Yachting Monthly reviews the Rival 34
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.