The first look at the Hanse 345 confirms it’s a Hanse. In addition to the volume, it’s the angular shape of the windows and the cabin top that betray 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, like the 385 (see Hanse 385: bridging the gap between comfort and performance), with all halyards, sheets and control lines being led aft under cover and under the coamings to the winches that are close to the helm. The new boat also has a large fold-down swim platform, a de-rigueur item these days.
To discover more new features on the outside, it is necessary to make the comparison to the Hanse 355. The new and de facto smaller boat is 19 centimetres shorter in the hull, but on the waterline it is actually longer by 39 centimetres, and narrower, by a mere five centimetres. With steeper ends, more beam and very little tapering the new boat offers maximum living space. It is also available with two aft cabins, which is also rare in this size. Another innovation is the in-mast furling, which points to Hanse’s heightened interest in the charter market.
Even including the fully-battened main the sail-area-to-displacement ratio of 4.03 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 Hamble Point marina for a spin on the Solent. During manoeuvres with the stronger 27-hp engine (optional) only the noise generation is noticeable. At 77 db (A) the limit for the highest level was surpassed.
Hoisting the canvas it is notable that Elvstrøm 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 of the split backstay that gets in the way of the helmsman only in certain instances. Sitting sideways, there are more relaxed positions for the helmsman, who’d be even happier if the supplied footrests were installed.
The compass is mounted on the lower aft edge of the cockpit table and rather hard to read, one would hope that there are better solutions. Above the compass is the Simrad plotter that can be easily read from the side even in lots of sunlight. But both of that ain't 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 be. It can be steered with minimal weather helm and is easy to hold on the edge.
In 12-15-knot winds the fun starts in earnest, even with a (relatively small) self-tending jib, which by design works best when sailing closehauled. 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 into the way of a quick ease, so good line management is helpful.
Apropos housekeeping: The halyards are placed far off to the side of the cabin top, the area next to the companionway is clear for two shallow storage boxes, a modern equivalent to the cubby hole, which swallows 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 and fenders, bucket and gear. Fenders 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 clientele, namely 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 metres shoulder width is sufficiently wide. The aft cabins with 1.45 metres space at shoulder height are quite a bit cosier, 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.
Three types of wood, three floors
Typically the customer is offered multiple options by Hanse. The standard interior trip 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 pantry there are two choices, which is commendable just like the layout and the working conditions, the many opening hatches and windows and the nifty handholds that are integrated in the ceiling. Other useful standard features include AGM batteries, rod kicker, backstay tensioner, fully-battened mainsail and an anchor roller with footstep which all are included in the base price.
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, which are ascending on the port side and descending on starboard, but that is easy enough to fix. Also, a number of accessories that could be considered standard such as a stern platform or a rub rail cost extra. Hanse also offers special packages to customise the yacht for individual preferences, which could possibly be more affordable.
The Hanse 345 is not the cheapest, but certainly a successful high-volume product that can be individualised, that sails superbly, that offers intelligent solutions and that will please individual owners and charter businesses.
This story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.
Designer: Judel/Vrolijk & Co
CE-Category: A (Offshore)
Draft (standard/shoal): 1.87/1.55m
Displacement: 6.2 tons
Mainsail: 32.5sq m
Self-tacking jib: 22.5sq m