With her huge volume and comfortable accommodation, the Hanse 575 offers impressive home-from-home comfort. But Toby Hodges wondered how her high freeboard would affect her sailing performance.
When I went aboard the new Hanse 575 at the Southampton Boat Show, there was a couple in their mid-40s sitting in the saloon looking comfortably at home discussing the optional gadgets. “How does the flatscreen TV lift up?” the man asked. “How big is it? 46in? That’s impressive!” He nodded as if that had just swung his decision to place a deposit.
This voluminous new German cruiser is aimed at just such couples, who want comfortable and easy sailing. But, having needed steps that Nelson would be proud of on the plinth of his statue just to get aboard, I was more concerned about the height.
So high is this yacht inside that – I kid you not – there are step ladders provided in the aft cabins to reach the hatches!
There’s no doubt that such high freeboard creates luxurious space below, hence it feels as if your money is going further. It adds more light and ventilation, and makes the boat potentially drier to sail.
In Hanse’s case, it also helps make the coachroof appear low and sleek, and, exclusively for the Hanse 575, her freeboard height creates room for a jet tender to stow in the transom.
However, height can be imposing. For a production boat designed to be easily sailed by couples and families, the Hanse 575 looks alarmingly large on the dock.
I therefore left the boat show confused – is this a floating apartment to house an array of flashy mod-cons, the electronic comforts that fill our homes, or is it actually, as advertised, a stress-free distance cruiser for couples? Could it be both? The only way to find out was to take her sailing.
How does the Hanse 575 sail?
As we left the River Hamble at eight knots under engine at 2,000 rpm into 20 knots true, we couldn’t even politely try to ignore the loud hissing noise from under the companionway. It was the turbo of the Volvo D3 amplified above the wind like a cockpit concerto.
This being the first boat, Hanse apparently hadn’t allowed enough space for foam insulation (no kidding!). “This is why we do the first boat, and have already logged 800nm on her, to implement such changes,” said delivery skipper and test pilot Steffen Kluike with incontrovertible logic.
Article continues below…
The Düsseldorf Boat Show in January presented the opportunity to have a good look over the latest and largest new…
You can probably tell by now that I was a little underwhelmed with the Hanse 575 before taking her sailing. I mean, how can this vast vessel possibly be aimed at couples? As if climbing aboard is not enough of an issue, manoeuvring out of the marina in a breeze tests the heart rate.
The optional thruster or two would certainly be required, as she was as stubborn as a mule to turn into the wind.
However, once out in the salty elements, the Hanse 575 proved she’s not just about volume and gimmicks. I was glad there were only two of us aboard, as it proved to me she is actually a very capable boat and indeed manageable by a couple.
Everything, including halyards, is led aft to a winch beside the wheels, so sails can be set and trimmed single-handedly.
When the leeward gunwale goes under on a yacht with this kind of freeboard, you know you’re overpressed, so with Force 7 gusts across the deck, we put in a reef to head upwind in the western Solent against the tide.
Unfortunately, the German mainsheet pulled out through the coachroof tube from one side, which, with just two winches, could certainly have caused a problem in this breeze. However, although it meant having both sheets on one winch, the upside is that it proved the redundancy of the German twin sheet system.
Going upwind at 30°-35° apparent (40°-45° true) we made a steady 8-8.5 knots, tacking through 90°.
I was very impressed with the Jefa linkage, which felt particularly pleasant on optional carbon wheels. This chain-to-wire system felt direct, and communicated the Hanse 575’s 20 tonnes of displacement and tall rig power well.
She obeyed the helm quickly, and steering from far aft proved a joy, especially off the breeze where it was possible to play the small waves.
The 575 feels like a stiff boat. Despite carrying plenty of sail, including a large main, she is well-balanced by both displacement and ballast in a performance T-keel as standard, hence she stood up well to the wind and maintained good average speeds.
She is built in sandwich with a balsa core and vinylester resin for lightness and strength, and there’s enough volume and depth to her forward sections to stop her slamming in a short chop.
Her high sides obviously help to keep the decks dry, but her low, flat cockpit does mean that helmsman and crew feel exposed to the elements.
Broad-reaching at 135°-150° apparent against the ebb, we rarely made less than double figures and it was easy to coax her onto waves and play them up to 11 knots. This is where the 575’s 50ft of waterline comes in, making her an efficient passagemaker.
Rather than gybe this powerful boat, we employed a benefit of the self-tacking jib – the ‘handbrake turn’ as I like to call it – spinning her quickly into a tack. She would pirouette safely through 270° without needing to touch a sheet.
A 105 per cent genoa is offered as an alternative to the self-tacking jib if preferred.
Comfort at the helm is good, especially when seated outboard with uninterrupted views over the low coachroof. Plotter and instruments are to hand. Meanwhile, crew can relax in a huge cockpit devoid of sailing hardware and sheets.
Indeed, it’s the perfect place to sit and wonder quite why the boom is so high. With 185cm from deck to boom it makes it dangerous even to unzip the stackpack. And yet the sprayhood was annoyingly level with my chin.
Still, when at anchor in the Med with the family relaxing on the superb cockpit sunbed, keeping that pesky aluminium boom out of harm’s reach will be a benefit, I’m sure.
What is the Hanse 575 like below?
I’ve never known the word ‘high’ to crop up so many times in my notes. The aft cabins are 235cm from sole to deckhead and to the hatches in the saloon it is 227cm, so you can’t rely on the handholds in the headlining to move about safely.
However, all surfaces are fiddled to help safe thoroughfare when heeled. Suffice it to say you feel a bit dwarfed below decks.
Key features are the shallow companionway and a double set of flush hatches above the saloon, which give ample light.
In our three-cabin layout, having three en-suite heads certainly gave an aura of luxury. Six different layouts are offered – the standard has a Pullman cabin instead of the second aft heads and options forward include twin double cabins and a crew cabin.
Time and thought has gone into lining up the grain across the panels and, although the red-stained mahogany veneer would not be my choice, Hanse are masters at catering for different tastes, offering a plethora of options.
Although not the case on our boat, all the exposed end grain will be sealed on future boats, and personally I would ask for rubber dampeners to be put on soleboards, as she’s not a peaceful boat – soles creak, button latches reverberate through lockers and doors slam.
However, with all the space on offer, I was impressed with the array of optional luxury extras – which would no doubt have delighted the couple I saw at the boat show – such as white and red night lighting throughout, LEDs on dimmers, electric toilets, forced aircon, dual Oceanair blinds, dishwasher, washing machine, wine cooler and, of course, the flatscreen TV and docking system.
The custom-made cambered Lewmar hatches were a nice touch, bringing extra light and views to the forward and aft cabins. A bilge pump at the mast base and tanks sited low near the centreline are neat ideas.
There is good access to the engine and genset each side, but this simply reveals how inadequate the insulation is – I’d bake a fish using more foil than that! The companionway steps lift for primary access, but expose sharp corners to the aluminium supports, which would be nasty to bang your head on.
Meanwhile, all through the saloon and galley above the raised lockers is an impractically shallow fiddled shelf, where things will simply collect dust or get lost.
This review first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Yachting World.
Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.
I wouldn’t for a minute think to question the hull lines from such an experienced design office as Judel/Vrolijk, but my issue with this boat remains its hull height. At the dock freeboard is 110cm at the stern and 150cm at the bow, and when you can’t reach the hatches inside the accommodation, you have to question the practicality. Now, if you’re happy jumping down onto the dock from that height, scrambling up the mast to reach the boom and using ladders to open hatches, then there are many obvious advantages. The Hanse 575 has a tremendous feeling of space and is a fast, dry and pleasurable boat to sail short-handed. There is a phonebook-sized list of mod-con options to dazzle guests, including the pièce de resistance, a jet RIB – a real asset in Mediterranean anchorages, where I’m sure this boat will come into her own. When I asked my host, Steffen Kluike, if she was a plausible boat for cruising couples, he replied: “Yes, but I see it more of a Med home – it’s cheaper than a second home/apartment/office and you can move it around.” I think, for a boat that will probably cost £400,000 with taxes and options, that is a realistic proposition. She is an admirable sailing boat and will provide an enjoyable, quick ride. I don’t think 575 owners will thrash these boats over the oceans, but they will have a voluminous and comfortable floating home.