German boatbuilder Hanse Yachts has added some serious pizazz to the middle of its range with the Judel/Vrolijk-designed 455. Just like its siblings, the new 45-footer looks sharp, sails like a dream and is big for her size. Down below, a thoroughly modern interior is as comfortable as it is functional, and topsides, there’s lots of space on deck and in the cockpit to relax and enjoy the ride — a darned good combination, I quickly concluded, on a blustery, picture-perfect fall afternoon out on Massachusetts’ Buzzards Bay.
With a northerly breeze pushing 20 knots, we probably should have thrown a reef in the main before we set out, but instead the boat’s owner opted for a full hoist. I suspected that our beat out of the harbor would be on the sporty side, and it was — quite fun, too. With the powered-up full-batten main and self-tending jib closehauled, we heeled considerably, but in the puffs, just when I expected the boat might round up, the 455’s high-aspect rudder dug in a little deeper, the shoal-draft cast-iron keel did its job, and the boat shot forward as though we were riding on rails.
Tacking the Hanse was as simple as turning the wheel, since the jib is led to a car on a track forward of the mast and tends to itself. With all sail control lines led aft, including the double-ended German-style mainsheet and halyards, electric primary winches set just forward of the twin wheels made the sailing equation that much easier. Even overcanvased, boat handling could not have been simpler.
Beating to windward, we made 8 knots and better, and we saw the GPS speed jump to 9-plus knots when we eased sheets and headed off on a reach. You could cover a lot of miles pretty effortlessly on this boat, upwind and down. In calmer conditions, you’d definitely want to fly the optional asymmetric sail, tacked down to the bail built into the bow roller, to thoroughly enjoy a gentlemanly run off the wind.
Underway, the centerline drop-leaf cockpit table proved a sturdy handhold when moving about and a handy place to brace a foot when sitting to windward. A tall spray dodger spanned the width of the cockpit on the boat we sailed and covered the companionway, creating a very pleasant space for guests to sit out of the wind. Spray, I noted, really wasn’t a problem, thanks to the boat’s high freeboard and wide girth. Even in fairly choppy conditions, water only made it to about the forward edge of the cabin house, leaving the low coachroof and side decks dry.
The 455 replaces the Hanse 445 in a lineup of eight models that range from 31 to just under 70 feet. Designers used the extra foot or so in length overall to provide the helmsman with seats aft and a skosh more room behind the twin wheels, as well as to lengthen the companionway opening, eliminating a potentially nagging head-knocker on the earlier model.
The 455 comes with an array of interior options for woodwork and upholstery. The boat we sailed had cherry joinery and paneling, an acacia laminate sole and gray cushions. The combination was very easy on the eyes.
Stepping down from the companionway, at first I found myself searching for a usable handhold. The counter of the well-equipped L-shaped galley is a good reach to starboard, as are the overhead handrails. Once in the saloon, though, I found it intuitive to maneuver around the U-shaped dinette to starboard and along the settee to port.
Four different layouts are available. Two aft cabins are standard, with a guest head and shower to port of the companionway. Forward, an owner can choose between a large private cabin with separate head and shower compartments, and two smaller cabins, each with a head and shower. The settee in the saloon can also be replaced with captain’s chairs and a table. With 18 opening hatches and ports, ventilation and natural light is abundant. For nighttime use, LED lights are standard, both inside and out.
The comfort factor continues outside as well. The aft helm seats on each side of the walk-through transom conceal a grill to starboard and a sink and shower to port. The owner reports it’s quite pleasant to stand on the fold-down swim platform and cook up a storm for the crew. Sunbathers will also appreciate the uncluttered cabin top and deck forward of the mast.
Hanse lays up its hulls using a layer of gelcoat and vinylester resin, then polyester resin and solid fiberglass to the waterline, and balsa coring from there up. The deck is also balsa-cored. Aluminum plates are located wherever hardware is mounted. During construction, a layer of gelcoat is also applied to interior hull surfaces to give them a finished appearance. Hulls come standard in white, though the boat we sailed had an optional blue gelcoat finish, which looked quite sharp.
A 55-horsepower Volvo diesel and saildrive is the standard power plant in the 455. The boat we sailed had the 72-horsepower upgrade, which pushed us right along as we headed upwind through two- to three-foot waves. We trucked along at 7.5 knots at cruising speed (2,000 rpm) and at nearly 9 knots wide-open (2,800 rpm). A bow thruster is available as an option, and it’s one I might take if it were my boat and I planned on spending a lot of time in marinas; the boat’s high freeboard allows for noticeable windage. If anchoring and mooring are more your style, the vessel does just fine without one.
Most modern boats sail fairly well with a good breeze on, but not all are as easy to handle as the 455. With a base price of just over $250,000, a couple or family will find a lot of sailboat with this new Hanse, and with the various add-on packages offered by the builder, they can choose the amenities they need to make it their watery home.
* Mark Pillsbury is CW’s editor.*