World's apart

New boat: Hanse 320

Australian Hanse distributor Windcraft is targeting new territory with the value-for-money Hanse 320, reports Caroline Strainig.

Every time I see a new boat, I am amazed how much space they have packed in. “Surely, this must be about the max?” I think and then the next one breaks new ground again.

Seeing the new German-built Hanse 320 berthed alongside an old Australian-built Northshore about the same length was another reminder of this; the Hanse probably had at least one-third more volume. But what makes it even more amazing is that most of the designers still seem to be able to achieve the extra space without making their boats look like floating tanks, and this latest Hanse 320 is no exception. Penned by the renowned design team of Judel/Vrolijk and Co, who have also designed boats such as America’s Cup winner Alinghi, this is still a very elegant boat.

The 320 replaces the 311 and completes the new range of small-to-mid Hanses, which also includes the 400, 370 and 350. Hanse’s first model in 1993 was the 291, but until now Australian distributor Windcraft has concentrated on the larger models. The success of other models in the new range and — presumably — the economic downturn which means new boat buyers are really watching their pennies has prompted them to widen their scope to actively promote smaller boats such as the 320. Interest has been keen, so it looks as if the move will pay off.

Windcraft salesperson Mary Bickley describes the 320 as “world’s apart” from its predecessor, and I have to agree. The Hanse of today looks much more suited to the sunshine and light breezes of the Med than the arctic winds of a European winter, although Hanses have always been one of the most modern of the European designs.


Okay, plumb bow, large cockpit with walk-through transom, beam carried well aft, nine-tenths fractional rig with twin swept-back spreaders and lazyjacks. No surprises there. We could be talking about any one of a number of production boats. Look a little closer and you’ll start to see some differences from other imported yachts of the same ilk, the most noticeable being the sail plan. All Hanses have a large main and non-overlapping headsail on a self-tacker and the overall sail area is larger than on many comparable boats.

Other features that stood out included the wide side decks with shrouds attached outboard, and a fairly flat cabin top. All sail controls — including single-line reefing with two reefing points — come back to the cabin top apart from the main topping lift, which is on the mast, but since there is a solid boomvang you really don’t need the topper.

A Dacron main and headsail are standard and a genoa and gennaker are available as optional extras, as are tracks for headsail sheets should you ever want to replace the self-tacking headsail with a larger one in light winds.

The Facnor headsail furler is a standard inclusion.

The test boat had four Lewmar 40ST two-speed winches, two on the cabin top and two on the coaming.

Wheel steering/no traveller

Tiller steering is standard but the test boat had wheel steering, an optional extra. This did use up some cockpit space and you had to step up on the seat to go forward, although it wasn’t high and I hardly noticed it. If you found it a pain, you could always option up to one of those folding Lewmar wheels to give you a little more room at anchor.

Interestingly, the test boat had no traveller. The main is trimmed with a solid boomvang, although you could put a traveller on if you couldn’t imagine life without one. However, there are many who claim a boomvang can be used as a viable alternative and some 2,500 Ynglings sail without travellers. (See the sidebar “Vang versus traveller” for an explanation as to how this works.)

Having the mainsail sheet just coming back to an eye in the cabin sole in front of the helm did mean that access was easy for the helmsperson. You can also undo it and tie it off to the lifelines to free up the cockpit when at anchor.

The wheel is attached to a large pedestal, which was also home to a Plastimo compass, Northstar Explore 567 chartplotter and Simrad AP24-direct drive autopilot. A Simrad tri-data and wind instrument were mounted off to starboard, with sail controls close by low down out of the way. Most of these instruments are optional extras, as is a cockpit table abutting the pedestal.

There is a large lazarette to port also accessed from the head below, small lockers aft to port and starboard and two gas lockers aft adjacent to the walkthrough section and swimming ladder and hot-and-cold shower. Teak on the cockpit seat comes as standard and on the cockpit sole as an optional extra. You could stow an inflatable in the cockpit lazarette or tied down aft of the boomvang on the cabin top. A bimini and dodger are optional extras.

The test boat had a 10kg Delta anchor with 30m of 8mm chain and 1000W Lewmar winch with remote. The anchor roller is offset to port to enable the headsail furler to attach right at the bow.


Heading below is via a ladder with four flat wooden steps, which is over the 22hp Yanmar saildrive, which is also accessed from the aft cabin and head and has a two-blade folding propeller (fixed prop standard).

Like all Hanses, the decor and style is very modern. To port is an L-shaped settee with small nav station immediately adjacent and small square section that sticks out and doubles as the nav station seat. Battery stowage is under the settee — two standard batteries, one service battery of 110AH and one engine of 90AH, plus an optional third battery (service) of 110AH.

Adjacent is a drop-leaf table and to starboard a straight settee with stowage under. There are lockers above both settees, but these are fairly shallow — as one would expect on a boat of this length.

To starboard is an L-shaped galley with sink, top-opening fridge, two-burner stove with oven, five lockers and crockery storage.

Aft to starboard is a double berth under the cockpit, with a hanging locker and shelves and three small opening ports.

Aft to port, is a combined shower and Jabsco manual toilet with 50L stainless-steel holding tank, with a sink and two opening ports. I’d opt for a larger holding tank if possible if you plan other than weekending.

Forward is a V-berth cabin with shelves to port and a hanging locker to starboard and a single big hatch over.

The water tank is under the V-berth and fuel tank the aft berth.

I found it easy to make my way forward hanging onto something all the way.

Under sail

Light winds greeted us on the day of the test sail, which had already been put off for several weeks, so it was a question of now or never in terms of making this issue of CH. The instruments had not yet been calibrated, but I found the boat very light and easy to steer, and was assured that the steering system, a Jefa (Danish) rod-link, was still fingertip-light in 30 knots.

Speed-wise, the boat did keep moving and I know from the Hanse regatta last year that the Hanses are good performers around the cans, and the polar diagram supports this.

In 20 knots of true wind at 40? it showed 6.5 knots of boat speed and 8.5 knots of boat speed at 120? (see polar diagram on page 56).

The 320 would make a handy little twilighter or club racer. It also has the added plus of being easily handled by one person.


The boat has CE Certificate A (ocean). Larger Hanses have an epoxy option, but this is not available in the smaller boats, so construction is fairly standard GRP. The test boat had a cast-iron “T-speed” keel (a bulb) with a low centre of gravity. The deep draught is 1.75m and the optional shallow draught 1.43m.


Hanse is one of the most competitive makes on the market, with 140 already sold in Australia, and the 320 should help extend their popularity in Australia to smaller boats. The test boat was still available at the special price of $215,000 at the time of writing. First in, best dressed!

M.O.S.S Australia
Race Yachts
Race Yachts