THE HANSE 345 continues to be a top seller for the leading German boatbuilders. As an entry level introduction to easy, family sailing it does everything it should and a little bit more. It is totally modern, easy to sail and maintain, performs well in all weathers and is totally adaptable, sharing the options of short handed leisure sailing where one or two of the crew on board take all the responsibility, but still delivering a good return in terms of speed and fun when more want to get involved, writes Yachting Life boat test editor Andi Robertson.

It really is the last word in great value, non threatening cruising. Simplicity is the key. I say family sailing, but the 345 would also be absolutely ideal for those perhaps downsizing in their more mature years, from a heavier, bigger traditional cruising boat to something which is more user friendly.

A simple self tacking jib set up, with all lines led aft to bins on the cockpit coaming just at the helm’s elbows, and accessible winches of a good size which are readily spec’d up to be powered, join single line reefing with jackstays to make it all simple, but it is a boat which sails well, enjoying the benefits of an easily driven, modern hull with a high form stability.

From some angles it would be hard to describe the 345 as pretty, but it actually is nicely proportioned with a neat deck line.

There is a big cockpit which has great access across the stern via the big drop down boarding and bathing platform. Twin wheels are a requirement on account of the broad beam aft and of course they facilitate excellent walk through access, and a good view forward to the jib luff.

The small, self tacking jib is a starter option, most will then specify a Code Zero style reaching headsail and/or a gennaker. The mainsail is plenty powerful enough, but to really move productively off the wind then a bigger foresail of some description will be desired by most.

The hull is, by now, instantly recognisable as Judel/Vrolijk with a plumb bow and squared off transom with minimal overhang.

We had a pretty blustery January day to put the 345 through its paces out of Kip Marina. In fact the weather was just ideal for what we wanted to achieve, if a little on the chilly side.

An interesting point made by Inspiration’s Scottish supremo Miles Stratton is that previously new owners were perhaps reluctant to sail in breezy conditions, but now with such super simple and easily controlled set ups as on the Hanse 345 it has become much more of a pleasure, no matter the weather.

I did like having only the working lines exposed and easily accessible. All of them run aft under the coachroof below covered channels and along under the cockpit coamings. It really does minimise clutter and keep everything super simple.

The mainsheet is a German A style system. The sidedecks are wide and safe and given the choice and budget I’d splash out on the teak deck option. It just makes the boat look and feel slightly less utilitarian.

The moulded toe rail is essentially an overlap of the hull deck join and for me it is fine, although sticklers would probably prefer something a bit higher to brace against. But the reality, I suppose, is that there are fewer and fewer reasons to have to move to the front of the boat when it is well heeled.

The cockpit is super spacious for the size of boat and is well protected. The helm’s position is good, foot chocks are a requirement, but the outboard seating position is safe and comfortable.

We had everything from 12 to 25kts from the NE, blowing out of the marina. The lasting impression is that the 345 is easy to set up and really, at first attempts, seemed perfectly foolproof and quite bullet proof.

What was especially impressive is that the helm is light, but with loads of grip we could not over press the boat in the stronger stuff. Upwind we did not try to sail too high, but it really settled and tracked sweetly with almost no attention needed to the wheel. We would make inside 35° and comfortably ticked along at a shade over 6kts which is pretty good for so little effort. The mainsail holds a decent shape and of course the small blade jib is pretty much directional.

Easing off and the speed builds a little more. Beam and close reaching is the forte, in the absence of additional downwind sails. With the wind a little aft of the beam we would still trundle along at 7kts and more.

The sailing performance was a little ahead of expectations. Going for the upgraded FCL. Fast Cruising Laminate, a taffeta coated durable laminate, seems worth the extra money given the London Boat Show offers that were on in January as are the dyneema halyards.

Standard engine is the Volvo D120 but for an extra £1,269 the 30hp D130 seems a good option.

Inside, the boat is fantastically airy and spacious. Here is where the Hanse strikes gold. There are two and three cabin options. The two cabin version, as expected, offers a huge amount of stowage to port with a big, deep locker out of the cockpit and accessible from the heads. Two opening hatches overhead enhance the natural light.

The main settee converts easily to a double bed by simply pulling out, no messing about with infill jigsaws. The LED lighting is great offering a full spectrum of mood lighting, from the full on ‘I’ve dropped a contact lens’ max to late night romance, or more likely low key ambient for overnight sailing.

The forward cabin is a class leader for a boat of this size and price point, with 6ft 2in headroom and loads of stowage, a big long berth and more than ample light.

And the aft cabins are great too with good sized berths, 6ft 1in standing headroom in the dressing area, good floor area as well as excellent stowage and the quality LCD lighting.

Overall the Hanse 345 is a strong package for the money. It is great to grow with from a port to port, haven to haven cruiser moving through to longer trips. She is easy to handle for one person from dock to dock, assuming someone can help with the tying up and anchoring, and under way it is simplicity itself. A winner.

• Miles Stratton at Inspiration Marine’s Scottish office based in Kip Marina confirms that the cost of a new Hanse 345, commissioned Clyde, including VAT and with a full tank of fuel is £96,500.