VIDEO: 48 hours on the Bénéteau Swift Trawler 35

Can the French firm’s universally admired ST 34 be bettered? We took the Bénéteau Swift Trawler 35 to Île de Ré to find out

The original Swift Trawler 34 is one of the most successful boats that Bénéteau has built in recent memory, not only winning critical acclaim for its Tardis-like design and workmanlike charm, but also succeeding where it really matters – on the spreadsheets.

Over 400 have been sold worldwide, accounting for around 40% of total Swift Trawler sales. It’s a boat that makes you smile, pleases sailors and powerboaters alike and punches well above its weight both in the amount of space on board and what it can do out at sea.

Best of luck to the new Bénéteau Swift Trawler 35, then, which has the unenviable task of trying to improve on a design that already feels like it is doing the maximum with what a 37ft hull has to offer.

We meet the boat in La Rochelle, where it has just appeared at the Grand Pavois show. The plan is to dart over to Île de Ré for a night on board and then spend a day circumnavigating the island in a bid to really get beneath the skin of the 35 and see how effective Bénéteau’s updates have been.

Five of us will sleep on board, eat on board, brush our teeth, use the loo, fill the wardrobes and use the boat as its designers intended.

First impressions are that the 35 lacks the traditional trawler charms that made the ST 34 so endearing. A radar arch has replaced the quirky if not particularly useful mast and the teak capping that adorned the 34’s bulwarks is absent. Much easier to care for certainly, but not so quaint.

It’s more modern and shares a similar profile to the Swift Trawler 30, also penned by Nuvolari Lenard. The look is more muscular, more purposeful than the previous model and it hides its tubby frame more successfully.

We are met by Anne, Mathilde and skipper Ulysse from Bénéteau, who help us haul our bags and photography kit on board and down to the bunk-bed cabin that photographer Paul and I are sharing.

Between the bunks, master cabin and pullout double bed in the saloon, there are six berths on the 35 and we will be filling five of them, testing the boat’s sleeping and storage space to its limits.

Read the feature in the December 2017 issue of Motor Boat & Yachting.