This is the first Dehler model to be produced by Hanse from scratch (design concept to finished yacht) after it took over the marque four years ago. Dehler aficionados will be relieved to know that Karl Dehler is still very much involved, and the 38, launched in January 2013, is his personal ‘baby’.
See our First Look Video of the boat below.
The new boat demonstrates a continued focus on sparkling sailing performance plus a touch of Hanse’s production process in the interior, resulting in a boat that’s refreshingly different from predecessors of either brand.
Cruising and ‘competition’ versions are offered. Putting his money where his mouth is, Karl Dehler campaigned his own ‘competition’ 38 on the race course in the 2013 season, notching up some impressive results at Kiel Week and winning the German offshore and inshore championships.
The most striking aspect of the 38 is its interior fit-out in voluptuously curved teak-veneered ply. With a hint of Art Deco and a sophisticated feel it’s nothing like a Hanse, nor a previous Dehler. It’s a great entertaining space, and thanks to up- and down-lighters with dimmers you can experiment with lighting to set just the right mood.
Curved runs of lockers either side of the saloon are echoed by rounded corners to the table and galley joinery, and highlighted with unusual curved head-cushions. Other luxury touches are fabric headliner panels and a pleasingly designed bottle cabinet sliding out from the table base.
The boat’s brimming with nifty ideas, like the navigation table that can be slid aft when in port to create more seating around the dining table, and those curved side-lockers that open upwards on gas-struts. (They’re deep, giving potential flying objects little chance of escape.) In the galley there’s a cleverly designed L-shaped fridge with a normal opening at the top plus a side-opening door lower down in the ‘L’ part for milk and other quick-grab items.
Then there’s the multi-function door leading to the heads/shower and port aft cabin. In one position it closes the heads/shower leaving free access to the washbasin and cabin, in the other it creates an integrated shower/heads/washbasin area ensuite with the cabin. I pondered on the value of the boat’s only heads being ensuite with the smallest sleeping space but in practice I imagine most owners will use that cabin for stowage and as a handy area for drying and dressing after a shower. The only thing that’s been forgotten is somewhere dry for the loo roll.
You can choose either one or two aft cabins. In both versions all the sleeping cabins are fitted with smart hanging lockers and drawers.
On deck and performance
With her sleek hull, slim entry, wide stern, flared topsides and continuous side- windows she’s a good-looking, and fast-looking boat. Unlike Hanses she retains the Dehler balsa-cored hull. Just ahead of each steering wheel is a winch for the double-ended (German system) mainsheet. When sailing singlehanded you can lock off the mainsheet in a clutch on either side and use the winch for the jib.
The keel-stepped rig is rewardingly tweakable: controls include a 48:1 backstay and full-width traveller in a recess just forward of the wheels.
Cruising customers benefit from ‘competition’ deck gear as standard, Lewmar race-spec winches for example, and towable headsail cars. She can be set up for either a conventional or asymmetric spinnaker.
Testers have raved about the cruising version’s performance, quoting excellent speeds even in very light winds as well as a good pointing and light, responsive steering.
One element that concerned me on the show boat was the optional angular stainless steel housing for the centrally mounted chartplotter; you wouldn’t want to stumble against it, and it’s at head-height for a small child. A rounded GRP moulding would be more body-friendly.
Equipment and options
The ‘competition’ version features a taller carbon rig, racing rudder, deeper, lighter keel and - a clever idea - canvas rather than wood lockers in the fore and aft cabins to lighten the ends of the boat. Items you’ll find on the cruiser but not the racer include a Hanse-style hinged bathing/boarding platform that pulls up to form a filled-in transom. Standard cruising draft is 2.00m, the racing keel gives you 2.20m and there’s also shoal cruising option at 1.60m.
What the Dehler 38 does best
Even in its cruising version, to use a motoring metaphor, the 38 is a sports car: fast, responsive, with a sleek, sophisticated interior. It will appeal to good sailors, ex-dinghy racers perhaps, looking for the kind of rewarding helming experience that today’s average family cruiser is not designed to offer.
I was initially perplexed by the siting of water and fuel tanks under the bow and stern bunks when Dehler’s marketing makes much of its ‘competition’ option of fabric ‘furniture’ in the cabins to lighten the ends. When racing the tanks will be kept almost empty anyway, but the weight of full tanks in the ends must have at least a small effect on cruising performance. The compromise here is accessible stowage versus tankage under the saloon seats. Dehler believes cruising owners don’t want the bother of searching for stowed items under beds, adding that one 38 owner says that when cruising with full tanks the boat has a kinder motion due to reduced pitching. The water pump under the owner’s bunk, though a quiet model, might be annoying on the odd occasion a guest uses a tap at night.
At £160,000 ex VAT for a good cruising spec the 38 is far less expensive than it would have been from the Dehler factory of old, thanks to the huge Hanse company’s buying power and economies of scale. It’s now considerably cheaper than rivals in the premium cruiser-racer market like the Grand Soleil 39, X-Yachts’ Xp38 and Arcona 370.
Dehler 38 specifications (cruising version)
Draft standard: 2.00m (1.60m option)
Sail area (mainsail, furling jib) 79.3 m2
Engine: Volvo Penta D1-30 28hp
Price (ex VAT): £160,000
For more performance yachts reviewed, see: 10 Top Beneteau Yachts: Figaro, First, Oceanis and Sense and Hanse 385 review: bridging the gap between comfort and performance and the XP-33 review: true cruiser-racer