Two Become One
Where Bavaria once had the 35 and 38, there is now just a 37 – but she’s impressive, writes Tony Jones
Way back in 2004 – when Ireland was covered in trees and Dublin the domain of dinosaurs – there was a boat called the Bavaria 37 BMB. The builders thought that this popular market sector would be better served by two boats, a 35 and a 38. Fast forward to 2008 and the company has gone back to Plan A. The 35 and 38 are now being replaced by the new Bavaria 37 Sport in Open and HT (hardtop) form.
Comparing the new model with the outgoing models doesn’t really work and it seems a little unfair to compare it to its ancient (in recreational motor boat terms) predecessor. But we will say that the original 37 with its long foredeck and low superstructure remains one of the best looking hardtop sports cruisers we have ever seen. This gave very spacious below-decks accommodation but a rather small cockpit.
Ringing the changes
The new boat changes the upstairs/downstairs balance in favour of the former, with seating rather than sunbathing space as the priority. Following the example of the 35, the space under the sunpad is an enormous stowage locker. This arrangement can produce problems in terms of engine access but Bavaria have fixed it for the whole sunbed, stowage compartment and all, to be hinged along the aft edge and to lift up courtesy of a pair of hydraulic rams. Excellent stuff.
The cockpit central section features a generous U-shaped settee to port, with the essential wet bar slightly forward of it to starboard behind the helm seat. On the old 37, only the helmsman had the benefit of a forward view, but the new boat’s larger cockpit has allowed a very welcome two-person, forward-facing bench seat to be fitted ahead of the settee.
Down below, little seems to have been sacrificed in terms of space. The layout is conventional with the double berth master cabin forward and the guest cabin below the forward cockpit area. Here, the laterally positioned twin beds can be slid together to form a double. (Why everyone doesn’t do this is a mystery; it’s a highly popular feature and costs very little to implement). Despite the extended cockpit, floor space, head room and stowage also look to be good.
In the saloon, the port side is occupied by a full length settee, but to starboard, Bavaria have opted for a larger-than-average shower toilet compartment at the foot of the companionway steps at the expense of a reduced galley. This is a sensible decision in our opinion as sports cruiser galleys are mostly used for serving up simple salad lunches eaten al fresco rather than sumptuous, cordon bleu evening feasts. A good shower before going out to dinner is the important thing.
The propulsion options are interesting. Diesel customers have the choice of Volvo Penta D4-300/DP or D6-330/DP. The latter provide an extra 60hp total but weigh an extra 220kg so are unlikely to add anything to the 30kt cruising speed and 35kt top whack. They also add considerably to the price. We would instinctively opt for the D4s, believing that saving a few pounds is better than adding a few horsepower, as there are often benefits in terms of handling and seakeeping. But that depends very much on the fore-and-aft CG position, so a back-to-back trial in identical sea conditions would be the only way to properly answer that conundrum.
Petrol-wise, the choice is between twin 320hp Volvo 5.7 GXI ‘small block’ V8s, or Mercruisers 300hp 350 Magnums. No contest on this side of the Atlantic you might think, but the Mercruisers come with the truly useful Axius joystick docking system that gives IPS/Zeus-like low speed manoeuvring including pure sideways movement – all without a bow thruster.
The new 37 Sport in both iterations is an attractive and competitive sportscruiser with a distinct design philosophy. The large cockpit, subpad stowage box and full size shower/toilet compartment will appeal to those for whom saloon space is very much a secondary consideration. And the Mercruiser Axius option is well worth considering.
Although the 37 Sport Open has plenty of obvious competitors, alternatives to the HT are thin on the ground.
The most obvious one is the Beneteau Monte Carlo Hardtop, reviewed elsewhere in this issue. The French boat is that bit smaller and lighter but a very competent and competitive package.
The same goes for the Sealine SC38, but this offers a vastly different approach with its radical styling and totally different cockpit and interior layouts. The big pluses with this boat are the full length sunshine roof and semi-ensuite separate shower and toilet compartments.
A third possibility is the hardtop version of the Windy 37 Grand Mistral, first introduced in 1998 and rapidly approaching ‘classic’ status. In this case it is the aft cabin that is semi-ensuite with the shower/toilet, which eats into the saloon space somewhat. Beautifully finish, excellent performance and handling – and expensive.