By Michael Good, YACHT magazine
It’s a bagatelle, supposedly a meaningless detail, but also a sign with some significance: There are no more curtains inside. While others might be oblivious to the fact, Hallberg-Rassy connoisseurs will notice it right away. The switch from cute granny curtains to modern accordion shades on the new HR 412 stands for more than just an updated detail. It shows a new, open-minded and market-oriented attitude at 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 has proven 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 center cockpit doesn’t really work on boats of less than 11 meters.
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, and is even more distinctive on the new boat than on the HR 40. Also typical is the teak deck, still a standard feature installed by the yard.
The new rig, with three sets of angled spreaders, is approximately 1.3 meters 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 percent. It does not diminish performance, but makes handling during maneuvers a bit easier. Thanks to the belowdecks 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 that the rudder is no longer connected to a skeg, but is now freestanding. The advantages were pretty obvious during our 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 was 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 Elvstrom. 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 maneuver assistance system, comparable to the 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 to turn the wheel and press a button.
Another advantage: The winches can be operated separately from the windward or leeward side, and from the control panel on the steering column. However, the multitude of buttons for trimming, easing, or automatic tacking take some practice. One requirement for this system are the rather expensive electric Revo winches by Lewmar.
Of course, push-button sailing is 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, which has a diameter of 122 centimeters. 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. This 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 lazarette. 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 aft to port and the owner’s cabin forward, with two head/shower compartments 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 farther aft, allowing an extension of the starboard settee, which also can 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. The galley area, especially, offers many deep and well-arranged lockers 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 liters.
The berths in the forepeak and aft are large enough for two adults to sleep in unlimited 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 euros, 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 of that. 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.
For more information, visit Hallberg-Rassy.
- LOA: 12.61 m / 41' 5"
- LWL: 11.50 m / 37' 9"
- Beam: 4.11 m / 13' 6"
- Draft: 1.99 m / 6' 7"
- Displacement: 11.1 t / 24,400 lbs
- Keel weight: 4.0 t / 8,830 lbs
- Sail area with genoa: 90 sq. m / 970 sq ft
- Sail area with code zero: 130.9 sq. m/ 1 410 sq ft
- Engine: Volvo Penta D2-75, 4 cyl. 55 kW / 75 hp
- Diesel tanks 340 liters / 91 US gallon
- Fresh water tanks: 530 liters / 142 US gallon
- Designer: Germán Frers
- CE category: A - Unlimited ocean voyages
This story originally appeared in YACHT Magazine. and is republished here by permission.
This story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.