The first look confirms it’s a Hanse. Absolutely. In addition to the volume, it’s the angular shape of the windows and the cabin top that betray Greifswald as the boat’s origin. Supporting clues also can be found in the self-tacking jib, the high freeboard, and the wide stern. But there is just as much that’s different.
The new Hanse 345 features two steering wheels, which is rare for this size boat. There are also even more windows now -- narrow strips of Plexiglas, a bit like embrasures -- forward and aft of the saloon windows. The layout on deck was adopted from the larger boats, with all halyards, sheets, and control lines led aft under covers and coamings to winches close to the helm. The new boat also has a large fold-down swim platform, a de rigueur item these days.
To discover more novelties on the outside, it's necessary to make the comparison to the Hanse 355. The newer, nominally smaller boat has a shorter hull (by 19 centimeters), but the all-important waterline is longer, by 39 centimeters in all. In addition, the 345 is only five centimeters narrower. With steeper ends, more beam, and very little tapering, the new boat offers maximum living space. It's also available with two aft cabins, which is another rare occurrence in this class. (The 345 won’t become Hanse’s entry-level model, because that role should remain with the 325.) Another innovation is the in-mast furling, which points to Hanse’s heightened interest in the charter market.
But even including the full-batten main, the sail-area-to-displacement ratio of 16.6 is not frightening, qualifying the Hanse as a benign touring boat. But does this stand up under scrutiny?
To find out we cast off from the Hamble Point marina in southern England for a spin on the Solent. Hoisting the canvas we noted that Elvstrom has replaced North as the supplier of the standard sails. But the test boat that was featured at the Southampton Boat Show came with higher-quality FCL (Fast Cruising Laminate) cloth, and provided good shape and a clean profile with excellent finish. The decent two-spreader rig from Z-Spars in France can be adjusted with the 1:16 pulley on the split backstay. That adjuster gets in the way of a helmsman sitting or standing directly behind the wheel. There are more relaxed positions for the helm when sitting sideways. Footrests are supplied, and will make the helm position more secure.
The compass, mounted on the lower aft edge of the cockpit table, is hard to read, so one would hope that there are better solutions. Above the compass is a Simrad plotter that can be read easily from the side even in lots of sunlight. But none of that is as important as the sailing fun behind the wheels. The boat is easily driven with the tight Jefa steering system, which makes the boat feel willing and agile. It responds quickly to changes in wind direction and strength, just as it should. It can be steered with minimal weather helm and is easy to hold on the edge.
In 12- to 15-knot winds the fun starts in earnest, even with a (relatively small) self-tending jib, which by design works best when sailing close-hauled. That’s good for about six knots of boat speed with tacking angles of less than 90 degrees. Both numbers are good, and proof that the sail area-to-displacement ratio sometimes is only a theoretical value. Under gennaker on the reaches, up to eight knots are not just a possibility, but a reality with hardly any effort. For more horsepower, it’s necessary to hoist a genoa. The tracks for the jib leads (not included in the standard version) have to be mounted on the cabin top, where they produce a narrower and more effective sheeting angle than on the Hanse 355, for instance.
The mainsheet without traveler is set up with two pulleys on two separate foot blocks, and is led aft to the winches near both steering wheels. It works beautifully, along with the control lines that also come all the way aft to make the boat perfectly suitable for singlehanding, since the self-tacking jib eliminates the need for sheeting while sailing to weather. The system is not foolproof, however. The sheet tails should be stowed in the large cubbies that are installed in the side deck. The lines pass through large slots but also through a bottleneck between the wheel and the cover, where they can jam. However, a spaghetti factory inside these boxes might get in the way of a quick ease, so good line management is helpful.
Speaking of housekeeping, with the halyards placed far off to the side of the cabin top, the area next to the companionway is clear for two shallow storage boxes, which serve as cubbyholes, swallowing odds and ends like shades or cell phones.
Stowing larger items is a bit trickier, at least on a three-cabin model like the one we tested, which only has shallow lazarettes that quickly fill up with lines, fenders, bucket, and other loose gear. Fenders, especially, have to move down below or into the stern pulpit.
One cabin per person
Most private owners will go for the two-cabin version that offers more space in a big lazarette. The three-cabin model will mostly fit the needs of another targeted client segment -- the charter business. Taking into account the convertible berth in the saloon, the boat could theoretically be stuffed with up to seven people. However, the forward berth with 1.77 meters of shoulder width is sufficiently wide. The aft cabins, with 1.45 meters space at shoulder height are quite a bit cozier, just as the extendable settee in the saloon is quite short. Still, the three-cabin version fits the charter trend that now demands more staterooms, which often are only occupied by one person.
|Draft (shoal/deep)||1.87/1.55 m|
|Sail area (standard)||55 sq. m|
|Engine||Volvo 3 kW/18 hp|
Three types of wood, three cabin soles
Typically the customer is offered multiple options by Hanse. The standard interior trim is mahogany, with options of cherry or oak. The standard veneer for the floorboards is maple, which comes either in dark or in the classic striped variety. Even for the work surface in the galley there are two choices. This is commendable, as are the layout and the working conditions, the many opening hatches and windows, and the nifty handholds that are integrated in the overhead. Other useful standard features include AGM batteries, solid vang, backstay tensioner, full-batten mainsail, and an anchor roller with footstep. These are good features to be included in the base price, considering the boat's fairly high-end construction.
Hanse Yachts starts with ISO-gelcoat and laminates the first layer with vinylester resin. The deck is built with a balsa core and the bulkheads are glued in. On the prototype we saw uneven clearances and drill holes for cupboards in the saloon, but these are easily fixed. We also noted that items like the stern platform and rub rail, which could be considered standard, in fact cost extra. Hanse also offers special packages to customize the yacht for individual preferences, which could possibly be more affordable.
In summary, The Hanse 345 is not the cheapest, but is certainly a successful high-volume product that can be individualized, that sails superbly, that offers intelligent solutions, and that will please individual owners and charter businesses.
For more information, visit Hanse Yachts.
This story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.