Bavaria's Cruiser 32, 36, 40, and 45: A German-American Alliance
Under new management, Bavaria USA introduces a quartet of Farr-designed yachts.
Sailing a boat with one of the yacht designers who created it is always an interesting experience, especially when he or she is doing so for the very first time. Such was the case last summer on the Severn River off Annapolis, Maryland, when Jim Schmicker, a senior naval architect at Farr Yacht Design—and a key member of the team responsible for the new Bavaria Cruiser line of sailboats ranging from 32 to 55 feet—stepped behind one of the twin wheels of the Cruiser 45.
As we motored up the river, noting the dual rudders employed in the 45, Schmicker said, “Under power, you don’t have that immediate flow of water over the rudder that you’d have with a single, conventional propeller-and-rudder configuration, so there’s not as much directional control.” That said, once the laminar flow was established, the yacht handled well under sail and power. At maneuvering speeds, the bow thruster later made for easy docking.
“And the twin rudders allow fuller sections forward,” Schmicker added, “and one of the driving forces on this model was accommodating the two double-cabin option in the bow, which resulted in a fullness in the upper topsides forward. A single rudder on this hull shape would be a disaster, as the beam is carried well aft. As designers, our job is to make the volume work accordingly so you still have a boat that sails well, with a lot of interior space and a big cockpit.” For the record, a single forward stateroom is also available.
The Bavaria Cruiser 45 is laid out with twin wheels and dual rudders, which translate to exceptional handling and maneuverability, especially when sailing upwind.
Moments later, after unfurling the standard stowaway Seldén main and 100-percent jib, despite the fact that the northwest breeze hovered around a mere 6 knots, Schmicker smiled as he feathered the boat assuredly to weather, and the knotmeter steadily ascended to almost 5 knots, an impressive figure given the light air. Clearly, as a designer, he was pleased with the overall result.
It’s a coincidence that both Farr Yacht Design and Bavaria USA—under the direction of a new management team including entrepreneur Kenny Feld; Andrew Thompson, who, along with Sylvia Driver, established a strong relationship with Bavaria in their ongoing roles as directors of Horizon Yacht Charters in the Caribbean; and industry veteran Geoff McCord, formerly of Beneteau USA—are both headquartered in Annapolis. Farr became involved with the high-volume German production builder several years ago as it was contemplating launching a new line.
Farr was first commissioned to design the Cruiser 55, followed by the 32-footer, and then the other four boats in the series (including the most recent design in the lineup, the Cruiser 50). In June, from the company’s handy docks at Yacht Haven, we sailed the first shipment of new imports: the Cruiser 32, 36, 40, and 45 (only the latter of which has twin rudders, though the 40 has dual wheels). Bavaria USA’s ambitious business plan calls for future bases in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region, and the West Coast. Owners may also elect to charter out their boats through Horizon, and even undertake seasonal migrations back and forth between Chesapeake Bay and the Caribbean, as Horizon is a sponsor of the Caribbean 1500 and Atlantic Cup.
While each respective model has its own distinctive features, there are numerous characteristics that are shared across the line. Thanks to the collaborative efforts between Farr and BMW Group DesignworksUSA—a subsidiary of the automotive BMW Group specializing in industrial design—there’s a distinctive look and feel to the entire Cruiser range, particularly with the low-profile coach roofs and recessed, integral dodger molds; the wide beams, carried well aft; the stem rakes; and the transom angles and treatments. All the boats are available with numerous wood options (combinations of mahogany, oak, and walnut) for the floors and joinery work, and there are 11 different upholstery fabrics from which to choose, providing a high degree of owner customization that is unusual in production boatbuilding.
“We’re responsible for all the naval architecture, the hull and structural design, the appendage design, rig sizing, and the basic concept of putting those things together,” said Schmicker. “We’re more technically marine oriented than Designworks. They use different tools and come at it from a styling side and an artistic side with respect to the interior, the accommodations, and the deck details that make it easy to get around the boat.” In addressing the final point, all the Cruisers are equipped with flush hatches, coachroof-mounted genoa leads (facilitated by nonoverlapping working headsails), aft-led running rigging, and wide spreader bases, which translate to easily negotiated side decks.
In addition, all have deck-stepped masts; generous, transom-wide drop-down swim/boarding platforms; and are offered in shoal- or deep-keel versions. Farr Yacht Design’s goal is creating stiff boats, and the internal policy, incorporated in the Cruiser line, is to never produce a yacht with an angle of vanishing stability that exceeds 115 degrees.
The Cruisers are all built to exacting Germanishcher Lloyd certification standards, with Coremat incorporated in the otherwise solid laminate in sections of the hull below the waterline as well as in the internal grid and some of the liners, and Airex PVC rigid foam core sandwiched in the deck and topsides. Remarkably, the time between placing a new order and taking delivery in Annapolis is under three months. “Standard” U.S. boats come with a long list of items, such as the aforementioned furling mainsail, showers in the heads, hot water, electric windlasses, and other features that are optional extras on yachts destined for European markets.
Finally, as we discovered during our tests of the boats—not surprisingly, considering Farr Yacht Design’s pedigree of highly successful inshore and offshore raceboats—they indeed sail very well.