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sail-hanse_400-largeBy John Kerr

When Tom Penton wanted to move up, he consulted with his trusted yacht broker, Pat Sturgeon (now along with Hans Fogh) who represents Hanse Yachts. They worked together to 'spec' out Tom's new Hanse 400.

Having the luxury of living on Georgian Bay where Tom and his wife moor the boat, I have watched it round the point several miles off my house and knew right away who it was. The distinctive look and presence of this boat makes it stand out from the crowd. The sleek Judel/Volijk design is strikingly modern; the dark blue hull complements the low profile cabin top and reverse sheer line work perfectly. The distinctive fractional 9/10 rig with double spreader mast and sail plan was a telling sign of the arrival of the distinctive Hanse to Georgian Bay.

Like most of the new boats from Hanse, this boat has a pedigree of style and functionality that makes it as home on the racecourse or as it is for cruising. It has tons of room below and performance to the max. Having visited the Hanse factory I can attest to their fine methods of manufacturing, attention to detail and a keen desire to be the best. I learned a ton from my visit there however was sworn to secrecy on some of what I saw. One take away: Hanse's absolute commitment to building to minimum weight. A quick example of this: the aluminum rudder shaft beefed up by self-alignment needle bearings.

During the tour, I met an extraordinary number of sailors all of whom have a tremendous love of what they do. There was a distinctive personal touch on all fronts – from the keel jockeys to the hardware team.

I was extremely impressed by the flexible manufacturing protocols and the ability to change up and build to the same strict tolerances you would find at a BMW car plant and still allow the ability to make customer change and provide excellent options. On my count, I think there were 18 variations with the 400's interior alone. So anyone that says these boats have the IKEA look interior has it wrong.

Having sailed the 400 in various conditions I can personally attest to its great handling. The boat would be a snap to sail single-handed. The roller furling headsail and the self-tacker are brilliant. (The new larger roach blade sail being developed by Hans Fogh for the Penton's will be a another great plus for performance cruising and sail handling.) We sailed a prototype of it late last year and it's a 'must have' sail to add to the inventory. Acceleration out of the tacks and its quick pivot turning capability are testament to the design team and its racing heritage. With inboard jib tracks, the boat will easily beat upwind inside 40 degrees.

On deck, this boat excels and the nice touches the customer added in the cockpit make this boat a wonder to look at. At the dock and on the water it looks bigger than a typical 40 footer. From the steering station the visibility is great on all points. Toronto's Island Canvas did a great job detailing the navy blue dodger and enclosure and the choice of fabrics and piping detail are wonderful with their striking blue and white cockpit cushions.

The direct drive helm (as I like to call it) from Denmark's Jeffa is a rod/link system that gives a solid feel to the helm and generates an ability to keep the boat tracking despite the wind speed. The deck is clean and uncluttered; all deck lines driving aft under covers that make the deck space forward easy to transit.

There is great visibility from the helm with Harken winches well placed for both racing and cruising. Single handling this boat is a breeze but (as we do on many boats) we recommend an upgrade to at least one electric winch on the cabin top. Like its predecessors, the self- tacking jib adds to the ease of boat handling and maneuverability however the new, larger roach jib will easily fit in this configuration, add to the sail area and increase sail performance. Large lockers complement the cockpit finished off by a nice wide swim platform.

We liked the adjustable backstay a lot; it offered tons of adjustment. Many new boats we see are burdened by a loose forestay resulting in poor headsail shape and steering characteristics. By the way, moving forward is easy with wide side decks and handrails.

Down below, the interior has been tweaked from its standard offering. The wonderful addition of wood trim to the bulkheads and head walls really softened the look and feel. The original designs incorporated whiter wall treatment typical of the German/Nordic pedigree. While I quite like this personally – as I feel it opens the interior up and keeps it bright –the Penton's hit a home run on their retro fit and added that personal touch without jeopardizing the space and look and feel. The mixed wood colours also add style and class below. One other thing was the addition of tow hull windows neatly tucked in between the cabinetry that graces the upper part of the interior cabin.

The interior is well lit with many numerous windows hatches and ports. Systems and fittings are easily accessed and well-labelled for easy maintenance and quick fixes. The galley to starboard is close to the companionway and well appointed with good counter space and amenities like a double stainless sink.

The new owners added a nice glass partition between the galley and cabin area – a neat touch. Across from the galley is the single large head with shower and tons of storage. A double settee graces the table; it's easy to see how simple entertaining will be below decks. It's easy to see how well fitted the boat is to allow any passage of any length in comfort.

This Hanse 400 is a great boat with an elegant and personal touch.

Like most of the new boats from Hanse, this boat has a pedigree of style and functionality that makes it as home on the racecourse or as it is for cruising. It has tons of room below and performance to the max. Having visited the Hanse factory I can attest to their fine methods of manufacturing, attention to detail and a keen desire to be the best. I learned a ton from my visit there however was sworn to secrecy on some of what I saw. One take away: Hanse's absolute commitment to building to minimum weight. A quick example of this: the aluminum rudder shaft beefed up by self-alignment needle bearings.

During the tour, I met an extraordinary number of sailors all of whom have a tremendous love of what they do. There was a distinctive personal touch on all fronts – from the keel jockeys to the hardware team.

I was extremely impressed by the flexible manufacturing protocols and the ability to change up and build to the same strict tolerances you would find at a BMW car plant and still allow the ability to make customer change and provide excellent options. On my count, I think there were 18 variations with the 400's interior alone. So anyone that says these boats have the IKEA look interior has it wrong.

Having sailed the 400 in various conditions I can personally attest to its great handling. The boat would be a snap to sail single-handed. The roller furling headsail and the self-tacker are brilliant. (The new larger roach blade sail being developed by Hans Fogh for the Penton's will be a another great plus for performance cruising and sail handling.) We sailed a prototype of it late last year and it's a 'must have' sail to add to the inventory. Acceleration out of the tacks and its quick pivot turning capability are testament to the design team and its racing heritage. With inboard jib tracks, the boat will easily beat upwind inside 40 degrees.

On deck, this boat excels and the nice touches the customer added in the cockpit make this boat a wonder to look at. At the dock and on the water it looks bigger than a typical 40 footer. From the steering station the visibility is great on all points. Toronto's Island Canvas did a great job detailing the navy blue dodger and enclosure and the choice of fabrics and piping detail are wonderful with their striking blue and white cockpit cushions.

The direct drive helm (as I like to call it) from Denmark's Jeffa is a rod/link system that gives a solid feel to the helm and generates an ability to keep the boat tracking despite the wind speed. The deck is clean and uncluttered; all deck lines driving aft under covers that make the deck space forward easy to transit.

There is great visibility from the helm with Harken winches well placed for both racing and cruising. Single handling this boat is a breeze but (as we do on many boats) we recommend an upgrade to at least one electric winch on the cabin top. Like its predecessors, the self- tacking jib adds to the ease of boat handling and maneuverability however the new, larger roach jib will easily fit in this configuration, add to the sail area and increase sail performance. Large lockers complement the cockpit finished off by a nice wide swim platform.

We liked the adjustable backstay a lot; it offered tons of adjustment. Many new boats we see are burdened by a loose forestay resulting in poor headsail shape and steering characteristics. By the way, moving forward is easy with wide side decks and handrails.

Down below, the interior has been tweaked from its standard offering. The wonderful addition of wood trim to the bulkheads and head walls really softened the look and feel. The original designs incorporated whiter wall treatment typical of the German/Nordic pedigree. While I quite like this personally – as I feel it opens the interior up and keeps it bright –the Penton's hit a home run on their retro fit and added that personal touch without jeopardizing the space and look and feel. The mixed wood colours also add style and class below. One other thing was the addition of tow hull windows neatly tucked in between the cabinetry that graces the upper part of the interior cabin.

The interior is well lit with many numerous windows hatches and ports. Systems and fittings are easily accessed and well-labelled for easy maintenance and quick fixes. The galley to starboard is close to the companionway and well appointed with good counter space and amenities like a double stainless sink.

The new owners added a nice glass partition between the galley and cabin area – a neat touch. Across from the galley is the single large head with shower and tons of storage. A double settee graces the table; it's easy to see how simple entertaining will be below decks. It's easy to see how well fitted the boat is to allow any passage of any length in comfort.

This Hanse 400 is a great boat with an elegant and personal touch.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting's July 2008 issue.