Sunday, 18 May 2014

Match Race Germany : The Bavaria Yachts used at Match Race Germany and the Bavaria Yachtbau Range

Training for Match Race Germany 2013. Image copyright Brian Carlin/Alpari World Match Racing Tour

by Anne Hinton

Match Race Germany, the first event on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2014, in Langenargen, on Bodensee (Lake Constance), Germany, has been held in Bavaria yachts for many years now. Recently the Bavaria Match 35 was superseded at Match Race Germany by the Bavaria 40S.

The Bavaria yachts are the heaviest on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Traditionally heavy boats, and those with slower response times, were used and favoured in match racing, as in the days of the old J class or even 12 metre monohulls for the America’s Cup.

Adam Minoprio (NZL) leads Mathieu Richard (FRA) in the semi-finals at Match Race Germany 2013. Image copyright Brian Carlin/Alpari World Match Racing Tour

Bavaria Yachtbau in Giebelstadt, near Würzburg, in Bavaria, southern Germany, is one of the largest production yacht companies in the world, with the largest number of different boat types. There are ten different yachts produced and seven different motor boats, which are constantly updated. The hull design of all the sailing boat range is from Farr Yacht Design, while Design Unlimited carries out the same work for the cabin and interior alongside the engineering team of Bavaria Yachtbau.

Inside the 200,000 square metre site, there are 70,000 square metres of buildings for boat construction on four production lines, with two or three moulds of each boat type. Over 600 employees work in different areas, with Bavaria having been one of the first yacht builders to introduce machines into the production line to help with their work.

The Bavaria Yachtbau site in Giebelstadt. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau.

Both the entire deck and the entire hull are finished in entirety before being matched together. The Bavaria yacht structure is entirely in glassfibre. Aluminium reinforcement is added into the deck glassfibre only where fittings and winches need to be attached.

The hulls, as emerged from the moulds at Bavaria Yachtbau. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau

In the case of the yacht decks, the fittings and wood covering of the glassfibre, into which non-slip areas are also moulded, are carried out to prepare them before they are attached to the hulls. The hulls are made of a sandwich composition, reinforced with isophalic acid. The cabling and piping is then inserted. All the wooden features are produced and finished separately before being placed in the hull. The batteries, etc, are then incorporated, followed by the fixing of the toilet and shower in the pre-moulded locations for these.

Gel coat is added to the boat hull. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau.

Bavaria prides itself on its boats being of 100% German construction, which stands for quality engineering worldwide. The wood used is brought in as tree trunks and cut up, and then painted up to seven or eight times, according to the type of wood and its intended use in the construction of a boat. There are some non-German aspects to the boats, in the Lewmar winches, Garmin GPS and navigation equipment, and the Volvo Penta engines, which latter arrive from Sweden with the water and oil already in them, ready to run.

The huge production line at Bavaria Yachtbau. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau.

Over the past few months at Bavaria there has been an increase in both the quality and efficiency of production. Employees have now been offered a financial incentive to make fewer mistakes the first time around, and this has had the side-effect of speeding up production too.

A motor boat deck mould at Bavaria Yachtbau. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau.

It takes approximately eight weeks to six months from the order to the delivery of a yacht, depending on the size of the boat and the season. When one boat of a given type leaves the factory, there is already another of the same type near to completion or completed. It takes about 600 employees to build any Bavaria; all workers are involved in the production, so that the workers feel like one big team.

As with other boatbuilders and sailmakers, Bavaria Yachtbau finds that its busiest period is after boatshow orders have come in, about now in terms of the season, and the production lines are currently full. The factory closes for three weeks in August, which is the quietest period in the year, when most customers are sailing their boats.

The Bavaria 41S. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau

The Bavaria 40S, used at Match Race Germany, has been superseded from January 2014 by the Bavaria 41S. The Bavaria 41S is from the same moulds, but has an updated deck and interior layout. The difference between the Bavaria 41 and the Bavaria 41S, as with the previous 40 and 40S models, is that the S stands for “sporty”, and the S models offer higher performance.

The deck layout is to a higher specification for racing on the Bavaria 40S and 41S, but has the same layout as on the Bavaria 40 and 41; the cabin interior is unchanged between the two sporty and cruising models. The “S” factor in the Bavaria yachts means that the mast is a little taller and the keel a little deeper, giving better righting moment, there is a carbon fibre spinnaker pole, etc.

Close racing in Bavaria yachts. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau.

“The 41S Cruiser, as with the preceding model, the 40S Cruiser, provides incredible fun on the race course, just as with normal passage sailing. The boat goes fast and is easy to handle. One can go through every manoeuvre quickly and easily with just 5 or 6 people”, says Marcus Schlichting, offshore sailor from Travemünde (Admiral’s Cup 1987; several Titles in One Tonners)

Approximately eighteen months ago, Bavaria, noted for its quality in production boat design, primarily for the cruising and the charter market, surprised the sailing world with a new sports boat, also designed by Bruce Farr’s office, as with the other yachts in the Bavaria range. The aim of the B/one was to introduce the Bavaria brand to a newer, and younger, audience, to establish familiarity with Bavaria yachts in the presence of the minds of sailors growing up in the sport.

The B/one sports boat, relatively new to the Bavaria yacht range. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau

The B/one sports boat was not intended as a rival to J-boats or the Melges, according to Bavaria Yachtbau’s marketing department, although inevitable comparisons have resulted. It was designed to be a small, fun and inexpensive boat, for the club or family performance day boat market.

Over 100 of the B/one sports boats have been sold so far, with many going as club boats, especially since the B/one has been chosen as the second Bundesliga boat, and was used in the Berlin Match Race 2013 and Meisterschaft der Meister in Hamburg since 2012, but orders are coming from as far afield as China, where Bavaria Yachtbau has just set up a new dealership in Shanghai. The B/one will have a class start in Kieler Woche this year.

The B/one upwind. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau

“In principal the B/one is a big dinghy with the safety of a keelboat. It is like a dinghy to sail in terms of its sailing characteristics and that makes it easy to have great fun with a B/one. That one can also engage in sporty and fast sailing has been demonstrated on several occasions. With the new fittings and the change of some details since the beginning of the year, the B/one has become even better. The spirit of Farr Yacht Design is incorporated in the B/one; just insert the genes of a Farr 400!” according to Peter Meyer, the Farr 280 Dealer for Germany, in a quotation for Segel Journal. 

The B/one upwind. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau

The B/one was designed to be very simple, without a backstay or traveller, so that de-powering in stronger breezes needs a good feel for the kicker and the cunningham, but the layout also helps to keep all the crew engaged in sailing the boat. It is intended to have four heavy men sail the boat, or maybe five women. The current crew weight limit is 320kg, but may soon be raised to 350kg or 380kg. All the sails came from the Hyde loft in the first year of production, but this has been opened up and Norths, amongst others, are now making sails for the B/one. Other yachts in the Bavaria range are supplied with Elvström Sails.

The B/one sports boat. Image copyright Bavaria Yachtbau

This is a far cry from the pre-yacht building days, when the same factory was used to produce plastic window frames and windows! Yacht production commenced at the site in 1978 and motor boats were introduced into the Bavaria range in 2003.

The Bavaria Yachts provide a roomy and pleasant environment for TV interviews at Match Race Germany too! Image copyright Brian Carlin/Alpari World Match Racing Tour

Sailors at Match Race Germany find that the conditions at Langenargen are often different from what they experience elsewhere on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour too. Light winds predominate, while there are occasional thunderstorms on Lake Constance in the summer months. The Bavaria 40S, as with the Bavaria Match boats before them, are well suited to cope with these conditions, as well as providing top quality match racing for the competitors.

Match Race Germany takes place at Langenargen on Bodensee (Lake Constance), 5-9 June 2014. It is the first stage in the Alpari World Match Racing Championship 2014.