Yacht steering systems vary enormously.
If you’ve sailed other European yachts and you jump on a Hanse you’ll be amazed at the difference in the steering.
Time after time as we head out on test sails one of the first things our customers say is something along the lines of…
‘Wow the steering is so light and responsive – there’s no play on it.’
The astonished smile on their face says it all. They love the tight turning circle and the fact that a small turn of the wheel gives a big change in direction.
Firstly, the rudder on Hanse yachts is long. Almost as long as the keel. A long rudder means the boat turns more readily. This is because there’s more surface area available to displace water. It also makes marina berthing easier as you have more control. And if you go blue water sailing your rudder won’t come out of the water in a big swell.
Secondly Hanse use a rod and pinion system for the main part of the steering. A rod and pinion system is solid and direct. Every turn of the wheel is translated directly by rods and cogs to the rudder stock. A small length of chain bridges the gap between the two sides.
As always with Hanse the motto is quality at every stage. Every Hanse yacht steering system is built by Jefa. Jefa Rudder and Steering are in Copenhagen, Denmark.
They have manufactured rudder and steering products since 1980 and they are recognised as world leaders in this field.
Hanse rudders are made from weight saving aluminium alloys. The inner rudder is constructed by a process of drilling and glue. This takes more time and effort than welding – but it’s worth it – welding would weaken the aluminium.
Aluminium 6082 is also used for rudder shafts, it will not corrode, even if it’s exposed by surface damage. Polyester glue is added on all contact places then the rudder stock is carefully glued to the blade. The form is then filled with PU foam which expands dramatically and fills up any free space in the blade. After a few hours rest, the mould is opened and the blade edges are finished by hand. A lot of effort… but quality at every stage is what counts.
Hanse pivot the hubs with self-aligning bearings. Here’s the difference between self aligning and non self aligning bearings…
When a big wave hits your rudder the stock will bend. The amount of bend depends on the size and strength of your rudder and the position of the bearings.
In a yacht with non self-aligning bearings (left hand diagram) the bend causes friction and heavy steering. If plain bearings are replaced with self-aligning roller bearings (see diagram) the steering is totally transformed.
The steering is lighter and more responsive. This is because the system is coping with the bend and the rudder stays properly aligned. Of course self-aligning bearings are more expensive… but at Hanse quality comes first.