BOAT TEST: BAVARIA CRUISER 36 & 40

By: ALLAN WHITING

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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The latest additions to the redesigned Bavaria yacht range are the Cruiser 36 and Cruiser 40. ALLAN WHITING sets sail on Pittwater

BOAT TEST: BAVARIA CRUISER 36 & 40
Bavaria Cruiser 36 & 40

It would seem that yachtmakers now revise almost their entire range within a tight time frame: witness last year's Beneteau Oceanis and First revamp, Hanse's Five Series now being unveiled and Bavaria's completely new Cruiser range. Back in the olden days it was more common for new models to arrive one at a time.

The all-new, six-boat Bavaria Cruiser line-up features clean computer-screen shapes, penned by Farr Yacht Design, in conjunction with BMW Group DesignworksUSA and Bavaria's own design team. As befits a new-concept range there's no carry-over design legacy from the previous, somewhat outdated Bavarias. The Farr boys have neatly sidestepped the old Cruiser/Match pairing, with a balanced hull and rig that aims to suit cruisers and club racers alike.

The Cruiser 55 was the first release, followed by the 45 and the 32. Now the range has been further expanded with the launch of the 36 and 40 models.

The common threads that run through the new Cruiser range are modern Euro apartment-style interiors with a home-on-the-water feel about them, voluminous cockpits with drop-down transom/swimplatforms and coach houses with trademark reverse curve sides.

Within those themes each model has its own distinctive style, rather than being laid out with a combination of look-alike modules. For example, the new 36 can be ordered with a two- or three-cabin layout, both with single head/shower, L-shaped galley and walkthrough dinettes that have a large drop-side table, but the 40 is completely different below decks, with a three-cabin-only layout, two heads and a walkaround dinette with lengthways galley.

On top of that there's a Sport version of the 40 (see box), but not of the Cruiser 36.

 

 

CONSTRUCTION & EQUIPMENT


Given the unhappy Bavaria Match fragile-keel-attachment saga of a few years back, one of our inspection priorities was the keel area. A deep, strong-looking lattice FRP sub-frame hides under the cabin sole of the Farr-designed Cruiser boats and keel bolts pass through large backing plates. The new Bavarias have laminate-construction hulls and decks, but monolithic FRP below the waterlines and Kevlar reinforced bow sections.

Uniform-section Selden masts are used and in-mast furling is optional, but the Sport 40 has a tapered mast section.
The most obvious clue to the new Bavarias' dual-purpose, cruiser/racer role is the absence of an increasingly fashionable self-tacking headsail. A self-tacker is optional, but not ideal, according to the importers, North South Yachting. A slightly overlapping furling jib is sheeted via coachroof-mounted cars on inboard tracks, with the leech pulling up just short of the spreaders. A shortish J-length is effectively increased by long, swept-back spreaders. The shroud base is as wide as possible, with chainplates on the hull.

For easy performance additions cockpit coamings have Code 0 or spinnaker winch pads already inbuilt. There are also two foredeck pads that can mount a removable bowsprit, from which an asymmetric spinnaker can be flown. Our test Bavaria Cruiser 40 was fitted with this kit.

From huge drop-down swimplatforms of the 36 and 40 it's a small step up into the teak-faced cockpits. Access is easier on the 40, thanks to a twin-wheel layout, with a corridor between the pedestals. In the case of the 36 you can step up onto the cockpit seat to get around the wheel rim, or opt for a folding wheel, as supplied on the test boat. Side gates in the lifelines are optional.

The binnacle on the 36 mounts instruments, engine controls and an optional plotter, and serves as the aft mount for a drop-side cockpit table. On the 40 the slender steering pedestals are surmounted with a compass each, while instruments and optional chartplotter are mounted on the aft end of the free-standing cockpit table.

The global trend is to mid-boom, bridle mainsheet arrangements with two, fixed cabin-top blocks, feeding cabin-top or aft-cockpit mainsheet winches, and the new Bavarias feature this system. Safer gybing for cruising crews is one advantage over a traveller system. Another advantage of having no coach-house roof traveller is that the companionway hatch can be quite long, making cabin access generous. A spray dodger moulding is part of the coach house roof and a dodger is optional, as is a bimini that covers the helm position.

 

 

HEADING BELOW


Wood-framed acrylic glass cabin doors open to reveal broad companionway steps that feature turned-up ends and inset rubber grip-strips. The doors clip in the open position, solving the problem of where to stow a slide-in door.

The Cruiser 36 and 40 steps lift to reveal more of the Volvo Penta engines than most companionway hatches do - you can clamber in if you need to - and there are additional access panels in the aft cabins.

Saloon space is comfortable for six people in both boats, but eight can squeeze around the 40's dinette. An advantage of the 40 is that its dinette is offset, providing walkthrough access to the forward cabin and head without disturbing the diners.

The Cruiser 40 comes with a full-sized chart table and electrical nerve centre, as does the two-cabin 36 we tested. Three-cabin 36s have no such dedicated space, but the aft cushion of the settee pushes away and a table slides out from the bathroom bulkhead, forming an impromptu chart area. This boat layout looks ideal for charter work, so the loss of a chart area isn't likely to be a problem.

In the 36 an L-shaped galley is well-sized and boasts a deep sink with Corian infill panel and a two-burner, gimballed stove with oven. The fridge-freezer is a top-opener with Corian lid. The 40's lengthways galley has the same appliances and both boats feature drop-in Corian panels that cover the stove tops and the sinks when they're not in use: this makes for tidier entertaining areas and increases effective bench space. In lieu of traditional fiddles the bench tops have stainless steel rails that double as handholds. Clever.

Where FRP showed in the interior it was flawless and shiny, or moulded with strake-like grooves that mimic a wood-lined interior. Power-saving LEDs were used throughout.

 

 

BMW POLISH


Another nice BMW DesignworksUSA touch is the polished square-tube-section compression post fitted to the new Bavarias: this smaller post reflects its surroundings and so is far less intrusive. (In the Cruiser 45 and larger boats the compression post is hidden inside cupboards where it's not visible at all).

The Cruiser 36 and 40 can be delivered with recommended standard inclusions in an NSY Pack: shower with sump pump; hot-water system; 45amp/h battery charger; Rodkick boom vang; sail bag with lazy jacks; electric windlass; anchor with 50m of chain; teak-faced cockpit floor and seats; cockpit table; UV strip on jib; mooring kit; and, VHF radio with antenna.

 

 

 

SAIL PERFORMANCE

 

 

BAVARIA CRUISER 36


Pittwater turned on a splendid day for our test sail, with shifting variable breezes between eight and 15kts that kept the helmsperson focussed and showed how well the boats responded to wheel action.

We ventured out in the Bavaria Cruiser 36 first and we were impressed by the steering accuracy, while manoeuvring out of a tight berth. The wheel was light and the boat virtually self-steered under power with only finger pressure required. The boat could spin easily in its own length.

Making sail was simplicity itself, thanks to in-mast furling and a short-foot headsail that unwound quickly. The main sheeted to the cabin top and the headsail to coaming winches, so a single sheet hand easily managed both sets of lines. For shorthanded sailing the mainsheet can be led to one of the coaming winches and handled by the helmsperson.

Like many new cruising-boat designs the Bavarias have the traditional traveller replaced by a pair of cabin-top blocks, with the mainsheet led as a bridle between the widely spaced blocks and the boom. As the sheet is tightened the boom moves towards the boat centre line, with boom 'kick' controlled by a rod vang with tackle adjustment. For the degree of mainsail control required by cruisers and most club racers the arrangement works fine.

Not all in-mast furling mainsails are horrors and the Elvstrom designs on the latest Bavarias are actually quite good. Vertical battens ran nearly the full height of the sail and it was easy to spot the point at which carbon top sections joined the FRP lower material. The additional stiffness and light weight of the carbon top sections allowed considerable roach - almost as much as you'd get with a fully-battened slab-reefed main - but without the need for lazy jacks and a large sail bag on the boom.

Durability of the vertically-battened sail may be an issue, but only time will tell.

In keeping with the very definition of a 'Cruiser,' the Bavaria 36 was modestly canvassed, but the shapes of jib and main made it surprisingly close winded - around 40° true. Club racing with the standard sails wouldn't be out of the question, but there would be a performance boost from racing sails.

The trick with the in-mast furling main was to set the outhaul so that there was some created camber in the sail. Tensioning the outhaul in the traditional manner flattened the sail to the point where it had no upwind bite at all. A plus for in-mast furling - Selden prefers to call the rig 'infinitely reefing' - is that sail can be shortened fore and aft to balance nicely as the wind pipes up and the main can be set as flat as a board for gale-wind strength.

Off the wind, the Cruiser 36 Sticky picked up her skirts and gurgled along on a comfortable 7.5-knot reach. Square running without an optional kite was less spectacular, as we expected. The owner has taken delivery of a shiny new carbon spinnaker pole, so his plans are clear.

 

 

BAVARIA CRUISER 40


The 36's larger sibling 40 had a very similar deck layout to the smaller boat, with the most obvious change being twin wheels in the cockpit. The combination of a wheel on each side and a wider stern gave the helmsperson an excellent view of the jib. Comfy wooden folding seats made for an ideal steering station.

As with the 36 the 40 could be easily balanced with sail tension adjustment and its vertically battened main worked even better than the 36's, thanks to more sail height and a higher aspect ratio. Both boats have the same boom length, but the 40's rod vang is longer, more powerful and connects farther aft on the boom.

The taller rig on the 40 gave it more upwind height and speed than the 36: we saw 5.7kts in 10kts of breeze at around 40° true, which was a good half-knot better than the 36 managed.
The test boat was being trialled with an asymmetric spinnaker from an older, larger Bavaria, so we gave it a try during our test. The hoist was near perfect length, indicating just how much taller the new Bavaria rigs are in comparison with the previous generation boats.

The test 40 was fitted with a stubby telescopic bowsprit through which a tack line passed, making tack adjustment simple. The asymmetrical kit drew well enough to see speed climb above 8kts.

According to North South Yachting, the boys at Farr reckon the 40 has the optimum shape and dimensions for some serious racing development, which is why there's a Sport version of the 40 available.

 

 

BAVARIA SPORT 40


The Sport 40 version of the Cruiser 40 is reminiscent of the previous generation's Match models that had larger sail plans than the standard boats. There were some keel-attachment issues back then, but NSY has assured us that this will not be a problem in the Sport 40, which has much stronger under-floor framing and keel attachments than the older boats.

The Sport 40 tips the scales at a claimed 8140kg, compared with the Cruiser 40's 9000kg figure and has a 300mm-deeper keel that provides a better stability:ballast ratio.
 
The tapered mast is 500mm taller and the boom is longer and fitted with end-boom German sheeting via a cockpit traveller. Ball bearing genoa cars have cockpit line adjustment and regatta toerails and stanchions are fitted. Spinnaker gear is provided, along with a carbon pole. Six Lewmar Euro winches are provided and composite wheels operate Lewmar torque tube steering. Hydraulic backstay adjustment is standard.

An open transom is standard, but the drop-down swimplatform feature is available as an option. Below decks the dinette settee is removed, to allow easier sail bag transfer through the saloon.
The Bavaria Sport 40 is available from $272,247 ($294,950 with NSY's Sport Pack) which makes this race-ready yacht excellent value for money.

 

 

 

(Facts & figures)
BAVARIA CRUISER 36

 

 

AT THE HELM


Bavaria Yachts' new family has been expanded by the addition of the Cruiser 36 and 40 models in this popular length category. Both boats have easily handed sail plans, light, spacious interiors, large cockpits and huge swimplatforms. Performance is better than the previous generation's and pricing is keen.

 

 

PRICE AS TESTED


$254,831

 

 

OPTIONS FITTED


NSY Pack; Family Pack (amidships mooring cleats, spray dodger, bimini, in-mast furling, microwave and Raymarine tridata); tinted windows; sandwich laminate sails; winch upgrade; mattress upgrade; Ocean Line cabin floor; leather upholstery; acrylic glass-wood companionway doors; additional water tank; engine and folding propeller upgrade; additional battery; multimedia kit; wind gauge; barbecue and gas bayonet fitting; folding wheel; windlass remote; winch covers; and wheel and cockpit table cover

 

 

PRICED FROM


$196,380 ($222,686, inc. $26,306 NSY pack)

 

 

GENERAL


MATERIAL: Cored laminate hull and deck with solid FRP below the waterline and Kevlar-reinforced bow section
TYPE: Keelboat
LENGTH OVERALL: 11.3m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 9.9m
BEAM: 3.67m
DRAFT: 1.95m (standard); 1.63m (optional) iron keel
MAST HEIGHT: 16.95m
WEIGHT: 7000kg

 

 

CAPACITIES


BERTHS: Double forward and queen aft, or two doubles aft, plus two settee berths
FUEL: 150lt
WATER: 210lt

 

 

SAILS


MAIN: 42m²  
JIB: 27m²

 

 

ENGINE


MAKE/MODEL: Volvo Penta D1-20 (optional D1-30)
TYPE: Saildrive
RATED HP: 18 (optional 27)

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


North South Yachting,
The Quays Marina,
1856 Pittwater Road,
Church Point, NSW, 2105
Phone: (02) 9998 9600
Email: info@bavariayachts.com.au
Wesbite: www.bavariayachts.com.au

 

 

TRADEABOAT SAYS…


The new Bavaria Cruiser 36 offers two or three double-cabin layouts, with ample space for up to six people cruising. Cockpit space is generous and the swimplatform size is class leading. Sail handling is easy and the boat has good club racing potential.

 

 

 

(Facts & figures)
BAVARIA CRUISER 40

 

 

AT THE HELM


Cruising, weekending, family fun, club racing and passagemaking are all within the province of the Bavaria Cruiser 40. Value for money is excellent. Ginormous drop-down swimplatform extends already generous cockpit space and there's ample entertaining room above and below decks. The new hull and interior designs offer considerable performance and ergonomic advances over the previous generation of Bavarias.

 

 

PRICE AS TESTED


$314,448

 

 

OPTIONS FITTED


NSY Pack; Family Pack (spray dodger, bimini, in-mast furling, additional battery, ST70 tridata, amidships mooring cleats); engine upgrade; folding propeller; additional water tank; rail gates; ST70 wind; microwave; electric-flush toilet; light oak finish; sandwich laminate sails; mast and halyard bags; leather upholstery; multimedia kit; barbecue and gas bayonet fitting; and wheel covers.

 

 

PRICED FROM


$245,229 ($275,950 including $30,721 NSY pack)

 

 

GENERAL


MATERIAL: Cored laminate hull and deck with solid FRP below the waterline and Kevlar-reinforced bow section
TYPE: Keelboat
LENGTH OVERALL: 12.45m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 11.2m
BEAM: 3.99m
DRAFT: 2.05m (standard); 1.75m (optional shallow draft); 2.3m (Sport) iron keel
MAST HEIGHT: 18.68m (19.18m Sport)
WEIGHT: 9000kg (8140kg)

 

 

CAPACITIES


BERTHS: Double forward and two doubles aft, plus two settee berths
FUEL: 210lt
WATER: 210lt

 

 

SAILS


MAIN: 49m²  
JIB: 32m²

 

 

ENGINE


MAKE/MODEL: Volvo Penta D1-30 (optional D2-40)
TYPE: Saildrive
RATED HP: 27 (optional 38)

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


North South Yachting,
The Quays Marina,
1856 Pittwater Road,
Church Point, NSW, 2105
Phone: (02) 9998 9600
Email: info@bavariayachts.com.au
Website: www.bavariayachts.com.au

 

 

TRADEABOAT SAYS…


The new Bavaria Cruiser 40 is a three-cabin yacht, with ample space for up to six people cruising. Twin-wheel cockpit layout makes for a spacious entertaining area, supplemented by a class-leading swimplatform. Sail handling is easy and the boat has good club-racing potential. The Sport version is lighter, with a deeper keel and may prove to be a very competitive racer.


 

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