- Twin helms
- Aft-swept spreaders, Selden mast
- Comfortable and easy to sail
- Excellent engine access
- Spacious cockpit
- Available in two or three-cabin versions
- Shallower keel option available
- Saloon table might hinder traffic
- Contemporary interior styling
New Zealand’s first Bavaria Cruiser 41, Red Baron, is the latest addition to the German builder’s stable. It is a spacious, comfortable yacht with a decent turn of speed. Thanks to remodelling, she’s also sleeker than her 40-foot predecessor.
The Bavaria Cruiser 41, released earlier this year, completes the transformation of Bavaria’s Cruiser line-up – a process that’s seen the entire fleet progressively upgraded and expanded. The earlier lineage comprised the 36, 40, 40S, 45 and 50; the new range comprises the 33, 37, 41, 41S, 46, 51 and 56.
The boat reviewed here belongs to Auckland’s Thomas Baron. No, there’s no aristocratic heritage – not that he knows of anyway – but he is German. And while the vessel’s name feels right, he insists he’s a cruising, family man and won’t be trying to emulate the WW1 flying ace’s antics in the new boat.
The Cruiser 41, he says, delivers a perfect match for his cruising with his wife Emily and two young sons. The older son, Alex, aged 11, is a passionate sailor who has participated in the Optimist Nationals. During our boat review, he was our helmsman for most of the day – and without wanting to disparage his skills, it underscores the ease of sailing this Bavaria. Not quite child’s-play, but not far off it.
Like her siblings, the Cruiser 41 is from the drawing board of Farr Yacht Design (USA), with the interior by Design Unlimited (UK). In many ways she’s a copy of the old 40, including being built on an identical hull.
The major difference is a flatter coachroof. The new boat carries shallower but longer side windows and, with the flush-mounted deck hatches, the overall profile is much sleeker. Interestingly, the lower coachroof doesn’t compromise headroom; it’s still a lofty 1.94m in the saloon.
That streamlined profile is enhanced by performance-oriented fixtures and fittings. They include the plumb bow, the aft-swept spreaders on the 18.6m Selden deck-stepped mast and the twin helms mounted on pedestals, which are rakishly angled inboard. In addition, the jib tracks are set well inboard, being mounted on the coachroof rather than the side decks.
Their position keeps the sidedecks clear and accentuates the vessel’s open spaces, and optimises upwind angles.
I particularly like the way the backstay is split. The split is fairly high up the configuration so the backstays are clear of the helmsman. On boats where the backstay split is lower, helmsmen have to duck under the stays, which is irritating. The port split of the backstay is fitted with a hand-crank system for tweaking mast-bend and upwind/downwind performance.
Despite these performance indicators, the Cruiser 41 remains a comfortable, easy-to-sail family cruiser with expansive spaces for relaxing and entertaining. As is pretty much standard on European production boats, all the sheets and other lines lead back to the cockpit to facilitate short-handed sailing, and the German mainsheet system allows trimming from either side.
While Baron insists he’s a relaxed kind of chap, he’s equipped Red Baron with a gennaker – a sensible move considering the Cruiser 41’s standard rig accommodates a relatively modest sail plan of 82m2, being the fully-battened main and 106% jib. Adding the big foresail has required two secondary Lewmar winches mounted on the cockpit coaming. They are within easy reach of the helmsman, so trimming the gennaker is simple.
Thanks to her generous, 3.96m beam which extends a long way aft, the Cruiser 41 boasts a spacious cockpit. It’s dominated by a large table with collapsible side leaves. While the table might have proved a slight hindrance to traffic to and from the excellent fold-down transom, the generous beam allows good access.
A large Garmin 4208 chart-plotter mounted on the aft end of table keeps it out of harm’s way. Plenty of teak maintains the cockpit’s classic feel, and there is plenty of storage, with large lockers under both bench seats and two large sole lockers behind the helms.
Sailing the Cruiser 41 is pretty straightforward. Even with the dodger, visibility is great. The Garmin wind instruments help with fine-tuning, but sight lines to the jib are clear. The standard boat comes with a 2.05m cast iron keel with a 2,736kg bulb. A shallower, 1.65m keel is optional. Unladen, the boat weighs in at a trim 8,680kg and the Jefa steering and large symmetrical rudder provide a nimble response.
A fairly traditional layout greets you below. The Cruiser 41 is available in two versions: two cabins/one bathroom, or three cabins/two bathrooms. This one’s the latter – a master cabin up in the forepeak with an en suite, including an electric toilet, and two identical cabins aft under the cockpit. They share the second bathroom, to port, at the base of the companionway.
The styling is contemporary – smooth, clean surfaces and, as always, Bavaria buyers have plenty of options for tweaking the decor to individual preferences. Red Baron’s owners have selected an unusual but classy palette – dark walnut floors and dark grey upholstery contrasting with light oak bulkheads and white ceilings. Very elegant.
I like the saloon layout – the elongated U-shaped settee around the table allows easy access from both ends. A two-seater island bench on the opposite side of the table will be useful for large dinner parties.
The full-length galley on the port side has masses of working surface, particularly if using the in-fills over the twin sinks and three-burner cooker. There’s an oven beneath and a top-loading fridge/freezer.
A fundamental ingredient of the saloon’s sense of space is the natural light. It pours in from the overhead hatches, and the chef will enjoy the panoramic views through the long side windows.
As a technical man, one of my favourite features on the Cruiser 41 is its engine access. As is commonplace on production boats, the companionway stairs hinge up, and there are removable side panels in the aft cabins. These are particularly large, so it’s easy to work on oil and fuel filters, water pumps and alternator belts. The space is great – but don’t take my word for it. The owner’s children told me their favourite onboard game is climbing from one cabin to the other over the engine – hopefully not when it’s hot. To each his own, but it does demonstrate the exceptional space in the engine room.
Standard Cruiser 41s are fitted with a 30hp Volvo, with the option to upgrade to gruntier models. Baron has selected the 55hp engine. Ticking over at 1200rpm, it pushes the boat to five knots. It’s mated to a sail-drive fitted with a three-bladed folding Kiwiprop.
How does she go? Pretty good. We enjoyed perfect conditions, a 15 –18-knot sou’wester. The sail plan, plumb bow, long waterline and deep keel are a nicely balanced equation. She’s an agile vessel and, with those jib fairleads so far inboard, she hikes upwind with enthusiasm – seven knots and more. Off the wind, with the gennaker drawing well, we cruised at nine knots. With more wind and sharp sail trimming, 10 knots is definitely on the cards.
The 41 is an elegant, comfortable vessel – equally adept at casual, relaxed living or catering for formal dinner parties. She’s no slouch in the water: a perfect fit for a family who is happy to cruise, but more than up to the challenge when anyone’s in need of a shot of adrenalin.