Last week, roaming my home port of Neustadt marina in the morning I was a bit too early: The date with the travelift-operators to put the First 24 MADCAP to the waters was still some hours to go. Spare time. Walking the pontoons, I´ve noticed a huge mast: Three spars – unusual for the Baltic Sea – indicated a bigger boat. I went to the mast and realized that it was indeed a bigger boat. A Hallberg Rassy 57, second biggest in the range of Swedish high class boat builder. There was some some activity going on in the cockpit. I looked … “Magnus?”
A person looked at me, it was the all-too familiar statue of Magnus Rassy, CEO of the yard himself. He waved. What a lovely co-incidence! I greeted him and he instantly welcomed me. Standing there with a cleaning cloth in his hands, he polished the steering consoles: “Today is handover”, he said and smiled. Apparently, Magnus himself had sailed this 57 feet cruiser all the way down from Sweden to Germany. What a service, I thought.
A warm reunion with Magnus Rassy
Before following his invitation to come on board, I went by the some 19 metres of pure cruising pleasure to admire the fine lines. Hallberg Rassy as a brand is arguably the best known sailboat maker in the world with an undisputed reputation of producing stable, high quality, clever designed sailing yachts of all sizes made to withstand the forces of the ocean on long haul sailing trips. Their concept of offering decent sized and safe center cockpit yachts with large aft-cabins for the owners is nearly unrivaled by other brands, maybe Oyster going the same way but without offering smaller sized boats.
This Hallberg Rassy used to be Magnus´ private yacht for the last year, a boat to be excessively sailed and tested by himself, checked for her capabilities and used as a testbed for new ideas and improvements for this type and new upcoming boats. “After one year I will sell her now and it was a pleasure for me to hand this yacht over personally to her new owners.” Germans, apparently. On this Hallberg Rassy clearly everything is large-sized, just as the huge tender garage aft with an XXL bathing blatform.
If closed, one can fully admire the great lines of the boat´s stern: Magnus Rassy started a complete renewal of the brand, maybe reacting to the ever changing demands of the market, most certainly those of a new breed of Hallberg Rassy owners: Their strive for combining sailing pleasure, quick sailing and “modern” hull forms with the good old no-bargain brands values such as high building quality, a certain Hallberr Rassy-look and rock-solid conservation of value. In the end, he stepped away from single rudder-configuration to twin rudders, twin wheels (even in those comparably small sized cockpits) and wide sterns carrying the max beam all abaft. As soon as the then-new Hallberg Rassy 44 appeared, I applauded his approach: Careful and thought-through application of new ideas.
Corona, the boat market & Hallberg Rassy
His success proved him to be right: The 44 was very well received, the entry-level 340 has been a huge success ever since. We talk about his impression of Corona-crisis and the current state of the market. Magnus is surprisingly good-tempered: “We have a very good year indeed.”, he says: “After the initial Corona shock we simply went on with our business, adjusted to the changes and restrictions and we never ceased to go on producing.” Sweden did not have a complete lockdown and imposed comparably mild rules, which payed off: “We are having a fantastic year so far – regarding the worldwide circumstances.”
A product like a Hallber Rassy is a high priced quality product: “There will always be people wanting a decent product and willing to pay a fair price for high quality”, he says. Sure, just by looking at the prices of used Hallberg Rassy boats worldwide one might understand the idea: Conservation of value. “Our product serves a niche”, Magnus says: “We do not have to sell large numbers in units, we are completely independent from the charter boat market.” In this, the yard does not need to sell large quantities. “But we do fine. Hull number 8 of the Hallberg Rassy 57 is currently in the process of being built, we sold dozens of 340ies and we have cracked the 15th order of the all-new Hallberg Rassy 40C.”
I can see the attraction here: If budget is available, a Hallberg Rassy-client will get lots of boat for his money. And not just the voluminous slow cruising boats of old times, but modern state-of-the-art sailboats with built-in fun factors: The integrated bowsprit is an indication that light wind sailing with Gennaker and Code-0 sails is a matter of course now. And there are more indicators like this.
All in all, master German Frers managed to preserve the core design aspects of the boats which make them so indistinguishable and unique: The fine lines of the hull with a sexy sheer, the cabin with the now signature two big windows, the fixed windshield and not least the signature blue stripe. A modern classic – tempting and sexy.
Hallberg Rassy 57: A thoroughbred blue water sailboat
I board the yacht and enter the cockpit. The biggest adjustment for me in contrast to the cruisers I usually sail: Mediterranean-inspired aft-cockpit yachts with wide, wider, widest cockpits – large seating- and sunlounge-areas, cockpit tables for sundowners and serving opulent meals. Not so on a Hallberg Rassy: That´s for sure not a boat for the Cannes Croisette Aperol Spritz-party – but a serious around the world-boat. Safety and easiness of sailing is the prime task here.
Hallbrg Rassy claims the term “push button sailing” for its unique approach to making sailing easy and safe: Sheeting in a huge Genoa like the one used on this 57 by hand would be a grindingly strenuous task – so everything is electric or hydraulic on this yacht. It´s just simple as that: Pushing one button makes the sails being hoisted, sheeted, veered or reefed. Loads of complex hardware and software indeed – but installed with care and longevity in mind.
But I also love the small ideas: Just take the fuel caps for Diesel and fresh water: A small plate stating maximum volume of the tank helps to refuel the boat. How many times did I had to check and verify the volume of the tanks of the boats I was sailing on? Here it´s a simple plate – making it so much more easy to use the boat. There are dozens of these small gadgets on the Hallberg Rassy. “Let´s go down and check her interiors”, Magnus invites me. And I follow.
Long haul sailing: A couple´s dream yacht
Interior design and product quality of Hallberg Rassy is out of question: Be it classy materials or the much favoured light Oak, it goes without question that with a boat like this the highest demands will be answered most perfectly. Going down the entryway I am instantly happy by the Captain´s chairs-configuration which – if I had the money – would most certainly be a tick in the box on my boat as well.
The galley to port side (where it belongs) is just huge: The space saved above in the cockpit is now paid back and added in value for the huge volume created inside for the cooking area. Loads of stowage, cooling and freezing, plate handling and food preparation can be done here, the galley is just exemplary. I can see no problem of being ship´s cook aboard here for weeks, a great place to work!
Back aft the owner´s cabin is a palace. The dimensions are overwhelming. I just love the large skylights and the hull windows for providing lots of natural light inside. Again, as being a thoroughbred cruising yacht, the large island bed of course comes with lee sails as standard: Not just pretty, but actually usable even in high seas.
Back in the salon, starboard side (again where it belongs) a decent sized nav station with a perfectly crafted chart table invites to plan a new route or doing the log entries. As I have previously checked on other Hallberg Rassy-yachts, the wiring of the main switch panel is done with care and craftsmanship: Maintaining this boat must be a pleasure. Have I mentioned that the machine room is a walk-in room-sized commodity here?
All in all, this boat holds up to the expectations and exceeds them in so many ways. It´s a totally different feel being aboard this Swedish marvel than, let´s say, being aboard an Oyster, but both brands manage to work out an own very unique character. Best about Hallberg Rassy is indeed that the same care and quality that goes into making a 7-digits budgeted yacht like this 57 as well is applied onto the small 34-footer. Astonishing wide range and hats off to this stringent product policy.
All the best, Magnus!
Time was running out. As much as I loved to sit with Magnus in the well-tempered salon of the 57, I had an appointment to catch: “No problem, Lars”, he says: “The new owner of this boat is arriving soon too and there is still some cleaning to do.” We shake hands, wish us well and hope we can meet some time soon on one of the – hopefully occurring – boat shows of the future.
As I leave the Hallberg Rassy 57 I have a great feeling: Although boats this size are not really what would suit me personally, it is indeed always a great pleasure being aboard and dreaming myself away to a deserted Pacific island, anchors down with people I love on a long haul trip. Most certainly, the 57 would be a perfect companion: “Or the new Hallberg Rassy 50!”, Magnus teases me as a farewell, announcing the replacement of the successful 48 MK.
We will see what time will bring – I return to the small 24 feet MADCAP that day, put her in the water, rigg her mast and sails and go out on a sea trial with a journalist. Whilst Magnus is handing over for hours the boat, explaining the buttons, the hydraulics, the features of the boat, showcasing bow and stern thrusters, we are sailing the First 24 for exciting two hours in 25 knots of wind. I again realize that it´s not the size that matters, but the sheer fact of being out on the water, mastering the seas.
You might as well be interested in these Hallberg Rassy-articles:
About the Hallberg Rassy 64 flagship
German Frers about the collaboration with Hallberg Rassy
Meet the Hallberg Rassy 44