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The arrival of the first Bavaria Vision 42 on our shores confirms that the new-look cruisers are the real deal, reports Kevin Green.


The realisation that building to a strict price point may not pay off in the long run has made the German builder Bavaria change tack, and this new course is producing seriously good cruising boats – such as the Vision 42.

Similar to some of the French manufacturers, Bavaria sought inspiration for its new Vision range from expertise in the car industry, which resulted in last year’s 46 and now the Vision 42. Further styling was injected via the British Design Unlimited team enhancing the overall look of the Farr-penned hulls. The differences in the 42 (that I test sailed on the Gold Coast for this review) from the 40 Cruiser Sport I took up the coast last year are both apparent and subtle, so it’s no surprise that the first Vision 46 won European Yacht of the Year.

In terms of shape, some inspiration from the teardrop cabin looks to have come from competitor Jeanneau but nevertheless, when walking around both the 46 and 42 I felt plenty of originality pervading the air. For example, an innovative Trim Control system using Lewmar’s automatic self-tacking Revo winches is an Australian first and it can even be linked to the Garmin plotter. Further automation is available from Dock Control, Bavaria’s version of joystick manoeuvring.


For a dedicated cruising boat an enclosed cockpit is important and the Vision 46 wins plenty of favour with me as it has a high aft transom with deep, rounded coamings for seating backrests. The large swimplatform nicely closes the gap where you board (beneath it is a rubber-sealed hatch to the hull and the quadrant). Our test boat came with a tall sprayhood and bimini to create a weatherproof area allowing enjoyable alfresco dining around the cockpit table, which can be unfolded to become a sun lounger.

Sail controls comprise six jammers on the portside cabin top via a Lewmar Evo winch, while a large rope bin down by the main hatch tidies the tails nicely. The primaries were another set of Evos beside the twin binnacles and were electric versions. Usefully, there were a pair of jammers to hold the sheets that neatly emerged from gutters.

The recent OEM agreement with Garmin means the latter’s plotter, the GPS Map4008, and brightly lit GMI 10 instruments are embedded in the starboard binnacle along with the bowthruster buttons but annoyingly, engine controls remain at your ankles. The sturdy grabrails around the binnacle are welcome and were well-used during our bumpy sail test off Surfers.


Stepping down below — where traditional washboards on the main hatch with a flip-up sill do the job well — brings you to the stylish interior. The accommodation on the Vision 42 is two cabins only but has a choice of layouts, with the owner’s forepeak having either a vanity table or an en suite. Interestingly the second cabin in the port quarter can be two singles, or a double with infill cushions. This layout leaves the starboard quarter for equipment, which I feel is a good arrangement for a dedicated owner’s boat.

Up front, the owner’s berth uses the deep bow space to the maximum, so the bed is large with enormous headroom. There’s plenty of storage, comprising double shelves forward and twin wardrobes aft plus under-bed drawers as well. The acres of white trimming on the bulkheads may be rather glaring for some buyers and difficult to keep clean but it does create a bright space in conjunction with rectangular portlights and deckhatch.

In the saloon plenty of flexibility has been built-in with moveable benches and both tables can change position; although the dedicated navigator may take umbrage at no permanent chart station as this is created by a sliding panel in the portside bench. However, it still works as a useful navigation area with bulkhead space for the factory-fitted Garmin plotter and electrical control panel, plus space on the shelf above for the flatscreen TV which can be connected to the plotter or laptop with an SVGA cable for large-screen charting.

Opposite, the lounge has a foldout table and can be lowered electrically to convert into a daybed. The cream cloth cushioning matched the cream bulkhead trimming but as someone who dislikes polishing, I’d question the practicality of this decor preferring the alternative lightwood interior with dark trim. Much more hardwearing is the laminated flooring – a dark African hardwood named sipo is used – which is smoothly machined as is the joinery, showing a good attention to detail. My only gripe – and not just with Bavaria – are the unsealed ends on marine ply hull fittings.

Moving around at sea is helped by handrails on the roof and a vertical rail to guide you down the four steps from the main hatch, where a handily located power box is placed by the way. Interestingly, the hatch is offset to port and this means the engine access beneath the steps is also offset; so when you lift the steps only half an engine is revealed. This prompted me to look closely and to check and indeed confirm that all service points on the 29hp Volvo saildrive – impeller, oil, water and filter – are accessible. Only the fanbelt is partly obscured and requires the opening of the side access panel in the guest cabin.


Mealtimes are well taken care of in the U-shaped galley. There’s a double sink with two-burner stove and a large chest fridge with front-opening door that should take a slab of beer – the wine can go in the deep bilges to keep it at a stable temperature and there is
also a small rack for bottles as
well. Yet another plus for us caffeine addicts is a bulkhead recess for a capsule coffee machine. The locker space and soft-close drawers are good and are only let down slightly by rather flimsy latches, one of the few blemishes inside this boat.

For ablutions the bathroom has a separate shower vestibule with composite sink and practical floor mouldings. Tankage is on the small side at only 210lt freshwater and will curtail shower times. Also welcome are opening hatches and the manual head can be electrically operated. Opening aft from the shower is the starboard storage room. This can be converted into a workshop or simply left as a home for water toys, folding bicycles and spare sails.


On deck the Vision 42 is practically laid out with handholds and a wooden toerail to guide you forward, along narrow sidedecks that are clear with the shrouds outboard and the Selden jib track inboard on the saloon roof. Halyards are simply run along the roof – which is good for spotting any chaffing – and the flush Lewmar hatches nicely avoid trapping lazy sheets or crew feet. At the pulpit a single roller has rode running under the deck to the vertical Quick windlass with cable controls taking adequate care of anchoring.

The deck-stepped alloy Selden rig on our test boat came with the optional in-mast reefing – that worked well despite our windy test sail – and the long boom is controlled by a metal vang and two mainsheet blocks, without a track. It’s held up by double shrouds and a single-wire backstay, but I’d prefer larger chainplates and bottle screws all round.


The aesthetics of the Vision are an improvement on the Cruiser range – gone are the cramped, little portlights and clash of angular deck profile vying against the rounded hull. Both the 42 and 46 have large, elegant hull windows that blend nicely with the teardrop saloon, while the bow has some rake in contrast with the plumb stern that maximises the waterline.

Flouting convention, there are no hard chines and overall hull shape is fairly moderate with an average rocker helping handling. Inside are deep bilges with substantial bolts holding the cast iron keel to the GRP hull and a much sturdier rudder post than on pre-Farr models.


For sail setting on the Vision 42 you don’t have to leave the cockpit – my host for the day Tony Ross from distributor Ensign Ship Brokers pulled the mainsail outhaul as I steered upwind, then locking the mainsheet I unfurled the genoa to steer us along the narrow waterway behind South Stradbroke Island.

By this time in the afternoon the numbers on the depth gauge were looking very ordinary, so we bashed our way out the channel to meet a two-metre swell and gain some sea room and depth. Despite the wind gusting around 25kts I didn’t feel the need to shorten sail and yes we were over-pressed but not uncomfortably so. The high coamings and generally sheltered cockpit gave me plenty of confidence as did moving between the helms when tacking through lulls in the swells.

As we approached the entrance and bar for our return I did ponder about the hull speed of the 42 – I have a bad memory of this particular spot from the end of a tiring Gold Coast race. The ominous clouds scudding over the Glass House Mountains did nothing to lighten my mood, while we surfed towards the gap with the seas rising and their tops curling menacingly; yet they merely slapped against the tall transom. I was very glad of that.

The rudder felt deep enough to maintain plenty of control, even on top of a swell with the bow well down, and most importantly of all your writer didn’t get wet. So without any dramas the Vision 42 bowled through into the Broadwater, easily surviving a stormy day and I’d add, easily becoming a strong contender in the mid-size cruising boat market. Bavaria has done this by realising that to stay in the same playing field as Beneteau with their innovative Sense range, they have had to move very fast on their feet and just like their legendary German football team scored winning goals with the 46 and now the Vision 42.


Like the 42, the Vision 46 is a dedicated owner’s boat and is nearly identical to the smaller version, but obviously you get that extra waterline for greater mileage. There is a third cabin available in the starboard quarter but is small and access is restricted – through the shower compartment. In terms of potential performance there’s not much between them.

According to my calculations the smaller boat has a sail area to displacement ratio (SAD) of 19.53 while the relatively heavier Vision 46 has a SAD of 19.7, which puts both these boats in the light cruiser-racer category. This is confirmed by the ballast displacement ratio (28 per cent for the Vision 46 and 25 per cent for the Vision 42).

What was interesting about the Vision 46 I looked around in was its Trim Control system, an Australian first being fitted with Lewmar’s new range of Revo electrically-operated, back-winding winches. With the touch of a button the helmsman can trim the sails via a control panel which Bavaria has clearly marked. Push one button and the winch sheets in while the motor automatically switches between slow and fast gears according to the load-limit sensors. Simply push another button to electrically sheet-out (back wind) the winch, while the insertion of a winch handle automatically changes to a familiar two-speed manual operation.

The Revo will suit a wide variety of yachts as it’s available in sizes 40 to 65. According to Bavaria video tacking takes about eight seconds, while using only a single button.

The Bavaria Vision 46 has an RRP from $397,000.


Bavaria has produced a very capable cruising yacht in the Vision 42, carrying on the winning recipe from the earlier 46, with the main ingredients being a manageable sail plan, safe cockpit and versatile interior.




Comfort Pack (electric cockpit table, furnishings, window blinds and more), Smart Sailing Pack (furling mainsail, roller jib, sprayhood, and more), Navigation Pack (Garmin-fitted factory plotter and instrumentation), bowthruster, coffee maker, grey-coloured hull and teak trim



TYPE Keelboat

LENGTH 12.8m (overall); 12.5m (hull); 11.4m (waterline)

BEAM 4.05m

DRAFT 2.07m (standard); 1.62m (optional)

WEIGHT 9800kg (light ship); 3450kg (ballast)



FUEL 210lt

WATER 210lt


MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta D2-40

TYPE Saildrive



TOTAL AREA Sport 88m²; Comfort 86m²


Ensign Ship Brokers,

Shop 16 Mariners Cove,

60 Seaworld Drive,

Main Beach, QLD, 4217

Phone: (07) 5532 1122

Fax: (07) 5532 6395


Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #443, August/September 2013.

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