Sailing Hanse 545 Performance Cruiser
Even in a year marked by lots of creativity on the part of both builders and designers, the Hanse 545 stands out as a boat that makes a statement.
The hull is handlaid with vinylester resin and a foam core. All-epoxy construction is optional. There are six cutouts on each side of the hull to serve as port lights below deck level, including two large vertical windows per side to illuminate the saloon. The deck is built with polyester resin and a balsa core. Structural bulkheads belowdecks are securely laminated to both the hull and deck, as are a series of fiberglass strongbacks, to create a structure that is both durable and extremely rigid in a seaway. The deck is through-bolted and bonded to the hull on an inward-turning flange.
The triple-spreader rig is aluminum with a split backstay to facilitate access to the dinghy garage and swim platform. The full-batten main is easy to set and douse with the help of a set of lazyjacks and an integral sailbag/cover that comes standard with the boat. The standard keel is a medium-aspect T-bulb keel that draws 9ft 2in. A medium-draft keel drawing 8ft and a shoal-draft keel drawing 6ft 5in are alternatives.
I don’t know if I’ve ever set foot on a modern production boat that is quite as visually striking as the Hanse 545. Despite its high freeboard, the low cabinhouse, tall double-spreader rig, minimal sheer, expansive foredeck, and abrupt bow and stern give the boat a look that is long, lean, powerful and very attractive.
These good looks combine an impressive harmony of line with excellent functionality. Moving fore and aft along the wide side decks is a pleasure, and the foredeck itself is a great place to work the boat or just relax and enjoy the sun and sky. Not there’s much need to go there. All control lines are led aft under the deck, not just to the companionway, but all the way back to the 545’s twin helm stations. A set of clutches, a winch and a bag for holding lines on either side are all well within reach of the helm, which makes sail-handling a breeze.
Boat-handling is made even easier by the 545’s self-tacking blade jib, which is sheeted to a curved traveler to maintain good headsail shape. This is one of those large boats that may look intimidating, but is in fact easier to sail than many boats half its size—a perfect platform for taking out non-sailors who just want to relax and enjoy the ride. But it is also a sailor’s boat, with plenty of power if you want to mix it up on the racecourse from time to time.
Beneath the helm stations is a small but functional dinghy garage that is accessible either through a flip-down door in the transom that doubles as a swim step or through a large hatch in the cockpit sole. The forward “lounging” part of the cockpit has long, comfortable L-shaped benches and is nicely segregated from the “working” part of the cockpit aft of the steering pedestals. There are six retractable mooring cleats on either side of the boat, a nice touch that allows the substantial toerail—almost a miniature bulwark—to run from bow to stern in a graceful unbroken line.
One concern I had with the 545 is the short anchor roller/bowsprit, offset slightly to starboard. The boat has a nearly plumb bow, and I don’t see how you can set and retrieve the hook without occasionally taking bits of gelcoat out of the stem.
Despite some pretty dreary weather on the afternoon of our test sail, the 545’s saloon was warm and welcoming, thanks to the portlights in the deckhouse, a good-sized overhead hatch and the aforementioned hull ports.
The overall effect is very Euro-modern, which works well on a boat like the 545. The saloon arrangement is straightforward and effective, with an L-shaped settee and table to port just forward of the nav station and a settee to starboard forward of the L-shaped galley.
A number of cabin arrangements are possible, thanks to Hanse’s “individual cabin concept,” which breaks the interior into four sections fore and aft, with optional layouts for each that can be mixed and matched at will. The standard layout includes a large, spacious and very comfortable owner’s cabin forward, complete with head, shower, large hanging lockers and plenty of storage space. Aft there are a pair of double quarterberths.
Other options include mirror-image double berths forward, crew accommodations in the forepeak, and a large owner’s cabin beneath the cockpit. The test boat came with the mirror-image berths forward and the large owner’s cabin aft. The latter, in particular, was very impressive. I could easily get used to spending nights there on the hook.
Engine access is excellent, either through the hinged companionway steps or through a number of well-insulated hatches to the side of the companionway.
Although the wind was light throughout our test sail, the 545 never gave up. The efficient T-keel and large high-aspect rudder provide good control and maneuverability at slow speeds. Coming about and tracking was no problem, even in the long, surprisingly large swells coming out of the northeast. Whenever we managed to chase down a puff, the 545 responded quickly, immediately channeling the increased pressure into boatspeed.
No surprises here, thanks to the 545’s large rudder, positioned just abaft the boat’s three-bladed prop. Doing figure eights, both in forward and reverse, was a breeze. Throttling up to 2,000 rpm yielded 6.8 knots. Increasing to 2,600 rpm yielded 8 knots of boatspeed. Maximum boatspeed under power was about 10 knots.
You’ll either love this boat’s modern Euro-look, or you’ll think it a bit affected. If you appreciate its aesthetic, the Hanse 545 will certainly help you make a style statement wherever you go. As a cruising boat, it should provide solid performance while keeping its crew and their guests comfortable. Hanse’s unique layout method allows you to customize the interior at an affordable price
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LOA 53ft 11in
LWL 47ft 11in
Beam 16ft 1in
Draft 9ft 2in (std) 6ft 4in (shoal)
Sail Area 1,668 sq ft
Builder Judel / Vrolijk & Co