The Hanse 400 was a huge success for the German giant so her replacement, the 415, needs to be good. Chris Beeson goes to Palma with high hopes for the 415
What’s she like to sail?
It’s difficult to explain just how easy it is to sail a boat with all the lines led aft to electric winches at the wheels and a self-tacking jib forward of the mast. Life just couldn’t be easier, which gives you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the uninterrupted views all around from your comfy perch in the cockpit.
If you can rouse yourself from your solo-sailing reverie, you’ll find she feels great at the wheel: tight, beautifully balanced and very responsive. When overpressed with the rail all but under, she held her track and never rounded up. How a boat of this beam manages that, I don’t know, but she behaved impeccably. When I wondered out loud what effect 320 litres of fresh water under the forecabin berth would have on performance, it was pointed out to me that all Hanses have their main tank there and it hasn’t caused any performance problems yet. Fair point.
Performance is quite lively, making very respectable passage speeds of 5-8 knots in winds of Force 2-5. The self-tacker’s usual bugbear, a misbehaving leech offwind, was mitigated almost entirely by the vertical leech battens. An occasional stroll forward to tweak the leech line was all that was required. In family sailing conditions, she’s a fabulous boat to sail.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
Unless you’re moored stern-to, you might need a step to board because of her slab sides – we moored next to a 1990s centre- cockpit Bénéteau 50 with the same freeboard. Once aboard, she’s a cinch to move around because of her wide, clear sidedecks. There are no lines in the forward cockpit and the lines aft clear into sheet bins at the wheels, so there’s no ‘pit of wet snakes’ to avoid. Her mid-boom sheeting means the cockpit is entirely clear.
The cockpit table is safe and secure, providing bracing, grabrails, cup holders and stowage, and you can link your iPod to the Simrad NSS plotter to play music or video. The drop-down transom, practically and aesthetically, is a master stroke, and the boarding ladder fits easily. Deck stowage on the three-cabin version is a bit limited. The two-cabin layout has a vast, cabin-sized cavern in the starboard quarter, which could serve as a ‘technical room’.
Down below, she has ample headroom everywhere, plenty of natural light and ventilation, and some very atmospheric LED mood lighting after dark. Without the extra water tanks below the saloon seating, stowage is great – except in the galley, though even that’s probably adequate. The cabins are very comfortable and there are some really great family-orientated design touches built in.
Would she suit you and your crew?
If you’re a storm chaser looking for a high Arctic cruiser, or a mudlark who loves drying anchorages, the 415 isn’t for you. If you’re a performance enthusiast looking for lines to tweak in search of those elusive fractions of a knot, again, she’s the wrong boat. If, however, you have a young family and you’re hoping to build their enthusiasm for sailing to match your own, she ticks every box and delivers great value while doing so. She’s unbelievably easily to sail and – if you choose the SMS (safe mooring system) joystick control – to moor as well. She feels great at the wheel, zips along nicely and does a fair imitation of a penthouse apartment below, albeit a budget one. She’ll make a great weekend base in the UK, Baltic or in the Med, and solve the summer holiday puzzle, too.