The German marque may have run into choppy waters but the C45 will surely help it weather the storm
The latest Bavaria is big, bold and a game-changer for this German yard. But what is she like to sail?
Bavaria has, in the past, tried to reduce the cost of building boats and streamline manufacture, sometimes at the expense of quality. Thankfully those days appear to be gone – its new C45 feels like a real step up. She’s available in three varieties: the Holiday, ideal for those wanting to charter out their boat or keep things basic, the Ambition is more sailing orientated with a clear cockpit and options for a deeper keel and carbon-fibre rig or the Style, tested here, designed with the owner, space and comfort in mind.
The C45 has, however, had to weather something of a storm; shortly after its launch at this year’s boot Düsseldorf, Bavaria announced it was applying for insolvency. Production has continued and new investors were showing interest at the time of writing but an official statement about its future hadn’t yet been issued.
On the wind with 19-23 knots apparent we had to reef the in-mast furling mainsail, while keeping a full selftacking jib. She felt heavy on the helm; reefing the mainsail further might have given a bit more balance and hopefully reduced her tenderness when overpowered. She was in control, wasn’t heeling excessively or griping, and the main didn’t seem constantly overpowered, so, apart from heavy helm it didn’t feel like a reef was necessary. She has a twin mainsheet system running two winches on each side of the cockpit and, in retrospect, I wondered whether using the lower sheet would have improved matters. It was only during the heavier conditions when this became apparent. In the shelter of Southampton Water the wind reduced to Force 4 and she felt far more balanced and more comfortable on the wheel.
I’m sure I could get used to the twin mainsheet system, but when we were overpowered it was necessary to let out the mainsheet, only for the boom to be held by the leeward sheet; with a quick crew this isn’t an issue, but as all lines are led to the helm, the ball is in the helm’s court unless the crew can get around the cockpit tables or wheel to the leeward sheet.
At 2,000RPM with the optional 80hp engine (57hp is standard) she made 6.1 knots through the water and handling her around the marina was easy due to the single rudder.
Her coachroof is low and sleek, and one could be forgiven to thinking she might lack headroom, but she doesn’t – her freeboard is generous. Furlex reefing gear is recessed below the deck, with a windlass immediately abaft of it. It was nice to see the windlass fitted with capstan(rope drum), though it catches on the sail – a long soft shackle on the tack would lift the foot slightly to rectify this.
The anchor chain feeds to the chain locker forward of the good-sized deck sail locker. The toerail is wide and solid, but has no non-slip on top; teak decks are optional. Cleats on the Style and Ambition versions are retractable, on the Holiday version they are fixed.
There is a long, protective sprayhood; this could do with an extra handhold, but there’s a good grab rail forward to the mast. Also, because of the wide comings, deck access is easiest from the helm, but there are no hand holds on the coaming as the lines are led under the deck and winches are at the helm.
Beneath the helm seats were a grill and wet bar, designed to be used from the electrically operated bathing platform – hinges for the grill lid were outboard, so the cook isn’t hidden behind the lid. Access to the tender garage is also from the fold down transom, steps to port lift clear enabling access for the dinghy and the built in compressor for inflating it.
In the cockpit, two cockpit tables line the walkway forward to the companionway; some stowage in these would have been good, or somewhere to keep phones, and suntan lotion. There’s also access into the tender garage from the floor of the cockpit and there are sole-depth cockpit lockers outboard. The outboard leaves of the tables fold up to make a sunpad.
There’s deep life raft stowage aft of the drop down washboards. Cleverly, this also gives access to the space below the washboards in case you drop anything down the gap, making it easy to retrieve. A small detail, but something that’s not always possible.
Much of the deck is flat, making it good for walking around, and there’s the option of deck cushions to sunbathe on most of it, as long as you can give up some space to store the cushions when not in use.
AT THE HELM
Both helm positions have a good amount of space and are well laid out. This boat benefitted from the option of the composite wheels and Lewmar 50ST electric winches (manual are standard). With this wheel, there wasn’t quite enough clearance to swing a winch handle full circle on the mainsheet winches, making the option of electric winches more justifiable. Outboard, on the deck, was a manual 50ST on each side for the optional genoa or downwind sails. All the lines onboard are controlled by these winches – four in total on this boat, two are standard. Lines from these winches are tamed by decent sized rope bins under the coamings outboard
There are outboard-hinged lift-up foot blocks at each helm, and they work well.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
Bavaria’s C-line aims to connect owners with the sea and offers large hull windows in every cabin, so no matter where on board you sleep, you can wake to a sea view.
In 2016 Bavaria started using resin vacuum infusion to construct its hulls and the results made for lighter and stiffer hulls. C45is no different, and it also benefits from a substantial longitudinal stringer at saloon seat height in each side, as well as the deep grid system beneath the floor.
RIG & SAILPLAN
A self-taking jib is standard on all models, while a 106% genoa, genoa tracks and winches are optional. A fixed bowsprit is also an option. There is pad eye on the stem for asymmetric or Code 0 sails, aft of which is the recessed furler for the Style and Ambition models, but not the Holiday. For the Ambition the mainsheet is taken to the aft end of the boom and into the cockpit. For both Style and Holiday versions it’s a mid-boom sheeting system with two separate mainsheets running back to the port and starboard helms
She feels solid and well constructed, with a stiff and light hull
All three versions are available in a combination of 3 or 4 cabins – the Holiday version offers a five -cabin layout with a pulman cabin taking the place of the aft heads.
Once at the base of the companionway, there aren’t a great deal of handholds – on a starboard tack you’ll be grabbing the door handles which, of course, aren’t designed for this. There is the fiddled galley, a handrail aft of the chart table and one running through the saloon, overhead, but with the 2.06m (6ft 9in) cathedral-like headroom – compared to other boats this size – shorter members of the crew might struggle to reach it.
The saloon is vast with a C-shaped saloon to port, a two-seater sofa to starboard and an island seat that slides in and out for use at the table. The base of the two-seat bench seat lifts up and pulls out to make the seat base wider and reclines the back a little, it’s not the smoothest mechanism and seems a lot of effort for very little gain – the seat is comfy enough as it is. Forward of this seat is a locker with a good amount of space inside and on top; almost like a coffee table, it makes the saloon more homely.
There’s stowage under all the outboard seating, but the layout of the cushions doesn’t match with the locker access boards, so one has to remove three cushions to access one stowage compartment to port.
There’s a decent amount of solid wood visible around the boat, there’s also a fair amount of sealant around the bulkheads. All the doors have rubber seals and a reassuring weight to them.
The forward area on this layout was one master cabin; there’s an option for it to be split into two smaller cabins. Not only do you get one large berth, you also have separate en suite shower and heads compartments, effectively making the area forward of the mast into your private domain. You’re also treated to two 82cm long hull windows, covered by neatly recessed Oceanair blinds. Shelves run the length of the berth, outboard, while at deck height there are four bottom-hinged lockers on each side. The head of the bed, forward, has LED reading lights on stalks, which have three settings – bright, low and red – as well as USB sockets in their base.
The aft cabins offer good sized berths too. These are rectangular, and the port cabin offers the option for it to be used as a twin rather than a double.
Her coachroof is low and sleek, but she doesn’t lack headroom
The heads, aft, has a separate shower compartment with a Perspex door and all shower pumps present are automatic.
The chart table is aft facing and the 45cm (1ft 6in) square lid has a leather covering. While the table width extends 93cm (3ft) outboard, inboard the fiddle is a measly 1.5cm high. It was good to see a wonderful vertical stowage for charts beneath the table, which at 8cm deep, doesn’t offer a great amount of stowage itself. Outboard in this yacht was the optional 32in television.
There is no switch panel as Bavaria have opted to use a Canbus system operated by the Naviop software in partnership with the B&G chart plotter. Any of the B&G plotters onboard (including the ones on each helm) can be used as the switch panel. One downside is that there’s no manual override, but if a fuse does blow the system knows, and will direct you to it on the boat and tell you which fuse needs replacing.
If there is one area that stands out and really sells the C45 it’s the galley: it’s huge. The work surface is 1.83m (6ft) long, and if that wasn’t enough there’s the option of a fold-up extension to it. There’s bottle stowage in a bin locker aft of the threeburner stove. Outboard there’s divided and partitioned stowage and forward is a nice, deep pantry locker. Fridge/freezer stowage is by way of a double drawer Isotherm unit inboard. This boat also sported the optional dishwasher, beneath the twin sinks in the long Corian worksurface. Outboard at deck level is a line of cupboards, the one above the stove housed the optional extractor fan, while set into the forward locker was the microwave (also an option).
Engine access was good, though on the test boat the impeller access was obstructed (this has now been rectified). It might have been nicer if access to the primary filter was easier, as it is it’s tucked behind the engine, but there’s a technical space between the two aft cabins and could also house a generator.
The self tacking jib was easy to use and there was plenty of sail power, but the helm felt a bit heavy
The cockpit was large and comfortable with space to relax, or get involved with the sailing
LEFT: A walkthrough between the cockpit tables is a clever use of space RIGHT: Excellent engine access with a technical space behind