There are no curtains on the HR 412. It’s a bagatelle, supposedly a meaningless detail, but also a sign with some significance... while some might be oblivious to the fact, Hallberg-Rassy connoisseurs will notice it right away. The switch from cute granny curtains to modern shades on the new HR 412 stands for more than just an updated detail, but for a new, open-minded and market-oriented attitude from this traditional builder from Sweden.
Not too long ago, HR-chief Magnus Rassy would have insisted that these curtains are as important to the HR image as the fixed windshield and the blue cove stripe. That’s justifiable, because to a large degree Hallberg-Rassy’s success is built on a proven, unmistakable and often-copied philosophy.
Breaking with tradition could also result in losing the solid reputation. Hence HR is moving with deliberation and foresight as they continue to develop the strong and independent identity of their program. Magnus Rassy proved to be very adept at this art. The discrete evolution sits especially well with the faithful customers who are trading up, which is a rather important clientele for the firm from Ellös.
More sport, more canvas
The company is taking bolder steps than just swapping out curtains: The transition to aft-cockpit models in the mid-size and large segment of their program lays the foundation for a second range at Hallberg-Rassy. To that end, the HR 412 is sending a clear signal. During an interview in 2009, Magnus Rassy diplomatically denied plans for another line, but left the option open.
Now the new model is here and with it the dedication to aft-cockpit yachts that complement the previous core offering of center cockpit vessels. Comparisons between the two currently can be made with the HR-models 372 and 37 and the 412 and the 40. In reality, aft-cockpits are not exactly new for Hallberg-Rassy. With the HR 310 and HR 342 the company has been building such boats for a while, partly because a centre cockpit doesn’t really work on boats of less than 11 metres.
Despite the aft cockpit, the 412 remains a typical Hallberg-Rassy visually, with the fixed windshield among the standard features. The pretty sheer line also remains unchanged, which is even more distinctive on the new boat than on the HR 40. Also typical is the teak deck that’s put on as standard decor by the yard.
The new rig with three angled spreaders is approximately 1.3 metres higher than on the HR 40 and emphasizes the sporty character of the aft-cockpit models. Because the uppers are now directly connected to the hull, the genoa’s overlap is limited to 105 per cent. It does not diminish performance, but makes handling during maneuvers a bit easier. Thanks to the below-deck furling mechanism, the genoa's foot is closer to the deck now, which looks nice and improves the boat’s sailing qualities.
Another sporty feature is the rudder that is no longer connected to a skeg but is now freestanding. The advantages were pretty obvious during the test. In puffy conditions with 15 to 20 knots of breeze it was exceptionally easy for the helmsman to steer this 11-ton boat through the rocky archipelago of Orust. Without pounding or hobbyhorsing the boat took the short and steep chop and remained well under control even when more heel were induced for testing purposes.
The 412 averaged 7 knots at a 40-degree wind angle in these conditions. It should be mentioned that the test boat was fitted with in-mast furling and carried the innovative fat-furl main by Elvstrøm. With vertical battens and a decent roach, it looks like a normal mainsail and can be trimmed like one, too, which makes it a good alternative to the conventional main.
According to the calculated performance data (VPP) by the design office of Frers Yacht Design the HR 412 should be sailing to weather with standard sails in 16 knots of breeze at 37 degrees and reach a speed of 6.8 knots, which are numbers that are close to a real performance cruiser.
The well thought-out arrangement of sheets, halyards and control lines that are led back to the two primary winches on the cockpit coaming keeps things tidy during sailing. Big open cubbyholes on both sides make surplus lines disappear. The evaluation of the handling however warrants a comment. The test vessel was equipped with an automatic manoeuvre assistance system, comparable to Trim Control that was introduced by Bavaria on the new Vision 46 in cooperation with Lewmar. This option makes tacking and gybing a simple push-button affair. While one winch is trimming the sheet with electric power, the opposite one is easing automatically. All that remains to be done is turning the wheel and pressing a button.
Another advantage: The winches can be operated separately from the windward and the leeward side and from the control panel on the steering column. However, the multitude of buttons for trimming and easing or automatic tacks require some practice. One requirement for this system are the rather spendy electric Revo winches by Lewmar.
Of course, that’s not a must. In the standard version the boat is fitted with conventional winches that handle the genoa sheets on the cockpit coamings, thus putting them well within reach of the helmsman, who’s a bit hampered in his movement by the large wheel that has a diameter of 122 centimetres; this leaves the helmsperson with limited space in the cockpit and in a less than ideal position at that. In addition, the wire of the backstay is close to the neck when sitting sideways. Compared to the center cockpit layout, this forces a compromise.
The stern is open and can be reached easily via a small swim platform and the fold-up thwart behind the helm. A removable Plexiglas board can be inserted to close off the stern, which will please sailing families with small children. The steering quadrant is operated via push rods, which can’t be directly accessed from the outside and only with contortions through the aft peak. There is some room for improvement, not the least for safety reasons.
With the HR 412 the yard implemented an interior layout with two aft cabins, which is a real novelty for the Swedes. However, it is an option only as the standard configuration consists of two staterooms, one to port and aft and the owner’s cabin forward and two heads with separate showers and a huge lazarette aft to starboard. If two aft cabins are installed as they were on the test vessel, the otherwise large lavatory shrinks, thus losing the separate shower stall; the forward lavatory is more comfortable. It’s possible to omit the small head completely in the three-cabin version. This would move the nav desk further aft, which then extends the starboard settee, which also could be traded for two separate chairs.
With the new boat Hallberg-Rassy appears to put more emphasis on brightness and good ventilation below. All the large ports can be opened and two flush deck hatches bring even more light and airflow to the saloon. Otherwise the proven and popular standard was left intact. This means the quality of the fit and finish, all the way down to the nitty-gritty details, is beyond doubt, with beautiful joiner work in mahogany, impeccable technical installations, and a host of fresh and smart ideas that will score many bonus points for Hallberg Rassy with their clientele.
Storage spaces abound on board and they are easily accessible, too. Especially the area of the pantry offers many deep and well-compartmentalized closets of varying sizes. Voluminous or bulky items such as luggage can be stowed under the forward berth. However, storage space in the saloon is more limited because the water tanks are installed on both sides under the settees. The tanks are no longer made from stainless steel but robust composite material and have an overall freshwater capacity of 530 litres.
The berths in the forepeak and aft are large enough for two adults to sleep without limited comfort. Two more berths are available in the saloon after the cushions of the backrests are flipped up. Depending on the choice of interior layout, the 412 offers between six and eight full-sized berths.
Consolidating the market position
Saying yes to a Hallberg-Rassy, means saying yes to an upscale investment, which isn’t exactly a surprise. The 412 comes with a price tag of more than €450,000, which is a tidy chunk of change for a boat this size. Boats of similar length from mass producers such as Bavaria, Jeanneau, Beneteau or Hanse sometimes can be had for less than half. But the comparison is not entirely appropriate, and that’s also well understood. In regards to quality, fitting out and service, Hallberg-Rassy always was in a league of its own. With the 412 the top spot is secured. More secure than ever.
This story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.