Competition is hot for high-volume cruisers, but have Bavaria built a boat that is fun to sail as well as spacious and affordable? Theo Stocker took her for a spin to find out
A job worth doing is worth doing properly, so the saying goes. There’s no doubt that Bavaria have committed wholeheartedly to the concept behind their new C38 and the result is a boat fully confident in its identity. That’s a good job, given the level of competition the C38 will be up against in the 37-38ft production cruiser market.
This boat aims to do three things: create the absolute maximum amount of space on deck and below from the available waterline length; be enjoyable and engaging to sail, if not a race boat; and give a potential buyer the maximum bang for their buck. In practice, the design has added significant volume in both the bow and the stern, introduced a deeper, rounder forefoot to reduce slamming, and has deepened the single rudder, which, coupled with the bow thruster, should give plenty of control in harbour and underway.
A first look at the boat reveals a few significant details. Firstly, her waterline takes up almost her entire length, with virtually no overhangs at the ends. Then there are the chines. This is only the second Bavaria to have hull chines, and they are used to take the significant beam, which is carried all the way aft, down to the water, creating more volume in the aft cabins, as well as providing power to the hull form. Next, there’s the huge bluff bow and vertical stem, again multiplying the volume in the forward cabin. Pretty it might not be, but there’s a certain purposeful muscularity to it.
Bavaria Yachts, the company, gained new owners in 2018, and they’ve been quick to make a fresh start, starting with a plan to update the entire range. Having moved from design house J&J to Cossutti Design, the C38 is the latest, smallest boat in the new lineup. The strongly chined hull shape makes a bold statement about that new direction. I was keen to see how this added up on the water.
If you looked at this yacht and thought the vast volume would make her a poor sailer, you would be mistaken. I was very pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had sailing her. The feel on the helm was direct, responsive and engaging; this boat is fun to sail. She wasn’t twitchy even when overpressed and gave plenty of warning before the rudder started to lose grip. This boat reminds you of why a single rudder makes sense, and is deep enough that she has plenty of grip even when heeled, which is the main reason wide-sterned boats have twin rudders. The benefits when handling in harbour are huge, given that manoeuvring and mooring is the most stressful part of any cruise for most owners.
Granted, the mainsheet purchase needs a bit of improvement, but if I were buying this boat, I’d go for the more easily handled furling main and self-tacking jib, with the Code Zero for the extra sail area to keep the boat moving off the wind. This would seem to fit with the ethos of simple and fun sailing that this boat ascribes to.
WOULD SHE SUIT YOU AND YOUR CREW?
I’d imagine this boat will prove popular with sailing schools and charter companies, but if you’re after maximum boat for your buck for family coastal cruising, this is definitely worth a look too.
The idea of having three king-sized beds on what is really a 36-foot hull is staggering. You’d have to weigh up whether you want an ensuite owner’s head enough to sacrifice some of this bed space in the forward cabin, but given the layout options, there seems little reason to go for the two-cabin rather than three-cabin layout. If you’re not using the third you could still use it for the stowage you’d be missing out on.
Given the price point of this boat, the quality of finish was really very good, and the resurrected Bavaria has upped its game several notches. Arguably, the C38 could now be the boat to beat in this size sector and you’ll struggle to get more new boat for your money than this.
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