Amid the design stampede to bring every conceivable comfort of home aboard, I found the new Hanse 418 to be refreshingly straightforward in both looks and performance. Below, accommodations are comfortable. On deck, things are orderly. And under sail? Well, I’ll let Boat of the Year judge Alvah Simon address that one. “The helm was — I have one word here — sweet,” he told his colleagues during their post-sea-trial deliberations.
The Judel/Vrolijk-designed 418 is built at the Hanse yard in Greifswald, Germany, and replaces the 415 in the middle of the brand’s nine-boat range. It shares the same slippery hull as its predecessor, but sports an updated interior and completely new deck layout that includes twin wheels, fold-up helm seats, a stout centerline drop-leaf table in the cockpit and modest bulwarks, upon which the lifeline stanchions sit.
As Boat of the Year judge Tim Murphy pointed out in his description of the boat, the Hanse “look” favors relatively high freeboard and a low-profile coach roof. Besides good looks, that design decision translates directly into excellent visibility from either wheel when sitting or standing, and decks that are easy to move about on once one has stepped over the somewhat wide cockpit coamings.
Out on the water, Hanse keeps things simple. All sail-control lines are led aft from the mast under removable seahoods to a bank of clutches and a Lewmar winch just forward of each wheel. Line bins adjacent to the wheels keep the cockpit clutter free. Upwind, the self-tending jib makes tacking a turn-the-wheel endeavor; off the breeze, the double-ended mainsheet ensures control of the full-batten main is close at hand to either wheel. The boat we sailed had a second set of winches mounted forward on the cockpit coamings for handling a downwind sail, definitely an option I’d choose to spice things up when reaching or running.
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We didn’t have a lot of wind the day we took the 418 for a test sail on Chesapeake Bay last fall after the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland. Still, in 5 or so knots of breeze, the GPS speed over the ground was a steady 4 knots closehauled and cracked off a bit. And driving the boat was divine, with the single rudder and Jefa steering providing plenty of feedback.
Hanse lays up its hulls and decks with an exterior coating of gelcoat, followed by a layer of vinylester resin to prevent blistering. From there, a balsa core is surrounded by fiberglass and infused with polyester resin. The hull and deck are bonded with adhesive and through-bolted at each stanchion. A cast-iron keel is available as an L-shaped 6-foot-10-inch foil or a 5-foot-9-inch shallow-draft configuration.
Down below, there are a host of choices to be made in terms of layout, gear, and fit and finish. The boat we visited had light-colored French oak woodwork and dark counters and upholstery, but there are several other wood styles and accent colors available. Three large ports in each side of the hull let in loads of light, and multiple overhead hatches kept the air moving throughout.
The 418’s considerable beam is carried forward into the owner’s cabin, making a king-size island berth possible, along with either a pair of hanging lockers or a locker to port, and a head and shower to starboard. In the saloon, a large U-shaped couch and drop-leaf table are to starboard; opposite is a settee with a rear-facing nav station at its aft end, against the head and shower compartment’s forward wall.
The owner has the option of having an aft cabin to port, and to starboard, either a second sleeping cabin or a storage/work area. If the latter is chosen, the L-shaped galley has more counter space, and it’s the layout I’d choose for sailing and living aboard as a couple.
The Annapolis boat had a sticker price of $285,000. That included the standard 40-hp Volvo engine and saildrive, teak decks, electronics, electric winches, and Fast Cruising Dacron sails from Elvstrøm. Forego a few toys to save some bucks or splurge for a 57-hp engine, a second head and some of the other comfort packages Hanse offers — either way, you’ll leave the dock with a boat that’s easy to handle and a hoot to sail. Any way you cut it, that’s a pretty good deal.
Mark Pillsbury is CW’s editor.