By Bill Springer

Sporty German Cruiser

Fresh thinking in a crowded category.

The Hanse 415 is like lots of new production cruising boats in the 40-foot range. It has generous beam carried well aft, a big, comfortable cockpit, dual helms, a walk-through stern, and plumb bows. And like many new cruising boats available today, it’s designed to be both fast and easy to sail—a “performance cruiser”. But as I found out during my test drive off Newport, Rhode Island, last Fall, not all 40-foot “performance cruisers” are created equal.

One of the reasons I came to feel the 415 stands out in the crowded field of 40-foot performance cruisers is purely in the eye of the beholder. I love the clean lines and proportions of this boat that hit the sweet spot between modern and maybe even a bit edgy without being too radical. And there are more quantifiable reasons as well. I liked the visibility from the dual helms, the easily accessible walk-through stern, and the wide seats in the cockpit. I was also particularly impressed with the teak topped cockpit table. It was both stylish and sturdy and formed a good mounting point for the chart plotter. And, demonstrating excellent attention to detail, the plotter also pivots so the screen can be seen easily from either helm station. You may think an easy-to-see chart plotter should be a given but it’s not. I’ve sailed on enough boats where I’ve had to crane my neck to see a too-low, or non-adjustable plotter to appreciate when a builder does it right.

Another on deck feature that I liked was the lack of cabin-top winches. All the lines from the mast are led under the deck back to banks of stoppers near the primary winches that are mounted on the cockpit coaming right where you want them near the helms. Again, engineering away the cabin-top winches may seem like a small thing but it’s not. The unbroken line of the low slung cabin-top is yet another small improvement over the status quo (both in functionality and aesthetics) that helps set this boat apart.

Going forward, I did find the cabin-top hand holds to be too short, but I also liked the wide side decks, flush mounted deck hatches and good sized anchor locker. And with all lines leading back to the cockpit, and the ultra slick Antal mainsail track that lets the main slide effortlessly into the stack-pack bag without any pulling necessary, you only really need to go forward when its time to push the anchor windlass button or grab a mooring ball.

The theme of small things making a big impact was carried below decks and it started in the companionway. Unlike some companionways that have steep, ladder-like stairs, the 415’s companionway stairs have a shallow angle that make it super easy to descend into the saloon. I also appreciated the extra wide companionway opening and the oversized clear plastic companionway hatch that contributed to the open and airy feel in the saloon.

While the lay-out of the accommodations plan is pretty standard—cherry veneer woodwork, decent stowage, U-shaped settee, good sized galley with microwave, etc—the distinction is in the details. From the lights that can be dimmed, and the shades that can be pulled with a remote control unit, to the stylish basin (more than just a sink) in the main head, and the nav table that can be dropped down to provide more saloon seating, a lot of thought has gone into improving every aspect of the interior living space.

Like many 40-footers the 415 is available with two or three cabins but Hanse stands out among production builders because they also offer a myriad of interior choices. One head or two? You can easily have either. Large sail locker and smaller galley? They can do that. The boat is also available with an almost limitless list of interior fabric colors and wood finishes. There are a lot more options than you’ll find on most production boats so it’s up to you. But no matter which configuration you choose, the master cabin will be forward. It’ll have good headroom, ventilation, and stowage, but it’ll also have a berth that gets pretty pointy/small at the feet. Guest cabins can be either medium sized or small, but they’ll still have the essentials—double berth, some stowage, room to get dressed—that you’d expect from guest cabin(s) aft.

I hit the weather jackpot over the duration of my test which spanned several hours. As we raced to beat an approaching weather system, the wind built from a steady 10-12 knots to fresh 18-20 (gusting to 25) knots. Seas got up also as we nosed out into open water at the mouth of the bay. Boat speeds were in the solid 8’s on a reach and in the 7-8 knot range hard on the breeze.

Upwind, I found we were a little over canvassed in the gusts, but even though the helm occasionally got a little heavier than optimum, the boat continued to be easy to control, and I never had a fear of rounding up. And tacking, thanks to the well-designed self tacking jib set-up, was simply a breeze. There was no need to grind winches or worry that lazy sheet was free to run, or do anything except put the helm over. So, in addition to the boat being fast, it was maneuverable and forgiving in a breeze, and comfortable and easy to sail too. All those good things are what designers of “performance cruisers” strive for, right?

The boat sailed beautifully. And thanks to a myriad of interior options, super slippery mainsail track, clean cabin top, and slick line leads to the winches adjacent to each helm, among many other clever features, it worked perfectly too. Simply put, this boat was designed to make you look good. And it will.


Specifications
Builder: Hanse Yachts
Designer Judel/Vrolijk & co/ Hanse Yacht Design

Length Overall 40’ 8”……….12.40 m
Hull Length    39’4”…………11.99 m
Waterline Length 37’ 5”…….11.43 m
Beam 13’ 8”…………………4.19 m
Draft (std.) 6’ 11”…………..2.10 m
Draft (opt.) 5’ 8”……………1.72 m
Displacement approx. (deep) 19,621 lb……8,900 kg
Displacement approx. (deep) 20,063 lb…….9,360 kg
Ballast approx. 6,393 lb……………………..2,900 kg
Sail area 936 sq ft…………………………….86.96 sq m
Fuel 42 gal……………160 L
Water 85 gal………….320 L
Waste 9.25 gal………..35 L
Auxiliary Power 38 HP Volvo

Dealers
Pat Sturgeon Yachts, Mississauga ON www.patsturgeonyachts.com
Freedom Marine, Vancouver, North Vancouver and Sidney, BC www.boatingfreedom.com

Photo Captions
Photo 1 - Dual helms and ample beam carried aft allow for excellent visibility and a spacious and comfortable cockpit.
Photo 2 - The main saloon has a cool, modern feel.
Photo 3 - Even the wine storage has been well designed.  
Photo 4 - Stylish details like the modern sink set the head apart.
Photo 5 - The port saloon seat can be set up in a variety of configurations.

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