Robert Chaffer, project manager at Bavaria, stood in the corner of the swim platform of the brand’s new R55. Fluorescent light from inside the convention center of the Dusseldorf Boat Show bathed the new model. Chaffer was fielding interviews with journalists, one after another. A European editor ahead of me closed up his camera, shook his hand and departed. Chaffer had just enough time to gulp from a water bottle before our set appointment.
An exhausted designer is not going to make for an interesting interview, I thought to myself. I would be proven wrong. Despite hearing himself talk for most of the day, Chaffer exuded excitement and pride in the new model, the largest Bavaria power boat and the flagship of the R line.
My first question was, admittedly, a softball. Bavaria has shifted its focus under his guidance, building boats that are sportier than ever before. I asked where that inspiration and direction came from.
Gallery: Bavaria R55
“What the world knows about Germany are our car manufacturers,” he explained in a rapid cadence. “[After joining Bavaria] I spent every weekend visiting car builders and museums. We’re also known for the Autobahn. There’s an expectation that German cars handle well in the fast lane. I think we should expect the same from German yachts.”
And the R55 is exceptionally sporty. Even within the confines of an indoor show it didn’t take much imagination to picture her aggressively plying the seas.
Chaffer is proud of the look of the R55 but he’s quick to point out that every line you see—and others you don’t—contribute to the boat’s performance.
“Yes, it’s family-friendly—but it’s sport biased. We’ve worked very hard to get the hull tuned just right. If you look at the deadrise [45 degrees at the bow, 20 degrees amidships and 16.5 degrees at the stern] she’s nice and deep all the way through,” explained Chaefer. “We also have progressive S chines on the sides, so rather than traditional C-shaped, this keeps the sharper nose farther back and breaks the wave energy farther up the bow.” This should throw the ocean away from the boat and result in a drier ride.
[Author’s note: Pay attention here, this is where Chaffer gets the most excited.] “And the chines themselves get wider and wider as they go aft. Instead of the traditional hard intersect with the V and the chine, you’ve got a nice progressive rolling shape going aft and because this boat is dedicated IPS drive only, the chines on the running surfaces aft transition to -5 degrees as they go to the stern.”
For those of us without degrees in naval architecture, this chine shape keeps the boat planted and guided when you want to track straight and also prevents sliding in turns.
I wager Chaffer could have spoken to me about the hull shape for hours; alas, he had another appointment on the books. He took a swig of water and was off again.
If that much attention was paid to the hull I was anxious to climb inside. But first I had to climb into a cavernous toy garage in the transom. (Owners can opt for a crew cabin in this space—if they’re not particularly friendly with their crew, that is.)
The interior space is bright and open with a galley aft and a conventional three-stateroom layout. The fit and finish seems to be improving in each Bavaria model, as does the headroom. I measured 6 feet 5 inches in the staterooms and 7 feet 5 inches in the salon.
The flybridge is where I expect most R55 owners to spend the bulk of their time. Despite how sleek the bridge looks in relation to the boat’s profile, six adults could easily linger in this space around the grill. Rounded helm seats are a nod to Chaffer’s performance-minded mission.
Forward lounging areas are where builders seem to be putting more and more focus. Bavaria is no different. The days of laying flat and baking in the sun for, well, days, seem to be burning out. Instead, people want the option to sit up around friends, enjoy the view and relax under a foldup bimini.
I can’t give a proper review of the engine room since it was still being finished during the time of the show, but the twin Volvo Penta D8s or D11s should be right at home. Bavaria is estimating a top speed of 30 and 34 knots respectively.
I left the R55 and my meeting with Chaffer with a very positive impression. Funny how passion has a way of doing that.
FUEL: 528 gal.
WATER: 159 gal.
STANDARD POWER: 2/600-hp Volvo Penta D8
CRUISE SPEED: 24 knots
TOP SPEED: 30 knots
PRICE: Upon Request