Very responsive. Tacked easily with main alone,” I wrote and underlined in my notebook after sailing the Bavaria Open 40 catamaran, which made its North American debut at Strictly Sail Miami in February. For the boat, and for the builder, the show was a coming-out party. Last summer, Bavaria Yachts purchased catamaran builder Nautitech, and with the transaction came the recently launched Open 40, a concept developed by Nautitech founder Bruno Voisard and his team in Rochefort, France. The boat was designed by naval architect Marc Lombard.
Bavaria, which builds a range of sailboats and powerboats at its yard in Giebelstadt, Germany, had wanted to add multihulls to its lineup and found a fit with Nautitech, the company said in announcing the deal. The Open 40, as well as a 46-foot sailing catamaran expected to launch next year, will be branded as Bavarias; two other models, a 48 and a 54, will continue to be sold as Nautitechs. Voisard will remain with the company, and catamaran production (both sail and power) will continue in Rochefort.
When I saw the Open 40 at the dock during the show, I liked it well enough, but the cat really came alive once we were out on open water.
Motoring, the twin 30-horsepower Yanmar engines and saildrives had us cruising at 6.8 knots (2,500 rpm). Wide open (3,900 rpm), our speed jumped past 8 knots.
When we reached Biscayne Bay, the main was easily raised using the electric Lewmar winch, conveniently located near the starboard helm station. (The boat has twin wheels, mounted outboard on either stern.) Then, in no time flat, the sail was sheeted in, and with a turn of the wheel we tacked smoothly back and forth — not always a successful endeavor in light air on a big multihull. The self-tacking jib unfurled with a tug of the outhaul, and then we were off. It was as simple as that.
At the start of our sail, the breeze was in the 8- to 10-knot range, and closehauled, the speedo hovered right around 5 knots. Later, with the breeze blowing twice as hard, we scooted right along at nearly 8 knots — and, yes, the Open 40 was quite a lively and fun boat to drive. The Open 40 concept centers around a small but adequate enclosed saloon that spills out through a pair of sliding glass doors to a spacious outdoor living space under a hard bimini. On this boat you spend your time outside, soaking in your surroundings, and retreat to the interior only to sleep and cook.
The saloon has a compact galley with a two-drawer fridge, a sink, a propane two-burner stove and oven to starboard, and a table/nav station with couches on either side to port. The boat comes in two possible layouts (both with two heads with showers): a three-cabin version for private owners, and four cabins for charter. Three ports in either hull provide light in the cabins below; deck hatches overhead in the cabins and saloon open for ventilation.
The Open 40’s hulls are solid glass below the waterline and cored above it. The deck, cabin and bimini are cored as well. The hulls are relatively fine at and below the waterline for good performance, and then flare out with chines to create living space below deck and buoyancy at sea.
The boat I sailed was loaded with options. All up and ready to sail, the price quoted at the show was $539,000 (a base boat costs $423,700, delivered to the East Coast). Nautitech has developed a good reputation for building quick cruising cats. With Bavaria’s worldwide dealer network, including Horizon Yacht Charters, expect to see a whole lot more of them out there sailing soon.