$115,000.00 incl trailer
With a new little sister joining the ranks of its award-winning 3400 and
3700, Australian builder Sunrunner is widening the appeal and
accessibility of its good-time sportscruisers, reports David Lockwood
This was a big occasion for naval gazers. The pride of the Chilean fleet, one of the
biggest sailing ships in the world, the glorious Esmeralda was coming to town.
Radios were abuzz with sightings, the Sydney Harbour foreshores were lined with
expectant spectators, and it just so happened that this petty officer had a dashing
new sportscruiser rearing to romp.
The Esmeralda is an interesting ship with a troubled past. With time have come
revelations that the four-master was used as a floating prison and torture chamber
after Pinochet's coup in the early 70s. Which provides a complete contrast to the
sportscruiser I was stepping aboard.
The new Sunrunner 3100 is most definitely built for pleasure, not pain.
Interrogations are likely only back at the marina when your neighbour asks how was
your day.
Responding to decades of foreign boats sailing to our shores, the Aussie-made
Sunrunner 3100 is a well-made, smartly styled and beautifully finished boat. A
kissing cousin to the Sunrunner 3400, which of course won this year's Australian
Boat of the Year Award, the new 3100 is a handy platform for a lot of things,
including day trips.
Without crystal-ball gazing, I can see this boat taking a crowd of friends or
colleagues on a tour of the waterways; I can see it at anchor with a boatload of
guests enjoying the traditional Australian prawn and bubbly lunch on deck; and I can
see it with a family of four aboard — Mum and Dad on the duckboard, the kiddies
paddling their boogie boards.
This thrifty 31-footer will offer a pleasant introduction to the realms of big-boating for
lots of people. It is the kind of low-maintenance cruiser that will allow you to lash the
mooring lines, hit the deck with a hose, wheel your empties down the gangway, and
still make the Sunday movies.
For others, this 31-footer will go beyond the realms of being just a sunchaser. There
are amenities beyond the lounges and swim ladders, accommodation for four in two
comfortable cabins, and a separate head with hot shower, plus the cooking gear
needed to whip up a dinner for four.
TOUR OF DUTY While a flat battery was charging, I entertained thoughts of
spending lazy summer days aboard, swimming, cruising, overnighting, indulging and
In terms of space, the 3100 loses to the award-winning 34-footer in the saloon but
not really anywhere else. The saloon lounge and dinette will be pretty much filled by
a couple and their dinner settings. If more people are aboard then the boat's cockpit
is the place for entertaining. Which brings me to some interesting options.
The Sunrunner 3100 comes in a number of versions. The built-in cockpit seating
seen here is a feature of the Deluxe version. There is a Classic version with a
stripped-out cockpit, a little less trim and more open floor space.
Priced from $198,500, the basic model Sunrunner still has plenty of goodies and is
powered by twin 220hp engines, not a long way short of the 260hp V-eights run
Tied to the marina, the Sunrunner 3100 Deluxe looked the goods with a navy-blue
hull, teak decks, and what I thought were good mouldings. I stepped aboard via the
full-width moulded and teak-topped boarding platform.
Deck gear includes a concealed swim ladder, twin fender baskets, aft grab rails,
trick mooring cleats, rod holders, spigots for the aftermarket stainless LPG barbie,
and stylish water and fuel fillers. All quality stuff.
A lock-up transom storage well will come in handy for holding the barbie, fishing
gear, and suchlike when not in use. Another handy item is the recessed handheld
shower in a Euro-style circular moulding, ready for that apres-swim washdown.
DECKED FOR SUMMER A starboard-side transom door leads into the cockpit. The
U-shaped lounge to port can seat five people around a moulded table that will take
four lunch settings. A shorter stanchion lets you turn the table into a sunpad for
outdoor snoozing.
There is a dedicated gas-bottle locker to starboard for the aforementioned barbie
and an amenities centre behind the skipper's seat with blue Corian counters, a
circular stainless-steel sink, and top-loading icebox.
The moulded amenities centre is traced by chic grab rails, has a bottle rack and
storage space below, and double-sided moulded doors that suggest quality, as does
the lid over the amenities centre, which lifts on gas struts.
The Deluxe version of the 3100 Sunrunner comes with a moulded targa arch
harbouring deck lights, speakers, aerials, and the bimini top. The Classic won't look
as swish without the arch and with only stainless framework holding up its canvas.
Recessed steps lead to the sidedecks. There is a good grade of non-skid underfoot,
foot-over-foot access, and a raked bowrail to help you along. The alternate route is
via steps in the dash and through the centre-opening windscreen.
A largely flat deck design makes the boat's forward sections quite useable. The
builders have recognised this and included a split bowrail so you can take
passengers over the bow and a little plastic seat for spotting things when slowspeed cruising. A nice touch is the recessed hinges on the anchor locker so you
don't stub your toes.
Lift the lid on the anchor locker and you will find a Muir windlass. However, I could
not find a foot-switch to operate the windlass (there is a button on the dash), nor is
there access to the anchor chain locker except via the main cabin.
The rake of the foredeck, circular Euro hatch and five-piece wrap-around
windscreen, plus the stylish engine vents and moulded targa arch, contribute to the
3100's cool looks. Thankfully, styling hasn't taken precedence over practicality.
DEDICATED DRIVER'S DASH There is a step between the cockpit and the helm or
quasi-bridgedeck to improve views. A two or three person L-shaped lounge to port
provides a neat spot for Mum and the kids to ride opposite Dad. Or one person can
sit here and semi-recline. There is storage space below the lounge.
The helm seat could almost be described as an armchair. The seat and timber
wheel are fixed — at the right place for me, and hopefully for you, too. There is a
flip-up bolster for driving on your feet and hatches for access to wiring, looms, and
the battery charger.
I penned the words ‘dedicated driver's dash' to describe this rather excellent layout.
The Mercury throttles are mounted to the side and comfortable to use and the
windscreen appeared to be at a good height for looking through or over, depending
on how you drive.
A mock walnut dash has chrome-rimmed Faria gauges, there is a dedicated spot for
the 175mm Raymarine or other-brand nav screen, plus trim tab switches above the
wheel, a compass dead ahead, and auto-style switches with icons denoting their
SALOON STYLE A footwell adds headroom and two grab rails aid your passage
from the bridgedeck, through the sliding saloon door, to the companionway steps
leading down below.
The open plan interior is light, airy and upmarket. The cherrywood dinette is topped
with a high-gloss finish, while a matt finish is used for the surrounding cupboards.
White headliners and light fawn-coloured berber carpet increases the sense of
space. Headroom ranges from 180-190cm.
The Sunrunner's 12V switch panel is near the dinette, alongside a little TV recessed
into the liner not far from the boat's Clarion sound system.
The test boat's lounge was upholstered in a champagne-coloured leather, as was
the terrific two-person dressing lounge at the entrance to the aft cabin, under which
hides the boat's battery isolators.
Unlike some poky boats, the Sunrunner 3100's aft cabin has a nice big opening (to
port), a full-sized double bed with sitting room near the bedhead, three portholes or
hatches for fresh air, and a locker for a sailbag full of clothes.
I lay on the aft bed and could have easily grabbed 40 winks. Don't just think kids,
think about inviting couples, too.
Only curtains separate the living quarters, not bulkheads with doors, so privacy isn't
this boat's strength.
WEEKENDER AMENITIES The handy head to starboard, near the companionway,
is one big moulding. A chic oval door leads inside, where there is not quite full
headroom. Italian bathroom fittings, the moulded vanity and teak shower grill look
the goods.
There is a pull-out handheld shower and a curtain on tracks. While there is an
opening porthole, there is no extractor fan. But the loo is an electric number.
The galley has moulded blue benchtops with a deep circular sink, microwave oven,
two-burner Smev LPG stove, and a little 12V fridge with ice tray. Which is all you
need for a weekend on the water.
The builders should be commended for the joinery, with adequate cupboard space
at the galley and about the saloon, and I liked the colour-coded hot and cold
plumbing lines under the sink.
While the big circular hatch over the main double bed in the bow might be enough to
clear cooking odours, and there is an opening porthole right beside the galley, I
would still like to see an extractor fan here.
I spent a good few minutes relaxing on the master double bed, which is offset in the
bow. I measured room for me and my partner. The bed is flanked by opening
portholes, storage recesses, a mirror and reading lights. Two big storage holds hide
under the mattress for spare bedding, towels and suchlike.
AHOY THERE I also got a good look at this boat's engine room, which resides
beneath two lift-up hatches in the cockpit. For serious overhauls you can clip out the
lounge bases. As it was, I found plenty of room around the twin MerCruisers to do
daily checks and monitor the hot-water heater and batteries on the port side.
There is also room for a generator, though a few 150Amp batteries and an inverter
will provide all the power most people need for a weekend. Provisions, dive gear
and a deflated ducky could all be kept in the engine room, providing they were well
After finally sorting out the flat battery, the Sunrunner 3100 was free of its shackles.
It looked a picture cruising down the harbour, now drenched in that perfect goldhued afternoon light.
Despite a 20-25kt westerly breeze and lots of wind waves, the hull didn't ride like a
bag of bones. The 31-footer is smooth across the water, a good solid boat in which
you can cruise to nearby ports.
Twin V-eights, an upgrade over the standard 4.3ltr V-sixes, provide more than
enough sportiness to satisfy weekend warriors. Even though it didn't seem as
responsive to trim tabs as the 3400, the boat launches out of the hole to fast planing
At 4000rpm, the boat turned in a very nimble cruise of 35mph (according to the
speedo), while we managed to get 45mph at 5000rpm.
At full noise, floatiness became apparent in the westerly wind and the boat needed
to be driven. The steering had too much play in it (all those little captains turning the
wheel at Sydney Boat Show, immediately prior to our test run?).
Fitted with Bravo II legs, the sportscruiser was very responsive and there shouldn't
be too many troubles berthing it about a big city marina.
At the end of the day, I thought the new Sunrunner 3100 was a terrific cafe
cruiser/camper and a sophisticated entry-level big boat for those moving into the
ranks of weekenders afloat.
I never did find that massive Chilean ship, which was supposedly moored
somewhere in the harbour. On a day when duty called once again, I guess the 3100
was too much of a pleasurable distraction.
A flash Australian-made 31-footer with a world-class finish, first-class furnishings,
day-boating amenities, weekending features, style and comfort.
The boat will impress friends, mollycoddle families and challenge imports on most
fronts, inlcuding value.
No extractor fans in head or galley, no privacy screen over foredeck hatch.
No external access to the chain locker.
Light steering and floaty handling at high speeds on the test boat.
By David Lockwood September 2002