Plenty of interesting stuff on magazines on the last months. This time is Yachting world with this interesting test. Pity they had not joined the Oceanis 38 to the group, it was certainly not because they don't wanted but probably they were not able to find a boat.
Like on the previous comparative we are only looking here at how the boats sail. To see what they offer in terms of interior space comfort and storage you have just to go to a boat show and take your own conclusions. I am pretty sure they will all be at the Dusseldorf boat show.
The results were pretty much what I expected but I bet they would surprise more than one and even more if the Oceanis 38 were part of the group. They were clear: the best sailing boat (in what regards sailing) was the Varianta 37, the fastest and more enjoyable.
Regarding the Oceanis 38 even if it was not here, on the last year's group test from Voile Magazine (for choosing the 2014 boat of the year) the Varianta 37 was way faster then the Oceanis 38 on light to medium winds (probably the Oceanis 38 will be faster in strong winds, downwind and slower upwind on those conditions).
The full test by Yachting World magazine (September) is very interesting and you can download the magazine on Zinio. The relevant parts regarding boat speed and the way the boats sail are these:
"What immediately set the test boats apart was the difference in speed and pointing ability of the Varianta, particularly against the Bavaria. She smoked the other two yachts upwind despite having a fixed prop..the Varianta soon won all tests on the water. With a F5 going over the Solent she behaved obediently and tacked sharply...A large wheel...provides light direct steering and excellent feeling at the helm. She is nimble, quick and a real pleasure to sail for just sailing's sake.
In terms of performance the Jeanneau was not far from the Varianta - specially considering that she was fully laden with cruising gear. ..We felt most comfortable sailing with the breeze up...upwind..the self tacking jib and good distribution of buoyancy in the hull helped to make the 379 the most nimble and balanced to sail. But with the modest sail plan the Jeanneau strugle until the wind rose above 8/10K.
It was evident in all points of sail that performance was not the Bavaria's strong point... Aboard the Bavaria i failed to get any sense of the helming pleasure the two other yachts had offered. She felt comparatively sluggish and proved difficult to keep on track or find a grove and routed up into the wind too easily. In a group that is close on the paper, we where surprised by the gulf between the three yachts in speed and handling."
Contrary to the impressions regarding the interior, where different sailors will have difference needs and different tastes, the part regarding sailing ability is the part of the test that is objective even if some points slightly blurred, for instance when it is made the assumption that the Jeanneau is not far in performances regarding the Varianta "considering that it is fully laden with cruising gear" but forgetting that the Varianta had a fixed prop while the Jeanneau had a foldable prop.
That in my experience can give up in speed half a knot to almost a knot, depending on the conditions, probably at least as much as the Jeanneau would lose with being laden with cruising gear. That would made the last sentence more meaningful, regarding the gulf between the three yachts and not among two of them regarding the Bavaria.
I have no doubt that if the Oceanis 38 was part of the group the results would not be that different: Probably a bit better than the Jeanneau in strong winds downwind but worse close to the wind.That makes me wonder why the Varianta, costing almost half than the Jeanneau is not a big sales success and I can only assume that the way a sailboat sails is not as important to most cruisers as the quality or the interior or even the look of the boat.
Personally I like the way the Varianta looks, particularly sailing but the design does not look (and it is not) new, the boat has only on steering wheel but the way it sails shows that what is older on the design are the looks, not its efficiency: The Varianta hull is the old Hanse 370 one but the keel is the one from the new Dehler 38, a torpedo high efficiency one.
The price of the three tested boats (with the extra equipment they had): Bavaria 37 - 170 267€; Jeanneau SO 379 (swing keel) - 230 626€ ; Varianta 37 - 133 979€