Why are so many cruisers faster than the SF 3200? Is the race only upwind or the SF sailed shorthanded?
That is an interesting question that has to do with that post about hull shapes.
No I am quite sure that the boat is not being sailed short handed. That is a well know boat and crew, a very good one. Look at them at the last Giraglia:
In fact the boat (as I have said) it is making a hell of a race being in 6th in compensated time in a race that has 82 boats, many of them with top crews. This means that the boat is been sailed very close to its rating (0.989) that is a very high one for a 32ft boat.
No, this is a very typical Med race with wind from all quadrants. The only difference to the Atlantic shores is the type of waves that here have a more short period, are smaller but more steep.
That SF3200 was designed specifically for the Transquadra (Transat) and in there you would not find a wide variety the winds, like on this race, but trade winds, almost all the time downwind and from medium to strong winds. You can have for days constant winds between 15 and 25K. On those conditions the Sunfast 32 can go very fast at planning speeds but those conditions are "normal" only there, on most other places they are not that usual. If you get 25K downwind you will have also 25K upwind and normally on other places the winds are not that strong and probably you will have more weak winds than strong or medium winds.
The fact that the Sunfast 32, being designed with a Transat in mind, can do so well in IRC says very well regarding the boat and the designer itself.
On the Transquadra (a solo or duo race) between boats designed expressly for it there are also some main market performance racers namely the Grand Soleil 37, that is a boat with a rating not very different (1.038). On the Transquadra it does well but it is not a match for the SF32 but here, with more "normal" conditions, on a boat not as well sailed (14th on compensated) on the Stromboli control point the Grand Soleil 37 was 45m ahead.
The size of the LWL and therefore the size of a sailboat is a very important factor in what regards speed (except in planning speeds or very light winds) so it is not amazing bigger fast performance cruisers to be faster than the SF 32. If you look at the smaller boats you will see that a Dufour 34p (18th in compensated) is 33m slower and if you look at the ratings you will see that both boats have about the same speed potential on "normal conditions" (the SF a bit faster) but on a Transat the SF will fly away.