When you have spent sizeable chunks of your life crossing oceans, racing dinghies and crashing around the cans or across the Channel on racing yachts, it can take a while to appreciate fully the extent to which the market for cruising yachts has changed in recent years.
I say this even though I have been testing boats of all types since the mid 1990s.
Before that I spent some time in the sales office of a yacht builder and, as a child, cruised with my parents back in the days when you pushed your tender across the mud and rowed out to your drying mooring.
When you got on board you had no marine fridge, no heater, no pressurised water, no self-tailing winches, no roller-reefing headsail, no GPS or chartplotter and an engine that might start if you asked it nicely.
For some of us, sailing has always been about the functional and fundamental. We sail because we’re sailors and we enjoy sailing for sailing’s sake.
Then there are the other simple, elemental pleasures: the sea, the peace of a quiet anchorage and a swim before breakfast.
Fast forward several decades and things are different. People want so much more from a boat and, in many respects, today’s boats undoubtedly offer a lot more.
Priorities have changed, so those of us who test boats have to look at them from a different perspective.
We still think about upwind capability in 30 knots of wind against tide, and whether we can brace ourselves at the foot of the companionway to don our waterproofs at 30° of heel, but we acknowledge that these factors will matter to fewer people than they once did.
Of relevance to more prospective owners will be how the boat sails in the moderate conditions, the forward stateroom, and whether you can still see the pop-up TV in the saloon from the galley.
This is not meant to sound disparaging. It’s what people want and what builders are offering. It’s luxury on the water, and few old-school sailors would dispute that some aspects of it can be very welcome.
What you might loosely call the mainstream European builders of family cruising yachts – the Beneteaus, Jeanneaus, Dufours, Bavarias and Hanses of this world – have been following this path for some time, making each generation of designs bigger and plusher than the last.
For Hanse in particular, it has been a rapid evolution from the small, basic and functional to the large and luxurious, because the company has only been around for little over 25 years.
I tested the very first Hanse – the 291 – back in 1995.
Then, this summer, I was back at Hamble Point (having sailed many other Hanses in the intervening years) to test the newest offering from Germany’s biggest boatbuilder.
Hanse 460: Time for a change
This latest Hanse is the first to be designed by Berret-Racoupeau.
After the earliest models, which used the moulds of discontinued, slim-hulled Scandinavian designs, every Hanse has been designed by Judel/Vrolijk in what became one of boatbuilding’s most enduring and successful partnerships.
Inevitably, in line with modern trends, each new wave of Hanses has been higher, wider and more voluminous than the last.
Hanse’s founder, Michael Schmidt, never lost sight of the performance side, however. Once upon a time he did do rather well in the Admiral’s Cup.
For all their growing girths and towering topsides, Hanses have always been boats that sail. They also reached a stage a while ago when I for one – and I wasn’t alone – reckoned I had a pretty good idea of what to expect when a new model was announced.
Hanse went through a rattan and gloss-varnish-interior phase, then a shorter phase when the accommodation seemed to be littered with cubes in garish colours.
The company had, it seemed, settled down to produce boats that didn’t attract quite so many headlines and that did what Hanses were known for.
These were competitively priced, high volume cruisers that were easy to sail (self-tacking jibs were used from the early days) and that performed better than many of the alternatives.
So when I heard about the Hanse 460, I pictured something along the lines of a remodelled 458. As it turned out, it was different. Very different.
The fact that it had won the Family Cruiser category in the 2022 European Yacht of the Year awards meant something.
Perhaps more significant was a new alliance with the French design team that has been responsible for many Beneteaus, Fountaine-Pajots, Garcias and others, not to mention a host of superyachts and, back in the day, IOR racers too.
If it looks fast
The big question was whether Hanse had managed to do something different while retaining its core qualities.
At a glance, the 460 looks sleeker and sportier than earlier models. More angular too, with a reverse rake to the bow and a pronounced knuckle running to about halfway aft.
In Hanse tradition there are no hard-angled chines but the 460 has a pronounced soft chine towards the stern.
In plan view you see full forward sections which, combined with the broad stern, generous freeboard and ample beam, hold the promise of enormous interior volume.
Below the waterline you have a single deep rudder – Hanses have never had twin rudders – and a choice of deep (2.25m/7ft 5in) or shallow (1.75m/5ft 9in) fin keels in cast iron.
Stepped on deck is a rig of high-fractional configuration, the mast having two sets of swept spreaders and a permanent backstay.
All told, the appearance is pretty rakish for a voluminous cruiser. ‘She looks like Comanche (the 100ft maxi racer) from astern,’ someone told me.
I doubted the Hanse would be quite as fast, but I could see what he meant. At the other end, a moulded bowsprit projects the anchor clear of the stem and provides an attachment point for an outer forestay on which you can carry a reaching headsail.
Large windows in the topsides help to break up the high freeboard. Scale those topsides and you’re faced with an expanse of wide flat deck and coachroof.
Moulded bulwarks edge the side decks to help keep feet where they belong should you venture forward when the boat’s heeled.
Otherwise what stands out is the uncluttered appearance – lines are led aft beneath separate mouldings – and the plethora of deck hatches hinged every which way, including one that opens to reveal a large bow locker.
A creative cockpit
Today’s cockpits are no longer just places from where you control the boat.
Controlling the boat in itself is so much easier anyway, especially if – as most owners of the 460 will – you upgrade to electric winches, electric in-mast reefing and electric furling for the genoa on the outer forestay.
The most energetic part will be unloading and loading up any winches – having first put down your glass of Prosecco – and then pressing a switch at one of the twin helm stations.
On boats of this size now it’s all pretty normal. Other push-button options are for the hinge-down bathing platform and the cockpit tables (either side or both), which can be lowered to create large lounging areas.
Alternatively there are fixed tables, as we had on the port side. A wet bar can be added between the helm seats.
It makes the cockpit a multi-function space in which every part can serve a variety of purposes.
That theme is continued below decks.
From the sailing perspective, at least in the flat water and modest breeze we encountered, the cockpit worked well.
In any wind and seaway you would be pleased to have the optional second table to port as a bracing point. At the helms you have a comfortable perch outboard of the wheel or, for energetic downwind sailing when you might need both hands, behind it.
The Jefa linkage is light and direct, giving a good feel from the rudder.
On the starboard side you can wind down the bifurcated backstay when extra headstay tension is needed.
Whether the inner or outer stay was taking the load was hard to tell. Cockpit stowage consists of a half-depth locker each side and – a first for Hanse – a dedicated liferaft locker right aft to starboard.
With the electric-lowering option for the starboard table comes an extra moulded seat pod, which provides easy-access shallow stowage forward of the starboard helm and would be good to have for that reason alone.
Small oddments can otherwise be thrown into shallow recesses at the aft end of the coachroof.
Hanse 460: Enjoyable sail
Moving about the deck and cockpit, and from one to the other, is easy in good weather. The wide open spaces let you simply stroll around – or lie around if you’re so inclined.
Then again, they tend to present more of a challenge when a boat’s bouncing and heeling. You can’t have it both ways.
Talking of bouncing and heeling, Hanse’s literature stresses the performance aspects of the 460.
The waterline is narrower than on some high volume cruisers (at 80% of maximum beam), and this one certainly slipped along very nicely on a flat sea in 12-14 knots of wind – conditions that could hardly have been less demanding.
With a flood tide in the Solent and a log that was clearly under-reading by a considerable margin, some calculation was needed to work out our speed through the water.
It looked as though we clocked around 7.5 knots with the apparent wind at just under 30°, and we tacked through around 80° by the compass.
Weather helm was slight and the load on the wheels increased relatively little if I tried bearing away with the sheets pinned in, the rudder providing plenty of grip.
Provoked in the opposite direction, she coped well when pinched mercilessly and also when thrown into tight spins, only stalling briefly before laminar flow was restored over the foils.
There was certainly nothing to complain about in the performance and handling department, and much to enjoy.
We even had an opportunity to sail upwind alongside a Hanse 458 – a model based on a hull that goes back to 2012 and that’s still in production alongside the Hanse 460.
Although we were trying to stay close together rather than to have a race, there were no obvious differences in performance in those conditions.
Ours was a newer boat and more lightly laden, but giving away some efficiency with an in-mast-reefing mainsail.
Externally, the hull lines clearly differentiate the 460 from her earlier stablemates. On deck the differences are more subtle, while the cockpit is typical Hanse.
Down below it’s a world apart.
Part of Hanse’s mission with the new-generation designs is to move upmarket and fill a perceived gap between boats from the other large-scale production builders, with which it has commonly been grouped in the minds of the boat-buying public, and the more bespoke, hand-crafted offerings from the Scandinavian yards.
It’s certainly a more classy finish than we’ve seen before from Hanse.
Not loud, brash, futuristic or radical, but restrained in tone and a level above what we have become used to.
Berret-Racoupeau is one of relatively few yacht design studios to have its own interior-design division, and this must make it easier to integrate the inside and outside worlds.
A host of interior layouts is available.
About the only constant is the presence of twin double cabins in the stern. Otherwise you can have different arrangements in the bow (cabins and heads) and amidships with a long or short linear galley and a bunk cabin or utility room to starboard where our boat had a chart table and heads compartment.
Details include backrests that hinge down in the saloon to provide trays and drinks-holders.
Then you can press a button to lower the table to bunk-level, press another to pop up the TV from its central pod, and settle down for the evening.
Down here it’s all about sight-lines, integrating all the different areas so no one feels left out, and ensuring that, as in the cockpit, every part of the layout performs multiple functions.
It sounds convincing when you read about it, and in practice it is – at least in terms of creating a pleasant and light environment.
It also seemed fine when we were under sail, albeit in benign conditions.
Hanse 460: Test Verdict
Sometimes you come across a boat that makes you realise not only that boat design has changed irrevocably, but also why it has changed and why it’s not going back.
The Hanse 460 is unquestionably such a boat.
How the crew lives aboard and moves around, both above and below decks, has clearly been thought about in the context of modern lifestyles.
And this boat exudes style with a capital S.
While she will undoubtedly attract newcomers to boat-ownership, I see no reason why a few crusty old salts shouldn’t be wooed by her as well.
A boat like this is unlikely to slice to windward in heavy weather as comfortably as, say, a first-generation Swan 46 or even something more recent like a Starlight 46, but most people aren’t really interested in that these days.
I suspect the new Hanse will prove to be a pretty quick and competent all-rounder nonetheless.
Would the Hanse 460 suit you and your crew?
If you like the fundamental design, you will certainly be able to tailor many of the details to suit your tastes.
There’s a vast array of options, from cabin layouts (three to five cabins, up to four showers and from six to 10 berths) to multitudinous choices of woodwork, upholstery and sail arrangement.
Hanse’s website allows you to configure your boat and to see what it looks like if you change the hull colour, add a cabin or two or switch from the deep to the shallow keel.
The technology doesn’t end there. When you place your order, you can also add MyHanse Safety Cloud so you can monitor onboard systems via your phone.
Simple sailing? The technology is not remotely simple these days.
But with the Hanse 460, the sailing itself is simple and can still be a lot of fun.
Enjoyed reading Hanse 460: first test of this luxurious cruiser?
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LOA:14.60m (47ft 11in)
Hull Length:13.87m (45ft 6in)
LWL:13.05m (42ft 10in)
Beam:4.79m (15ft 9in)
Draught:Standard fin 2.25m (7ft 7in) – shallow fin 1.75m (5ft 9in)
Sail Area:(main & self-tacker) 106m2 (1,141 sq ft)
UK Agent:Inspiration Marine