John martino, annapolis school of seamanship and annapolis yacht         management
The following review was written by John Martino and prepared by the marketing department of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Mr. Martino is the founder and president of Annapolis Yacht Management and Annapolis School of Seamanship. He develops and teaches hands-on training courses for recreational boaters and professional mariners, and offers yacht delivery and onboard training services for powerboaters as well as sailors.
Tiara 3900 sovran
Length overall  41'9"
Beam  13'11"
Draft  3'5"
Displacement  23,000 lb
Fuel Capacity  300 gals
Water Capacity  102 gals
Base Price  $530,200

Tiara 3900 sovran salon

The Tiara 3900 Sovran is a quick, comfortable, and capable cruiser built to high standards, but calling it an express cruiser just doesn’t feel quite right. After sea trialing one in Annapolis, Md., (courtesy of Tiara Chesapeake) I came away thinking the Sovran is capable of much more extensive cruising than the typical day trips and occasional overnighters that most of us associate with express cruisers.

One of the features I liked the most is the bridge deck. Enclosed on three sides and equipped with a hardtop overhead, the air-conditioned bridge area offers great visibility and protection from the elements. The skipper sits to starboard across from a raised L-shaped lounge with a cocktail table to port. An optional drop canvas aft completely encloses the space.

The cockpit is down a step from the bridge. Two settee lounges face each other across a movable dinette table. A transom door takes you to a large integral swim platform with a built-in freshwater shower. There’s a large built-in line-and-fender locker here as well.

Noise levels onboard were impressively low even with the twin 370-hp Volvo Penta diesels running at cruising speed. The Volvo IPS system uses steerable propulsion pods beneath the hull, eliminating the need for propeller shafts, struts and rudders. Among other benefits, this significantly reduces noise and vibration. Gregg Cohen, my host and president of Tiara Yachts Chesapeake, lifted the cockpit sole (hydraulic) while we were running so I could see the access and hear how effectively the soundproofing and hatch gaskets seal out the engine noise.

The IPS system also offers efficiency and high-end performance. From standing still the 3900 Sovran was able to get on plane quickly and without the bow rise and digging-in that are typical of similar boats equipped with straight shafts. Once on plane, the ride was smooth and I felt insulated from bumps and vibrations. Although conditions were calm, I was able to "attack" some large powerboat wake to see how the boat would handle in a rough chop. We glided right through it.

The 3900 cruised along at 27 knots (3000 rpm) and burned 27 gallons per hour. At wide open throttle, we reached 31.5 knots and burned 40 gph. Going full tilt, I put the helm over hard to starboard to see what she would do, and I was surprised by what happened next. She banked into the turn and carved a tight circle, crossing back over her own wake without a hitch. I had expected to get some propeller cavitation and some "sinking-in" on my starboard quarter, but I couldn’t trip her.

Around the dock, the Sovran is a snap. The IPS system gets accolades for the simplicity of its joystick system for close-quarters maneuvering.Putting the shifters into neutral and pushing a button switches steering control from the wheel to the joystick. Twisting the stick will rotate the boat; pushing the stick in any direction (including sideways) will move the boat in that direction.

Down below, the Sovran has an open layout and is stylishly appointed. It offers comfortable accommodations for a couple with children or occasional guests. There is a centerline double bunk in a forward "cabin" that can be closed off with sliding doors. The galley is to starboard, and there is a long settee/dinette to port which converts to over/under bunks. The mid cabin has a large flat screen TV and two sofas that convert to a large double bunk. The head has a separate stall shower.