Windy 31 Zonda used boat report: This purist’s speedboat delivers ear-to-ear grins

Our resident used boat expert Phil Sampson explains how to find a good Windy 31 Zonda on the secondhand market and what features to look out for…

In build: 2011 – 2022
Price range: £180,000 – £245,000

Windy began building boats 57 years ago and while it hasn’t yet built quite as many models as Heinz has varieties, the company’s back catalogue does encompass a formidable range of popular sportscruisers such as the Windy 28 Ghibli, Windy 31 Tornado, Windy 40 Bora and Windy 37 Grand Mistral.

In common with its Windy siblings, the subject of this report is named after a wind: the Zonda, a dry wind which howls around the eastern slopes of the Andes at 150mph. And you can see what Windy had in mind when they named this boat!

Admittedly, this 31ft weekender can’t actually match the speed of its Latin American namesake but it’s nonetheless a boat with the performance and handling to take your breath away.

When we reviewed the Windy 31 Zonda as a new boat back in 2011, our writer described it as Windy’s best-ever hull. He went on to praise its handling and balance, saying that at speed, it felt like a piece of waterborne armour.

So there’s two boxes ticked for starters. It’s fast and it’s safe – exactly what’s needed for rapid passagemaking in an open-top sportscruiser. In terms of its place within Windy’s heritage, the 31 Zonda was launched in 2011 as the successor to the 31 Tornado. Although similar in size, the 31 Zonda was a very different beast.

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Less about the cabins and more about performance, it featured a lower, leaner hull with sportier lines, a genuinely deep vee with a 24-degree deadrise angle at the transom and the vestigial side decks of the Tornado replaced by split-windscreen access to the foredeck.

Today, Windy continues to offer two Zonda variants: the 32 Grand Zonda and the 32 Grand Zonda RS. Both were introduced in 2021 and while they are much the same boat as the Windy 31 Zonda, the key difference is a bathing platform that’s around 10in longer.

The RS designation indicates a styling package that includes a hull wrap, as well as upgraded upholstery and trim. Spec-for-spec, it is possible to pick up an early 32 for around the same price as a late model 31, but expect to pay a premium for an RS model as its styling pack added around £25,000 to the new boat price.


We tested the Windy 31 Zonda as a new boat in 2011

Sleek lines

The Windy 31 Zonda was offered with a choice of single or twin engines. While our review boat has twin Volvo Penta D3 220hp units, many of them were fitted with a single Volvo D6 engine of 370, 400 or 440hp.

With like-for-like power, the single-engine models tend to be a little quicker and cheaper to run due to the reduction in drag and servicing fees but some buyers do still prefer the reassurance that two engines give you. There was also an option for twin 380hp V8 petrols, although not many UK buyers went for this.

A quick glance at the 31’s sleek lines leaves you in no doubt that, whatever’s lurking under the sunpad, this is a machine for the boater in a hurry who values good looks, strong performance and a cockpit dedicated to daytime entertaining rather than liveaboard cruising.

The Windy 31 Zonda uses a traditional deep-vee hull with a very fine entry to cut through the waves

Our review boat’s owner, Nigel Blackwell, bought his Windy 31 Zonda, Pharsalia II, new in 2014 from the UK’s Windy importer at the time, Berthon. “I live in Greece and have a place in Corfu,” Nigel tells us. “While I had a Dale 45 in Greece and a Dale 23 in Corfu, I wanted to have something I could go inter-island on and get there reasonably quickly.

The Dale 45 wasn’t an option because from where I live in Greece, it would have taken me four hours to get to Paxos, and would have cost €1,000 in fuel. I also needed a boat with a decent hull shape because the Corfu and Paxos channels cut up very heavily in the afternoons and you need a proper hull shape to go through them.

“Back in the UK, I tested a Windy 31 Zonda, and thought ‘That’s fun’. I could get to Paxos in 1h 15mins in this, have lunch and then come back.” And that’s precisely what Nigel did – but what about the 31 Zonda’s seakeeping in those challenging conditions?


While the dash looks rather busy by modern standards,the ergonomics are strong

“It’s the old story, isn’t it,” says Nigel. “You’ll give up before the boat does. The hull is terrific, but, even though the boat’s perfectly happy, it’s a rough ride. All in all, I think the seakeeping qualities are pretty good – but you have to have the name of a good chiropractor if you own a speedboat!”

Nine years on, the boat is now back in the UK and on the books with Berthon for an asking price of £197,950 VAT paid. “There’s a point where all these things come to an end,” says Nigel. “Because I wasn’t in a marina, keeping the boat in good condition and getting supplies was very difficult.

“Also, I’m nearly 80 now. I need help for berthing and I also need the reassurance of someone on board, just in case there’s a sea accident of any kind. So I thought it would be better to bring her home. It’s heart-wrenching really – it’s a fabulous boat.”


This classical Windy cockpit arrangement is still very much in use on the latest models

Having spent time in the Med, the cockpit fabric in our review boat was showing some signs of degradation; a little fading here, some crumpling there. While dark blue looks fabulous when new, it is prone to fading and staining over the years. However, this is relatively easy and affordable to replace.

The only other thing we noted in the cockpit is that the chaise longue is more of a chaise midi – with your feet left dangling over the end.

Apart from that, what a great space the cockpit is. The large aft sunpad has a track-mounted headrest which slides the entire length of the cushion so you can stretch out, facing backwards over the stern or forwards into the boat.

A sliding backrest enables you to face the table or create a huge aft-facing sunpad

Position it a couple of feet from the leading edge and it also acts as backrest, creating a forward-facing aft bench to match the aft-facing one opposite. Place the table and its leg (both of which stow neatly in the engine room when not in use) in front of it and hey presto – an instant dinette!

Although you’d never spot it when not in use, there’s also a good-sized bimini top which stows neatly away under the sunpad with special recesses down either side for the stainless steel supports.

It’s a quick and easy-to- use system that Windy has perfected over the years. Incidentally, access to the engine room is a cinch. At the press of a button, the entire rear sunpad hinges up to reveal the engine(s) and stowage spaces below.

Secure helm

Up at the helm, there’s a reassuringly well-padded and bolstered double seat to starboard and an additional single seat to port. Just left of the helm are three stubby steps which lead to the split windscreen.

That provides easy access to the foredeck, which is entirely flat and provides a useful extra sunbathing spot. Below decks, things are less expansive, as the low foredeck and slender hull inevitably restrict interior volume.

The headroom down here is no more than 5ft, except at the galley where you can stand with your head popping out of the companionway. This is actually well appointed for a vessel of this size and includes a double electric hob in the case of our generator-equipped review boat.

Headroom is tight but the scale of the bed is surprisingly generous

A sizeable double bed fills virtually the entire forepeak area of the boat and extends all the way back to the galley – handy for breakfast in bed, but again the headroom is restricted. The heads are also tight, but the washbasin’s tap does double up as a basic pull-out shower head.

Windy 31 Zonda: Our verdict

Berthon estimates that between 30 and 50 Windy 31 Zondas were manufactured in total, with the entire production run taking place at the company’s facility in Poland. With many examples now scattered around Europe, it’s relatively rare to find two on sale in the UK, as was the case when this report was penned.

While for some, the accommodation down below may be a limiting factor, purists who value performance, sea-keeping and robust build quality are likely to be very impressed. For that reason, we doubt it will be long before both examples currently on sale are once again haring around in the hands of new owners sporting ear-to-ear grins.

There is standing headroom at the galley, thanks to the companionway door above

Windy 31 Zonda: Surveyor’s report

Windy Boats have carved out a reputation for building high-quality performance cruisers. The Windy 31 Zonda fits this brief to perfection, offering 40+ knots from a range of single or twin diesel or petrol engines.

Launched in 2011, the Windy 31 Zonda is constructed using resin infusion, giving a lighter and stiffer boat, and making the build more uniform and consistent.

The standard of build is high with good quality resins used for the hull mouldings, fully lined cockpit locker lids and premium equipment and systems. This should ensure superior longevity and strong resale values if well maintained.

Our review boat is fitted with a pair of D3-220s operating through sterndrives

Points to note when considering buying:

  • Open sportsboats often suffer from damp penetration into linings, fittings and furniture. Even on a quality boat, chromes, vinyls, linings and fittings suffer degradation from regular exposure to the marine environment. Most of these can be replaced if necessary, albeit at a cost.
  • Look for evidence of salt deposits and corrosion around metal fittings on deck and in the cockpit, as well as signs of mould or mildew on the upholstery and linings above and below deck.
  • Any boat with this level of performance could have been driven hard – and while it is built to take it, every boat has its limits, so carefully inspect and hammer-sound the high-stress sections of the hull where it lands after take-off. Also lift the furniture inside to check for signs of internal movement or cracks.
  • Ensure the machinery has been correctly serviced and check that the heat exchangers, engine exhaust lines, anodes and sterndrive seals have been replaced.

A well maintained Zonda will provide a graceful, fast and enjoyable craft, which should stay in demand when the time comes to sell.

-Chris Olsen, Olsen Marine Surveying

You can easily seat six people around the cockpit dinette

Windy 31 Zonda specifications

Type: Open sportscruiser
Designer: Hans J Johnsen
Hull type: Deep-vee planing
RCD: Category B
LOA: 31ft 1in (9.48m)
Beam: 9ft 9in (2.97m)
Draft: 3ft 7in (1.1m)
Displacement: 3,900kg
Fuel capacity: 517 litres
Water capacity: 100 litres
Top speed: 40-50 knots
Fuel consumption: 1.54 litres per nautical mile @ 33 knots
Cruising range: 268nm at 33 knots with 20% reserve

Running costs

Annual fuel burn: 1,525 litres (based on 25 hours @ 33 knots and 25 hours @ 6 knots)
Marina mooring: £6,865 (based on £710 per metre for a Hamble River marina mooring downstream of Bursledon bridge)

What’s on the market?


Price: £197,950
Date: 2014
Engines: 2 x Volvo Penta D3 220hp
Lying: Lymington
Contact: Berthon International


Price: £189,950
Date: 2012
Engines: 1 x Volvo Penta D6 370hp
Lying: Swanwick
Contact: Bates Wharf

First published in the December 2023 issue of MBY.

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