Bavaria Yachts 40

The first Bavaria 40 to enter New Zealand was launched at Westhaven in December. It's roomy, comfortable and quick, and if the dollar's recovery continues, chances are we'll be seeing a few more in New Zealand waters.

Bavaria Yachts 40
Bavaria Yachts 40

The Bavaria 40 is a relative newcomer to the range of yachts manufactured by the German production boatyard of the same name. Billed as a performance-cruiser, it's easy to sail and it sails well. And as one would expect from a boat designed for broad appeal, the layout's logical, pragmatic and functional.

Bavaria boats are distributed in New Zealand by International Marine Brokers who have had the agency for about two years. Though German-built, the boat's actually an amalgam of European technology. It was designed in Slovenia (J&J Design), uses Swedish spars (Selden) and Danish sails (Elvstrom). There's the Volvo-Perkins motor, Raytheon instrumentation and Harken winches.

Perhaps its Kiwi owners felt compelled to continue the international flavour - they've given the yacht an Italian name: Amalfi.

The boat's jointly-owned by Aucklanders Gray Ormsby and John Austin, and the name reflects their enchantment with Italy's Amalfi peninsula - an area they've visited regularly. Both have owned and sailed a string of boats and consequently knew exactly what they wanted in a new boat, and why. "We were tired of messing about in old boats and wanted a modern, low-maintenance boat with proven systems," says Gray. "A large, open cockpit conducive to entertaining was vital, and we particularly wanted to be able to walk through the cockpit, step over the stern and on to the jetty. We wanted comfort. But as redneck racers, we also wanted performance." The Bavaria 40, he says, fits the bill exactly.

As a stern-cockpit sloop, boarding Amalfi is an easy step from the jetty on to a set of moulded steps that flip down on to the transom, leaving a generous entrance into the cockpit. Flipped back up, the steps form part of the cockpit's aft coaming.

The cockpit is expansive and with two thwart seats behind the leather-covered helm, will seat eight comfortably. Bavaria has standardised on Raytheon instrumentation, and the helm station features an auto-pilot, depth sounder and chart plotter with a full-colour, high-definition screen.

A large knot-meter and wind speed/direction indicator are mounted on the cockpit's forward bulkhead. All of which makes navigating from the helm a breeze.

And to prevent anyone lurching into all this electronic wizardry during a heavy roll, there's sturdy grab rail around the top of the helm station. A fold-out table nestles against the front of the pedestal. Two spacious cockpit lockers (under the port and starboard seats) provide easy stowage for mooring lines and fenders.

Swimmers board the boat via a telescopic transom-mounted ladder and stand on the platform for rinsing with a conveniently-placed (hot and cold) shower. A really sensible feature is the diesel (and water) fill points mounted in the transom - no more unsightly diesel stains on the deck. Water and fuel tanks are mounted port and starboard, under the berths in the stern cabins, though there is also a deck-mounted fill point for a second water tank under the forepeak's V-berth.

The Bavaria 40's sail plan comprises a main, genoa and genniker, and short-handed sailing would be very easy. All halyards, sheets and tensioners lead back to two, self-tailing Harken winches on either side of the companionway. With the traveller mounted on the coach-roof forward of the companionway hatch, cockpit clutter is kept to a minimum.

The 7/8 rig features a deck-stepped mast that's a shade over 17m above the waterline. A loose-footed, fully-battened main is raised and dropped painlessly (and quietly) thanks to main track cars equipped with ball races.

There are two reefing points, each controlled by a single sheet that secures the tack and clew simultaneously. The Selden Furlex tidies the genoa away very smartly.

Amalfi floated high on its marks, something compounded no doubt by that fact that it was brand new and without any supplies or provisions. Even so, it has high freeboard and low profile cabin in keeping with current trends in cruising design. There is generous headroom below, even in the heads situated under the side decks.

All Bavaria boats are fitted with a mahogany interior, and for lovers of teak (or cherry or walnut or oak) - well - too bad. Mahogany's the only option because Bavaria's factory is set up to use this timber.

Despite the limitation on the timber choices, the Bavaria factory (as a production facility) offers a surprising degree of flexibility for customising boats. Apart from the obvious choices in upholstery, for example, boats like the Bavaria 40 can be built with two or three cabins (four or six berths). Buyers also have a choice between stern or center cockpit, and even on the depth of the keel. If the boat is destined for shallow anchorages, owners can opt for the 1.65m lead keel (with a modern lateral profile) rather than the 1.95m cast iron option fitted to Amalfi.

Amalfi is the three-cabin (six berth) version. It has two bathrooms - one for the forepeak (master) cabin and the other for the two aft (port and starboard) cabins. Only the aft head is hooked up to the holding tank.

Basins in both bathrooms are fitted with an extending tap for showering. The hot water is heated by the engine and stored in a 40 litre hot water cyclinder.

The Bavaria's cuisine centre is an integral part of the saloon. It's on the port side, runs the full length of the saloon (opposite the table and settee), and has a more-than-generous working surface. It's complemented by a 12-volt DC fridge-freezer (set into the counter top), a three-burner, gimbaled cooker/oven, twin sinks and counter-to-ceiling storage lockers.

Despite its relatively modest eight tonne displacement, the Bavaria 40 is powered by a 50hp Volvo Perkins that's married to a sail drive with a three-bladed folding propeller. Lifting the companionway stairs provides easy access to the front of the engine. Additional access is provided via quick-remove panels in the aft cabins - giving easy access to fuel and oil filters.

So how does the Barvaria 40 sail? Light and flukey winds on the Hauraki Gulf made it impossible to put Amalfi through its paces. The instruments weren't to be trusted because they still had to be calibrated. But every now and again on a close reach, when the wind climbed to about 12 knots, it provided a taste of what it could do. The Bavaria 40 accelerates quickly, and the helm's feather light (it's fitted with an elliptical rudder with forebalance). According to the GPS, we were creaming along at 6.5 knots.

The Bavaria 40 is a no-fuss boat and it offers easy sailing, roomy accommodation, low-maintenance and quick cleaning. Amalfi cost its owners $335,000, but with the New Zealand economy (and the dollar) at long last beginning to show signs of revival, it may become an even more affordable boat.


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