Her twin rudders helped her track consistently, and while there was some play in the linkage, she drove truer and more easily than her single rudder predecessors, while providing a more exciting and rewarding ride.
With no coaming to straddle, helming is comfortable, with the aft set of (optionally powered) twin 58 winches in reach. The German (aft-led) mainsheet on the test boat was routed to the coachroof winches, alongside the clutch-controlled hidden mastlines. A low coachroof might make views forward unrestricted, but it also exposes crew to the elements, with minimal backrests. And you’ll also feel exposed if you want to go forward, with short grabrails and plenty of beam to fall across. However to stem complaint, there’s an abundance of sunbathing area including that aft bench and the flush foredeck
Big down below
The Bavaria 55 is positively enormous below decks. She has a spacious, modern apartment of an interior thanks to that high freeboard and wide beam. But equally striking is the innovation and layout combinations. She’s available in four and five-cabin charter guise, with forward cabins convertible into one large owner’s cabin for her post-charter life – thanks to a removable central bulkhead, and a kit that transforms the starboard heads into a dressing-room. The test boat had the four-cabin set-up, which has a useful seagoing pullman cabin (with fold-down top bunk) to port aside the companionway. A three cabin layout is also available.
Bavaria have continued their use of wood-replacement ‘Wenge’, this time in walnut with oak-floor finish, but with more quality control than before. Yes there’s still creaky deckheads and sole-boards, and with her angular theme there’s an alarming number of sharp corners to fall against. But the open living area benefits from grab bars, and most lockers have gas struts.
The galley has an unusual design, with an island workstation separating it from the saloon. It will attract many wives and perhaps convert some motor-boaters, thanks to similarities to a conventional modern kitchen, complete with front-opening full-size fridge-freezer, large deep sink and draining sink. The adjacent saloon is smart and can seat eight thanks to a double bench that slides out from under the island. A softly-lit glass cabinet forward may look good but is impractical at sea. However, there’s a useful provisions locker under the cabinet, with wine rack and good stowage elsewhere.
The companionway steps lift on struts and large panels remove from each aft cabin for complete access to a 110-horsepower Volvo (driving a 4-blade folding prop), with an (optional) generator located aft. Tanks are all commendably kept low and central, but this also causes a frustrating lack of access to the bilge. The adjacent navstation follows modern custom: small and plain, but functional.
Like the galley, the opulent master cabin forward will also be a selling point, with its walk-in, standing-headroom dressing room in the hallway, providing enough hanging room for an amateur dramatic company. Thus, the queensize double that awaits is completely uncluttered. Incredibly, there’s still over six feet of headroom here, with ample ambient light from two large overhead hatches and two hull windows. And then there’s the ensuite… more like a hotel bathroom. With separated stand-up shower room, it’s attractively lit, boasting large contemporary sink and mirror, plus a lift-top laundry basket, or optional washing machine.
The guest or aft cabins meanwhile, are well-proportioned identical doubles, likewise with good headroom and hanging lockers. Useful fiddled shelves run the length of the generous doubles and portlights banish any feelings of claustrophobia. The aft heads are again light and lofty, boasting a deep, lipped basin and large mirror and proper shower permanently mounted on a stand. A cover lowers over the heads and a Perspex door keeps the wash area dry.
Designed and done
Today’s Bavaria brings improved production and quality management, with targets to keep rolling out new models and sign new dealers. While not intending to change their existing range or finish their relationship with J&J (who have long provided their design recipes), following the success of the 55, they have collaborated again with Farr and BMW Group Designworks USA, to produce a 32 Cruiser (which has already launched and is again seriously voluminous), and a 45 Cruiser that will be unveiled at the Dusseldorf boatshow in January.
But there’s no point paying for celebrity designers such as Farr if you don’t build properly, and this is something that Bavaria have recognised. The 55 marks a new, fastidious level in Bavaria’s quality control.
Her asking price and volume are incomparable in the market. While incorporating a good-sized garage and forward cabin headroom were key concepts, the resulting freeboard height may put some off: you feel dwarfed in the saloon, and other than stern-to, boarding is impractical. So she may not have universal appeal, but the 55 is manageable, fast and fun, and will attract today’s buyer, particularly those warm water sailors plying Southeast Asia, and those hoping to enter the charter market.
In Hong Kong: www.jademarinehk.com
In Thailand: www.elite-sail-dive.com
Technical Specifications – Bavaria 55
LOA 16.72m (54ft 10in)
LWL 16.16m (53ft)
Beam (Max) 4.75m (15ft 7in)
Draught 2.35m (7ft 9in)
Disp (lightship) 15,500kg (34,171lb)
Ballast 5,500kg (12,125lb)
Sail Area (100% foretriangle) 119m2 (1,283ft2)
Engine Volvo Penta 110HP 81kW
Water 700lt (154gal)
Fuel 380lt (84gal)
Price (ex VAT) €254,900
Design: Farr, BMW Group DesignworksUSA