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Bavaria 44.

THE DEFINITION OF THE CRUISER/RACER IS AS FLEXIBLE as a politician's backbone, And in order to accommodate boats of wildly varying specification, it must be.

At one end of the scale, towards the racer/cruiser extreme, is the Beneteau 40.7. Somewhere towards the cruising end of the range is this Bavaria 44.

In their publicity material, the Bavaria builders list this boat as a cruiser, but it is much more. The Beneteau and the Bavaria reflect the changing face of yacht racing and shifts in social attitudes. The boats' designers have conceded that many boat owners enjoy sailing with family and friends, and that the future of one aspect of yacht racing, at club level at least, is in racing on Saturday, cruising on Sunday.

Bavaria seems to have been particularly successful at cultivating this niche. The Bavaria 44 replaces the 42 in the Bavaria range. The range is imported by North South Yachting, based on Sydney's Pittwater. North South sold 26 42-footers, and believes the is a significantly better boat.

This success is not unrelated to the price. The Bavaria 44 offers a lot of boat for less than $400,000. In Europe it offers great value. The 44 has just gone on sale in the UK for 79,500 pounds sterling, pre-VAT (the UK equivalent of GST). Even with the Aussie dollar's appalling three to one exchange rate, the Bavaria is not only good value, it is downright cheap.

The Bavaria's configuration is uncomplicated. This is a moderate-displacement hull, at 9,600kg on a waterline of 11.45m, with a 1.65m-deep iron keel featuring a substantial bulb. The 1.95m-deep lead keel is an option.

The Bavaria has a large cockpit and clear decks. Former sailmaker Andrew Park, sales manager of North South Yachting, reckons the twin steering wheels were adopted for easy access to the transom area rather than for providing the perfect steering position.

The twin-spreader, nine-tenths rig features single lowers and fastens to chainplates tied into the keel grid by stainless-steel rods that are visible in the saloon.

The mast is not particularly high, so to gain sail area the No 1 has plenty of overlap. For easy handling on the Sunday cruise, electric primary winches are provided, operated by buttons on each of the steering pedestals. Electric winches are rapidly increasing in popularity; try them a few times and you will find them indispensable.

Two accommodation layouts are available. The three-cabin setup has the master stateroom in the bow and two double cabins aft. The four-cabin setup, presumably the one preferred for charter use, has a smaller cabin forward, sharing a bathroom with a small bunk-bed cab immediately aft. The boat we tried had three sleeping cabins.

The master cabin has an ensuite and features plenty of stowage, including a row of timber cupboards, mounted at chest height, on each side of the hull. These are effective because they are not too big -- you can put your books in one, valuables in another, spare underpants in the next.

The galley is set down the port side of the saloon, with the dinette to starboard. There's a double seat mounted longitudinally near the centre line, which provides some support for the cook when the boat is heeled to starboard.

Aft of the saloon is the second bathroom on the port side (let's call them bathrooms -- surely the term 'head' is no longer relevant) and a good navigation area to starboard. The double cabins aft are mirror-image with good stowage.

The cockpit is long, wide and comfortable, with good angles and depths on the coamings and cockpit sides. Andrew Park pulled up the main by hand on the coachroof-mounted winch, until it got heavy then led the halyard to the starboard primary winch and let the electric Harken finish the job.

Steering from the leeward position is bliss due to the clear view of the headsail and because if you want to fine trim the headsail you press the appropriate winch button on your steering pedestal and the work is done.

The Bavaria feels stiff, but with 3,000kg of ballast on the 9,600kg total displacement the ratio is a modest 31 per cent. In the light airs we saw 5.7 knots in 10.1 knots at 40 degrees, then eased sheets slightly and the Bavaria eased over six knots. The breeze built and the Bavaria built speed and the sense of power, but she was handled easily by two with the aid of the electric winches.

The Bavaria 44 feels quick enough to do well boat-for-boat in club fleets, for my money an important point because no matter how good your TCF is, it's no fun at the back of any fleet. It will certainly score points with the family because it is so easy to handle -- the skipper needs only one extra pair of hands to sail the boat. But the clincher is the price -- this is a lot of boat for the buck.
BAVARIA 44 SPECIFICATIONS

LOA 13.95m
Hull length 13.60m
LWL 11.45m
Beam 4.25m
Draught
 Standard 1.65m
 Optional 1.95m
Displacement 9,600kg
Ballast 3,000kg
Auxiliary 55hp Volvo diesel saildrive
Water 360 litres
Fuel 210 litres
Mainsail (furling) 36.70 square metres
Mainsail (battened) 42.20[m.sup.2]
Genoa 48[m.sup.2]
Price $389,000

TEST BOAT FROM:

North South Yachting The Quays Marina, 1,856 Pittwater Road, Church
Point NSW 2105 Tel: (02) 9979 3266
COPYRIGHT 2002 National Publications
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:racer/cruiser sailboat
Author:Tranter, Barry
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 1, 2002
Words:917
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