Overview

Baba 40 Sail Plan The Baba 40, also known as the Panda 40 and later the Tashiba 40, is the third of the Baba lineup of boats involving developer Bob Berg, designer Bob Perry, and the Ta Shing boatyard. One can arguably consider the Baba 40 a full keel reincarnation of the Valiant 40, the boat that put the word “performance” next to “cruiser”. Knowing that I guess it’s not so surprising to find the Baba 40 inherits a good turn of speed – owners even trumpet around-the-buoys racing victories in these serious blue water cruisers. They are beautifully balanced with a wonderful feel at the helm, and what’s more, they have some of the best interiors to be seen in production cruising yachts.

History

The story of the Baba 40 really starts with the Baba 30 which brought together a winning combination of talents – developer Bob Berg, designer Bob Perry, and what was then a little known Taiwanese boatyard called Shing Sheng. Through the success of the little Baba 30 and the Baba 35, Shing Sheng started on the road to become a force in the boatbuilding world. By 1979 they had changed their name to Ta Shing and had moved to a new purpose built factory. It was in this year that Berg commissioned Perry to design a new 40-foot model to fill out the line.

Perry was not happy with merely evolving his earlier Baba 35 design, which in itself was a stretched version of the 30. Instead, in search of more boat speed, Perry dusted off the lines of his famous Valiant 40 with its radical fin keel and separate skeg-hung rudder had defined the “performance cruiser” category only five years earlier. From the Valiant 40 hull form he derived an all-new full keel design which was to be the Baba 40. It proved to be a huge step forward over earlier Babas with Perry describing the Baba 40 having an entirely different stability personality. It was stiffer initially, beautifully balanced and much faster.

Tim Ellis who oversaw construction fondly remembers the symbiotic partnering of Berg’s development and management, Perry’s design, and Ta Shing’s undisputed capabilities as builder. He recalls the exacting attention fostered by Berg.

“They produced a design of sublime artistry. I think it is no exaggeration to suggest that Bob Berg made at least thirty or more visits to Taiwan during the years Baba designs were under development and construction, and he and I would sit on each yacht for hours, days and more to fine tune shapes, appearances, major and minor details, and resolve the niggling issues that plagued others less well traveled. My job was to take Bob’s advice and adjustments and translate them into action. My list of items might run into the hundreds during each visit, and many, many more on a hull number one. In pursuit of his ideal, Bob left no room for equivocation, and a lesser builder would have baulked.” – Tim Ellis

The Baba 40 was introduced to the public in 1980. In 1983, when Berg left his association with the Flying Dutchman dealership who owned the Baba trademark, he marketed the boat as the Panda 40. This name did not last long and by 1984, with Ta Shing now a contender in Taiwanese boat-building, marketed the boat by themselves using the name Tashiba 40. It’s been speculated this was a play on the words names “Ta Shing” and “Baba”.

Production ended in 1996 with a total of 115 boats being built, although hull numbers can be found that run up to #182, there is a gap between #33 and #101.

Ta Shing eventually formed an exclusive relationship with the Californian based company PAEI who had Al Mason as their in-house designer. Sadly, years later when PAEI shifted focus to power boats, many of Ta Shing’s molds including the Baba 40 were cut up.

Configuration

The lines of the Baba 40 follows its ancestry back to traditional Scandinavian double-enders. Under the waterline is a full keel with a cutaway forefoot and as with many of the Perry full keel designs, the keel meets the bilge of the hull without the traditional “wine glass” section blend. Both features reduce wetted area. The hull shape is relatively beamy offering good interior volume. A cutter rig plus bowsprit combo is employed on most boats though it is believed two boats were optionally built as ketches. Another major variation was a pilothouse model with its two comfortable staterooms; about eleven pilothouses were built.

Interior

Baba 40 Layout Belowdecks the quality of workmanship is superb, many Taiwanese man-hours were used in detailing the interiors with the close guidance of Berg who was known for his ability to squeeze function into every square inch of a boat. Perry also considered it one of his best, noting that it feels “right” with near perfect detailing and a layout with no apparent compromise.

On the starboard quarter, there’s a cabin with a double seagoing quarter-berth. To port there’s a well laid out U-shaped galley. In the saloon, a two-settee berth layout with pilot berth to port was offered as an option to provide extra sea-going berths. In the forward cabin, there’s a double berth offset to port. Headroom is a generous 6′ 5″.

The Tashiba 40 boats had less detailing which has been attributed cost cutting measures by Ta Shing – less teak trim, less portlights, and gone are the butterfly hatches in the Baba 40.

Construction

The Baba 40 hull is solidly built in hand-laid GRP, with hull thickness growing from 0.41″ thick at the topsides to 0.57″ at the waterline, and 0.90″ at the keel. The deck is cored with end-grained balsa, as well as high density closed-cell foam in the deck and cabin trunk. The ballast is cast iron and is encapsulated in GRP, though one boat at least was built with lead ballast.

Under Sail

The boat has a wonderful feel at the helm and is a fun to sail, especially as the breeze picks up. Some owners have even raced their Baba 40s against modern fin keel competitors successfully. As a testament to the boat’s speed, Michael and Elizabeth Kramer in S.V. Cambria covered 396 miles in a 46 hour passage down the Sea of Cortez broad reaching in 35 knots of wind; an impressive average of 8.6 knots.

Owners often describe their Baba’s to have a feel of solidity. In heavy weather conditions the Baba 40 has the capacity to keep sailing when many other boats are heaving-to. Of note is Jeff Hartjoy’s solo passage from Peru to Buenos Aires via Cape Horn in 2009 where he experienced an immense amount of bad weather. On that passage he reported a lot of breakages but commented about the soundness of his boat.

Specifications

(AS PER TASHIBA 40 CATALOG)
LOA: 39′ 11″ (excluding bowsprit) *
LWL: 34′ 6″ *
Beam: 12′ 10″
Draft: 6″ 0″
Displacement: 29,000 lbs.
Ballast: 10,000 lbs. *
Sail Area, Cutter: 865 sq. ft.
Sail Area, Ketch: 910 sq. ft.
Sail Area, Pilothouse: 848 sq. ft.
* The Baba 40 catalog differs with LOA: 39′ 10″ / LWL: 36′ 3″ / Ballast: 12,000 lbs. It is believed the Tashiba specifications listed here are more accurate.

Headroom: 6′ 5″
Engine: Volvo MD21A Diesel
Fuel, Cutter: 100 US. Gal.
Fuel, Pilothouse: 125 US. Gal.
Water, Cutter: 150 US. Gal. (85 port, 65 starboard)
Water, Pilothouse: 200 US. Gal

Year Introduced: 1980
Year Ended: 1996
Designer: Robert H. Perry
Developer: Bob Berg (Quicksilver Corp.)
Builder: Ta Shing, Taiwan

Also Known As: Tashiba 40, Panda 40, Quicksilver 40, Ta Shing 40

Buyers Notes

As with many boats older than 25 years, have your surveyor check items such as chainplates and areas of balsa coring for rot. The original mild steel fuel tanks have proven to be susceptible to corrosion and on most boats, these have been replaced.

Overall, the Baba 40 has aged well, a testament to its build quality. Most examples on the market tend to be in excellent condition and priced accordingly. As of 2010 asking prices are in the range of $160k-$200k USD.

Similar Boats

Links and References

» Yacht Design According to Perry: My Boats and What Shaped Them, by Robert H. Perry (p89-p95)
» Baba, Panda, Tashiba sailboat Yahoo Group, information and owner discussions

Credits

For their assistance in the writing of this article, thanks goes out to Tim Ellis who supervised the Baba line of yachts built at Shing Sheng / Ta Sheng during 1977-1987 as well as owners from the Baba Association.

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9 Responses to “Baba 40”

  1. Bill Healy says:

    We had the second built Tashiba 40 – heavily customized by Ta Shing – in 1985 and cruised full time around the world until 2006. Very well built (never a failure), comfortable at sea (in all conditions), and beautiful to look at. The interior is one of the best in a 40 foot boat. 7 years in the N & S & E & W Pacific, 2 years S.E. Asia, Indian Ocean, 3 years on whole east coast of Africa, 7 years in the Med, W. Africa, E. coast of S. America, Caribbean, back to S. Pacific and on to Oz. Seems like a dream now.

  2. Joanna says:

    I agree with Jonathan. Our Tashiba 40 (1986) has a gorgeous teak butterfly hatch and loads of teak below, no laminate paneling on this boat! From the other Tashibas I’ve seen, there appeared to be a wide variety of teak options and it looks like the person who ordered our boat opted for all of them. She’s beautiful.

  3. Jonathan says:

    I respectfully disagree with the broad generalization above that the Tashiba 40 was of lesser quality in the detailing (i.e., “The Tashiba 40 boats had less detailing as a cost cutting measure by Ta Shing; less teak trim, less portlights, and gone were the butterfly hatches in the Baba 40.”) I have just recently inspected a 1986 Tashiba 40, complete with 6 portlights on both sides (rather than the oft-seen “standard” 5 ports on the Baba), and retaining the beautiful butterfly hatch in the saloon. Perhaps this particular boat was special-ordered, but it actually appears to be a notch above many earlier Baba’s I have seen, in several design features (such as the angled sink area in the galley). I believe the “cost-cutting” measures began to occur later in the Tashiba years. Even the Tashiba 40 brochure photos posted above show detailing items that are far from “less” than the Baba. Maybe detailing dropped off after Tim Ellis ceased supervision in 1987? Or perhaps the brochure photos always featured “upgrades”?

  4. Rhay says:

    I Don’t know why all these slick websites suggest that the Baba , Panda and Tashiba are the same hull-they’re not.They all have very different shapes and different PHRF ratings. The Baba is nothing like a Valliant. Richard Hay

    • Will says:

      Richard, you’re mostly correct in the Baba / Panda / Tashiba boats have different hulls, this is true in all but the 40 footer where they the same boat with different marketing names due to issues over trademark naming rights and marketing/business decisions, see the History section of this article. This is confirmed by Perry in his book, as well by my direct written conversations with Tim Ellis and Bob Berg during the research behind this article.

      The story of the Baba 40 being derived from the Valiant 40 lines is well documented in Perry’s book, well worth a read. They may look different, but the Baba 40 lines and concepts are derived from the Valiant 40.

  5. night0wl says:

    Does anyone know the mast height about water for the baba/panda/tashiba 40?

    • Will says:

      I bet the guys at the Baba / Tashiba / Panda owners Yahoo Group with have that answer for you. It’s a very active community.

  6. Michael Kramer says:

    We have frequently sailed our boat in 40 knot winds upwind and to 45 knot winds downwind. Can’t really say how they heave to because we never have due to weather, only to take care of something else like a fish on the line (or a bird on the fish on the line). On longer passages up and down the Pacific coast of North America we only get to choose the weather we depart in, not what develops later. The boat handles very well, we have never been pooped (yet!). Our previous boat was a Tayana 37, and sorry Tayana owners, this one sails substantially better and not just because it is 10% longer.

    In the last three years I have double-handed a Swede 55 from Hawaii to San Francisco, a Cape George 31 from Tahiti to Seattle, Washington, and a Spray 40 from La Paz Mexico to Ecuador and before that a variety of boats from southern California to their new owners in northern California. None of those boats comes up to the feeling of solidity and the ability to sail that our Panda 40 has.

    Michael Kramer
    SV Cambria

  7. Michael Kramer says:

    We have frequently sailed our boat in 40 knot winds upwind and to 45 knot winds downwind. Can’t really say how they heave to because we never have due to weather, only to take care of something else like a fish on the line (or a bird on the fish on the line). On longer passages up and down the Pacific coast of North America we only get to choose the weather we depart in, not what develops later. The boat handles very well, we have never been pooped (yet!). Our previous boat was a Tayana 37, and sorry Tayana owners, this one sails substantially better and not just because it is 10% longer.

    In the last three years I have double-handed a Swede 55 from Hawaii to San Francisco, a Cape George 31 from Tahiti to Seattle, Washington, and a Spray 40 from La Paz Mexico to Ecuador and before that a variety of boats from southern California to their new owners in northern California. None of those boats comes up to the feeling of solidity and the ability to sail that our Panda 40 has.

    Michael Kramer
    SV Cambria

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