The Hanse 400 offers cruising sailors a lot of performance on a platform that lets crews concentrate on their drinks, rather than their lines
The Hanse 400 is quick, fun to sail and her designers have found some clever new ways to meet the needs of cruisers. The designers have managed to strike a balance between making a production boat, which is easy to handle and sail yet delivers the sensibility and performance required by those who also enjoy the sailing. Hanse has found a way to meet traditional seafaring needs with some simple new design ideas, and the 400 is just as well suited to a day sail in Sai Kung as a week-long trip to the Philippines.
The German designed and built Hanse 400 is a welcome new alternative on the production boat market in Hong Kong. The yacht was designed by Judel/Vrolijk & Co, who have a strong record on the international racing scene in everything from Volvo Ocean racing boats to America’s Cup and TP52s, and clearly know how to transfer some of that performance into something more cruiser friendly. Clean, simple designs with solid construction have helped this relatively new brand become a popular choice among cruisers.
Since its start in 1993, Hanse has made a reputation for itself with its simple, no frills yachts that go fast and are solidly built. They deliver very good value for money in this class, partially because they don’t try to make boats into something they will never be. This is a great, affordable cruising boat, not a luxury yacht or a racer, and the brand’s growing customer base seems to agree on this.
Her hull looks quite quick with its clean entry, full beam and flat aft sections. Once onboard, the first thing that catches my attention is her spacious cockpit and wide side decks, making it easy to move around the boat. Teak decks are optional, adding a classier look to the boat but raising the temperature below decks and the amount of maintenance on deck.
One of my favourite deck features of the boat is the console and table in the cockpit, which holds the GPS navigation screen and compass. Its stainless steel construction looks smart and it’s solid as a rock, providing plenty of handholds and places to clip your harness to. The cockpit benches have high enough backs to be comfortable and safe while at sea. The transom has a removable bar to create a fully open transom if desired.
There is plentiful lazerette space for stowing fenders or flippers, while the anchor locker is truly massive, and on longer cruises, it will swallow a week’s worth of rubbish bags without a problem.
When I took the Hanse for a sail, the wind was fluctuating between seven and ten knots, giving us enough wind for over six knots upwind and quick acceleration to over seven knots as soon as we cracked off a bit. Wide transom boats often drag their bum a bit, but the Hanse 400 avoided that transom gurgle when she was powered up, leaving a nice clean wake.
All Hanse yachts come with a small, self-tacking jib, while most of the power comes from a big mainsail. Upwind, the jib is close winded and finds an easy groove in even the lightest breeze. However, owners that want to race their 400s have found that the self-tacking jib doesn’t have quiet enough power, although it has a good sheeting angle and works well for upwind cruising work. An overlapping jib, using the optional factory installed tracks, will give the boat considerably more power off the wind.
But it’s hard not to like this configuration when you’re cruising and a call of “prepare to tack” is little more than a warning to steady your drink. Tacking requires absolutely no sail adjustment on this boat – a feature that is increasingly popular on cruising boats of this class.