Second Wind

By: Allan Whiting, Photography by: Allan Whiting

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The latest addition to the new Hanse five-series yacht range is the 385. This replacement for the outgoing 37-footer has greatly improved windward performance and brilliant space utilisation, notes Allan Whiting.

Second Wind
Second Wind

Hanse has established itself in a relatively short timeframe as a brand that virtually all purchasers of cruising yachts or cruiser/racers must consider. Hanse's yachts are well-known now for their excellent value-for-money, ease of handling and good resale values.

The German boatbuilder exploited the concept of a yacht with a self-tacking headsail that was easy to cruise, but also easy to hot-up for club racing with an overlapping headsail and spinnaker gear. Below decks, clever design made maximum use of space and it's in this area that the new 385 leads this yacht-length category.

The model number, 385, suggests a longer boat than the 375, but the former has an overall length of 11.4m – only a shade over 37 feet. However, it's what Hanse has packed into the new boat that justifies its optimistic model number.

Multiple choices The 375 had a choice of two interior layouts but the 385 has four. As before, there's a three-cabin or two-cabin, with large aft storage area and also a pick of chart table location, either aft of the dinette or opposite the dining table. However, in the 385 these options can be mixed and matched, doubling the selection.

Importantly, the new dinette is pentagon-shaped, not rectangular, taking maximum advantage of hull taper. The settees are arranged around this pentagonal plan and the dining table is shaped to fit so that no one need reach for the table. When the drop side is raised, up to eight people can share the table. Wine storage is built into the centre pedestal and there's an additional bottle rack under the cabin sole, beside the table (Hanse must think all sailors are piss pots!).

In the 375, one of our criticisms was an oversized storage area in the two-cabin version – space that could have been allocated to an extended galley. That's exactly what's been fitted to the 385, with the galley extended aft in the two-cabin version, providing more floor area and space for a second fridge.

The redundant starboard aft cabin still provides ample storage space. The port aft cabin can be optionally kitted for kids, with a bed that has an athwart-ships-split base and split cushions, so that half the bed can be part-raised, to form a laid-back lounge. Forward of this arrangement is a cupboard that opens to reveal a mounting area for a DVD player/iPad, and fitted with shelving and bins for DVDs, games and other Y-generation electronic essentials. Yeah!

Cabin lighting and dimming is controlled from a central panel in the saloon, on the end of the galley island.

Line-up the 375 beside the new 385 and some exterior differences are quite obvious: the 385's twin hull ports on each side and its plumb stem and transom with drop-down swim platform contrast with the 375's single hull ports and more raked bow and stern. The 385's hull ports make a big difference to ambient lighting, when the deck hatch blinds are slid shut to keep sun heat out.

Deck hatches are flush-mounted and there are ample opening ports in all cabins and the saloon. Ventilation shouldn't be an issue, even when berthed crosswind.

A swim platform is a necessity on new boats these days and the 385's lowers easily to make a huge deck extension from where you can dangle your feet in the water. Sockets accept a detachable swim ladder and a port-side transom recess can house a life raft or water toys. When it's time to weigh anchor, the platform rises easily, with gas-strut assistance, and locks securely with hasp and staple pins.

However, some deck layout changes in the 385 are less obvious: including full-length toe rails that are almost mini-bulwarks; lidded, teak-faced halyard bins that double as helm seats; and a slope change to the coach house aft moulding, allowing comfortable lounging on the cockpit seats. Also, the deck mouldings have clever recesses that accept infills with cup and plate cut-outs – even a dedicated, non-slip serving tray.

Deck and hull moulding quality is first-class and now the undersides of the chain locker lid and halyard bin lids are gelcoated – no grained surfaces in these often-wet areas to host mould.

Dehler direction Hanse didn't take long to adopt Dehler's brilliant companionway door system across the range and the 385 has one of these two-piece drop-down designs.

The strongly mounted drop-side cockpit table doubles as a foot brace and grab rail and doesn't crowd cockpit space when folded. The test boat had a composite table surface, but subsequent boats will have teak facings. The table is designed to mount a swivelling chartplotter.

Revised dynamics The 385's hull length is actually 350mm shorter than the 375's, but a new plumb stem means that all-important waterline length has gone up, from 10.06m to 10.4m. Stem and stern are taller in profile, so the hull has less fore and aft rocker and a longer amidships flat section.

At first sight, the 375 and 385 have identical rigs and sail plans, but detailed inspection reveals subtle, yet important changes. What remains constant is a 9/10ths rig with twin swept-back spreaders; cap shrouds and lowers leading to hull-side chain plates; self-tacking jib arc-track, with mid-mast sheet layout; mid-boom sheeting with twin cabin-top blocks; tackle-adjustable backstay; and fully-battened mainsail with two reef points and lazy jack boom bag.

Sail area, with a standard self-tacking jib, is up from 71m2 to 74m2, but this has been achieved with a mast height above the waterline that is almost a half-metre shorter at 17.3m. The 385's mast base is some 150mm farther aft than the 375's and the boom is lower.

Mainsail area is up from 42.5m2 to 44m2 (3.5 percent increase), while self-tacking jib area is up from 28.6m2 to 30m2 (a five percent increase). These subtle dimension differences between the new 385 and the 375 suggest a positive effect on sailing performance, producing less heel and more power.

Performance and handling Hanse hasn't yet adopted simplified engine controls, so the starting and stopping procedure can fool the uninitiated. The engine is quieter than the engine-bay blower outlet in the cockpit – warm airflow is a bonus – so it's difficult to know when the engine is on or off! Incidentally, the 385 has twin engine room blowers, one sucking and one pressuring, for optimum airflow.

Under power the folding prop grabbed the water positively and manoeuvring in and out of a tight berth was simple. We didn't check top speed, given the freshness of the engine, but seven-plus-knots came up with barely audible engine note. There was no prop walk going forward and minimal prop-steering when reversing. Novices shouldn't have too many issues when berthing and anchoring the Hanse 385.

The test boat's North Sails wardrobe included roller cars on a fully-battened mainsail, so it went up the stick with little effort. Two reef points, fitted with blocks at the mast cringles, should make one-line reefing easy as well.

Furlex jib roller furling unwound a multipurpose headsail made from heavy cloth that looked like it could handle 25kts without trouble. It wasn't the ideal sail for the prevailing 7 to 10-knot easterly breeze, but still we managed 5.8kts upwind in the 10-knot puffs.

The test boat bristled with power winch options, including duplicated control buttons at the starboard steering station. The new Harken primary and secondary sheet winches were reversing types that we haven't used before. The control buttons can be set for single speed and reverse – power in and out – or for two-speed, inward power only.

For cruising, main and jib one-speed trim can be done entirely from the starboard helm and for club racing, with a crew, the winches can be controlled individually, as powered two-speeds. We thought this powered-winch setup was a gimmick at first, but after a few hours' playing, we reckon we could be persuaded! However, even with an all-manual-winch layout the Hanse 385 is a doddle to sail: no jib sheets to tack and the mainsheet out of harm's way in front of the dodger moulding.

The new halyard bins are long overdue, but rather than taking up space, the 385's bins serve as helm seats near the gunwales. The lids flip-up easily to stow and retrieve sheets, but future boats will have short gas struts to hold the lids open, to make sheet and halyard tail handling easier. Cockpit sole wedges for the helmsperson's feet are available on request.

When we pointed the Hanse 385 upwind it was obvious that the new mast disposition and sail plan have transformed the self-tacking-jib boat. When we've tested Hanses in the past, we've always had to ease some mainsheet when close-hauled, to prevent the big sail overpowering the little one and giving too much weather helm, or stalling the boat. Hanses always felt better to us with sheets eased slightly, compromising pointing ability.

The 385 changes that situation and it's now our favourite boat in the Hanse range – thus far in the five-series programme. Even with its heavyweight 94 percent jib the 385 pointed well in light air and footed quite happily with a Beneteau 36.7 that was club-racing beside it. Two-sail reaching and running was also better balanced than with previous Hanses, because the main didn't overpower the jib so obviously. With a well-sheeted, 105 percent headsail the 385 should embarrass some racer/cruisers, we think. Optional headsail tracks mount on the coach house roof, improving sheeting angle and keeping the side decks clear of tripping hazards.

The 385's bow fitting extends beyond that of the 375 and comes with a tack ring for a gennaker. This mini-bowsprit looks long enough to allow gennaker gybing between forestay and luff tape, where on the 375 outside gybing was necessary – with the attendant risk of losing a sheet under the boat.

At Hanse, the products just keep getting better all the time – keep it up, boys and girls!

For more information on pricing, details and availability contact Tony Newmarch, ph 09 413 9465 or visit

WE LIKE Airy, spacious cabins and saloon Quality fit and finish Flush-fitting deck hatches Standard mini-bowsprit All-around moulded toe rail Central light-control panel

WE DON'T LIKE Engine control buttons need modernising

Specifications Hanse 385 Material Vinylester balsa sandwich hull and deck. Hull below waterline solid laminate. Type Monohull Length overall 11.4m Hull length 10.99m Waterline length 10.4m Beam 3.88m Draft 1.99m (1.62m optional) Weight 7600kg Berths 2 doubles (3 berths optional) Fuel 160L Water 300L Grey water 35L Water heater 22L Mainsail 44m2 Headsail 30m2 (self-tacking) Genoa 33.5m2 (optional) Engine Volvo Penta D1-30 Type Sail drive Rated hp 27 Prop Fixed 2-blade (folding 2-blade optional) Priced from $289,400

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