I disagree with you on one thing: "employ a recognized NA"
. That was before I mean they used J & J design as you say a recognized European office that among others designed the Shipman line:
But now they are working with a much less known NA, Ker. Well not well known among the public..... because he is just one of the best, among the very few that are on the top edge of design in what regards sailboat performance
Ker Yacht Design
The Ker 40 is probably the fastest 40ft race boat and just look at this list of victories:
Results | Ker Yacht Design
By the way the Sydney are designed by Ker also and the performance cruiser Sydney GTS 43 that won last year's edition of the Sydney Hobart race (in compensated) finishing among 60fts.
Ker, being on the other side of the world, has been called mostly by the racing community to design their boats. He has designed some very fast performance cruisers but till know he was not called by any major brand to design their line. Well, not anymore. He is the designer that works for Salona regarding theit future line. He developed the keels and rudders on the 35 and 38 (the hull is still an older J&J design) and the first boat designed entirely by him is the 60ft that is almost finished. It seems it will be followed by a 50ft.
It is hard to wait some years to see what it is going to be the new Ker designed Salona line in what regards smaller sailboats
Salona has recently introduced a Geenaker "pole" as an option.They have opted for a carbon one, that include the anchor stand. I had asked that for the 38 (they had none at the time) and talked personally with their in house designer, that is a very good one, regarding the options. I have discussed the several possibilities with them, including a moving pole but that has the disadvantage to "enter" in the front cabin and also it is prone to small water infiltration to the boat interior. I like their solution, that is similar as the one used by X yachts. Have a look at the geenaker pole on a 41:
You can see it better on this movie on a 35.
Another piece that was designed and discussed for my boat was the outside table (have a look at the movie). It is a easily removable table but that in position it is strong, does not occupy much space and offers a very good holding bar.
There is also another important point, one that was common to Hanse : the possibility of having a boat made with epoxy resins. Hanse does not offer that option anymore but it is a very good option that allows a stronger, lighter and above all, an waterproof boat.
Connected with customization there is another relevant point: They really like to discuss the boat with you, at least with me that was the feeling. They are modest, knowledgeable and really like you to visit their shipyard and to explain everything to you. All the advantages of a small firm with the prices of a mass production boat
Regarding to Hanse I think that those changes in policy regarding options and quality materials have to do with them owning several brands. If you want a better quality cruising sailboat, buy a Moody. If you want a performance cruiser, buy the Dehler. If you don't have the money for one or another, buy an Hanse
. Yes the Hanse is definitively competing in price with Oceanis, Bavaria, Jeanneau and Dufour. even so it offers interesting boats with a better stability than most the competition. I still think that their worse point is the interior design. The Germans never had been very good at that but Bavaria has improved. I can only hope Hanse will do the same, the boats deserve it and Dehler is showing the way.