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German boatbuilding giant Hanse has designed a clever cruiser for all corners of the globe. DAVID LOCKWOOD takes the reins of the new Fjord 40

Fjord 40 Cruiser


Michael Schmidt is a German boater, businessman and visionary on a mission to rule the Seven Seas. The 61-year-old opened his first brokerage more than 25 years ago in Hamburg. His boatyard Yactwerft Wedel was already known for building famous racing yachts, none more so than Rubin, which dominated and won the Admiral's Cup in the 1980s much to the chagrin of the English.

Not one to let an opportunity pass by, Schmidt turned to creating new-boat dealerships, representing Westerly yachts and then, on the back of the reunification of Germany in 1990, creating Hanse Yachts. Next, he purchased and evolved the prestigious Norwegian Fjord Motor Yacht brand, and then acquired the English Moody brand, thereby creating even greater distress for those patriotic Poms. This portfolio has recently been increased with the addition of Dehler Yachts.

Suffice it to say, on the world boating stage, this jolly German is a real force to be reckoned with. Not one to rest on his laurels, Schmidt employs free-thinking design teams to, well, think outside the square and go about inventing better ways of going boating. For jaded old sea dogs, such as yours truly, his boats tend to make you sit up and take notice.

The Fjord 40 Cruiser, the subject of this test, is a perfect example of where Schmidt is coming from and sailing to. The first of the exciting new concept cruisers in Australia (the factory was up to 12 at the time of writing) won this writer over with its refreshingly clever design and genuine innovation teamed with lines that borrow unashamedly from the Wally Yachts tender theme.




The revolution begins with Volvo Penta's pair of IPS 500s (370hp each) engines - upgraded from the standard IPS 450s - equipped with steerable drives, forward-facing propellers and fly-by-wire steering linked to a joystick. With these modest engines and efficient drives, Volvo Penta boasts 15 per cent better acceleration, 30 per cent better cruising range, and up to 50 per cent perceived lower noise and vibration levels than traditional shaft installations.

There are other tangible benefits of the IPS drives, namely, the intuitive docking device or joystick and the driver-friendliness of the helm. In fact, such is the ease of operation of the Fjord 40 Cruiser that it has been attracting interest across all levels, from ex-sailors who have grown tired of pulling the strings, to those coming out of sportscruiser, and even new blood to boating, we're told.

Engine access is excellent in a dedicated watertight space back aft, under the cockpit sole, thereby leading to hushed-running noise levels back in the cabin and internal helm. The utility room for the ancillary items is forward or under the saloon floor, with room remaining for storing long-term victuals.

Boating aficionados will recognise the Wally Yacht-like lines that instantly set this boat apart from the pack. The naval architects at Allseas Design also happen to be responsible for those über chic Wally tenders. They're also well known for creating some of the most gob-smackingly gorgeous motoryachts on the Med'.

Patrick Banfield leads the design team, while colleague Jim Wilshire from Western Australia is responsible for the running surface. The interior is from Mark Tucker from Design Unlimited. And the collaborative effort has proven to be a meeting of minds, both aesthetically and in respect of usability. Plenty of flowing, creative juices.

The hull is a fascinating object, looking somewhat like a yacht under power, but performing unlike anything else I have driven. It rides high and dry yet it didn't slam or pound during our bay test. The twin IPS 500s make for an efficient cruiser that is nimble around the dock. It also responds well to the trim tabs, so you can tweak the boat to suit head or following seas.




Off-beat design is one thing, but innovation that works is another. Above all else, it's the design execution that impresses on the Fjord 40 Cruiser. The concept was to create a crossover yacht, with contemporary finishes and one-level living. The result is a boatload of new ideas that work together as one, effectively redefining the whole powerboating experience. And it will get your creative juices flowing, too.

Outdoors, there's a reversible stern lounge for three, a trick pullout awning that shades the cockpit, fold-down steps that assist with access along the walkaround decks to the bow, a sunpad up front, and, get this, a retractable hydraulic anchor dispatch system with stainless steel sprit. Initially an $18,000 option, it's now built into the package price. Press a button and your anchor materialises from nowhere, ready to launch asunder.

Yet despite the innovation, the Fjord 40 Cruiser respects accepted seafaring traditions, with an abundance of hand, toe and bowrails when you trounce about the decks. While the cleats are trick popup types, they are big enough to secure a decent line. And while the boat looks svelte, the sense of freeboard and general seaworthiness are reassuring.

In fact, the boat pictured hereabouts has completed a 150nm run to Port Stephens and back, underscoring the fact the Fjord 40 Cruiser is more than an inshore weekender. Engage the autopilot and kick back at sea.

Future Fjord 40 Cruisers will have a new extended swim platform with, we're told, room to mount a deck chair or two. As it was, you'll find a hot/cold deck shower, swim ladder, and inviting portside gate leading into the teak cockpit, with clever integrated retractable awning of sail tracks. An electric mechanism is the only thing needed to make it even better.




The single-level cockpit and open-plan saloon living area meld imperceptibly thanks to a seamless teak deck and grill that does away with the usual step or track for what is a thoughtfully executed four-pane aluminium-framed sliding door.

Again, the big U-shaped lounge is reversible for making the most of the views back aft, while the portside galley opposite, which runs the length of the saloon, is ready to entertain. Abundant tempered glass and opening skylights ensure the saloon is bright and cheery, while curtains and hatches let you gain privacy back at the marina.

With its galley up - "you don't cook in your bedroom," said importers - the interior layout is reminiscent of a waterfront apartment. No matter where you sit you're always looking out at the ocean. The abundant cabinetry, mahogany (or optional light cherrywood), is mindful of your storage needs, with soft-close drawers. Amenities include wetbar, fridge and freezer, convection microwave oven, space for dishwasher, two-burner cooktop and deep recessed sink.

A 3000W inverter powers the microwave oven and entertainment system, while a Panda 6kW takes care of these things, as well as air-conditioning. Batteries are the AGM low-maintenance types, with a good spread of LED lights to reduce amperage demands. Looking about, a cockpit barbecue was about the only thing left wanting.




The accommodation plan of the Fjord 40 Cruiser spans two cabins, with the owner's stateroom in the bow enlivened by edgy built-in storage cabinets and twin hanging lockers, designer and abundant natural lighting, and cool soft furnishings in shades of charcoal. The trendy bathroom is reminiscent of what you might find in a European hotel, with stick shower, top-shelf Tecma toilet and hatch for fresh air.

The second cabin amidships has twin adult-sized single beds, which can be converted to a double, for the tag-along couple or crew. Headroom is a highpoint in the abovementioned stateroom and at the entrance to this second cabin. It remains to be seen, however, what the noise levels are like at rest with water playing on the hard chines.

But anchor down or stowed, the Fjord 40 Cruiser is designed to please. The trendy matt-grey helm, with demister and wipers, affords clear views as you advance the throttles and hightail it to an impressive top speed of 36kts, a high-speed cruise of 28kts, and a smooth everyday cruise of 24.5kts.

Underway, the swooping bow and big chines deliver a remarkably dry ride. Steering was predictable and, at speed, as is wont to be the case with IPS, it tends to Volvo-esque or too safe for me.

My only real criticism was the station-wagon effect. When cruising, spray was sucked back aboard and it was raining on the aft cockpit lounge. The answer is to retract the cockpit awning to break the vortex, although I'm told the Fjord design team are onto the problem and an extended swim platform will solve it. Some trifling finish issues are also now addressed, I'm, told.

Meantime, the Fjord 40 Cruiser embodies the ethos behind cutting-edge boat design. To invent, create, excite and do things better. Form follows function and, as Schmidt might say: "<I>Aus nichts wird nichts<I>." Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Encouraged by the success of the Fjord 40 Cruiser, the range will also include a 36 and 50 Cruiser by January. Prost. We'll drink to that.




Specifications- Fjord 40 Cruiser




Approx $900,000 w/ upgraded Volvo Penta IPS 500 engines, and options




Engine upgrade, generator and air-con, teak flooring throughout, Raymarine electronics, popup TV and DVD, soft-furnishing upgrades, extra refrigeration, and more




$799,000 w/ Volvo IPS 450s




Material: GRP fibreglass hull and composite sides and decks
Type: Hard-chine planing hull
Length overall: 12.69m
Hull length: 11.99m
Beam: 3.99m
Draft: Approx 0.65m
Weight: 8500kg (dry w/ std. motors)




Berths: 4 (+ 2 w/ optional pullout saloon berth)
Fuel: 1000lt
Water: 300lt




Make/model: Volvo IPS 500
Type: Six-cylinder electronic turbocharged diesel engine w/ common rail fuel injection and IPS drives
Rated HP: 370 at 3500rpm
Displacement: 5.5lt
Weight: 863kg
Gearboxes: IPS drive package
Props: Rear-facing duoprops




Windcraft Australia,
Suite 2, 1714 Pittwater Road,
Bayview, NSW, 2104
Phone: (02) 9979 1709
Website: See for interstate dealers


Find Fjord boats for sale.


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