You can take a peek inside the newest boat in Hanse’s line-up by watching our Hanse 315 First Look video, but in this case, video can’t tell the whole story. Why? Because designing and building small cruising sailboats is harder than designing and building big ones. A sailors’ needs are the same whether they're on a 30’ or 50’ boat. This builder, whose line includes much larger sailboats like the 50’6” long Hanse 505 and the brawny Hanse 545, has shown a lot of versatility. Though significantly smaller, this new entry-level model combines easy sailing with all the necessities for a long weekend away from the dock.

hanse 315

The Hanse 315 may be small for a cruiser, but Hanse manages to pack a lot into this package.

The Hanse 315 replaces the older 325, and is the product of the Judel/Vrolijk design team that has been securing podium finishes for decades. The construction is a vacuum-bagged, cored epoxy sandwich with a built-in lip at the gunwale for better footing when heeling. The L-shaped keel comes in 6’1” or 4’5” drafts for better upwind performance or skinny water sailing, respectively.

The deck-stepped Selden mast is tapered, has double aft-swept spreaders and carries Elvstrom FCL (Fast Cruising Laminate) sails. Hanse rigs, with their self-tacking jibs, are easy to manage short-handed and ensure that you can go sailing for an afternoon alone.

The 315 comes with a self-tacking 98-percent jib on a Furlex above-deck furler and a curved track just ahead of the mast. You can choose a slightly larger, 105-percent jib with side-deck tracks, but you’ll be adding cost without much more performance, so there’s little point to the upgrade.

On the Water

I tested the Hanse 315 on the Chesapeake Bay on one of those days that either makes or breaks a boat. The winds were light, fluky, and at times frustrating. At once, the boat had to show off its light wind sailing characteristics and its manners in gusts. That’s a tall order, but the Hanse did one better: with nobody holding the wheel the boat sailed herself, even in small puffs, without rounding up or wandering downwind. The 315 stayed in the groove and kept her speed at 5.8 knots in 10 knots or so of breeze, at 60 degrees apparent wind. As we cracked off the speed dipped to 5.3 knots at 120 degrees. Our tacks and jibes were an easy turn of the wheel, with no adjustment to either sail.

Our test boat was equipped with a fuel-sipping 18 HP Volvo that kicked up to 6.9 knots of speed at 3,000 rpm. At only five tons, the 315 does not really need more auxiliary power, and small engines are more economical, even at anchor when charging batteries.


Twin wheels seem odd on a boat of only 31 feet, but they do allow for better movement around the compact cockpit than would a single wheel. Standard, the 315 comes with a tiller. But I can’t imagine many people preferring that over two carbon Jefa Steering wheels.


Jefa wheels add an upscale element to an entry model, and between the shape and the composite, they fit well in the hand—never too cold or too hot to touch.

Americans may find it odd that side boarding gates aren't standard, but because Europeans spend much of the time Med-mooring stern-to, they are indeed an add-on. Anyone with a traditional slip will want to have the gates for easier boarding and loading. Teak is standard on the cockpit seats and optional on the sole. Our test boat did not have teak decks, which not only means it was lighter, but also ensures less maintenance as the boat ages.

As with all the models in the line, the 315 has a manual, drop-down transom that forms a swim platform and also serves as an easy boarding point from the dock. A chartplotter and instruments from B&G are at the port wheel and the Lewmar primary winches are easy to reach from the helms. Two winches and numerous rope clutches manage halyards and single-line reefing on the cabin-top.

Forward there’s an opening anchor locker that protects the optional electric windlass, and a single bow roller. With a rope/chain rode and shallow water, sailors will be tempted to haul the anchor line by hand, but the windlass is a nice addition.

Creature Comforts

Below is where ingenuity really counts. It’s not easy to find innovative ways to fit two cabins, a head, a galley, and a basic saloon into 31 feet. There’s one main layout available with a few small tweaks in the forward cabin, which will be comfortable for a single adult or two kids. The bulkhead between the saloon and the forward cabin may be eliminated for an open, great-room feel. With it in place, shelves on both port and starboard can be opened up to form a single or double berth in the cabin.

The master is aft with its own door, a large athwartship berth, adequate resting headroom, and a small entry with standing headroom. To port is a small locker accessible from the above cockpit seat, for fenders or lines.


The saloon table separates two straight settees with the port side also providing a seat for the small, aft-facing nav station–a real surprise and a luxury on a boat of this size.

The L-shaped galley to starboard has a single circular sink near the centerline, Waeco top-loading refrigeration, and a two-burner Eno stove/oven combination. Black quartz countertops with integrated fiddles are a nice touch. Though this galley is small, there’s nothing missing and a creative chef should be able to turn out tasty meals throughout a long weekend.

The single head, with a sink and Jabsco manual toilet, is to port. Although there’s no separate shower stall, the head is large for a boat of this size. Between the galley and the head is the companionway with four easy steps.

Hanse offers various fabrics and wood finishes so owners can personalize their 315. The standard interior finish is a satin mahogany with optional choices of light Italian oak or warm American cherry.

This German builder understands that all of its models, from the largest down to the smallest, must be accommodating and well-mannered to appeal to a broad market. Couples looking to downsize will find the 315 comfortable, less expensive to berth and operate than bigger boats, and a snap to sail. Young families will have plenty of room to stay aboard with kids for days at a time, and first-time boat owners will like the price. The 315 comes in at just under $98,000 base and $150,000 loaded. Most people will find a happy medium somewhere in the middle.

Other Choices: Sailors looking at this boat may also want to consider the slightly larger Bavaria 33 Cruiser, the brand-new Marlow-Hunter 31, or the Saffier SE 33, which places more emphasis on performance and less on cabin room. If you want a smaller and less expensive option, the Catalina 275 may be of interest.

For more information, visit Hanse.

See Hanse 315 listings.
Sail Area506 sq. ft.
Displacement10,361 lbs
Fuel capacity60 gal.
Water capacity26 gal.

Written by: Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to and, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site,