The 385 is in many ways a typical Hanse, but in other ways it is also very different. This new model from Greifswald continues a proven concept, but with a more experimental and individualistic touch. It is the result of thought-out development.
Dividing up the market in cruisers, performance cruisers or racing boats has become more difficult, because things aren’t as clear-cut as they used to be just a few years ago. A modern boat has to be more versatile than these coarse categories might suggest.
The market obviously demands boats that cross boundaries and offer multiple different qualities. A lot of volume for comfort and a feeling of spaciousness isn’t enough anymore. Boats have to sail well and be functional, which often was an afterthought in the past. Builders like Hanse have responded to this trend. However, this German builder also went an extra mile, trying to bridge the gap between creature comfort and sailing performance. Their latest generation of cruising vessels incorporates a more sporty attitude than most of their competitors. Hanse still makes cruising boats, but they clearly are approaching the performance cruiser segment.
Starting with their two largest models, the Hanse 445 and Hanse 495, the world’s third largest manufacturer defined the new cruising line. Next is the Hanse 385, which competes in the difficult mid-size segment. This crowded category is the domain of boats with a hull length of 11 metres and has grown bigger with the addition of several new models. Competing entries like the Bavaria Cruiser, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379 or the Dufour 375 Grand ‘Large also are distinct and attractive vessels.
More beam, more space
So Hanse didn’t sit back but fought back. The 370 and 375 always were among the best selling Hanse models with more than 1,000 units built, hence the high expectations by customers and on Hanse's part as well. Will the 385 repeat or even surpass the success of her predecessors? To answer that question we went to Oslo, Norway, to sail the prototype.
Access to the boat through the stern already is very different form the previous models as the 385 carries a lot of beam aft. Despite the designation that might lead you to believe otherwise, the boat’s completely redesigned hull is 25 centimetres shorter, while its beam of 3.88 metres is 13 centimetres wider.
A huge swimming platform also makes boarding via the stern easy (if the boat is tied up properly) and the way forward into the cockpit passes between both steering wheels. The cockpit table with folded-down leaves is not an obstacle, which makes it easy to reach the companionway with its telescoping hatch boards, even with luggage dangling from the shoulders. That’s a very good start.
The swim platform is large enough to double as a lounge for sunbathing. In this category, only the Bavaria 36 offers a “sea terrace” of similar size. When raised, it becomes a hatch that covers the handy storage of the life raft in the stern.
Making sail is not a lot of work for the crew. The self-tailing jib (standard) is easy to unfurl, the mainsail is quickly hoisted by pushing a button for the optional electric power winch. Handling is super easy too, befitting Hanse’s new concept.
Under way there’s no need for a lot of hands on deck, either. All the sheets, halyards and control lines are led aft to the coaming from underneath the coach roof.
Unlike their competitors, the Hanse 385 keeps this area free of clutter, which will especially please the cruising crowd. In addition, the helmsman can conduct all manoeuvres from his workstation at the wheels, even though he won’t be too busy doing that. Thanks to the self-tacking jib, all directional changes are smooth and simple. A tack only requires turning the wheel. That’s as simple as it gets. As an alternative to the standard jib, Hanse offers a 106 per cent overlapping genoa, which will be useful for lake sailing and light-air venues. In this case, another pair of optional winches should be installed. It makes sense, because thus the headsail can be trimmed independently.
More canvas, better performance
Large overlapping headsails are not feasible for the Hanse 385, because shroud tension now is led directly into the hull on the outermost point, unlike in the past, when the shroud attachments were close to the cabin trunk. The drawback of this arrangement is the shallow angle of the lower shroud between chainplate and lower spreader, which blocks the passage to the bow on the side deck, thus forcing a detour via the cabintop. However, this type of rig arrangement has become quite common by now. The two-spreader rig of the Hanse 385 is 15 centimetres farther aft compared to the 370 and the 375. That extends the J-measurement and increases the sail area of the self-tacking jib. Alas, during our test in Norway, the boat couldn’t take advantage of this headsail, because at 6-8 knots, the wind was too light. With 4.5 knots at 45 degrees of wind angle, the Hanse 385 still posted respectable numbers that hinted at the sailing potential of this design by the renowned office of Judel & Vrolijk & Co in Bremerhaven.
A genoa would certainly improve the performance data. In addition, there’s a loss of efficiency in mainsail trim. To keep the layout simple, a traveller on the cabintop or in the cockpit are no longer offered for the 385, while this option was available for her predecessors and much welcomed by active sailors. By contrast, the current mainsheet bridle on the coach roof does not allow a clean trim of the main, which contrasts the rather sporty overall-appearance of the Hanse 385.
On the other hand, it’s gratifying to note how easily the boat is driven. The twin-wheel system by Jefa works without a hitch and was well tuned on the test boat. The rudder quadrant can be easily accessed through a hatch on the aft deck. The boat felt nimble and less sluggish than many other yachts of similar size.
The 385 comes standard with a sporty and a fairly deep T-shaped cast-iron keel that draws 1.99 metres, which is rather unusual for a cruising yacht. There’s also the option of an L-shaped shallow-draft keel that draws 1.62 metres and requires a shorter rudder foil.
Hanse also did away with the epoxy-version that was offered for the 370. This higher-end resin now is only an option for Hanse’s larger models. In lieu of epoxy, Hanse is using a honeycomb fleece in the hull laminate to add stiffness to the sandwich laminate’s structure. Vinylester continues to be used in the outer layers for better resistance against osmosis and blistering.
The comparatively wide beam of the Hanse 385 adds an unusually generous feeling of spaciousness to the interior. The angular, unadorned and straight-lined interior finish in Hanse’s so-called “loft style” further enhances the light and airy feel. The standard trim uses a dark-tanned, nearly reddish mahogany veneer. Combined with the bright surfaces on cabin ceiling, bulkheads and the insides of the hull, this produces a distinctive contrast of colours, which one might have to learn to like. Those who prefer a different decor, can choose lighter woods like American cherry or teak, but at extra cost. Even the floorboards are offered in alternative colours.
More space, new possibilities
Like most competing boats in the 11-metre segment, the Hanse 385 is available with two or three staterooms. Unlike other manufacturers, Hanse adds the surplus volume to the galley of the two-cabin version that’s built far aft in the layout, which makes size, counter space and storage volume unique in this class. No other boat in this category offers so much luxury in the galley. By contrast, competitors tend to increase the space in the head or the nav station of the owner’s version.
These two areas are comparatively modest on the Hanse. At best, the nav desk serves as storage for small bits and pieces and the foldout stool might look pretty and smart as a sales gimmick at boat shows, but it’s utterly unpractical for under way. The separation of the shower stall, once a standard feature in the head, was eliminated.
The Hanse 385 receives top marks for its spacious forward cabin that offers more than ample room for two and generously sized berths that are large enough for two tall adults to sleep in comfort. Of record-breaking dimension is the headroom of 1.97 metres in the area directly under the hatch. A second large hatch was placed farther forward, directly aft of the bulkhead of the anchor locker, which makes the Hanse 385 the only vessel of its size to have two skylights forward. This is new and creates a pleasant and bright atmosphere.
More boat, less money
In the base version, which includes sails, the Hanse is offered at 112,800 Euros, which is a challenge for competitors and will be difficult to undercut. Only Bavaria managed to stand apart, offering the Cruiser 36 for 15,000 Euros less. The French brands Beneteau and Jeanneau are asking more for their competing models (Oceanis 37, Sun Odyssey 379), but still remain in the ballpark.
To summarise: even in light air, the Hanse 385 manages to satisfy with her self-tacking jib. She feels lighter and more agile than her competitors in this segment. The layout of the cockpit is pleasant and epitomises the idea of simple handling. The price is good, too. Without a doubt, by presenting this package Hanse Yachts will make a splash at the coming boat shows.
This story is republished courtesy of YACHT Magazine, Europe’s leading sail magazine.