Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hallberg Rassy 412 Review

A sophisticated Cruising Yacht
It was about a year ago that I heard Hallberg Rassy was developing a new aft cockpit 41 footer. Long known for their center cockpit boats, it seems that the venerable HR firm has made a commitment to this style, at least for their smaller models. I think a center cockpit boat needs to be at least 45 feet long to be truly good looking and practical, so in my opinion this is a healthy trend for them. If you visit the Hallberg Rassy web site (, which is where I got my information about this boat, you'll find that they now have a line of aft cockpit boats ranging from 31 feet to this new 41.

The HR 412 was designed by German Frers. Best known for his superyachts and Swan yachts, you might think Frers is an odd choice for a company that in the past has built its brand with fairly frumpy small center cockpit cruisers. I think it's an excellent choice because of all the designers they could have chosen, Frers is one who could imbue this type of boat with that ineffable sense of grace that has been his trademark throughout his career. That is evident in this newest HR and in the recently launched HR 64.

Let's start by taking a look at how this boat might perform. We can deduce a lot from looking at the outboard  profile and deck plan, which will give a good idea of the shape of the hull. Combine this with the boat's hull and rig dimensions and we can create a good estimate of what to expect from the HR 412 in terms of sailing performance.
Notice the long waterline, wide stern and the step-thru transom. With its tall rig, deep keel and powerful rudder, this boat  should be a fast passagemaker.

Here are some numbers:
LOA ................ 41.42'
LWL................ 37.75'
BMAX............. 13.50'
Draft................. 6.58'
Sail area............ 970 sq ft
BAL/DSP......... 36.2%
SA/DSP........... 18.45
DSP/L.............. 202

Heavy construction, deep bilge sump, powerful spade rudder.

Interpreting the numbers tells us that with a displacement/length ratio of 202, it is a bit heavier than most racer/cruisers  But the tall, 3-spreader rig and sail area/displacement ratio of 18.45 provides plenty of horsepower even for relatively light air. We can surmise from the distribution of volume below the waterline that the prismatic ratio is in the .54 range, which is fairly conservative. I would guess that there is plenty of flare in the aft sections of the hull so the boat will be well balanced when heeled in a breeze. With the stem angle at about 14 degrees from vertical, I'm confident that the bow near the waterline is finer than many cruising boats. Couple these features with the deep bulb keel and you have a package that will sail well to weather, with the weight and horsepower to punch into a head sea. The big mainsail and small jibs will enable the boat to reach at high speeds and if you noticed the masthead spinnaker, you know this boat will be quick downwind as well.

Going on deck, we find Hallberg Rassy's trademark windshield wrapped around the forward end of the cockpit. Way up north where they build HR-412, that windshield is a requirement for cruising, but given how much thought they have put into the design of this boat, I would like to see a bit more finesse in the windshield in the form of  some radii where the sharp corners are. I like the simple but efficient geometry of the cockpit, with its long seats and broad coamings. I also like the step-thru transom. This is an important convenience for getting aboard from a dinghy as well as fishing...all essential activities for cruisers.  The 412 sports non-overlapping jibs but fortunately eschewed a transverse jib track on the cabin top. This makes for a more versatile sailplan and reduces clutter on the foredeck. Aboard the Honcho, I had to modify the stemhead to accommodate a Manson anchor. This type of anchor is a vast improvement over the plows and danforths of yesteryear, so builders should make accommodations for that type of anchor.

Notice the Saildrive. They are becoming commonplace even on cruising yachts. This one is fitted with a three blade folding prop.

Hallberg Rassy offers a wide range of interior options so I scrolled through the various plans and chose the one I think works best for a cruising couple. Forward is a large stateroom with plenty of storage space and a private head. The head includes room for a washer/dryer, very convenient. The main salon includes a basic settee and dropleaf table arrangement. The settees are are big enough to serve as sea berths if fitted with lee cloths. There are deadlights in the hull adjacent to the settees, which add light and visibility. The galley, to port, is adequate but not enormous. A nice touch is the optional separate freezer. Opposite the galley is a smallish nav station. When you're on a cruise, the nav station serves many purposes aside from navigating. It is a desk, work table and sometimes an extra galley counter, so I like mine to be big, with a comfortable seat and plenty of room for all those small things that always find their way into the chart table and adjoining lockers.

Aft of the nav station is another head with space for a shower stall.  This will be a great place to hang wet foulies

I like this boat. It meets all my criteria for a good, solid, fast cruising yacht. I give it high marks for striking a finely tuned balance of performance and comfort. Aesthetically, the overall proportions of the boat should be pleasing to the eye, and that's important. Some might criticize the 'springiness' of the sheer on the 412. I think a little more tautness there might improve the boat's looks, but I'll reserve judgement on that until we see the boat. Sometimes what looks good on paper doesn't work out as well in reality.

The Hallberg Rassy 412 is scheduled to be launched later this year. I would put this on my short list of must-see boats.


  1. Get real, for the price of this boat one could buy something used approximately equal in functionality and save enough to go cruising for a decade or two.

    The target audience for a Hallberg Rassy is melting away like ice on a summer sidewalk.

    1. No question that the HR-412 will be more expensive than, say, a Hunter or Catalina. But I think there will always be a market for high quality boats. We'll have to wait and see if the 412 is a success or not.

    2. These boats won't split in two while coastal cruising, unlike certain other boats. Besides, with a strong dollar now, they're somewhat more affordable....

  2. What happened to the full hard dodger I see on some HR's?
    Is it an option?

    While I realize that partial windshield has been their stable for decades, it seems a full hard dodger is what a cruiser needs. That low hung windshield is neither here nor there.

  3. I think the combination of windshield and canvas dodger is fairly practical and second only to an all canvas/Strataglass dodger. Of course we all have a right to our opinions about what makes a good cruising yacht and it sounds like you prefer a cheap boat with a full hard dodger. There's plenty of room in the ocean for that type of boat, and all manner of rigs as well. Not long ago we were anchored at Las Hadas with a Swan 51 to port with a single-hander aboard, and a beautiful 30 foot double ender to starboard. Each owner was happy with the boat they had, so were we aboard our Beneteau 36. That's one of the things I like about can do it any way you want.

  4. Couldn't have put it better, mine's a 1975 Rasmus Ketch with full hard top with all the mod con's, built like a tank and I love it.

    Cheap to run...Yep absolutely.