Let´s do a big boat from Duesseldorf and if so, why not start with the biggest yacht shown at the Rhine this year? Magnus Rassy himself sailed aboard RASSKER – that´s the name of every new built Hallberg-Rassy owned by him – from Sweden to Germany to present the new flagship of the luxury sailboat brand at Duesseldorf. Her sheer size is staggering, even for Hallberg-Rassy a new benchmark: 21 meters hull length without bow sprit, 5.90 meters maximum width. 216 square meters upwind sails area, 345 square meters with Code 0.
The traditional Hallberg-Rassy show booth literally exploded and the stand designers came up with a nice layout to let the boat simply show off its sheer size and make a huge impression. No wonder that during the boat show virtually everyone coming to Duesseldorf wanted to take a tour inside, long queues and crazy waiting times had been accepted. Being an exhibitor myself I was lucky to being allowed to enter the premises of the show well ahead of the opening time so I took my chance to roam the boats unbothered by the crowds. Let´s follow me aboard …
Some 70 feet is a size for a sailboat that is huge by definition. There are brands and boat which only “work” at this size, like Mylius, Brenta or Y, but for a Hallberg-Rassy this really is a step up. Known for the high quality finish and market leading level craftsmanship, a Hallberg-Rassy is more like a classy, Scandinavian-style luxury but seaworthy cruiser for a couple. Their main range of most sold models is between 45 and 55 feet, my own home sailing area, the Baltic Sea, is full of older Hallberg-Rassy boats ranging from 39 to 40 feet.
Therefore for most owners, a Hallberg-Rassy is absolute luxury on smaller and mid-sized boats. Seeing this behemoth leaves a big impression. Yes, she is a German Frers design and therefore sports his unmistakable lines, an elegant sheer line and the signature features of a modern Hallberg-Rassy. But she is absolutely huge! Standing on the anchor chain locker and looking all the way over her fore deck, I was a bit shocked or terrified by her sheer size. Is this a good or a bad thing? Well, that´s a very personal decision.
Welcome to the cockpit
The Hallberg-Rassy concept, although they always offer one boat with the classic aft cockpit, is the center cockpit boat. This has some nice advantages for the owner but also comes at a price (like everything). Situated well forward to the pivotal point of the boat, a center cockpit sports less movement in rough weather. It´s more protected with higher coamings and in general dryer. Also, it´s this configuration that allows for the single huge owner´s cabin configuration under deck. Later more on that.
Aboard the Hallberg-Rassy 69 everything was done according to the classic Hallberg-Rassy layout, yet the cockpit felt rather small in relation to the big boat. The two steering wheels – I know, it´s a must now in any yacht – seem a bit odd. The distance between both is very small and there is no practical use in having two small wheels instead of one bigger (like it had been aboard the then biggest Hallberg-Rassy a few years ago). As I said, people want two wheels, certainly a concession to the buyer´s taste.
Something I generally dislike is the hard dodger. I just hate those wintergardens! Not just on the Hallberg-Rassy (where I personally think they are especially ugly) but on any boat. Those things are simply destroying the lines of the boats, it´s just awful to look at! Luckily, checking the Hallberg-Rassy website, I figured that the hard dodger is an option and you can have the boat without it – instead, I would opt for the fixed windshield which looks way, way, way better! In combination with a sprayhood you could have the same protective effect in foul weather but you do not destroy German Frer´s great design.
There´s another issue, besides my personal taste, with this hard dodger. It´s simply too small. I mean, I am a boat pro and I know how to move around on boats. That´s my daily work and profession. Yet – and this is no joke – I bumped into the dodger with my head when entering down the first time, I hit my head when coming up again and speaking to some people about this yacht, many of them told me the same story. Can you imagine? Owning a 70-footer yet it´s so cramped you hit your head?
Other than that, the Hallberg-Rassy 69 cockpit offers two 3-seaters to either side and foldable cockpit tables (nicely glossy lacquered, great finish!), two steering posts with the well-known push button sailing configuration. I liked the little reminiscence to performance with the classy positioning of secondary displays at the entryway. Maybe a bit overkill, no less than five Raymarine Alpha 7 inch displays …
Hallberg-Rassy´s legendary engine rooms …
Speaking of overkill, the first place I visit when entering under deck on a Hallberg-Rassy is the engine room. This is something Magnus Rassy rightly so takes special pride in. Those engine rooms are true “rooms” in the sense of the word. You can walk in, walk and work freely. No cramped, crunched and prone to injury dark cellars, but brightly lighted, wide and fun to work in rooms.
Aboard the Hallberg-Rassy 69, of course, the engine room is a true cherry on top. Where on most boats you can be happy if the shipyard had installed at least one single light, aboard RASSKER this room is so well lighted that there is not a single place in the shadow. No matter where you want to check or do some maintenance, everything is brightly lighted and – most importantly – easily accessible. The level of installation quality, marking, clean and traceable wiring is outstanding.
On the other hand, standing in the middle of this cathedral of technology, you realize the price of all that luxury aboard: The boat is stuffed with all kinds of installations, a massive gen-set, AC-units, several transducers, transformers … so many boxes, humming and clicking. Hundreds of green, orange or red status LEDs are blinking, literally kilometers of wiring and pipes running from here through the whole boat. Managing all this as an ordinary owner seems at least questionable. Very, very impressive – yet also intimidating.
However, little of this technological hustle is seen in the boat´s living areas. Standing in the salon, it´s just the intricate lighting or the AC-outlets which remind of the high-tech in the background. Instantly, at least for this brand new Hallberg-Rassy, the tasty odor of Teak is what makes a first impression. This ship smells like wood, not like GRP and styrol-fumes.
The interior design is as you´d expect it: Classic, light oak paired with light blue cushions. Of course, as an owner, you could choose the details of the colors, fabrics, floor covering carpets or not. This “Magnus Rassy”-choice is something I´ve seen on so many RASSKER boats and I like it. You feel at home and cozy at an instant. If you are looking for a classic, yet bright and modern interior design, this is something you should look at for sure.
Ah, and the Captain´s Chairs! Also a classic and most celebrated aboard a Hallberg-Rassy. I love this configuration so much that at one point during the refit project of my first boat years ago, I played with the idea of copying this and have Captain´s Chairs on my 33-footer too. Funny enough, when I met Magnus Rassy a little later, he addressed this topic himself, which really impressed me. Of course I had to take a seat in one of these, recline and relax. How nice must this be, enjoying this easy chair and having a last drink after mooring the yacht?
Checking out the galley to starboard side, I was a bit surprised of the compact size. On a 70-footer I would have expected a bigger galley. Yet, I guess, stowage and working space is more than enough for the ship´s cook to prepare tasty meals here. The stove and oven was of particular interest: Seemingly taken out of a science fiction-movie, this part of equipment is another beautiful example for the design taste even in small details.
Proprietor´s retreat: The palace abaft
I mentioned earlier that the center cockpit-configuration is required in order to being able to fit a single big aft cabin. This is also seen on other luxury sailing yachts, like Oyster, Discovery or Contest and of course offers the best yield of aft volume to create a proprietor´s retreat. The size of the owner´s cabin aboard the Hallberg-Rassy 69 is naturally overwhelming. It´s a flat-sized loft indeed!
A large island bed – by the way, it comes on every Hallberg-Rassy with lee cloth in standard! – placed in the middle. A two-seater sofa for comfortably getting dressed and undressed to port side and much stowage for clothing. As an owner you will sleep facing in the direction of sailing and, other than inside the cockpit under the dodger, you never have to watch your head. It´s really a big, voluminous place back here.
What I like most about the Hallberg-Rassy aft cabins, and I guess it starts at the 44 right away, are the bed skylights right over the head´s end of the bed. This must be an awesome sight when opening your eyes after a good night´s sleep to directly see the clouds or a blue sky above your head! Also, in combination with all the other windows and portholes, this aft cabin bristles with natural light, which makes it appear even bigger.
The aft cabin is so big, it can also be turned into a cinema. I don´t know how many inches the flatscreen facing the owner´s bed has, but it´s certainly a big-ass screen indeed! For sure via WiFi-connection or HDD recorder, you may have a big time binge watching back here. Again, a bit overwhelming which level of technology and “at home convenience” a sailboat has reached now, at least aboard this yacht there is literally no difference anymore to the luxury level of a power boat yacht.
I liked how they utilized the space to starboard size: A large nav-station-like workspace can be turned into a little onboard-office. This is a nice place to do your emails, a teams-conference or just retreat into the quietness of the aft cabin to concentrate on the tasks. As I said multiple times before, the one good thing about Covid is that working remote is now commonly accepted even amongst the most conservative companies. Albeit I guess that the owner of such a yacht may not be an employee but rather the employer, enjoying the effectiveness of remote working …
Being a guest aboard Hallberg-Rassy 69
Visiting your boss aboard this yacht and having the privilege to be granted an overnight stay is also a nice thing. The VIP-guest cabin in the front is really something. The volume is staggering and as such any guest will enjoy a really big bed, nice big porthole windows and natural light. The is also a small “working” table and many, many cupboards, drawers and lockers. Anyway, for my personal taste there´s too much wooden ceiling and fronts that it somehow feels like being inside a sauna. But that´s very personal.
The boat also features a third and fourth guest cabin which are naturally is a bit smaller, but they also offer decently sized beds, nice windows and much stowage. One of them can be ordered in a Pulman-configuration, the other to starboard side with a double island bed. All in all, the layout of the yacht is pretty classic and generous. There´s also a second layout offering no less than 10 berths with a split single bed aft- and front-cabin, one double bed cabin and two Pulman-cabins. I don´t know if this is an attempt to enter the (luxury-)charter market, I found this layout rather strange.
In any way, the boat comes with all amenities you might deem necessary for your journey. There is not just one washer-dryer-combination but two dedicated big washing machines, for example. I am sure the boat can be specced and equipped with many possibilities to accommodate to the personal taste of the owners. Ranging from technical decisions like gas or electric oven to stylish decisions. Nevertheless, this yacht will always keep true to the Hallberg-Rassy DNA that is a very classic, conservative Scandinavian-style boat and boat design.
A mixed impression
So what is my overall impression? As I pointed out in my general article on this year´s Boot Duesseldorf boat show, my feelings a bit mixed. This also goes for the Hallberg-Rassy 69. She is a fine yacht and I am sure that her sailing capabilities are just wonderful. Se adheres to the Hallberg-rassy DNA and blends in perfectly both into the line of boats currently under offer by the shipyard as well as the new flagship to dream about in countless sailor´s dreams.
At the same time, there are some details which I was not used to notice on a Hallberg-Rassy. Starting with the winches, of which I thought Andersen would be the brand of choice, not Lewmar. The white plastic air vents on the deck of the boat were just a cheap contrast to the spotless craftsmanship and attention to detail. The dodger that would so much annoy me when I´d to pass underneath it. There is no perfect boat, I know. But in the end, this yacht just couldn´t get me excited just as her “smaller” sister, the 57 could a year ago. I don´t know. Maybe 70 feet is just way too big for my taste.
Anyways, judging by the endless queues of people waiting 20, 30 or more minutes to get a quick 5 minute-tour aboard throughout the boat show more than impressively demonstrated the magnetic effect this boat, and in a wider sense, the brand called Hallberg-Rassy has at least on a European audience. I hope that Magnus, on his mission to preserve the heritage and history of this fabulous brand on the one hand and defining luxury cruising of the 21st century on the other will one day take bolder steps, come up with something completely new, different and brave. Maybe with the next big flagship? We will see …
Here are some other Hallberg-Rassy articles you might want to read too:
Aboard the Hallberg-Rassy 57 with Magnus Rassy
Magnus Rassy shows the (then new) Hallberg-Rassy 44
The “old” Hallberg-Rassy 64, then flagship, toured with Magnus