When you have a large, extended family of boaties, the best way to celebrate special occasions is on a comfy, spacious platform that accommodates everyone’s needs. The Leopard 43’s a sleek solution.
- Simple sail controls
- Great for short-handed sailing
- With all that volume and space, it's like living in an apartment
- Cockpit designed for relaxing and a large dollop of fun
It used to be that cruising in a yacht – compared to a launch – meant making compromises in terms of space. But the Bavaria C50 luxury cruiser turns that idea on its head, with more room down below than a small apartment.
This vessel’s from the drawing board of Italian firm Cossutti Yacht Design, moving away from earlier Farr Bavaria designs. The C50 is the mid-size model in the C range (there’s also a 45 and a 57), and it comes in three spec levels: Holiday, the luxury Style (as tested here) and a racier version, Ambition. Serendipity is the first of the new releases to hit the water here, and showcases the new beamy, high freeboard style of the range.
The Bavaria C50 is all about interior volume, with that generous beam and high topsides creating a huge area down below for relaxing and entertaining. The company describes the 50-footer as having ‘a touch of superyacht’ and reckons it has more than 75m² of cabin space, which would make it bigger than many studio apartments in Auckland. That space is spread across three double cabins, each with an en suite, and a roomy saloon.
The height of the topsides is certainly noticeable when you’re standing on the dock — there’s no jumping onto the side deck from the marina finger. Instead, access is via the large, fold-down boarding and swim platform which deploys off the transom at the touch of a button.
When extended it also gives access to the dinghy garage under the cockpit – it comfortably accommodates a 2.6m inflatable. If preferred, you can also access this space from above through the cockpit floor and use it for additional storage. An optional wet bar and barbecue can also be built into the transom.
It’s an easy step up and through from here into the large cockpit. Up here you’re well above the water, but there’s also an overwhelming sense of the boat’s five-metre beam. It creates a very large outdoor entertaining space. There’s a U-shaped seating area around a table on each side, and a generous space to walk through the middle – no danger of knocking over anyone’s drink.
And considering this is a yacht, the absence of ‘string’ in the cockpit is very welcome. The main and jib sheets run aft on both sides through covered channels in the deck, emerging near the pair of large Lewmar winches either side, adjacent to the wheels.
One of each of these pairs is electric for ease of hoisting halyards. These also run right back to a bank of clutches forward of the primaries. This means short-handed sailing is a breeze, with everything within easy reach of the helm station on each side.
There is no traveller: the continuous mainsheet leads through a pair of blocks on the cabintop forward of the dodger before going forward and splitting to run back each side. The jib is on a self-tacker (a first for Bavaria), though there are fore-and-aft tracks on the side decks if you wanted to run a larger jib.
On each side the wheel is set on a large pedestal hosting a large B&G screen for nav and other data. The throttle controls for the 80hp Yanmar diesel are positioned on the starboard pedestal, as are the controls for the bow thruster (an optional extra), which makes getting in and out of the marina berth easy – even on a breezy day.
Down below, that volume is really visible. The most notable aspect is the headroom; I’m 1.65m and can wave my arms in the air comfortably without coming close to touching the roof; the videographer, at close to 1.9m, also has ample clearance. The space is kept light and bright by overhead hatches, high, deck-level windows and, a little lower, through-hull windows.
This new generation of Bavarias has received a slight change of layout: rather than a longitudinal galley down one side, opposite the table, the C50 has a more traditional and Kiwi-friendly galley setup to port at the base of the stairs, with the U-shaped seating and table forward of it, and a settee opposite the table to starboard. Aft of the settee on this side is the nav station, with its B&G Naviop engine and electrics monitoring system – it acts as a digital switchboard.
The galley has a solid-surface benchtop, twin sinks, a top-loading in-bench freezer and a large drawer-style fridge-freezer under the bench. For cooking there’s a three-burner gas stove and a Bosch microwave.
Aft on each side is a large double cabin, with the high topsides again generating plenty of headroom even though these run back under the cockpit. The cabin to port has an en suite head; to starboard, the head is semi-en suite and doubles as a day head, and there is a shower for both guest cabins to share in a separate compartment.
Forward of the main saloon is the master suite with its huge double bed, shower room to port and head to starboard. There’s masses of headroom here too, and lots of light coming in from two big hatches above and through-hull windows.
The forecast for our sail is for light winds and sunshine but, as is frequently the case in Auckland in spring, it turns out to be a cold southerly with sudden showers. Still, it’s a good chance to hunker down behind the generous dodger, deploy the helm-station foot chocks and see how she goes.
This is only the yacht’s second outing under sail, after the owners’ maiden outing a few days earlier. They are based in Christchurch and Serendipity will live at Waikawa in the Marlborough Sounds, where their previous Bavaria was also based. Her owners will spend the summer cruising in the north before heading for her southern home in the new year.
We head out of the marina and hoist the mainsail, despite the grey, gusty conditions. The main furls out of the mast at the command of the electric primary winch, without anyone needing to leave the shelter of the cockpit. Likewise, the jib is unfurled remotely, and we are on our way.
The yacht has a solid Selden alloy boom and mast, with a split double hydraulic-adjusted backstay and two long pairs of swept spreaders. These lead the stays right out to the toe rail, keeping the side decks clear.
Serendipity is easy to handle even in the gusty stuff, firm yet responsive to the helm and easy to manoeuvre through the tacks (the sails pretty much take care of themselves). Sailing conservatively – it is a brand-new boat, after all – we are doing 8 knots in around 15 knots of breeze.
Reaching, Serendipity remains on a comfortable angle of heel, and the cabin’s low profile means there is plenty of visibility forward from the large wheels. It doesn’t quite get to that point, but we know that if we need to reef we can simply furl the luff of the main back into the mast at the touch of a button.
The Bavaria C50 will certainly provide her new owners with plenty of room to relax, both above and below decks. Sailing is simple with straightforward systems, and once everything is furled it’s out of sight and out of mind.
Then it’s time to sit back and pump up the volume./>