she won't sail as high in the wind as some other boats. Perhaps that isn't a criterion worth considering? Wouldn't that depend on where you wish to sail the boat?

Something else we can say with some certainty is that the Rival's arrangements below decks is the tried a tested arrangement that works in small boats, such as the Rival – and TrentePieds. There really isn't a better way to lay out the accommodations.

Boats, like people, are individuals. Like picking any other life's companion, you should do it on the basis of what YOU like – not on the basis of what other people think. Foibles, you'll soon get used to :-)!


20-10-2023, 12:29  
Boat: Moody 31
. CF is an international forum and members will make allowances for anyone using a second language.

Given your likely sailing area of France's Atlantic coast I think this will be a good choice, a strong boat for nasty conditions.

Good luck.

20-10-2023, 13:13  
Boat: Janneau Love love, 6,65m
I indeed chose this boat because I am not planning to , I rather want to travel, and also, more frequently, to go to local islands such as Ouessant without having to wait the perfect weather !
But still, being used to smaller and lighter boats, I am wondering if my new one will move when I have less that 10 knots of wind ! the ... when I get the for this (I mean for the sails) !
I also know that with 1,40m she won't go very high on the wind... But I need a low to be able to reach the islands around here... And I also hope I can install beaching legs on it so that I can settle in the many here where you have to beach !

About the things I am wondering about, there is also this chain box : the guy I am the boat to said that if I use more than 30m of chain, it gets difficult to put it back in the box... He was suggesting to open a window from the below, in order to clean the chain from there... But I am not sure this is a good idea, it might bring in the ...

20-10-2023, 13:29  
Boat: Moody 31
us into Piriac-Sur-Mer, a stout pair would be very useful.

The lack of speed in light winds could be mostly cured with a cruising chute sometimes called an . Much easier than a larger symmetric .

30m is a bit short for that coast, particularly if you use 4:1 as a ratio. However, there is some other ways of working out the to chain length ratio you need. Try this thread: . We have switched to 15m plus twice the .

Sounds like the chain pyramids in the chain locker rather than spreading out. You will know for sure once you try it. Carry a length of to extend for now.

20-10-2023, 14:24  
or a drifter for light winds, considering the rocky areas in those waters I'd be reluctant to use , the piling issue can be resolved by creating an access to the chain locker where a crew member can level the piling.. if solo you can do the same with a boat hook in the Fore cabin and access through the Fore , something I have had to do on occasion.
As for beaching legs, you can make your own using scaffold poles and plates with sockets and pins.
The crucial factor is establishing the centre balance point but with a long fin like the Rival has its perfectly doable on the right bottoms.
21-10-2023, 01:45  
Boat: Janneau Love love, 6,65m
. That's why the previous owner advised to create an access from the fore cabin, as you suggest but which does not exist so far... Do you think it is a good idea to make a hole there to create this access ?

About the beaching legs : nice to read that you think one can make them himself ! That's indeed what I hope. But I am wondering how to make and install, on the of the boat, the pieces in which they will fit well ?...

As for the speed yes indeed the spinnaker should do the job... The guy said it is equipped with something "between a symetric and an asymetric spinnaker", which puzzles me a little (I didn't have the time to try it) but I will find out when I put it on.
21-10-2023, 03:07  
the Rival 32 in the Algarve..
This is the ad hoc set up vs the standard forecabin, why the hawse pipe is that far back I don't know..    

21-10-2023, 03:20  
21-10-2023, 04:24  
Boat: Janneau Love love, 6,65m
so I cannot go every time I want to check something I didn't take the time to look at previously...
But I am soon going back there in this purpose and to finalize the , I have to think about what to look at when I get there...
21-10-2023, 15:58  
Boat: Moody 31
21-10-2023, 17:13  
(102.2 KB, 35 views)
(72.7 KB, 24 views)
21-10-2023, 18:35  

We often caution new-to-them boat owners to WAIT before they make any modifications, especially cuts, to their boats.

You might want to consider waiting until you have some experience with it before you cut any holes for a problem someone else has identified UNTIL you yourself have figured it out and decide what YOU think is the best solution for you.

There may be other solutions that that person had not considered.
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rival 34 sailboat review

Used – Rival 36

Mention Rival yachts and most sailors think of fairly heavy, pretty, bulletproof affairs designed for crossing oceans in safety, with high speed not featuring particularly high on the priorities list. Rival Yachts, in its first iteration, was started by yacht designer Peter Brett in 1967 with the Rival 31, the first one of which was popped out of her mould in 1968. This was quickly followed by the slightly extended 32 and then later with the well respected 34, 41 and 38. The first 36 was launched in 1980, making it the sixth and final Rival from the company in its original form.

The Rival 34 in particular had gained many admirers in serious yachting circles following Wild Rival winning the OSTAR transatlantic race on handicap in 1976. The race had been a windy one and the 34 had triumphed in the main due to an ability to plug relentlessly to windward in conditions that had caused many other crews to ease off and yachts to retire. The 36 was launched with this triumph fresh in the minds of the boating public, to fill a gap between the slightly fuller ended aft cabin 38 and the bulletproof 34. The 36 was a fairly successful design for Rival with 78 hulls being launched from the Woolston, Southampton factory. Later, in the 1980s, Rival Yachts’, like many other boatbuilders’ stories became more complicated, performing and being subjected to various takeovers and mergers featuring Bowman, Starlight and Rustler, all illustrious names in their own right when it comes to world girdling cruising yachts.

The 36 was designed from the start with a lift keel variant, the 36C (for centreboard), which has a slightly shorter mast. The lift keel is a GRP foil that operates within an external stub keel with a flat bottom and grounding shoe for drying out safely alongside a harbour wall or similar. It is raised and lowered using a deck mounted winch. The 1984 model we are looking at here has the alternative deep fin keel of encapsulated lead. There was a third shallow draught variant offered with Scheel keel. The 36 was offered with sloop rig as standard and cutter rig and furling headsail were offered as options.

Entering the rich confines of the saloon, the first thing that strikes any visitor is the Rival trademark keyhole cut bulkhead. It’s actually quite a clever structure as it adds most of the additional strength of an extra central bulkhead without stealing too much natural light from the cabin. She’s constructed to Lloyds 100A1 standards and her solid feeling hardwood faced ply joinery bears this out. Maximum headroom is 6ft 3in (1.91m) declining slightly to 5ft 1in at the forward bulkhead. While small saloon ports and the hardwood finish are always going to create a darker atmosphere than in some more modern designs, I found it was actually quite bright and uplifting for a 25 year old boat. The saloon table is soildly constructed, amply fiddled and on some boats can be dropped to provide an occasional double. There are serious looking triple cup positions for pipe cots above the saloon berths, and the berths are a usable 6ft 3in (1.91m) long. Stowage under these berths is significant, thanks in part to the water tank being situated in the root of the keel and accessed through inspection hatches in the sole.

This is a real ocean eating plodder. She won’t be setting anybody’s pants on fire, but there are few 36ft boats available new today with the same cocktail of ocean going layup and design detail, and possibly none with the same unpretentious quality of finish. These boats justifiably hold their value very well, though it is a sad indictment on sailing snobbery that they would make more buyers’ shortlists if more of them had come with wheel steering.

For • Solid lump of quality boat • Heavy weather comfort • Proven seakeeping ability

Against • Would you get on with a tiller? • Not quick, especially in light airs


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rival 34 sailboat review

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  • Thread starter alisdair4
  • Start date 11 Aug 2007
  • 11 Aug 2007


Hi, I'm finally thinking of moving up from Freya, and have been looking, among others, at a Rival 32. I am well aware of the performance differences (!) between what I currently sail and a larger, displacement boat. However, as SWMBO has now got the tast for blue (well, grey) water off Islay last week, I think the Rival may be just the job. So, a couple of specific questions - grateful for any advice: 1. The boat I am looking at is 1982 - and has an asking price of around £25K - does this seem fair? 2. There seem to be a number of problems with the window frames ("disintegration" of several of them). Is this common? Is it possible to get replacement frames? 3. The capping rail (which I presume was teak) on the gunwale has been replaced by a synthetic material. Having spoken to the current owner, he said that the original wood had decayed. This seems inconsistent with Rival's reputation for quality -any comments? 4. The boat has an "Easyreef" mainsail furling system -any comments as to the effectiveness of this system? Thanks in advance. Alisdair  


Well-known member

lovely boats. I'd ask these model specific question on the owners site here http://www.rivalowners.org.uk/  

Post deleted by danfoley  



I'm sure the owners website will be most helpful... I know these are rugged and dependable boats, but home-completed ones are mostly showing the strain and need regular TLC on systems and bits. The window frames are, I suspect, part of this issue. The teak capping is another matter. It should - by comparison - be still in good shape, and one might want to look closely at the hull/deck join, under the capping, for signs of more recent damage and non-professional repair. Are you having a professional and Rival-experienced survey done? If not, why not.....? /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif  

[ QUOTE ] I imagine replacing with teak will cost you a fair whack (£1500?) [/ QUOTE ] I would be surprised if it came to that much. I had half of it replaced along one side, can't remember how much it cost, but I think in the region of £200 - £250 incl. labour. Roughly multiply by 4, say £900, for the whole boat?  

  • 12 Aug 2007



As an owner of a '72 vintage R32 I admit to being a little biased but I think they are superb sailing boats. £25 k is not unreasonable but it really dpends on the state of the individual boat - what are the sails like? the electrics? the engine? I paid a little less than that for mine about 4 years ago, its sails were shot but it had a new engine and some decent electronics. I've seen quite a few Rivals with a modified capping rail (usually in a black, dense plastic), and I must admit my teak is showing its age and I was thinking about doing the same job. ROA are a helpful crowd.  

I delivered a Rival 31 from Plymouth to the Solent a couple of years ago (basically the same boat, but with transom hung rudder rather than a counter stern). She was a nicely maintained example that had been yard finished. She was bought for £18000. She had no window problems, but she, too, had the synthetic capping rail. I've seen so many Rivals with this, that I suspect it was standard. I may be wrong, but YM did a test review when the boats were being built, and I'd swear that the boat in the photo had the same capping rail. It looks smart, seems durable and only needs cleaning. The boat is very steady, performs decently, is cramped by today's standards and feels pretty bullet proof. Those wide side decks are lovely.  


Can't comment on the 32, but we looked at a number of 34s and about 30% had synthetic capping. I think that teak decks and capping were an option throughout the range. We now have a 41 and I really wish we didn't have the teak deck and capping. Far too much work. FWIW I think all of the Rivals are great boats, just a little short of space by modern standards.  


I concur regarding the capping rail, I have sailed several Rivals of various sizes and from memory most had plastic capping material on the low gunwale. My only caveat regarding these boats is that they are pretty heavy and do need a good bit of wind to get them moving. Not great in light airs.  

Yes, I can see that from the specifications. However, as my usual cruising area is West of Scotland, the light wind performance should not be a problem!  

Asking price - 25k seems a reasonable price for an '82 R32 in good condition. That said, I'd be concerned that the window frame problem should be addressed at this price and seek a corresponding reduction/correction. As already posted a survey is recommended to support such action and maybe to uncover other subjects for negotiation. My R34 has aluminium frames and if your R32 is similar, corrosion may have been promoted thro using SS fixing screws. Post on the ROA - I know of at least one member who has replaced frames on an R34. The black capping rail is common on lots of Rivals. It would be worth you checking as the original teak cap is not normally replaced (AFAIK) but itself is capped by the black plastic handrail moulding. It works well and looks ok. Sorry, no knowledge of main furling but again post question on ROA. As you know Rival 31/32/34 are heavy displacement:LWL but with good sails perform respectfully in F3. Well suited for cruising The Isles. I'm sure you'll "love it". Hope to see you there! Cheers, Ron  

I understand that teak capping railing isn't too hard to replace DIY. Haven't tried it myself, but know someone who has. You can source the teak stuff here for example.  

I've had a Rival 31 for 5 years now and done just about every type of maintenance these boats need. Cost is very much dependant on condition when over 20 plus years old. £25,000 may be a good price for a 25 year old 32 but not if she needs a new engine, standing riiging, sails, re-wiring, new safety equipment etc etc......... then it is not so good. An older 32 but in excellent order may be worth spending up to£30k on if there is no further spend required. The surveyor you employ should know the market value and will advise. I still have the original teak toe rail and it is still in good order (apart from the bit I crunched a while back, this is new!) I removed the toerail a few years ago to take home and varnish. The deck to hull join was OK and not leaking but the filler used had softened and crumbled in places. I gouged this out and poured in epoxy on a hot day so this will have found any nooks and crannies, good as new! I don't like the pastic covered aluminium toe rails but that is a personal thing. The rudder on a 31 is not transom hung, it is the same as a 32. The only difference between a 31 and a 32 is the transom, normal vs. reverse. As for performance, I sailed back from Moelfre to Conwy yesterday at the same time as a Contessa 32 and matched her most of the way. I had a reef in the main and she didn't. I suspect that she was not trying that hard but even so it does show that the 31/32 is not the sluggard some people will have you believe. Like some of the other posters, I am biased and I certainly know what I would want to be in when the going gets rough. I also like Contessa 32s just as much! Mail me at [email protected] if you want more info.  

  • 13 Aug 2007


As an owner of a R34 with an 'Easyreef' mainsail furling system I would like to add the following to the comments already made by 'the panel': a) I agree that the Rival is a very sturdy 'go anywhere' boat that will keep going when most other boats have gone home b) The Easyreef system is, I assume, an add-on to the original mast (mine is). c) When it works, which is at least 99% of the time, than it's great, ... furling the mainsail is easy and safe from the cockpit. The downsides are two-fold: 1. The mainsail is a little smaller as it has no roach, hence potentially reducing performance when there's not much wind. 2. There is a potential for it get stuck, i.e. part way in, which can be a pain in the ****. You will increase the possibility of this if you have an old mainsail which may have become 'baggy' , ... since I bought a new mainsail I have never had a problem. You will decrease the possibility of this by taking care that there are no creases in the sail as it is being furled. My summary is that for coastal cruising it's great, particularly if you are likely to have an inexperienced crew. However I would not recomend it for off-shore use. hope this helps  

  • 22 Aug 2007


Just bought a Rival 32 myself and moving 'up' in size from a Twister, it's the headroom and space I value and feels generous. Very sturdy boat indeed and though an early seventies model, no w.frame problems or decayed rail for that matter. Just the job for long-distant work. The ROA site has some smashing old brochure PDF downloads with tartan upholstory and trendy couples with their fondue sticks. The Rival was advertised as a passage-making boat and certainly feels like one. Loads of storage space and sleeps six or seven. The later model will certainly have the dinette to one side which seems like a good option to keep dozing crew clear of the action and a huge double bed in port. To be honest, I'd see if the seller will come down a bit. This size of boat is not the big seller it once was.  

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Columbia 34 Just bought Anyone else have one?

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Just bought a 1971 Columbia Mark II 34. Anyone out there have one and want to share information, tips and whatall?  

rival 34 sailboat review

A '74 of the same model You may want to read the posts here: http://forums.projectbluesphere.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=63 He bought a '74 of the same model. Consider searching for other posts by the same user at that site, because I believe he started a blog about his restoration projects and process. He definitely liked the headroom... Jim H  

rival 34 sailboat review

From an earlier discussion on the topic, I have some experience with the Columbia 34 Mk II having helped a friend fix one up and then delivering it back to Savannah and daysailed on her in a range of conditions. Columbias (especially during this period) were the Hunters of their day. In other words these boats were designed to provide a lot of space for a low price. Build quality on these boats was quite shoddy. Glass work was heavy by modern standards but because of the sloppy workmanship, laminate schedule and choices of resin was not especially sturdy. There are several serious vulnerabilities in the design of these boats. The 'scimitar' design of the rudder places more than usual loads on the rudderpost and the rudder posts of that era tended to be smaller than are used today on post hung rudders of today. Fatigue in the rudderpost would make it very suspect. The other known problem is with the keel bolts. Many if not all of these boats had galvanized iron keel bolts. If these have not been replaced by a prior owner, the keel bolts are well past their useful lifespan. On the boat that I worked on there were issues with the fiberglass adjacent to the keel bolts that had a serious set of flexure cracks radiating from each bolt. (Invisible to the surveyor at the time of survey but which showed up when the keel bolts were replaced.) Even for their day these were very mediocre sailing boats with a very uncomfortable motion. The rig proportion results in a boat that is not very easy to sail shorthanded and which requires a comparatively large sail inventory. Standard hardware simply was not up to the task of handling the large headsails required for light air performance. These are difficult boats to sail in breeze but especially when the winds are gusty. The full bow and high freeboard resulted in boats that were especially poor in a chop. The website that was linked mentioned the probelem with insuring older boats. This is a very real issue. Several years ago the insurance industry noticed disproportionately large claims on damaged older boats. The industry had noticed that impact damage to the hulls of older fiberglass boats was far more extensive than would normally be anticipated. In the study, sections of actual hulls from older boats were distruction tested for strength. The results of this extensive testing showed that the techniques and materials used during this era were partiaularly prone to fatigue and lacked the strength of more modern laminates. While the results varied with manufacturers, for the more common high production builders (Columbia was specifically cited) the choice of accelerators, large proportion of non-directional laminates, and resin rich ratios, resulted in a particularly poor initial impact resistance (despite the thickness of the laminate), which was shown to deteriorate dramatically over time. This makes it especially important to inspect high load areas for flexural fatique damage. Respectfully, Jeff  

Jeff, given your last post on Columbias/age of boats.... Jeff, you mentioned that older boats (and I don't know if you were referring only to columbias or also to other boats of that era) were vulnerable to fibreglass problems due to the layup process. Aside from getting a good survey of an older boat before purchase, do you have an opinion, based on your experience, as to what age becomes suspect in an older boat--ie. should one avoid buying a boat built before 1975, for example, because of these kind of problems. I am asking because one often reads that fibreglass boats if well cared for can last almost forever; however, others have written that all fibreglass boats absorb water over time, and will gradually deteriorate/delaminate. I have been looking at 1970s and 1980s boats for my next purchase--Ericson, Aloha, C&C, Crown are high on my list of possibilities. While I would prefer to get a 1980s in really good condition, there are some very nice 1970s with rebuilt engines, replaced standing rigging & sails, that have tempted me--should I be staying away from these in your opinion? I also welcome the opinions of others, if others want to comment. Thanks, Frank.  

I also bought a 1971 columbia 34 mkii trying to fiind out info on v drives  

rival 34 sailboat review

It's probably a Walters - it was on my 43 and every engine shot I've seen of that series of boats had the same looking V-drive.  

I have a Columbia 32 from about the same area (1976) and it has a Walter V-drive, too. Works great. For all questions, Columbia, look at columbiasailingyachts : Columbia Sailing Yachts  

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rival 34 sailboat review


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