A cruising cat with a strong pedigree, the Open 40 packs a lot of performance and comfort into a small package (Published Spring 2015)
German boat builder Bavaria recently took over the French Catamaran builder Nautitech and has relaunched the Nautitech 40 as the Bavaria Open 40. Hull number one of the new Bavaria-branded line made its debut at the Strictly Sail Miami boat show last winter and it immediately drew the attention of the crowds.
MQ had a chance to sail the new Open 40 after the show. It was a lovely afternoon with a fair 12 knots of breeze and clear skies. We joined the 40 at Miamarina in Miami and set off for Biscayne Bay to the south.
From the dock, the Open 40 was distinctly different from many of the cruising cats seen at the Miami show, which has become one of the largest cruising cat shows in the world. The sleek line of the cabin top flows right into the hard top that covers the cockpit. The twin helms are aft in each hull so instead of being perched on top of the boat or in a bridge deck, you are aft in the cockpit as you would be in a monohull. The Open 40s hulls have hard chines above the waterline that allow the hulls in the water to be quite narrow and therefore fast while the volume above the waterline is large enough for a comfortable and spacious interior.
Using the twin diesels in forward and reverse, we got away from the dock easily and motored down the channel. The engine rooms are well insulated so there was little vibration or noise even at maximum revs. At 2200 rpms, the 40 made 7 knots and at 3500 she scooted along at 8.5 knots.
The layout of the Open 40 is all about openness. With the helms out of the way, the cockpit can be arranged entirely as an open-air living room with a table that seats eight. The doors to the saloon slide all the way open so the two spaces become one large living area.
The enclosed saloon area has a large L-shaped galley that faces forward and a small breakfast dinette that doubles as a nav station. The views from the saloon are wide open all around so even on a rainy morning, you can enjoy your coffee with a great waterfront view while the harbor around you awakes.
The cockpit has a “Soft Top” enclosure system that makes it weather tight. That means you will be able to sit and eat at the main dining table in all weathers and even warm it up with a space heater on cool evenings. For a boat of this size, this open plan living area works very well.
Once out into the bay, we hoisted the big, square top, fully battened mainsail and rolled out the Solent style jib. The Open 40 was designed by the legendary Marc Lombard and seems to have the same DNA as some of the big racing cats and trimarans that are so popular in Europe. The 40 is designed to sail fast and well and has the rig to get the job done.
We sheeted in and sailed close hauled across the bay before throwing the boat through a series of tacks. In 12 knots of breeze, she sailed upwind at 7 knots and made very little leeway. The boat has slightly larger and deeper fixed keels than you see on many cruising cats and that makes a difference in upwind sailing performance.
The Solent jib is self-tending on a track in front of the mast so tacking is simply a matter of turning the helm. The trick in a moderately light cat to successful tack is to reach off a little going into the tack to build speed and then carry that speed and momentum easily but quickly onto the new heading. The 40 tacked like a champion.
Steering from the windward helm gave good lines of sight forward but you have to look through the saloon windows to see what is off to leeward. The windows are large and clear so this is not a problem, but in rainy conditions when the windows are wet, visibility might be compromised. When you change helms after a tack, you have to skip across the cockpit to secure the new wheel.
The starboard helm is the boat’s control center with engine controls and all sheets and trimming lines running to winches by the helm. From here you can engage the autopilot, trim the main and traveler and trim the jib.
After making a series of successful tacks that showed us that the 40 likes to tack in about 90 degrees due to the narrow sheeting angles of the Solent, we fell off the wind, rolled up the Solent and rolled out the big blue reacher. Now the 40 was in her element. The acceleration was palpable. Boat speed went from 7 knots up to 9.5 on a reach and the sound of the water slipping past the hull was music to our ears.
The big sail was on its own roller reefing system so it was a cinch to deploy. In most cruising situations, you would leave the reacher hoisted and rolled up and use it regularly any time you were sailing free and wanting performance. The Solent will perform well with the wind forward of the beam but will lose power steadily as you sail farther and farther off the wind. This is the one-two headsail punch that makes the boat so much fun to sail.
For a couple or a cruising family, the Open 40 is going to be fun to sail, easy to handle and she should turn in very good average speeds that translate into fast passages.
The main living spaces in the cockpit and saloon, as noted, are wide open and set up for very comfortable and convenient living aboard. The galley has two drawer-style refrigerators and plenty of counter space for preparing meals. The small dinette has a place to mount instruments and radios so this will become command central.
The 40 comes in a four-cabin charter version or a three-cabin owner’s version. The boat we sailed was the owner’s version with the master cabin in the port hull and two guest cabins in the starboard hull. The master suite has the double berth aft, a small desk amidships and the full bathroom forward with a separate shower stall. For living aboard, this arrangement works very well.
The guest cabins to starboard are spacious and have their own en suite heads. The cabins have plenty of natural light and ventilation so they will be comfortable in the tropics.
The Bavaria Open 40 can be equipped with air conditioning and heating units and a generator to run them. Additional gear, such as a watermaker, can also be installed to make life aboard more convenient.
The quality of the build is evident in all of the GRP moldings. Nautitech adopted infusion molding several years ago, which allows the builder to create light, stiff parts that have a uniformly fine finish.
The decor of the Open 40 is simple, modern and designed for a minimum of maintenance and fuss. The emphasis is on open spaces, large windows and plenty of ventilation.
When you combine the Open 40’s better than average sailing performance and ease of handling with her spacious and well thought out living plan, the new boat that launches the Bavaria Catamaran brand is sure to be a hit both in the charter fleets and for owners who want to explore the oceans in comfort and style.
Bavaria Open 40
Displ. 17,160 lbs.
Sail area 970 sq. ft.
Water 110 gals.
Fuel 110 gals.
Engines 2 x 20 hp.