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sail_boat_review-bavaria_31-largeOne of my dearest friends always says while hoisting a cold malt beverage "how do they make something that tastes so good so well-priced?" Clearly here 'cheap' is referring to a reasonable price and with this Bavaria my thoughts while sailing was how can they make such a great little boat with all the value for this price? All in, it's under $120,000.

Replacing its cousin, the 30, the new Bavaria does not disappoint. Well-finished and a beauty to look a,t this boat continues to reinforce the affordability of sailing and yachting in style. I liked this boat from the first time I saw it. It is compact and neatly laid out, above and below decks – with tons of storage. The deck layout is clean and neat with control lines that lead aft under the deck. Below decks offers tons of storage.

Bavaria used the design team at J&J Designs – the group responsible for many innovations in yacht design in both power and sail. Working closely with Bavaria, they have not only created the boat, but also advised and consulted on the tooling ensuring a strong balanced boat and a cost effective build plan. Their resumé is endless; they are one of the most prolific designers today working for many well-known builders in Europe.

The Bavaria 31 has elegant lines and features that are standard in larger boats. For a boat at 32'9" LOA they have been most successful in packaging value and look and feel into what we believe to be a very competitively priced boat in this 30-33 foot market.

Above decks, one will find a fairly spacious cockpit. The steering station complete with pedestal electronics and a neat cockpit table that easily serves six. It has long bench seats of 7' and a transom hatch with innovative, electronically lowered bathing platform. Nice touch and neat feature.

Lines are well lead aft below deck and the double-ended mainsheet, copied from a Farr 40, is a neat touch. Though, it will take some getting used to, not that's it is awkward at all, it's just a new way of thinking. Clearly it's a feature to allow easy trim underway by one person. While testing this boat, I managed to replicate sailing upwind alone and found all lines readily at hand; I liked the fact that I could control the big mainsail easily. Six well-placed winches also proved useful! However, if I was cruising alot and alone, I'd definitely spring for an electric winch on the cabin top.

The test boat came with Elvstrom France sails, beautifully cut; it was rigged with lazy jacks (one of my favourite features) making it a breeze to drop the main when needed as we headed in. We tested her on a fairly gusty day with an offshore shifting breeze and flat wate; it was a good test for this nimble boat. I imagined using a tiller at one point then got my head around the fact that this is a performance cruising boat and a traditional steering wheel is certainly the best way to go.

The boat performed well in gusts and proved its abilities as a stiff and well balanced boat. We tracked along easily a 6-7 knots and found the boat quick in acceleration after the tacks. Off wind, it was as stable as can be and the rudder was deep enough to give that bite you need when reaching.

Below decks, you immediately see a change with the improved interior layout that takes advantage of every bit of volume that's there. A larger head and forward cabin and two large coach roof windows bring light into this bright cabin; six opening windows and hatches in the saloon provide great ventilation. I liked the chart table a lot with its neat extra drawers on the side and its easy-to-lift tabletop. I always like to see what they'll come up with next here. Overall, the navigation station is comfortable and clean.

The cabin area and dining table are balanced well to port forward of the galley area. A drop leaf allows the starboard settee to be used and the table easily can hold a crew of six. I say balanced because the space is so well used and thought out here positioning the table just off the centerline makes this space all the more functional.

The galley set to port just below the companionway was well appointed too. Clean and neat with ample storage and stainless sink, gimbaled stove and large fridge accessed from the counter. Like the nav station I liked the easy-to-access drawers and the nice feel it has looking into the cabin. It's great to be in the galley working and still feel part of the crowd when below decks. A neat handrail is incorporated as well.

The aft cabin to port and entered off the galley is spacious enough and well done being tucked under the cockpit. It's bright and well ventilated with two easy opening hatches. It has a comfortable bed for friends and family. The head is larger than one would expect, off to port behind the nav station and it boasts a wet hanging locker.

All in all, for under $120,000, it's a great boat with a great heritage.

To see if this boat is available, go to www.boatcan.com to check listings!