Hoist a tad too much sail on a blustery morning, on a boat you’ve never sailed before, and things can go a couple of different ways. Fortunately for us—CW’s Boat of the Year judges and yours truly—as gusts ripped straight down the Severn River and kicked up whitecaps all across the bay off Annapolis, Maryland, the Hanse 415 yacht, to which we’d just been introduced, dug a rail into the chop and took off like a demon possessed. It was one spirited sail.
In fact, brief as it was (all told, we only had about 45 minutes of sailing once our motoring tests were completed), it was the sail I best remember from last fall’s week of a couple of dozen sea trials following the U.S. Sailboat Show. As each puff hit our full-battened main and closehauled self-tending jib, we’d heel a little more but track straight, as if we were on rails, the helm (with Jefa chain-link steering) remaining firmly under control all the while.
“It really performs beautifully under sail,” noted BOTY Judge Ed Sherman. “Even when overpowered, it’s like driving a big dinghy.”
The Hanse 415 yacht, drawn by Judel/Vrolijk & Co., with an interior by Hanse’s Water Vision, is the latest entry in the builder’s lineup of sailboats that are, by design, both exciting and simple to sail. Controls—a pair of single reef lines, halyards, and a main and a jib sheet—are led to winches set just forward of the two helm stations, where they’re easy to reach and kept tamed by rope clutches. But really, if you’re tacking to windward, there’s no reason to bother with the strings. Want to come about? Just turn the wheel and both the jib and the midboom-sheeted main will see to themselves. Off the wind, an asymmetric sail can be set using a dedicated bail on the single anchor roller. It’s a great setup for a shorthanded watch or the skipper whose crew prefers to enjoy the ride. If you routinely sail in lighter air or are looking to eke out a little more speed, a slightly overlapping 106-percent genoa is also an option.
Though a production sailboat through and through and intended to meet a price point, the 415 is available in a wide range of hull colors and interior finishes. The boat we sailed was a three-cabin/two-head model, though a two-cabin (with one or two heads, depending on your needs for locker space in the V-berth) is also available; in that configuration, you gain a large storage area in place of the starboard aft cabin.
In either layout, down below, the saloon and galley are at once stylish and traditional, with a large, U-shaped dining area to starboard (a portion of the seat’s base pulls out and has cushions to make a double berth or lounging area) and a settee opposite with a versatile, two-position nav station. The L-shaped galley comes with all the cooking and refrigeration kit you’d expect in a 41-foot cruising boat, and fiddles along the countertops are a plus for cooking in any sort of seaway.
From on deck, the companionway hatch slides well forward, and the steps down are extended and angled for ease of access. Wide side decks and good handholds along the coachroof are appreciated when moving about under way. One small gripe topside: Outward-opening ports along the cabin roof can be real ankle biters, but then again, they probably wouldn’t be open when sailing.
Below the waterline, the hull is solid glass; above, Hanse uses balsa coring in both the topsides and deck. A layer of vinylester resin next to the gelcoat is added to prevent blistering. Stiff performance under sail comes, in part, thanks to the L-shaped cast-iron keel fastened with stainless-steel bolts. A deep T-keel is optional. The 415 is powered by a 38-horsepower Volvo and saildrive. The BOTY judges found the boat to be slightly underpowered, so anyone planning on a lot of motoring might want to consider the optional 55-horsepower engine.
That said, if there’s any breeze whatsoever, you’ll want to kill the motor, unfurl the jib, hoist up the main, and settle in on the leeward wheel for one heck of a good ride aboard this Hanse 415 yacht.