The latest model from this Swedish builder of quality serious cruising yachts marks a step change in Hallberg Rassy’s design thinking.
At first glance this German Frers design is very much a Hallberg Rassy, with the distinctive blue topsides stripe, coachroof shape and trademark fixed windscreen. However, it has a much more modern hull shape and is the first boat in the long-running range with twin rudders. The low centre of gravity keel, with a relatively long cord length, is also retained, although maximum beam is proportionately greater than for earlier models and is carried further aft to a broader transom. This is combined with an almost plumb bow and much more vertical topsides, with a harder turn of the bilge. The overall effect is to lengthen the effective waterline and increase form stability, while also creating additional internal volume.
The three cabin layout includes an impressive owners suite aft, as well as a smaller forward double guest cabin and a further two bunk berths. Although it retains a traditional style, the saloon of the new boat is much brighter than in earlier HR models. Natural light comes through a couple of hull windows, large coachroof windows and a pair of overhead hatches. The layout here is conventional with an L-shaped settee to port and straight settee to starboard, both of which offer the potential to be excellent sea berths. Interior joinery is of an excellent standard, with plenty of solid wood and impressive three-inch fiddles at the galley and navigation station.
The big galley, set to the port side of the cockpit in the walk-through to the aft cabin, has plenty of worktop and stowage space. The arrangement is one that will make it easy to use whether at sea or in port and a hatch above the inboard worktop even makes it easy to pass food and drink out to those in the cockpit.
The aft cabin has plenty of space, with a peninsular bed, lots of floor area, a two-person settee, generous head/shower compartment, dressing table, bookshelves and masses of stowage. Natural light is provided through overhead hatches, coachroof windows and a pair of hull windows.
Forward of the main bulkhead there are two single bunk beds on the starboard side of the passage through to the forecabin, while a second, generously proportioned, heads compartment is on the port side. This also has provision for fitting a washer dryer. The forecabin has a conventional double-vee berth, along with ample standing space and good stowage.
On deck and performance
The centre cockpit, with its single wheel, is absolutely core Hallberg Rassy style. Although much smaller than that of most recent aft cockpit designs, it's still 19cm longer than that of the HR43 Mk3. It’s ideal for serious passage making, when for long periods there may not be more than one or two people on deck and the ability to wedge yourself comfortable in place is important. For alfresco dining a folding table is hinged to the front of the binnacle.
Key control lines are led aft though concealed conduits to clutches and a winch on the starboard cockpit coaming. If the boat is equipped with the optional electric in-mast furling, the outhaul, vang, main halyard and code zero halyard can all be controlled from here. Rope tails stow in a large rope bin neatly recessed into the coaming. The rig is absolutely up to date, with a below deck furler for the jib, while a similarly concealed electric windlass and flush mounted hatches contribute to an uncluttered and streamlined appearance.
Wide side decks with deep bulwarks make going forward easy and secure. There’s also a good-sized fold down bathing platform at the transom for swimming and easy boarding from the dinghy. At the opposite end of the boat, there’s an integrated bowsprit with anchor stowage from which a code zero or asymmetric spinnaker can be flown. The autopilot is connected directly to one of the rudders, and the wheel to the other, so in the event of the complete failure of one rudder it will still be possible to steer the boat.
Equipment and options
In common with many manufacturers, a wide range of options are available, including retractable bow and stern thrusters and a full electric winch package, including a back winding facility on the primary winches. There’s also an optional stay for a heavy weather headsail or storm jib. Alternatively a self-tacking jib can be substituted for the standard slightly overlapping headsail. Below decks there’s a choice of a standard U shaped galley to starboard or an optional linear galley to port. There are also options for a freezer, microwave, extractor fan with charcoal filter and provision to a dishwasher.
Strengths and compromises
This model is the result of a culmination of huge experience gained from owners that have collectively sailed millions of miles around the globe on their Hallberg Rassys. It updates a hugely successful concept, offering significant speed and space advantages over earlier designs. One measure that illustrates the extent of the differences is the waterline length on this boat is 1.13 metres longer than on the model it replaces. Nevertheless the boat retains all the classic hallmarks of the brand, including a reassuring quality of build, fit out and equipment.
This yacht is also the result of specific design decisions that optimise the boat for serious passage making and the generous owners suite. This has the inevitable result that some aspects of the boat, particularly cockpit size are smaller than other yachts of the same length. Equally, there are other yachts of this length that offer more accommodation volume and yet are cheaper.
There are fewer builders of high quality serious cruising yachts of this style than a decade ago, however, the Hallberg Rassy 44 still faces tough competition from another Scandinavian design, the Najad 450CC, as well as older models such as the American Hylas 46.
Hallberg Rassy 44 specifications
Hull length: 13.68m
Waterline length: 12.88m
Sail area: 109.6sq m
Air draught: (ex Windex) 21.6m
Fuel capacity: 365 litres
Water capacity: 650 litres