This production 45-footer offers huge volumes of living space from a starting price around £125,000. Toby Hodges finds out just how much much boat you you get for your bucks with the Bavaria Cruiser 45
Bavaria is back with a bang. Their collaboration with Farr Yacht Design and Designworks USA has proved to be a dream in terms of sales figures so there are naturally high hopes for the Bavaria Cruiser 45.
The Cruiser 32 has sold a staggering 300 since her launch last September and 60 of the 45s have already been shifted since her debut in Düsseldorf in January.
There is also a 55 and a new 40; a 36 follows this autumn.
The fold-down transom/bathing platform and twin rudder combos have been particularly successful and the Bavaria Cruiser 45 seems to deliver as many benefits as the 55 in an arguably more tempting package.
With a Force 4, gusting 5 briefly at times, and a 1.5-2m swell in Palma Bay, we had ideal testing conditions.
Upwind we were into early 7 knot speeds at 40-45° to the true wind. What the Bavaria Cruiser 45 lacks in feel and response, she makes up for in seakindliness.
I was pleasantly surprised by her motion through the swell and she kept consistent speed without slamming. This was very noticeable down below at heel.
On Bavarias of old things creaked, groaned and banged, but since Farr took over the design work, greater focus has been placed on strength – from laminating bulkheads to the hull and deck to fitting abundant sturdy handholds, and it’s certainly a lot more reassuring.
We cracked off 30° (70-80° true) to reach across the swell at commendable passagemaking speeds of 8.5 knots in 15.
The sails had been specified by the yacht’s Swiss lady owner, who planned to go bluewater sailing, and comprised an in-mast, vertical-battened main, with 107 per cent jib, though a self-tacking option is available.
Sailing the Bavaria Cruiser 45
Rather than the standard Dacron, these had Elvström’s Epex membrane, a modified aramid fibre.
The battens in the main gave it impressive roach and shape for an in-mast sail, aided by good luff tension from the Selden mast profile.
Had we had one on board, an asymmetric would have made friends with the swell.
As it was, our efforts at goose-winging quickly became uncomfortable, producing 6 knots in 12 knots of wind, and we settled instead for some long, lazy reaches for offwind work, making 8 knots at 130° true.
Despite using a steel-link system, the steering didn’t feel direct, but the dual rudders provide good tracking, and an improvement in rudder angle over the original design for the 55 proved noticeable.
That flat, low coachroof makes for clear views forward and the helmsman has easy side deck access and lift-up sole plates for good standing security.
The split backstay set-up, however, restricts seated comfort in the after quarters of the cockpit.
Under engine, she behaved obediently for a twin-rudder set-up, making 6.8 knots at 2,000rpm with her upgraded 75hp motor.
On balance, an enjoyable boat to sail, though slightly lacking in response, but easy to handle with creditable performance.
Make your way down the narrow, steep companionway and what greets you is not that visually exciting. But you’ll soon appreciate what these new Cruisers offer in abundance – space.
It has to be seen to be believed. Headroom is key – a pro basketball player would be quite content in any of the cabins.
The luxury of having an en-suite heads for each cabin is unique at this size too – this will be greatly appreciated on charter.
The test boat’s interior was done in mahogany, but light oak and walnut veneers are also available. However, the large surface areas of bulwark panels make for a rather monotonous appearance.
Ten colour schemes are available for the upholstery – we had the white leather option.
Like the Impression 444, the small windows, hatches and ports combine well to encourage natural light, but unlike her rival, the Cruiser’s sole is convenient on one level.
Build for the future
Design by Farr and BMW Designworks USA does not come cheap and demonstrates the investment Elan have made in this model.
Build cost will have increased with all those flush hatches and windows.
The laminating process is also a lot more detailed, with greater reinforcement and new tray moulds for structural stiffness, encapsulating the keel top.
But Bavaria still manage to keep the end price down.
On deck of the Bavaria Cruiser 45
- A useful aluminium toerail, large cleats and double bow roller, plus a proper sail locker with steps/ladder.
- The helmsman’s seat to starboard lifts to expose the engine controls. The overdrive facility provided by the optional Gori prop meant that she could rack up good speed.
- The main part of the transom lowers electronically to provide a huge swim/bathing platform, which is a true selling point of this boat.
- Multiple windows equal a light and airy (huge) interior, helped by exaggerated freeboard.
- The large table is superb for bracing against and, while the coamings are a little low, it’s a comfortable spot under the sprayhood looking aft.
- Cockpit stowage is impressive – you could fit a deflated tender in any of the three large lockers (the central one under the sole is particularly capacious)
Below deck on the Bavaria Cruiser 45
The saloon is a no-frills zone, even in optional leather fit-out.
The uninspiring table could fit eight at a squeeze, there’s little practical stowage and the aft-facing chart table area is bland.
Losing a dedicated navigation area to the heads on this size of boat speaks volumes about its market.
Linear galleys have their critics.
They can be less secure and practical at heel, but with an L-shaped aft end and sturdy bracing against the saloon seat, this arrangement works well, boosting the open-plan format.
The 140lt front-opening, forward-facing fridge combines with a large lift-top unit.
There’s an abundance of flush worktop area, but only a two-burner stove (with limited room to gimbal) and, despite three pan cupboards below, again useful stowage is limited, with just four small raised lockers and one drawer.
For once these are not cramped for space and you can turn around, touch the ground, practise yoga, or whatever you like.
Headroom is a lofty 6ft 10in and the double berth is generous.
There’s excellent machinery space and good engine access between cabins, but elsewhere locker space is wanting.
The en-suites are light and roomy and a pleasure for both cabins to have their own, where a 6ft 3in person can stand upright under the shower.
The sink and stowage are a little small and rather plastic.
What could be described as a ‘hallway’ separates a seated shower room to port and the heads to starboard – a practical layout.
Forward of this can be the grand master cabin we had on the test boat, or optional twin doubles.
The berth is big enough to sleep a couple athwartships as well as fore and aft, with side shelves providing support to lean against, but again the open layout seems a little bland.
Headroom is 6ft 8in and while there’s plenty of space beneath the bed, stowage elsewhere is poor.
It’s one thing to produce a lot of boat for your buck. And the Bavaria Cruiser 45 is a serious amount of boat. But it’s another to design it well inside and out, to build it to an acceptable standard and above all, to make it sail satisfactorily.
So on all counts bravo to Bavaria. I hold my hand up; I really didn’t take to their old cruiser line. For me they looked cheap, with limited positives. But I’m impressed with this boat. It sails well, it seems to be well-built and well-designed, but above all provides acres of space.
A relative lack of stowage in all cabins is a blemish, and not having a dedicated navigator’s seat on a 45-footer is something that would alarm many.
But these may not be trends that would worry the Bavaria Cruiser 45’s target customer.
The single-level living area is a merger of three areas (galley, saloon, nav area) which will arguably make the less salty types feel at home.
And once you’ve experienced en-suite heads in all cabins, there’s just no going back!
First published in the October 2010 issue of YW.