Hallberg Rassy 48
by George Day
Blue Water Sailing
The rain had been driving hard all morning, blowing in across the Chesapeake from the east. The wind was piping at 15 to 20 so the South River and the bay beyond were churned by a low white-capped chop. Not the perfect day for a leisurely sail, but it suited us fine for a boat test of the Hallberg-Rassy 48, a boat that was designed to handle this kind of weather in comfort and style. And because the model we were testing was equipped with an optional hard dodger, we knew we would have some relief from the rain while underway.
We met Roger Johanssen, owner of Free State Yachts, at the boat and after running the genoa sheets and battening down for brisk sailing, headed downriver under power. The boat, which displaces a solid 40,700 pounds (half load), handled relatively easily around the docks despite the breeze as it responded to the thrust of the propeller and torque from the 110-horsepower Volvo.
Hallberg Rassy 48 Hard Dodger
Into the 15 knots of headwind, the 48, with the main hoisted and trimmed flat, worked its way up to 7.5 knots at about 3,200 rpms. Even at high revs, the vibration in the cockpit, right over the engine room, was minimal while engine noise was almost nonexistent.
Once we had cleared the South River shoals and entered the bay, we rolled out the genoa and took a long tack north toward Annapolis and the Bay Bridge. The 48 stood up nicely to the 15 knots of true breeze, 22 apparent, since we were charging ahead at well over seven knots.
In our experience, Frers' designs can be somewhat wet on the foredeck when sailing hard on the wind into short square waves. We did take some spray aboard, but on the whole the 48 rode easily through the chop, stood up stiffly to the puffs and felt as solid as a church.
Whether upwind or down, the 48's helm was steady and deliberate and had plenty of feel. It is no small feat to maintain a sensitive helm in center-cockpit boats because the steering linkage has to run aft through the engine room and then under the furniture in the aft cabin. The 48 is equipped with a Lewmar/Whitlock wheel and binnacle and then HR uses a Cardan linked-rod system that has flexible universal joints at each turn.
When we had the South River on the beam again and the wind up the river right behind us, we turned for home. Sailing wing and wing without a pole, we found the boat settled into the downwind groove and maintained seven-plus knots. With a pole rigged, this configuration would work beautifully for long days of downwind trekking in the trade winds.
We arrived back at the dock wetter than when we started but a lot less soaked and a lot warmer than we would have been without the benefit of the hard dodger. It was a good day for ducks out there and a good day to be out in a solid, stiff cruising boat designed for all-weather sailing.
Hallberg Rassy 48 Plans
The hull has a long waterline and full after sections. It also has a fairly full bow design with some flare, which accounts for the minimal amount of spray we took on deck in the square chop on the bay.
The keel and rudder are modern cruising foils. The keel is a moderate low-aspect fin with a bulb to lower the center of gravity. Carrying 17,000 pounds of ballast that is well below the boat's center of gravity, the 48 is designed to be stiff and weatherly-as we discovered on the bay. The rudder is a balanced spade configuration that is mounted on a skeg. A good, safe cruising design, the rudder is not quite as efficient as a pure spade but promises to be much stronger. Also, with two sets of rudder bearings, the blade should and does move easily at the touch of the helm.
The 48's non-dimensional numbers tell more about the design concept. The boat has a displacement-length ratio of 222, which puts it squarely in the middle of the modern cruising fleet-not too light to be skittish and not too heavy to be sluggish in light breezes.
The sail area-displacement ratio of 16.1 is moderate by today's standards and will be easy for a couple to manage, especially if the boat is equipped with an in-mast roller-furling main and electric winches as was the 48 we tested.
The simple sloop rig has a triple-spreader Seldén mast with twin lower shrouds, a rigid vang and oversized standing rigging for strength and durability. The mainsheet and traveler are mounted just aft of the cockpit, where they are convenient to the helmsman but out of the cockpit.
The 48 is fairly high sided, which allows for more interior volume and keeps the boat dry on deck. Because of this, Frers was able to give the cabin a low, streamlined profile. And, even with the hard dodger on the boat we sailed, the look of the 48 is sleek, purposeful and attractive.
Hallberg Rassy 48 Galley
The 48 comes in two basic configurations below decks that can be adapted to meet an owner's needs. The saloon focuses on the L-shaped dinette to starboard that will seat four on the benches and two more in portable chairs. The standard version has a settee to port, which is long enough to be a good sea berth. The optional version has two easy chairs and a table where the settee would have been; between these a flat screen TV can be mounted on a pneumatic lift that raises it from the cabinet below.
The galley is at the base of the companionway and to starboard and features a three-burner stove/ oven, ample counter space, a toploading fridge and twin sinks that are near enough to the centerline to be self draining.
The nav station to port has been designed with modern digital navigation in mind. There are plenty of flat vertical surfaces to mount chart plotters, radar and the various instruments we need for modern cruising. The chart table itself is large enough to contain a ChartKit or a standard NOAA chart folded.
The aft cabin can be built with Hallberg Rassy 48 Specs either the standard double berth to port and single berth to starboard or a centerline double. The standard version may be more appropriate for those sailing offshore often while the big centerline double will appeal to those living aboard in marinas.
The aft head, like the forward head, is large and has its own dedicated shower stall. Note that the toilets face aft instead of athwartships, which makes using them much easier when underway- obviously a design detail that will please offshore sailors. Forward, two sleeping cabins, one with a V-berth and the second with upper and lower berths, provide room for four guests or crew. These cabins share the forward head.
The interior of the 48 is finished in mahogany that is sealed with a matte-finished polyurethane. The wood has a lovely light color that is accented well by the white overhead panels and the teak-and-holly sole.
Cabinets and cabin doors are solid mahogany and fitted with stainless steel hardware. As we sailed through the chop on the bay we noticed that there was no creaking and that doors and drawers all remained in place. The 48's engine room is huge so access to the main engine, generator, filters, watermaker and so on will be easy.
The 48 carries 240 gallons of freshwater and 212 gallons of diesel so the boat, even without a watermaker, has transoceanic capacity right out of the factory. Many owners will opt for a watermaker for convenience. And that means they can also opt for a washer/dryer, which can be installed in the forward head.
The boat comes standard with two Webasto diesel heating units that are ducted to keep the entire interior warm and dry. Those heading to the tropics may opt to install air conditioning, which also requires buying the optional diesel generator.
There is no question that the HR 48 offers her owner's pleasant interior surroundings, all the comforts of home and the HR quality that has made the company famous.
EVERY SUMMER Hallberg-Rassy opens the doors of its Ellös, Sweden, factory for an open house and festival of sailboats. The weekend has turned into a huge event, and last year, when BWS attended, more than 20,000 people came from all over Europe and North America to look at the boats.
In the spirit of cooperation, HR also invites other local dealers and builders to show their boats, and the two other major builders in Ellös-Najad and Malö-also throw open houses over that weekend.
Of special interest at Hallberg- Rassy this year will be the new HR 43 Mk II, which will debut at the open house. Plus, you can see the new HR 54, which debuted last summer to raves from visitors that resulted in dozens of initial sales. For more information visit Hallberg-Rassy's website: www.hallberg-rassy.com.