Massive bow sections create a huge amounts of space on board, and in theory, a powerful hull to give lively sailing. Theo Stocker sails the Bavaria C46 to see if the reality matches up

Product Overview


Bavaria C46 review: Space and performance


Price as reviewed:

£676,554.00 (As tested inc. VAT )

There’s no denying that the Bavaria C46 is a beast of a boat. Bluff bowed, big and powerful, she has more volume than almost any boat her size. In some ways, it’s no surprise as this is the direction boat design has been going for years, underlined by Bavaria’s motto of ‘Further and more’.

In the Bavaria C46, then, we’ve certainly got the ‘more’, but the question I was keen to answer when I headed down to Hamble one beautifully blustery autumn day was whether this boat also has the ‘further’. Has she sacrificed sailing ability for her size, or have Bavaria pulled off the trick of also making her a better sailing boat?

Alongside the continuing move to ever greater volume, there has been a more recent and more subtle shift in naval architecture – one that explains why bows are also getting fatter. It’s not just a grab for accommodation space, though they help of course, but a bluff bow also helps make a beamy boat more balanced to sail.

Much like the development of scow bows trickling down from development race classes such as Mini Transats and IMOCAs, ultra wide and flat-sectioned hulls offered steroid-boosted amounts of righting moment and power, allowing them to ditch a whole load of ballast. But if you don’t want your flying saucer to nose-dive, you need to inject some volume hormones up forward as well.

Twin composite wheels drive a single rudder. Photo: Paul Wyeth

As the hull heels, the canoe body remains more closely symmetrical, so requiring less rudder-power to keep the boat on the straight and narrow, where earlier designs became unbalanced wedges with a tendency to aerate their rudders and spin up into the wind. Funnily enough, the lines of Thames barges, Dutch skûtjes and Yankee catboats have long proven that powerful hulls don’t need to be narrow and pointy even for heavy displacements.

Best of both worlds

It is a convenient truth that the wide transoms and broad bow sections also lend themselves quite nicely to the high volumes demanded of cruising boats these days. D

Designers have found that you can, in many ways, have the best of both sailing performance and cruising comfort. The critical factor in a race boat is keeping the displacement light enough to let the boat get up on the plane. That’s not going to happen with an out-and-out cruiser, so I was keen to see if the hull concept still works on cruising boats.

The Bavaria C46 joins the Bavaria C38 and the Bavaria C42 as the second generation of C-line from Bavaria from Cossutti Yacht Design, distinguishable from the first generation (C45, C50, C57 and C65) by their bluff stems, beamier bows and hard hull chines up forward. The slick styling and angular coachroof and windows otherwise remain much the same.

There’s space for a table either side of the vast cockpit without taking away from the side decks. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Below decks, accommodation benefits from the extra space of the new hull shape. Remarkably, given many other builder’s rush to twin rudders, Bavaria have stuck with a single rudder, both for simplicity of construction (and with it, cost), as well as a more direct helming experience. One less visible element that has changed, however, is the ballast.

Our test Bavaria C46 had a ballast-displacement ratio of just 20%, compared to the C45’s 26%, losing half a tonne from the keel while adding almost a tonne to her displacement, all against an approximately similar sail area. Either Cossutti have got their sums very wrong, or this new hull shape really does makes a difference to the form stability of the boat.

I was pleased to find we would have a decent, if blustery breeze from the WNW blowing Force 4 to 5 for most of the day, as cumulus clouds scudded overhead, casting cool autumnal shadows amidst the stubbornly warm sunshine. It was hard to decide whether to wear a t-shirt and shorts, or full foulies.

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Clear of the shelter of Southampton Water and out in the Solent, we were hardening up onto the wind, beating in 15-21 knots of true wind (Force 4 to 5), with 18 to 25 knots across the deck. Under full canvas, we were soon sitting in the mid sixes, with 6.2-6.7 through the water at 30-35º to the apparent.

Steering from the twin composite wheels felt controlled and assured, even when deliberately overpressing the boat in the gusts. It was only under real duress that the boat began to round up to the wind, and slowly at that, giving plenty of warning that the mainsheet needed easing, which quickly returned the boat to a steady course.

In normal sailing, there was little weather helm, and the steering was precise and direct. My only gripe was that the rudder felt a little heavy, though whether this was due to the balance of the rudder, some other issue, or simply a fact of the boat’s 13 tonnes displacement, I wasn’t sure. She was otherwise without foible, responding obediently to the helm.

Tick the option and you’ll get a grill and a fridge under the aft helm seats. Photo: Paul Wyeth

With a bifurcated backstay and mechanical tensioner, it was pleasing to note that adjusting the backstay did make a difference to the feel on the helm, helping balance it and increasing forestay tension in the breeze – it’s a nice bit of control that you don’t get on backstayless rigs.

In the conditions we had, it felt like we had a good amount of power from the self-tacking jib and vertically battened Elvstrom furling main (slab reefing is standard). We even needed to tuck a furl into both sails as the wind crept up to a steady Force 5 true. Having tested the performance version of the C38 a couple of years ago, with its roached, fully battened slab-reef main, this furling main C46 actually felt like a better-balanced sail plan.

The larger performance main was just a bit too much for the deck gear on the C38, at least in windy conditions, and I found myself enjoying the ease of sailing on the C46 more.
The 4:1 mainsheet purchase uses blocks either side of the companionway, and there’s no traveller, which makes it harder to centre the boom sailing upwind, costing a few degrees of pointing.

A proper bridle here might be a better system, but at 35º to the apparent, few cruising sailors are going to lose any sleep over it.

A 106% genoa is an alternative to the self-tacking jib. Photo: Paul Wyeth

The deck layout benefits from the boat’s significant beam, with loads of space to move about and relax as well as sail. As with most twin-wheel boats, the helms are right aft and outboard, but still feel secure thanks to broad side decks taken all the way aft and generous transom seats, which house either more stowage, or a fridge and grill for use in harbour.

With no dinghy garage, I’d imagine the optional retractable dinghy davits will be popular, though fold down the bathing platform and you’ll find a cubby hole big enough for a folded up dinghy or paddleboard, and a built-in air compressor to blow it up. There’s further stowage in a plywood-lined lazarette between the helm seats, plus sole-depth lockers beneath the cockpit seats.

Simple sail handling

All lines, including sheets and halyards, are led aft to two powered winches outboard of the wheel, with push-button control next to the rope bins just aft of them (also home to a gas bottle locker either side). This makes singlehanding the boat extremely easy.

Lift-up foot chocks help the helm feel secure. Photo: Paul Wyeth

The only niggle is that it all gets rather busy for the helm if you’re steering, adjusting the main and the headsail at the same time, so it was easier for the helm to move to the other wheel while a crew member came behind the wheel to handle the lines. The only exception to this is the extra set of primary winches on the cockpit coamings if you opt for the 106% overlapping genoa.

All this leaves those in the cockpit to relax without having to lift so much as a finger, other than to sip their drinks. In fact, we didn’t pick up a winch handle for the whole test sail, and tacking with the self-tacking jib was effortless.

With L-shaped seats, there’s plenty of space to sit back, while split cockpit tables provide bracing for each side.

Aft of the rope bins is stowage for gas bottles on both sides. Photo: Paul Wyeth

The pedestals have been redesigned, giving space for 12in B&G plotters, as well as an electronic throttle, thruster controls and all the other modern gizmos like stereos and phone chargers. Best, though, was the side panel which housed an extra repeater and autopilot controls so you can still see the numbers when helming sitting down without needing to stand up. It’s clear Bavaria has worked hard to make the Bavaria C46 a more user-friendly boat.

Step over the low coamings and you’re onto the side decks inside deep moulded bulwarks. It wasn’t a rough edge exactly, as it was very neatly done, but I did wonder about the wide bonding join between deck and hull moulding atop the bulwarks – it would have been nice if this had been a little better hidden.

Otherwise, Selden deck gear was all of a decent size and spec, with coachroof-mounted genoa car tracks, grab rails from forward of the sprayhood to the shrouds, loads of opening hatches and a large single forepeak for fenders and offwind sails, through which you get access to the chain locker. The windlass is mounted on deck, with a control unit stowed inside the forepeak, and the anchor stows under the chunky moulded bowsprit with tack points for Code Zero and gennaker.

This level of space and comfort in a boat that is enjoyable to sail is a real achievement. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Construction is the tried-and-tested Bavaria method, with all laminates laid up by hand, a moulded keel grid bonded into the hull, and deck and hull bonded together. We didn’t have big seas, but things seemed quiet down below even when sailing hard, and it was also noticeable that the boat didn’t slam as it took on the wind-against-tide Solent chop.

Heading below, there is a ridiculous amount of space, allowing Bavaria to offer a large number of standard layout options of three, four or five cabins, sleeping up to 12 on board if you include the saloon.

Our test boat was the four-cabin version, each with its own ensuite heads, which will be popular with charter companies. The starboard aft heads can also be a Pullman bunk cabin for an extra two beds, or the port heads can become a utility space.

The large saloon is dominated by the C-shaped seating to starboard, a generous galley and the raised chart table. Photo: Paul Wyeth

In our layout, the forward cabin is split into two. They’re not huge cabins, but perfectly comfortable, especially as they are ensuite. Most owners will, however, probably go for the single cabin forwards, which gives a palatial amount of space with a massive island berth, and comes all the way aft to the mast support,with the option of split shower and toilet compartments.

Whatever you opt for, all berths are over 2m long and the narrowest is 147cm wide at the head end, even if they narrow towards the feet. Furthermore, there’s never less than 193cm of headroom throughout thanks to the high topsides. In the saloon, the C-shaped seating takes pride of place to starboard with a large single-piece dining table, around which you’ll easily fit eight or more for dinner. One neat touch was the sliding box seat which can be tucked under the table or pulled out, and can be secured for sea with a screw-knob at each end.

The galley is bestowed with a large drawer fridge as well as top-opening fridge/freezer. Overhead lockers provide lots of stowage and there’s an air filter above the hob. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Light and airy spaces

To port, Bavaria have gone back to a proper chart table (huzzah!), raised above the level of the galley for imperious views and loads of space, while the galley is a large L-shaped arrangement forwards. You’ll want a bum-strap if cooking underway as there’s nothing to brace against on port tack, but in harbour you’ve got all the creature comforts of massive fridges, lots of stowage, including a fiddled shelf outboard of the work surface, and even a cooking fumes filter (not a full extractor), which folds out above the hob.

With multiple opening hatches, big coachroof windows and four hull windows along each side of the boat, there’s no shortage of light or air below. Bavaria have worked hard to raise the level of finish on this boat, and while many of the features are on the options list, leather covers for stainless steel handrails, fabric bulkhead detailing, and proper hull and deckhead linings all make this boat feel more luxurious.

In the single forward cabin version, a huge island double takes pride of place and the door bulkhead goes aft to the mast support. Photo: Paul Wyeth

There are grab holds where you need them on the whole, including at the companionaway, on the inboard end of the galley, and a central grab rail along the deckhead to help traverse open spaces when underway. Solid wood edges and corners have been used on all the joinery, which will help protect veneers from knocks and bumps in years to come.

There’s oodles of stowage below the seating in the saloon, in the bench seat and in overhead lockers on either side. Tankage is reasonable too, with up to nearly 800 litres of water (554 litres is standard) and 245 litres of fuel – more than enough to keep the Yanmar 50hp (or optional 80hp) ticking along nicely for a while. Of course, if you run the generator or air-conditioning, which this boat is fitted with, you’ll get through it slightly quicker, but there’s plenty of water for showers for everyone.

Access to the engine is pretty good, though with the genset on this boat mounted on a steel frame above the engine, things in the engine compartment are fairly cosy.


Bavaria have done a good job with this boat. The concept of high-volume, extra comfortable cruising platform works well, and the C46 has the muscle to back up the volume. The finishing touches on our test boat made this feel like a place you’d enjoy spending time. When I was poking around on board I was impressed with the quality and level of finish to which this boat was put together. You’d hope so, given that you can easily spend well over half a million pounds by the time you’ve finished with the options list, though for a standard UK spec you’ll be about on par with a Dehler 46SQ and Hanse 460 for price.


LOA:14.50m / 47ft 7in
Hull length:13.95m / 45ft 9in
LWL:13.32m / 43ft 8in
Beam:4.70m / 15ft 5in
Draught:2.30m / 7ft 7in
Shoal draught:1.75m / 5ft 7in
Displacement:12,730kg / 28065 lbs
Ballast:2,575kg / 5,677lbs
Ballast/ Displacement:20.2%
Sail area (furling main, self tacking jib):111.5 m² / 1,200 sq ft
Sail area (standard main and genoa):122.4m² / 1,318 sq ft
SA/D Ratio:20.8
Fuel tank:244L / 54 gal
Water tank:554L / 122 gal (optional 798L / 176 gal)
Engine:57hp (80hp option)
RCD Category:A
Price (standard UK sailaway):£565,966 inc VAT
Designer:Cossutti Yacht Design
Builder:Bavaria Yachts