Review: Dehler 46

By: Steve Raea, Photography by: Steve Raea

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Mix a competition sailboat with a quality cruising yacht and what do you get? The Dehler 46 sailboat, that’s what.

Hanse has built the high-quality Dehler 46 sailboat by merging the best parts of out-and-out competition and luxury yacht cruising. It’s an interesting mix and should appeal to a wider audience.



Dehler 46

The 46 is the new flagship of the Dehler sailing boats range and the third new yacht in this series designed by the Judel/Vrolijk partnership and built by Hanse Yachts in Germany. At a casual glance, the 46 carries similar design cues as the award-winning Dehler 38 and Dehler 41 but with 46ft (14m) LOA to work with, the designers have been able to reduce relative freeboard and deliver a yacht with svelte lines and an aggressive look. 

The Dehler’s vertical stem and transom and the relatively low cabin top give it a very strong look and further bucks the trend for volume over performance in modern production yachts. On this score the Dehler 46 might be considered a hybrid because beneath its wide and clutter-free deck is a thoroughly modern and luxurious interior, providing the full range of cruising amenities and liveaboard comforts.

Dehler calls the new 46 a ‘performance cruiser’ and that’s fine by me, but I can’t help thinking that it understates the yacht’s design pedigree and performance potential on the one hand and overstate its genuine cruising potential on the other. What is clear is that Judel/Vrolijk has been given a free hand to draw a yacht that stands out in the sea of production-built boats.   



Dehler 46 sail control

Where many production yachts tend to dismiss sail control to the point of practical obsolescence, the Dehler 46 design team has recognised that sail control and performance are not mutually exclusive. To this end the designers have put control firmly into the hands of the crew with a pragmatic cockpit design that works well sailing both shorthanded and fully crewed.

This is evident on the Dehler 46 from the full-width cockpit traveller recessed into the cockpit sole just forward of the twin carbon wheels. This puts traveller lines and the German-style mainsheet within easy reach of the helmsman but not at the expense of grinders.

The wheels are positioned well aft, creating ample space forward of the traveller for trimmers. The secondary mainsheet winches are also within easy distance of the helmsman – an appealing attribute for solo or shorthanded sailors. The 46 is a large yacht but it is not a complicated one and having the ability to quickly depower it without having to leave the helm carries a lot of appeal in cruising circles.



Dehler 46 top decks

The Dehler 46 decks are wide and clutter-free, with inboard genoa tracks to optimise headsail sheeting angles and prevent headsail chafe. Chafe is further mitigated by the outboard position of the chainplates at the coamings.

Moving forward, the Dehler 46’s headsail drum is recessed into the foredeck, which together with flush deck hatches along the centreline, minimises the risk of sheets catching on deck fittings.

The foredeck is wide and carries a vertical windlass recessed into the deck, while the low-profile anchor locker disguises a usefully sized fo’c’sle.

Dehler’s running rigging is intuitively arranged with all halyards led aft along the cabintop under protective covers and exiting through a double set of keyboard jammers either side of the companionway.

In standard trim the Dehler 46 carries a lofty 9/10 fractional tapered Selden alloy rig stepped on the keel and supported by discontinuous cap, single lower and intermediate shrouds. A bifurcated fibre backstay with 48:1 mechanical tensioner gives ample control over mast bend.

Those with serious racing aspirations will opt for the taller competition carbon rig and carry an additional 70ft2 of sail and reduce weight aloft by 700lb (318kg). The yacht’s standard 7ft4in (2.26m) draft increases to 8ft2in (2.49m) in the competition model, but both keels carry the same T-bulb.

The standard rig has an SA/D of 21.4. This rises to SA/D 23.24 when stepped with the carbon rig. Standard displacement is a respectable 11,200kg with ballast of 3500kg and makes the Dehler 46 a relative lightweight in its performance-cruiser class.



Dehler 46 cockpit

A high-end yacht, the Dehler is appropriately equipped with Lewmar R+ series winches including an electric halyard winch.

You’ll by guided by the latest suite of B&G digital wind instruments and touchscreen plotters flush-mounted on pods integrated into the cockpit coamings. These are a stylish and practical addition. The instruments are clear and easy to read, if a little baffling for the first-time user.

The teak and stainless steel cockpit table is a useful amenity for cruising but it’s likely to be looked upon as an inconvenience in the heat of battle. It’s optional but does provide useful secure support around the cockpit.

The Dehler’s twin pedestals are comfortably angled away from the coamings and provide adequate space outboard to effectively brace the helm in heavy weather. The compass position however is not so good and will require a little fancy footwork to get an accurate gauge on your heading. The B&G instruments digital compass is on standby.

The twin Carbonnautica wheels attach to Jefa hardware and terminate at an underfloor steering quadrant accessibly located in a recessed cockpit hatch immediately forward of the main traveller.

Cockpit stowage is generous for a performance design and is divided between a very large though relatively deep lazarette with twin deck hatches behind the wheels and a supplementary pair of shallow lockers built into the cockpit seats. The gas locker built into the portside coaming might appear an afterthought given its capacity to accommodate a single 4kg gas bottle. That’s fine for racing but takes the Sunday roast off the menu. 



Dehler 46 interior

The interior of the Dehler 46 follows conventional design: a master cabin up front with private access to the forward head and shower, while aft you find double quarter cabins under the cockpit sole and a second head and shower immediately port of the companionway. The forward cabin is exceptionally large and serves up a generous queen-sized island berth with spectacular indirect LED lighting. The natural teak finishes and stylish linings impart a sense of tradition and sophistication in equal measure.

But for all its size there’s little in the way of dedicated stowage for clothing with a small hanging locker and a single set of three drawers built into a cabinet on the port side. There is general stowage under the bed which is cleverly hinged to provide access, but I’d suggest you travel light.

Moving aft into the saloon the dining table is set around a U-shaped white leather settee on the starboard side. The table plinth houses a clever drinks cabinet and the table folds out to double in size for larger parties. An occasional fixed stool provides additional seating on the centreline and hinges back under the table when not required – another nice touch from the yacht’s designers. Across the companionway is a second, smaller settee which could be pressed into action as a single berth by sliding the runner-mounted chart table to the aft bulkhead and fitting an infill squab.



Dehler 46 navigation panel

Dehler has done a fabulous job of hiding the boat’s instruments and switch panels behind stylish curved bottom-opening lockers at the nav station. This is aesthetically pleasing but begs the question as to where additional navigation and communications equipment can be fitted. It’s unlikely, too, that the chart table will gobble up your charts but it’s the ideal size for laptop computing.

The starboard galley is feature rich and cleverly designed into what is essentially a very small space. There is some galley stowage in pull-out draws and lockers but meal prep will be a real challenge within nothing by way of a counter space. A nice feature is the pullout fridge drawer and top-loading freezer. Make no mistake, the Dehler 46 interior is gorgeous with subtle programmable lighting, quality fittings and beautiful teak cabinetry. It’s also smartly designed but compromised in some respects by the volume of the yacht’s performance hull.



Dehler 46 on the water

In its natural environment the Dehler 46 is pure delight. It’s a sailor’s yacht – responsive, stiff and very slippery, accelerating rapidly to within a whisker of its polars with a scratch crew in 15kts of breeze. The Jefa steering is light yet firm and the balanced rudder shows no tendency to break out at the upper limits of full sail. The yacht tacks quickly and efficiently and powers up rapidly. The deck hardware and winches are well-sized and the cockpit layout works brilliantly.

The Dehler 46 is unquestionably an aspirational yacht. It’s fast, purposeful and boldly pragmatic and it will turn heads in any company. If winning is key, the competition model enhancements should see you at the front of the fleet but even in standard trim you’ll still get there quicker than most.   



Dehler 46 price: $NZ625,000 (priced from)



MATERIAL Cored GRP with carbon liner reinforcement

TYPE Keelboat sailing boat

LENGTH 14.4m; 12.9m waterline

BEAM 4.35m

DRAFT 2.25m standard; 2.5m competition

WEIGHT 11,200kg

BALLAST 3500kg




FUEL 210lt

WATER 450lt



MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta D2-55 saildrive

TYPE Saildrive









Windcraft Yachts NZ

Westhaven Drive, Auckland

Phone +64 9 4139 465l



See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #253, May / June 2015. Why not subscribe today?

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