This Swedish yard has a proud tradition of building top-quality long distance cruising yachts and has produced almost 9,000 Hallberg-Rassy yachts to date, with the result that the distinctive blue topsides stripe can be seen in many harbours around the globe.
Although one of the smallest boats built by the yard, the aft cockpit 29 (produced from 1982-1994) is a proper long-distance cruising yacht that shares all the attributes of her larger stable mates.
This is not a company to compromise its values to produce a budget-priced small boat, so the 29 was built to a higher standard than other boats of this size. In a similar vein, there was no attempt to distort the hull lines in order to maximise the accommodation that could be squeezed into her modest length. The result is a yacht that looks great and has excellent manners under sail.
The interior has a classic arrangement, with a full-width heads compartment separating the forecabin from the saloon. The latter has two settee berths, and L-shaped galley and a choice of a large fixed navigation table with chart stowage, or a quarter berth and folding nav table. Despite the boat’s modest size, all berths are a commendable two metres (6ft 7in) long. Today the 29 makes a capable cruiser that’s fun to sail, as well as being easy to handle and maintain.
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The 352 was one of the first centre cockpit boats of its size to combine an aft cabin with a walk-through from the main saloon, while retaining decent sailing performance.
In addition, the raised topsides helped to create huge volume below, as well as an uncluttered deck layout. Combined with Hallberg Rassy’s hallmark reputation for quality and reliability, these features proved an immediately popular combination, selling more than 800 boats in a production run that spanned from 1979 to 1991.
The spacious accommodation didn’t detract from the boat’s sailing qualities – Christoph Rassy and Olle Enderlein drew a nicely-balanced hull with a long waterline for its day. Although the draught is modest at 1.6m (5ft 7in), and this was before the days of low centre of gravity bulb keels became commonplace, a combination of a moderately generous beam, healthy 45 per cent ballast ratio, plus fuel and water tanks positioned low down in the keel, all aid sail carrying ability.
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This centre cockpit model effectively replaced the 352 from 1989 onwards, although the following year an aft cockpit 34-footer was also introduced, with both boats selling well for more than a decade.
As well as more modern styling, with a conventional coachroof, the 36 offered a number of advantages compared to the 352, particularly below decks. These include a proper double berth in the aft cabin, plus more stowage and a significantly larger and better-appointed galley.
These improvements were not at the expense of performance – this a fast and well-proven ocean going boat that won her class in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, from the Canary Islands to St Lucia in the Caribbean. A Mark ll model was introduced in 1995, with the transom widened and extended by 0.44m to create a bathing platform and increased space in the aft cabin, which benefits from a larger double berth and better stowage. The revised hull shape also lengthened the effective waterline when under way, giving the potential for marginally higher average speeds.
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Another centre cockpit design that was lengthened part way through its lifespan to include a swim platform, the 39 was produced from 1991 to 2003.
As befits a yacht aimed at knowledgeable owners with long-term cruising plans, the interior arrangement did not seek to cram in as many berths, cabins or en suite facilities as possible. Instead, the layout has more in common with 36ft yachts of the era, but with the luxury of more space in every respect and is ideally suited to two couples who spend extended periods of time on board.
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This model was introduced in 2005 as a replacement for the long-running and popular 46.
The 48 was an all-new design from Argentinian German Frers that incorporated significant design developments compared to the earlier model. The result is appreciably more interior space, despite the boat being only 0.2m longer than her predecessor, while the waterline length was extended by 1.35m.
The accommodation is geared primarily around the needs of one or two couples engaged in long-term voyaging and wanting to live aboard in civilised comfort. There’s also an additional small cabin for occasional guests. An alternative layout was introduced in 2010, giving the option of a larger linear galley along the starboard side of the saloon, plus a larger forward double cabin.
In 2014 a Mark ll version of the 48 was launched, with 15 key improvements over the original version. These include larger saloon windows, with elegant frameless tempered glass and additional hull port lights, plus a number of ergonomic improvements that improve life on board.
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The 55 was added to the range last year with the intention of offering attributes first seen on the company’s flagship 64-footer in a scaled down package.
These include bow and stern thrusters and electric backwinding genoa winches, all of which make the boat easier and safer to handle.
There’s an impressive amount of space below deck, with the accommodation benefitting from more natural light than earlier boats in the range. Layout options include provision for a separate skipper’s cabin, as well as an optional hard top that gives the centre cockpit almost complete protection from the elements.
Hallberg-Rassy has eschewed the fashion for twin wheel layouts, which in any case don't suit centre cockpit configurations. Instead, the 55 has a classic single wheel, with a 14in chart plotter on the pedestal, together with pilot, engine and thruster controls. A sign of the boat’s long-distance credentials is the standard 180hp engine – installed in a walk-in engine room – which gives a cruising speed of more than eight knots, combined with sufficient tankage to provide a range of around 800 miles under power.
If you're on the market for a cruising yacht, the following features may help you decide which one to buy: Six Bargain Bavarias: Family Cruisers that Won’t Break the Bank, Five Classic Cruisers: Sigma, Rustler, Rival, Oyster, Moody and Choosing the right family cruising boat.