THE HANSE 388 is brand new, shown for the first time at Southampton International Boat Show and is representative of the German marque’s desire for constant improvement, to keep updating their ranges and attracting new business.

The 388 is the successor to the hugely successful 385 and is based on the same Judel/Vrolijk hull, but with an entirely new deck, interior layout, new window line, and is slightly stiffer with a heavier displacement, writes Yachting Life boat test editor Andi Robertson.
‘We are excited about the arrival of the new 388. It comes at the right time as the 385 was just on the point of getting tired and it is an important size and price point. This really is a core area for us; the right size that couples can feel confident handling maybe after an entry level boat, once they have established their skills. There really are a huge range of options available and it is easy to sail,’ enthuses Miles Stratton of Hanse UK dealers Inspiration Marine based at Kip and Rhu Marinas.
The Hanse 388 met with a positive response at Southampton and as well as selling a couple of new boats off the stand, Inspiration Marine have a long list of test sails for potential buyers to be accomplished before the weather really does turn for the worse.
To ensure it fits CE A rating the displacement has gone up from the 385’s 7,600kg to 8,270kg on a new L keel which is slightly deeper in draught, by about 6cm.
The keynote differences are the cockpit that now has a much simpler drop down, full width transom which becomes a lovely big swim or boarding platform and the helm’s stern seats now lift up to 90° so that access through the stern is entirely open.
And there is much, much more natural light below. There are now two additional sets of windows into the aft cabins, so it’s one hull window now as well as one window into the bigger, safer cockpit coaming. The companionway and the after edge of the coachroof is now entirely remodelled with a smoked glazed companionway door and hatch system, with symmetrical windows either side. There are now three hull windows on each side, one for the aft cabins, one per side for the forward cabin and the interior is also completely reworked.

In the end the absence of a nav station or dedicated table was deemed to be a step too far, attracting negative press around the world. So there is now a proper little nav table and instrumentation space – I’m all for that.

Most skippers, even those fully digital, still want a particular area to keep their nav tools and to return to in any weather and in any situation. Typical, for example, is passage planning when meals are being prep’d or tidied away, when people are sleeping early and you don’t always want to be working on the hoof, on deck. So, for me, it’s a positive step.
It’s all still super easy sailing, with the mainsheet double ended back to the clutch batteries forward and either side of the helm’s position. So too the self tacking jib is controlled from here by the helm, as is the single line reefing systems and the halyard. Sail handling is, as they say, child’s play.
Hanse are all about building up the packages as per the customer’s preferences. The ‘performance’ package is another £7,000 for Elvstrom tri radial cruising laminate sails.
Below, there are three main layout options. Up front is the standard double forepeak, but the saloon either has a bench seat on the port side behind the galley or not, and there’s the usual alternative between two symmetrical double aft cabins, or one double and locker space opposite.

The choice of interior wood finishes and upholstery choices and materials seems just about limitless, suffice to say every kind of taste is catered for.
We had great conditions for the first sail out of Hamble, 7 to 10kts of breeze, nice flat seas and just a little chop once we ventured out into the Solent.

The Hanse 388 proved a delightful improvement on her predecessor, moving sweetly and requiring minimal effort. Everything is so simple with the sheets and halyards led towards the back of the cockpit.

SIDE BY SIDE

It is relatively easy then to sail single handed, but equally for the helm it is also good to be in close proximity to whoever else is doing the sail setting. It is much easier to advise and monitor when that person is working beside you.
Upwind the 388 settles easily and tracks well, there is plenty of keel surface to lean and it feels pleasingly predictable. The helm on our test boat was exceptionally light, I’d normally prefer just a little more feel, but that could be down to needing a degree more mast rake.

Otherwise it was nicely responsive and you felt well able to hold a good high angle upwind, typically at around 6.2, 6.3kts though cracking off just a couple of degrees and the 388 really is happy to look after itself, well balanced and ideally stiff. It has that enviable quality of responding to the breeze, but never scaring anyone, what you see is what you get.
You’d likely want to spec up the gennaker package for effective reaching and downwind sailing. That is always the one, accepted drawback of a smaller, self tailing foretriangle, that you maybe feel a little underpowered in light to moderate reaching conditions.

With the crossover sail you will likely get to about 65° true wind and according to Hanse that should take you above 8.2-8.3kts.

Quite honestly I’d tend to forego the closer reaching angle for a more powerful, open angles sail. Perhaps a personal thing, but I felt the winches were just a little under spec’d and going up a size might feel beneficial to older or less powerful owners and crews.
The cockpit layout really felt excellent. The main space is uncluttered and free of ropes and intrusions, the coamings deep and safe. The helm’s position is good with first class footholds and space and a good spot on the sidedeck to perch securely for longer periods.
Below, the most obvious and immediate asset is the natural light thanks to the six large hull windows and then five hatches or roof windows. Most immediate differences are in the saloon where you now have the essential exterior panorama from sitting at the settees, and in the cabins that are now light and airy, consequently they are little living areas at rest or in light weather, rather than merely sleeping spaces.
The forecabin is even more spacious with the high slab sides really creating a cabin more akin to a 45 footer. The saloon is excellent, a nice low maintenance, high amenity space which is super comfortable.
Overall the Hanse 388 moves the game on apace, it is the wholly modern answer to a sweet looking cruiser for families, friends or couples. It is easy to use and easy to look after, yet you can build up the character and appearance thanks to the huge range of options. Great!