Hanse 400 - it has it allBy John Kerr

It's classic, comfortable well-designed and easy to sail. From the minute you step onto the deck of a Hanse you're immediately struck by the fact that they have employed a design team with its act together. They are a team with a clear goal in mind and a design pedigree second to none. Sailing a Hanse is a dream - and if you're a regular CY reader you already know how I feel about the Hanses: I am one of the converted.

These boats are fast-cruising lifestyle yachts that are comfortable, responsive and easy as punch to sail.

Hanse has it all. That's why I couldn't wait to see the new Hanse 400 at the boat show. Even when only seen on the hard it looks like the latest triumph and I can't wait to sail her. Stay tuned for the on-water test once the ice is out of the harbour.

In the meantime, here's a preview.

From stem to stern you can see evidence of the effort and style provided by design team Judel and Vrolijk. This boat is the latest offering in the "cross over design". They have accomplished and even exceeded their mission.

Like its sister ships, this boat show specimen looks to be fast and easy to handle - her speed no doubt the result of builders' efforts to stop at nothing to save weight.

Tapered mast heads are standard and provide further evidence of their attention to this detail, but you can also lighten the hull further with the optional epoxy layup technique that decreases overall weight by a further 4%. Our call on this is to go for it; when it comes to maintenance issues like osmosis this hull design has its advantages.

Hanse 400 - GalleyThe attention to derail continues topside. The split or divided bow pulpit is a nice touch, very safe but practical. The layout of the anchor roller juxtaposed near the standard furling gear is well done and neat. They have even designed the bow assembly to take a gennaker pole.

Above the waterline the deck is balsa cored fiberglass. Below the waterline the hull is solid fiberglass.

All lines are led aft. Typical of the Hanse fleet, the no-nonsense self-tacker is present, making those tight tacks a breeze in any channel or harbour. Cruising and entertaining with a self-tacker on board just makes life so much easier for those new sailors and guests and makes single-handling a breeze when your guests have deserted the ship.

All the instrumentation is easily visible from a variety of crew positions and the console placed amidships complements the open cockpit beautifully.

A final nice touch is the adoption of the new trend to larger leather-wrapped steering wheels. It's a feature we absolutely love. The only improvement we might suggest is a folding wheel to give a bit more wiggle room for loading and unloading at the dock.

If the Hanses we've seen so far are any indication, design and flexibility are two words that epitomize these boats. The cabin layout offers further evidence of both those characteristics. We identified up to five configurations, allowing for one or two stern cabins and a diagonal or traditional fore cabin. The diagonal layout allows for a more open feel and there is tons of headroom. Most designers let you choose your upholstery. With the Hanse you can also pick the wood colours: they offer a choice of cherry or mahogany.

Hanse 400 - cabinetryThe galley is bright and efficient with gimbaled oven/stove combination and tons of storage. The navigation center is also well-placed with overhead lockers a neat touch. Accessing the engine room is easy and we particularly like the fact that the companionway steps are mounted right on the access door - easily lifted and balanced with gas pressure struts.

While I admit I can hardly wait for the snow to go so I can put her through her paces, even seeing her under the lights at the boar shows convinces me that my theories about these boats and their design team are still valid.

When it comes to a boat created to combine flexibility and innovative design, it seems to me that the Hanse 400, just like every other Hanse I've tested so far, has it all.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s April 2006 issue.

Photo Captions
Photo 1 - Hanse has it all.
Photo 2 - The galley area of the new Hanse 400 is bright and efficient
Photo 3 - With Hanse you can pick between cherry or mahogany for the cabinetry.

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