Hanse 341

German production yachtbuilder Hanse is making giant strides in Australia, but has yet to reach New Zealand shores. Australian Trade-A-Boat editor Vanessa Dudley puts the Hanse 341 through its paces.

Hanse 341
Hanse 341

Rolf Vrolijk is very much the man of the hour in international yacht racing. A Dutch national who has lived for many years in Germany, Vrolijk was recruited by the Swiss Alinghi challenge after his design, Bravo Espana, showed potential for its Spanish team in 2000. And we all know what happened in February when Vrolijk's design Alinghi challenged for the America's Cup.

Vrolijk is hardly a new face at the forefront of racing yacht design. He has been involved with many successful yachting campaigns in the past few decades.

In partnership with Friedrich Judel, Vrolijk established one of the major yacht design firms in Europe, and he professes to have designed "hundreds of sailing boats". Quite a number have been for mass production rather than the specialised custom-building realm of the Admiral's and America's Cups.

In recent years, one of Judel/Vrolijk's developing relationships has been with Hanse Yachts, a German production-yacht manufacturer based in Greifswald. Hanse Yachts was established by Michael Schmidt, one of Germany's top yacht-racing campaigners, after the nation's reunification in 1989.

The current Hanse range includes four models from 31-41ft, all designed by Judel/Vrolijk, and larger models are on the drawing board.

According to Peter Hrones, the Sydney-based Australian distributor for Hanse, the company built around 250 yachts in 2001 and has been doubling in size annually over the past four years to become the second largest yachtbuilder in Germany after Bavaria.

With its conventional, full-bodied cruiser lines and modest rigs, the Hanses are winners. At the huge Dusseldorf Boat Show late last year, the Hanse 341 was declared European Yacht of the Year in the 10-12m category, while the Hanse 311 was second to the Beneteau First 27.7 in the under 10m category.

You can expect a comfortable and cosy interior on the Hanse 341, which, like the 311, is essentially a sturdy and voluminous family cruiser/club racer, with an easily managed rig and no pretensions to lightning performance. It has a smaller cockpit and a larger interior than some locally produced yachts of comparable size and there's nothing flashy or streamlined about its profile, with the long coachhouse being quite traditional in appearance.

Hull construction is solid fibreglass (GRP) to the waterline, with end-grain balsa/GRP sandwich topsides and deck. The hull and deck join is through-bolted and all bulkheads are glassed in top and bottom. The separate inner ceiling moulding is finished with padded vinyl headliner panels that can pull out to provide access to the deck fittings. Cabin doors are foam sandwich construction and are set on hinges that allow easy removal if preferred.

The standard specification includes a pressurised hot water system, 12V refrigeration, dacron mainsail and headsail on a Facnor twinfoil roller furler, Simrad log and depth instruments and Plastimo binnacle compass, Lewmar and Gebo hatches, Harken winches, stainless steel 60lt toilet holding tank, plus basic safety and mooring equipment.

Options include a spinnaker package and a couple of keel variations. The standard keel is a cast-iron fin attached with stainless steel keel bolts, while the rudder is on an alloy rudder shaft. The standard engine is a 19hp Volvo Penta saildrive unit, located under the companionway. More powerful options are available up to 28hp. The standard propeller is a fixed two-blade model, however two-blade folding props are available.

The rig is seven/eighths fractional with anodised aluminium Sparcraft mast (deck-stepped) and boom, supported by two sets of swept-back spreaders, shrouds and lowers. The backstay is adjustable with block and tackle, as is the boom vang. The mainsail has Rutgerson battcars, which reduce load on the halyard and make raising and lowering the sail simple and quick. It is set up with lazyjacks and boom bag.

There is only one headsail sheet for the self-tacker, leading to a car on the foredeck traveller, up to a turning block on the mast and then back down to the deck and aft to one of the two Harken 40 self-tailing winches at the rear end of the coachhouse. These also serve duty with the mainsheet, halyards and sail control lines.

There are also two Harken 40 self-tailing primary winches mounted on the cockpit coamings in case a conventional headsail set-up is preferred, or for running spinnakers. Moulded into the cockpit coamings to either side further aft, within reach of the helm, are mounting spaces for additional (optional) winches, in case a cockpit traveller is preferred for the mainsheet and/or for spinnakers.

As it is, with the mainsheet forward the boat would be a handful for singlehanding, but is well set up for sailing by a couple, with one behind the helm and the other at the forward end of the cockpit, where there is a generous-sized teak bridgedeck at the top of the companionway.

Although it isn't particularly big, the cockpit has a protected feeling largely due to the enclosed transom, which does not open for direct access to the boarding platform and swim ladder at the stern. There are storage lockers under the seats, including a very large locker on the port side, which is also accessible from inside the yacht.

As on the 311, the most striking feature when you first step below on the 341 is the colour and shine of the interior joinery. The marine plywood and foam sandwich fitout is finished with mahogany veneers, treated with a two-pack varnish for a high-gloss shine.

The cabin floors throughout are synthetic teak/holly veneer with Rattan doors on the saloon cupboards and cabin wardrobes.

The standard interior layout provides two private double sleeping cabins, one in the bow and the other in the starboard quarter, with the port quarter allocated to storage space and accessible from the cockpit and through the bathroom.

The forward cabin provides a long double V-berth, with shelves either side along the hull and two storage lockers at the aft end, comprising a hanging locker to port and a three-shelf wardrobe to starboard. Under the bunk is the polyethylene freshwater tank.

The second private cabin in the starboard aft quarter has a generous-sized double berth and a hanging locker at the outboard forward end. The stainless steel fuel tank with shut-off valves is under the bunk.

The saloon is quite elegant in appearance and function. On the starboard side is a U-shaped lounge surrounding a timber table with a large base that doubles as the drinks cabinet. There is also the option of a dropleaf extension. Opposite on the port side are two large single seats to either side of the navigation table, which should be adequate for the type of sailing that most buyers are actually likely to do with the boat.

The galley at the starboard aft end of the saloon has two round stainless steel sinks with hot/cold pressurised water supply, a two-burner Triton stainless steel stove and oven. The top-loading fridge is large capacity. All available space is dedicated to storage cupboards and drawers.

The bathroom compartment is big for a boat of this size and contains the manual marine toilet (with holding tank), vanity unit and hot/cold pressurised water to the washbasin and separate shower. There is a large hanging locker for wet weather gear, etc, and access through to the big aft storage area.

We were fortunate to get a decent breeze for this sail on Sydney's Pittwater. The 5-15kt southerly was already quite gusty, and to the north of Scotland Island it was funnelling into bullets of 20kt or more.

Under full mainsail and jib, the 341 proved easy to manage by two people; the self-tacking headsail took all the effort out of tacking and gybing and will be particularly appreciated when sailing shorthanded.

The 341 was lively and responsive to the helm on all points of sail, although it did exhibit noticeable windward helm, which would need some rig tuning to iron out.

Sailing upwind, the boat also had a tendency to round up into the wind when hard-pressed in the strongest bullets; beyond a certain point the rudder would "let go", which signified that we had too much sail up for the gusts. A bunch of crew on the rail would make a big difference, of course. Those mainsail battcars should help with reefing.

My personal choice of layout for a boat of this size would be a cockpit mainsheet traveller and a tiller, although there's no doubt that the coachhouse-mounted traveller provides a clearer cockpit and Hrones says that 90 per cent of potential buyers ask for wheel steering. Because of that, he is including this option in the Hanse 341's standard price.

Which in total probably wouldn't even buy you the steering system for one of those America's Cup boats designed by Vrolijk.

Let's just say there's no comparison between the two, even if they do share a designer.

But if you're in the market for a medium-sized cruiser/club racer and you're not a Swiss billionaire, the Hanse 341 certainly represents better value.

Hanse 341
Priced as tested: $AU235,000
Options fitted: Wheel steering
Priced from: $AU235,000 (two-cabin version, sailaway with basic sails and electronic log/depthsounder)
Material: GRP/foam core topsides & deck
Type: Monohull cruiser/club racer
Length (overall): 10.350m
Length (waterline): 8.90m
Beam: 3.40m
Draft: 1.75m
Displacement: Approx 5150kg
Ballast: 1820kg
Berths: Four/Six
Fuel: 75lt
Water: 185lt
Make/Model: Volvo Penta MD2020
Type: Three-cylinder marine diesel saildrive
Rated hp: 18hp
Sail Area
Battened main: 34.20sqm
Self-tacking jib: 27.30sqm
Genoa: 36.00sqm
Spinnaker: 84.00sqm
Supplied by: Windcraft Australia, Bayview (NSW), tel (02) 9979 1709, www.windcraft.com.au

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