The Yacht Shortlist: Dufour 460, Hanse 455 & Bavaria Cruiser 46

We’re now in final negotiations with the yacht dealers and factories. We have shortlisted down to three 46′ yacht models, based on the following criteria, in order of importance:

  • Safety
  • Build quality
  • Worldwide support
  • Sailing performance
  • Water and food storage
  • Liveability
  • Value

The three options we’ve narrowed down to are:

Dufour 460

Dufour 460 741_medium

We’ve been impressed with the Dufour 500 and 560, both Cruising World Yacht of the Year winners in the past two years. The Dufours we’ve sailed, the 36 and 335, have proven to be sprightly, very stable and fun to sail. We were excited when Dufour announced a smaller version of the 560 and 500 and more in line with our requirements, the 460. Key features we love:

  • Hard chines: the chines restrict the heal on the yacht when sailing into the wind, ensuring faster, more comfortable close-haul sailing. Someone recently equated it to replacing all the crew hanging off the side of the yacht on a close-haul.
  • Saloon: with the galley forward, the broader part of the beam is available for the saloon, providing more space. The long lounges should also provide good sea berths during inclement seas.
  • Cockpit: large with plenty of handholds, the convertible sun lounge and the BBQ built into the aft seating are nice extras. Like the other two models, it sports a folding transom.

Most importantly, the 460 looks to be very stable and safe, and current Dufour owners we have talked to confirm the very good quality build Dufour are respected for.

Hanse 455

The Hanse have an ultra-modern look and are fast, as you’d expect from yachts designed by Judel & Vrolijk, who were the design team behind the Americas Cup winning yacht Alinghi.  Features we like about the 455 include:

  • Cockpit: All lines including the main sheet lead aft to the helm, enhancing solo sailing, each helm pedestal has a chart plotter providing quick access to GPS location, the cockpit is large and comfortable with plenty of handholds. The BBQ under the aft seat is an added extra!
  • Self-tacking headsail: While we consider ourselves purists and there’s nothing better than maximising sailing performance by trimming the sails, a self-tacking headsail provides clear benefits for sailing shorthanded.While the 460 also has a self-tacking option, Hanse designs all their yachts around the self-tacking.
  • B&G Electronic Instruments: The only electronics specifically designed for sailing; the Sailsteer software provides a vast array of key data for maximum sailing performance

Bavaria Cruiser 46

Bavaria Cruiser 46 c46-7

We’ve been sailing Bavarias all our sailing lives – in the Med, Whitsundays, Sydney, and have found them to be solid, rather uninspiring vessels. They seem to be the workhorse of the cruising industry. But that’s all changed lately, with Bavaria bringing in the Farr team to design all their current models; Farr are famous for designing the latest Volvo Open 70 for the Volvo Ocean Race as well as Team Oracle Racing’s Americas Cup yachts and the highly successful Beneteau First range which has one many cups including the Sydney to Hobart. Features we like of the Cruiser 46 include:

  • Solid build, which has been highly lauded by the sailing press
  • Very large cockpit and the largest opening transom platform of the three
  • Very large owner’s cabin, almost palatial!


All three yachts also have the following in common:

  • Opening transom: the back of the yacht folds down to provide a large platform, essentially extending the livable space on each yacht by 2-3 feet. Modern 45′ yachts  now have the same livable space as past 50′ yachts.
  • Drop-down saloon table: provides the option to have up to 8 people on board with the table dropping to make an additional double berth (bed) in the saloon
  • Storage: lots of storage space for food and water provisions, safety equipment and critical items like SUPs and surfboards!

Key Features

Dufour 460 Hanse 455 Bavaria Cruiser 46
Length Overall 14.15 m 13.95 m 14.27
Length Waterline 12.54 m 12.2 m 12.74 m
Max Beam 4.5 m 4.4 m 4.4 m
Draught 2.2 m 2.25 m 2.1 m
Displacement 10,760 kg 11,600 kg 12,600 kg
Keel weight 2,850 kg 3,500 kg 3,400 kg
Total Sail Area 100 sqm 103 sqm 107 sqm
Sail Area / Displacement Ratio* 21 21 20
Displacement / Length Ratio ** 152 178 170
Loaded Displacement / Length Ratio *** 176 205 193
Angle of Vanishing Stability 119 117 118
Ballast Ratio 26% 30% 27%
Water capacity 530 L 450 L 360 L
Fuel capacity 250 L 220 L 210 L
* SA/D Range of Values:
16 to 18 – Heavy offshore cruisers
18 to 22 – Medium cruisers
22 to 26 – Inshore cruisers, racing yachts
26 to 30+ – Extreme racing yachts
** D/L Range of Values:
Up to 100 – Ultralight
100 to 200 – Light
200 to 300 – Moderate
300 to 400 – Heavy
400+ – Very heavy
*** Added 1,700kg load for moderate bluewater use

What all three yachts don’t have is ultra-high stability. But we’re not heading to the high latitudes where yachts constantly face 10’+ seas and have a chance of knockdown. We’re going to be sailing in the tropics where such conditions are highly unlikely and we will have constant weather forecasts via satellite to enable us to avoid the worst. To put it in context, all three yachts would meet the strict safety requirements of the Sydney-Hobart, and we’re not going anywhere near the fearsome Bass Strait or its like.