BOAT TEST: BAVARIA SPORT 38 HARDTOP
A hardtop adds loads of classy glass to the Bavaria Sport 38, finds JOHN ZAMMIT
Lots of good things have come out of Germany over the years, including the printing press invented by Johannes Gutenberg way back in 1439. Arguably, that started the revolution in the dissemination of information to the masses. These days, information is available instantly, in printed form and at the press of a button or click of a mouse.
Hence the reason there is so much "sameness" about products these days. Take the sportscruiser market. At a distance it's sometimes hard to tell one brand from another. So when one manufacturer takes a bold leap in terms of styling, effectively moving away from the pack, it's both notable and refreshing. This is exactly what Bavaria has done!
In collaboration with BMW DesignworksUSA, the German boatbuilder has restyled its whole Sport range (28 to 46ft). We tested the Sport 38 back in Trade-a-Boat edition 407 last October and recently, we had the chance to do it all again. Only this time with a hardtop over the helm.
During that previous time in the boat, we were in the there was around a metre and a half of swell with a slight sea on top and I remember then how brilliantly she performed then. I remember saying at the time that it took me back to my ski boat days, lots of fun factor as we raced around twisting and turning to see if we could get some water over the bow, all to no avail. Well this time, while the sea conditions may have been slightly better, the result was much the same, good handling, a nice riding hull, predictable and with plenty of power, not unlike a high powered German luxury sportscar.
HEART OF GLASS
A striking feature of the hardtop is the amount of glass, a panoramic single-piece windscreen; the biggest I've seen on any sportscruiser and, for that matter, bigger than a lot of larger boats, too. Noticeable are slim side supports, no blind spots and large side windows, with an opening on the starboardside so the skipper can communicate with deck crew.
With so much glass, the helm deck is bathed in light. If you want a really open feel, slide back the concertina sunroof, which incidentally is spring loaded so it opens effortlessly by hand, and you've got open-top boating.
The single-level helm deck and cockpit make clever use of all the available space, with plenty of places to sit, relax and lounge about. To starboard, a wetbar with sink, optional electric griddle and an under-bench fridge/freezer means you don't need to go far for a cool drink or to prepare a casual lunch. Farther aft, a large sunlounge lifts to reveal storage and behind that is a huge swimplatform extending the length of the boat to almost 43 feet.
If it were me, I'd add railings around the swimplatform to make it another deck area. I could imagine this being the centre of activity on a warm, sunny day with family or guests onboard, anchored off a secluded beach, swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing - just what this boat was designed for.
The Sport 38 Hardtop has two cabins, a single head and surprisingly high headroom of 2.1m to be exact. In the saloon, there's comfortable seating around a table. The galley, opposite to starboard, is fitted out with the usual array of modern appliances. That means there's not much you need for a day, a weekend or even a week or more aboard.
Although Bavaria has made efficient and clever use of space, the fitout below decks is just a bit austere. All essentials are there and put together well but, for me, the surface materials and fabrics are a bit too practical. There's not a lot of the high-gloss and bling that we've come to expect in a modern sportscruiser. Then again, that's reflected in the pricing that will appeal to a large portion of the would-be boatowner market.
In terms of performance, there's nothing in question. The hardtop or anything going on below decks does little to dampen the thrill of driving this aptly named Sport 38HT with Volvo Penta 5.7GXi petrol V8s. Sporty is exactly how it performs.
For engineroom access, the aft deck section raises electrically. A step-down ladder is an option, but I think it should be standard. Once in, there's plenty of room, good access around both engines, room for a hot-water service, Westerbeke generator, batteries housed in ventilated boxes and the fuel tank forward to help with the boat's balance.
Two of the best things about the Bavaria Sport 38 Hardtop are its walkaround sidedecks and foredeck. The teak decking all the way round gives the boat a very chic, Mediterranean feel and a high bowrail with good handholds makes it easy to get to the foredeck. Here it's unencumbered, the anchor gear is set down in a well under a hatch, there's a walkthrough bow gate and even the deck hatch is flush. So no obstacles to worry about while entertaining.
The Sport 38HT is distinct and reminiscent of the BMW Five Series road car when it first came out - independent styling setting a trend that continues even today. Fitted with the hardtop, the Sport 38HT has an understated elegance and a sophisticated, purposeful look. And despite being a big-volume cruiser, it really performs.
(Facts & figures)
Bavaria Sport 38 Hardtop
The twin Volvo Penta petrol V8s produce plenty of power and torque to the Aquamatic duoprop sterndrives. Together, they slingshot you to a top speed of around 36kts and a 22kts cruise. This is also the first Bavaria in Australia to feature the new Volvo Penta Joystick docking system on sterndrives. It means precise handling at close quarters, even for novices.
PRICE AS TESTED
Joystick docking, teak cockpit sole and sidedecks, fridge in cockpit, cockpit electric barbecue, cockpit table and wetbar, camper covers, shower in head, electric toilet with holding tank, microwave, hot-water service, trim tabs, second service battery, battery charger, Westerbeke generator, Raymarine C90 GPS-chartplotter, and more
Refer to dealer for pricing options
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Volvo Penta 5.7GXi
TYPE: Fuel-injected petrol V8
RATED HP: 320 (each)
LENGTH OVERALL: 11.8m
DRAFT: 1.05m (leg down); 0.7m (leg up)
WEIGHT: 8500kg (dry)
Ensign Ship Brokers,
Suite 2, Smiths Marina, The Spit,
81 Parriwi Road,
Mosman, NSW, 2088
Phone: (02) 9960 2799
While there's not as much high-gloss as the competition, you get more boat for your buck and money in the back pocket for practical gear like electronics, a tender, a bottle of champagne and some lux bedding. There are also myriad internal colour combinations to make your Bavaria Sport 38HT unique. But the main features area clever use of space, practicality and German sports performance.
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