She felt stiff and performed well in comparison to other similarly priced production boats. Many modern production boats wobble considerably when the sails are flogged or the boat is pushed through a fast tack. The Hanse remained impressively solid.
The 400 carries a fairly big rig, with 952 square feet of working sail area countered by either a 6’8” T-shaped keel or a shallow-draft option of 5’5”. The deck-stepped mast is supported by a stainless steel compression post below decks, which transfers the load to the hull. Combined with a lightweight hull, it means a quick ride even in Hong Kong’s fickle summer breezes.
The downside of that big mainsail is that the boat heels over quickly when there’s a puff. Given that the mainsheet runs on a track in front of the dodger and through the main bank of clutches to a winch on the cabin top, a quick puff can mean a bit of scramble for the mainsheet. The deck layout allows for the jib and mainsheets to be led to the aft winches, which looks like a smart choice to me. With a mainsail that large, reefing early is probably a good idea, and a handy one-line reefing system makes an easy job of it. Deck plates cover the running rigging as it is led aft, which is a nice touch and keeps the deck clear.
The 400 comes with only four winches, one of which is electric, but the designers have made room for an extra set mid-cockpit, and they’d be worth the money for anyone planning to regularly use a spinnaker or join in on some club racing.
The split running backstay offers some handy mast control, but the placement of the deck anchors made it hard to find a comfortable spot for the helmsman to sit and watch the jib telltales.
When the wind dies, the Hanse has a 40-horsepower Yanmar diesel with sail drive to get you home. At 2000 RPM, the engine moves us along at just over six knots, and that is easily raised to seven knots with a few more hundred revs.
The theme of simple, smart design extends to the roomy interior of the Hanse 400 as well. Very nice cabin layout that keeps in mind that the boat will be moving and heeled over, meaning there’s a range of seating options and hand holds. But the 400 also has evenings at anchor in mind, with sundowners and a comfortable dinner on-board being the prime requirement.
For a production boat, Hanse offers a good selection of inteior layout choices. They have split the interior into three zones from bow to stern, and offer three options for each zone, giving buyers plenty of to mix and match with. The options range from one to two heads, two to three cabins to variety of options on the layout of the navigation station and settees.
Our test boat, one of three Hanse 400s now cruising in Hong Kong, had one head and two roomy aft cabins. The space that would be taken up by a second head in the forepeak cabin was used for a clever pull-out desk and seat combination that created a small office space in case there’s still work left to be done when you sneak out of the office early for a weekend of cruising.
The galley is to starboard as soon as you come down the companionway, with a tidy head and shower to port. This layout had a very smart navigation station design on the port side with two opposing seats on either side means it can become a handy extra table while at anchor. On the starboard side was a comfortable settee and dining area. The under-settee locker spaces are a bit small due to the hull design, but very nicely lined and easily accessible.
The woodwork is in line with what we’ve come to expect from production boats; clean, tidy veneers that do the job but are not a feature in themselves. Our test boat had the cherrywood option instead of the standard mahogany finish. The joinery leaves something to be desired but the simple, efficient lines and design of the interior make up for it. The veneers are visually appealing and add to the light and airy feel of the interior.
The L-shaped galley is nicely laid out, if a bit tight on counter space for longer live-aboard trips. It comes with all the basics such as double sinks, rubbish bin and gimballed two burner stove. The refrigerator has handy top and bottom access doors, so you don’t have to spend time digging through the provisions to find a cold beer.
Hanse does not offer factory-installed air-conditioning, which is a shame for a boat of this type. The most likely options for post-production installation mean taking up some of the boat’s most accessible storage areas.
Engine access underneath the companionway is fairly good, aided by two side access points from the aft cabins. But it would be better if the companion-way steps lifted up all the way. As it is, you’re forced to approach the engine compartment on your knees.
The Hanse 400 prices at about the same level as a Beneteau and slightly cheaper than a Jeanneu, but it features more modern design than its French counterparts, with greater sail area and a more progressive hull shape.
She is a cruising boat for people that love easy sailing and have no racing ambitions beyond some occasional club racing. The yacht is built to a high quality standard for its price range, and its design is refreshing and smart. The Hanse 400 is a great choice for a Hong Kong family wanting to spend weekends exploring the islands, or perhaps taking some time off cruising some of Southeast Asia’s best destinations.
In Hong Kong: www.jebsenmarine.com
In Singapore and Thailand: www.asia-marine.net