The cruiser that races: How fast is the new sailing yacht BAVARIA C38?

It is a fascinating experiment and one that is obviously enormous fun. How fast can a latest generation BAVARIA sailing yacht actually be without changing the boat itself? Expectations were high when Claes Eliasson, BAVARIA importer for Norway and at the same time an ambitious regatta sailor, wanted to try.

The design team around Maurizio Cossutti and the team at BAVARIA YACHTS took up the idea enthusiastically – especially because it will also provide valuable insights and data for the future development of BAVARIA yachts.

With a BAVARIA C38 you can not only sail fast with the family, but also win regattas.

The designers and developers knew that there was some potential in the hulls of the new BAVARIA C42 and C38. „It’s the sailplan, the high volume V‐bow, the chine, the tight buttock lines, the keel shape, “explained Alessandro Ganz of Cossutti Design. „These features ensure good speed and easy handling“. Cruising yachts today are designed to sail well. But above all, they should offer a lot of comfort, with a nice interior and other amenities such as bow thrusters forward or a fold‐out bathing platform and a massive cockpit table aft. What ultimately matters, is getting the best ratio of comfort to speed. Too much weight does slow you down, but on the other hand, the new BAVARIA yachts have been designed to be able to handle this weight well.

The turbo for a fast sailing boat…

are high-quality laminate sails.

So how can one extract the full potential of the boat’s hull shape, rig and keel - without sacrificing the character of the yacht as a cruiser? Dismantling the interior and sailing with an empty hull, fitting a taller high-tech mast made of carbon, and other usual go-faster tricks were out of question. Allowed were only those changes that any owner could make. And which would not in any way compromise the yacht's actual purpose as a well-equipped, comfortable family yacht.

So Claes Eliasson ordered a C38 in the standard version from BAVARIA YACHTS, but without some of the heavyweight extras. He did without the bow thruster at the front, the bathing platform and the cockpit table at the stern, but apart from that, nothing was changed in the interior and the other equipment. Even the electric windlass with its own battery in the bow remained. The rig also remained unchanged, of course, but Eliasson ordered new, high‐quality sails from his office neighbours and sailmakers in Norway. Because good sails are the real key to success, as also Søren Hansen of Elvstrøm Sails points out in our article on sails on page 31 in the latest BAVARIA LIFE issue: The potential of the new BAVARIAs is such that the purchase of really good sails truly makes sense.


These not only make the boat go faster, but also easier to sail. Claes’ crew was surprised to find out that they could easily carry the medium jib in up to 20 knots of wind speed: „This boat simply loves to have a lot of power in the foresail!“ The only thing they needed to do was trimming the mainsail flatter as the wind increases. „Then it is a real pleasure to helm this boat. And that is an advantage when racing, but also when cruising. Because as steering becomes easier, also less experienced sailors have no problems at the helm. And should you want to leave the helm for a moment, the autopilot will cope well.“

When she is not racing in regattas, the BAVARIA C38 "Spirit" is a perfect cruising yacht.

Something else also helps. Compared to other cruising yachts, the cockpit of the C38 is huge. This leaves enough space for a full race crew during manoeuvres. „I already had a few racing pros among my crew“ says Eliasson, „and they were all very impressed by the boat and especially the cockpit!“

At the beginning it was considered to fit a traveller in the cockpit, but this idea was quickly dropped as this feature would not go well with the original character of the yacht as a fast family boat. Instead, a removable block in the middle of the cockpit sole now takes the sheet and this can quickly be removed when cruising. „After all, it was our aim to see how far we could go without changing the yacht’s original concept“, Eliasson explains. „This is why it is so important to us that this special C38 can also always be used as a pure family and cruising yacht. Without any compromise!“

But then with a lot of sailing fun.