Germany’s Bavaria Yachts, not long ago the 800-pound gorilla of European boatbuilding, took a pummeling during the recession. For years its philosophy of strict engineering practices and budget control had seen its value-priced cruising boats flying off the factory floor. By 2007 the factory was cranking out nearly 3,500 boats a year to feed a seemingly insatiable, mainly European market.
That same year, private equity firm Bain Capital bought Bavaria for a reported 1.3 billion Euros—close to $2 billion—just before the luxury goods market went belly-up. You can guess the rest, and it wasn’t pretty. It ended with Bain unloading Bavaria last year for a reported 300 million Euros. Ouch. If you could ever bring yourself to feel sorry for a venture capitalist, that would have been the time.
Anyway, Bavaria was down, but far from out, and its R&D department was working overtime. Bavaria’s boats were looking dated next to the crisply styled new lines from Beneteau, Jeanneau and other Euro-yards, and something had to be done. Enter Bruce Farr, or at least his design team, who have collaborated with Bavaria and interior stylists Designworks USA on a new range of fast cruising boats. Their brief was to merge the Farr performance edge with Bavaria’s manufacturing efficiency and come up with a line of good-looking, well-sailing boats.
So far, there are five boats in the new Cruiser line—a 32, 36, 40, 45 and 55-footer. The 45 is a good example of where Farr’s thinking is at. Twin rudders, one of which will always be fully immersed, means the stern can be made broader and more powerful without the risk of losing control at large heel angles. A long waterline maximizes speed potential, and the fractional rig has a large mainsail and small jib that will be easy for a husband-and-wife crew to cope with. A beefy anchor roller-cum-sprit is an ideal place to set an A-sail on a furler or in a snuffer.
The charter market has influenced the layout belowdecks, where there is a choice of an owner’s version with a single large stateroom and ensuite heads forward of the saloon, or a four-cabin configuration.
There’s no doubt these new Cruisers look sharp, and the factory’s pricing looks as keen as ever: the Cruiser 36 sells in Europe for just 82,000 Euros ($103,000) before tax. The boats are getting good reviews on the other side of the pond and we hope it won’t be long before we see them in the U.S.A.
Bavaria Yachts, bavariayachts.com