Hanse 430e – Born to perform

Looking for a well appointed performance cruiser? Barry Henson, editor of Australian Yachting, takes a look at the Hanse 430e.

If you're looking for a performance cruiser, something that will put you in the rankings at your club and keep your wife happy, then Hanse is one of the boat manufacturers that you should look at. Designed by Judel/Vrolijk, the design team responsible for the 2003 America's Cup winner, Alinghi, and built by German builder, Hanse, the 430e is just one of the boats that is making Hanse one of Europe's most successful boat builders. I took a test sail on the 430e in a blustery 20 knot nor-easter and here's what I found.

First impressions

Looking at the 430e on the dock, I'm thinking the ‘e' could easily stand for ‘euro'. There is a look, a certain design sense that defines a boat as European, as opposed to Australian or American. Hanses have that sleek, modern look that is so popular amongst the European designs and stowing my gear away I noted that same design sense below decks.

One of the first things you notice about the Hanse 430e is the open transom. This is your first clue that this boat has been designed with performance in mind and accordingly, Judel/Vrolijk have tried to keep this boat as light as possible, which in a ‘swings and roundabouts way' brings me to back to the ‘e' in the boat's name. No, it's not for euro, e-mail or a web address – it's for epoxy. The Hanse 430e's hull is a foam sandwich construction with epoxy resin on either side. By using epoxy resin, Hanse get a stronger, lighter boat – saving over 1,000 kilograms in weight – and you get the added benefit that epoxy hulls are resistant to osmosis.

What is the 430e's design brief?

The 430e is a performance cruiser, in other words its design brief is to deliver the best of both worlds, a boat that will deliver creditable race results in the twilights and take you safely and comfortably on that cruise to the Whitsunday's you've been dreaming about. This is what most modern boat owners want and it's a balancing act that is every yacht designer's nightmare – ‘give me a boat that will win races and serve as a comfortable home whilst cruising'; the reality is that these are two separate and in many cases, opposing goals.

I'm going to generalize here, but what a race designer wants a slippery hull with a fine entry, a narrow beam, and a flat aft section, a deep bulb keel, a tall stick with heaps of sail area, a big fin rudder, low freeboard and flush deck for low windage. Much of what the cruising boat designer wants is the opposite. He needs a wide beam for commodious accommodations below deck, a shallow draft keel for crossing bars and exploring shoal waters, a sail area that can be easily managed by a middle-aged couple, a rudder with a full or partial skeg, a higher freeboard and a decent cabin top to give him standing head-room below.

So in evaluating any performance cruiser what you are really evaluating is how well the designer and builder have pulled off this compromise and taken as a whole, has he designed a racer/cruiser or a cruiser/racer?

On deck

The layout of the deck reflects the balance this boat is trying to strike. Aft you've got pure race boat with an open transom with a mechanical backstay adjuster, port and starboard helm stations, two Lewmar 48s within easy reach of the helmsman, Simrad IP20 wind, log and depth instruments, as an option you can have a repeater on both sides, plus an optional chart plotter. The boat we tested had a Raymarine E120 chart plotter in a swiveling, waterproof case, very nice.

The cockpit is quite large and the beam of the boat aft has allowed the designer to split the cockpit with a table down the middle with foot supports built in on either side of the table.

All lines are lead aft through Spinlock jammers and on the cabin top are two Lewmar 46 winches, on the boat we tested the starboard winch was electric (an option), which made handling the main sheet, reefing lines and outhaul, a breeze (a serious amount of pun intended).

The mast on the 430e is a Sparcraft tapered performance mast with a 63 square metre Norlam main by North Sails. An ‘A' configuration mainsheet on the cabin top doubles as a traveler and there is a rod vang. Forward of the mast the boat tips its hat to the needs of the cruising couple with a 95% self-tacking, jib on a Facnor furler.

So from a sail perspective, the base boat is designed to keep things simple for cruising and if you want to get serious about racing, then a performance package is available that equips the boat with racing-oriented options, such as an upgraded sail package, gennaker and spinnaker fittings, a hydraulic backstay adjuster and a folding prop. It's a smart way of fitting out the boat – providing the majority of buyers with a base boat that you can use right away for inshore cruising and twilight racing, then providing options that allow you to gear the boat up for serious coastal cruising, cat 1 and offshore racing.

The standard boat also includes tracks and blocks, for the optional genoa, along the side deck. One obvious omission is the shortage of hand holds along the side decks. This is something that can be easily remedied, but it would have been nice to see this in the base boat.

The furling line for the headsail runs under the deck. There is a 16 kilogram delta anchor forward with 30 metres of 8 mm chain leading to an anchor windlass, a wash down hose and LPG bottle are all neatly located in the same well and protected by a flush hatch (all shown as options on the pricing schedule).

And below deck?

Below deck the 430e presents like a Manhattan apartment with gleaming mahogany or cherry woodwork, corian countertops, stainless fiddle rails, leather-look upholstery, an inbuilt bar, light headliners and walls. An optional 19″ flat screen TV with DVD player is available, allowing you to entertain the kids or grandkids, while you sit in the cockpit sipping a smashing shiraz as you watch the sun go down.

The level of finish is quite attractive and Hanse have obviously done their homework regarding what people are looking for below deck. Certainly this interior will appeal to a great many people. The only criticism I have relates, again, to the lack of hand holds. There are very few hand holds and the dining table doesn't have fiddles. These are relatively small things that can be easily remedied, but they're also basics for any type of offshore boat and it's disappointing to find them missing.

Many years ago I was thrown across the interior of a Tayana 37 in rough seas. The fall, which was due to the lack of a hand hold in the galley, nearly broke my hip and left me with deep bruises, don't ask where, that took months to go away. That experience reinforced the importance of having effective hand holds in any boat that's likely to head offshore. Henri Amel, who was nearly blind, designed his boats so he could move about, blind, anywhere in the boat, hand hold to hand hold and that's something that all interior designers of offshore boats should do.

One of the areas where the interior shines is in its flexibility. Hanse has very intelligently designed a modular interior system that allows buyers to pick from a range of layouts. This system allows buyers to specify the configuration of the forward and aft cabins, whilst keeping the galley and saloon standard. For example, you can have an owner's cabin with ensuite forward and a double aft with a separate storeroom, or you can have the owner's forward and two doubles aft, or you can split the owner's cabin in half and have two cabins forward, a double and a cabin with bunk beds that share a head. They have pretty much covered all options allowing the base boat to be customized as a private cruiser, a family boat or a charter vessel.

And below the waterline?

Typically when you test a boat you only get to see the boat in the water, but in this case I was fortunate that a sister-ship was hauled and being prepped for delivery. Given this opportunity I think it's worth taking a moment or two to look at what the Hanse 430e looks like below the waterline.

She has a fine entry with a nearly plumb bow, is fairly narrow forward, but her beam expands quickly with maximum beam at B1 on the diagram. She then carries that beam with a fairly flat bottom most of the way aft. Her keel is a deep fin (2 metre) keel with a bulb to keep her ballast down low. She has a deep fin rudder.

When you crunch the numbers on the Hanse 430e you come out with a fairly clear picture that what Judel/Vrolijk have created is a racer with a cruising interior, as opposed to a cruiser that can also race.

The ballast to displacement ratio for the epoxy boat is about 31%, which is on the low side. When you take into account the high sail to displacement ratio, which we'll cover in a moment, what you get is a boat that will do an initial bit of heeling, before her form stability kicks in and she stiffens up.

The displacement to waterline length ratio is 167, which makes this a low, but not ultra-low, displacement boat and it definitely puts the emphasis on the word ‘racer', when referring to her as a racer/cruiser. A medium value would be 200 and a heavy displacement boat would be 300. The lower the figure, the more easily the boat is driven.

The sail area to displacement ratio is 21.81, which indicates a reasonably high sail area to displacement.

Taken all together, this boat should move easily in light airs, but as the wind builds you'll probably need to reef early.

So how did she sail?

She sailed pretty much as you would expect from the numbers.

We took the Hanse 430e for a test sail on Pittwater in a blustery nor-easterly. It was blowing 20 knots with gusts slightly higher and we initially had her full sail area up, a decision largely driven by the need to take good looking photos – the things we boat testers will do for an attractive photo!?!

The 430e is an easily driven boat that moves extremely very well in light airs and her underwater shape makes her an excellent downwind boat. Upwind you'll find, as I did, that after an initial bit of heeling, she stiffens up, but because of her high sail area to displacement ratio, it pays dividends to reef her early.

The self-tacking jib is fantastic. Ready to tack, turn the helm over and it's done; it's that simple. And if you had any concerns about the 95% jib not being big enough, you can put those away. Hanse's polar diagram which shows she achieves equal or faster speeds on almost all points of sail with her jib than she does with her 140% genoa.

In a 20 to 22 knot breeze with one reef in we were achieving about 7 knots upwind, but downwind is where this boat excels. As I turned the boat on to a reach she accelerated nicely to approximately 8 to 8.5 knots. Her polar diagram indicates speeds of up to 10 knots on a broad reach. With the right winds this boat is a downwind flyer.

In conclusion

This is a boat that has a lot going for it. It's pretty, it performs well and I can see it doing quite well in this market. The 430e we tested cost about $520,000 – which is pretty good value for a well-kitted 43 foot boat.

Judel/Vrolijk and Hanse have created a racer/cruiser that should do pretty well around the cans and deliver a high level of creature comforts. How well has Hanse struck this balance? The fact that Windcraft Marine, Hanse's distributor in Australia, has sold over 100 Hanses tells me they're doing it pretty well.

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