Step into the cockpit and the twin wheel set-up barely registers a blink of an eye these days. Back in the day it would have been considered a bit dinky for such a set-up, but with her broad stern, there’s no question that twin wheels work – although, in actual fact, the standard set-up is for tiller steering with wheel steering an option. The wheels’ pedestals have chartplotters built into them and, forward of this, two pairs of winches are set into the coamings within reach of the helmsman.
Combine this with all the running rigging emerging from channels in the coachroof and coamings to two banks of jammers to port and starboard, and you have a boat that can be controlled easily by one person – particularly if you take the in-mast furling option that was available on the test boat. The mainsheet is right where you want it – set on a traveller track just forward of the helm. You can also have a full-width traveller spanning the cockpit benches – racing style – or just a fixed, single-point mainsheet. The choice is yours, but the modest width option seemed a sensible compromise. There is an optional bathing platform with a beautifully fashioned bathing ladder integrated into it – an early hint of the supreme quality that Hallberg-Rassy delivers. Storage is also excellent, with a good, deep cockpit locker to starboard. Step forward and you have nice, wide side-decks with inner shrouds set inboard on separate chainplates, which open up the walkway forward. The foredeck is clear, with acres of beautifully laid teak decking. The uncluttered look continues with both jib furler and anchor winch recessed below deck, and the anchor rollers set into the integrated bowsprit. Everything is elegant, simple and reeks of quality.
as we head down below I’m going to get one thing out of the way first; the quality of the finish is simply superb – very hard to fault. Varnish glistens, there are no rattles or creaks, no rough edges. If a Swiss watchmaker was going to buy a small cruiser, it would surely be this one. Anyway, you step down nice, wide, gently sloped steps into a very pleasant space. The finish is standard Hallberg-Rassy mahogany, but the interior is notably lighter than on many of the Rassys I remember from my youth, which were cosy but not bright. Big hatches in the coachroof and portlights in the hull ensure there is a nice, airy feel to this space.
Hallberg-Rassy has garnered a reputation for quality with good reason. This is a manufacturer that leaves very little to chance. The looks are a bit radical but the result is a boat that sails extremely well and also provides really good accommodation. With Hallberg-Rassy you expect to pay a premium, but this is a company that believes in returning that to the customer. For a small cruiser, this is a yacht that inspired confidence and could do that rare thing – work as a weekender or a blue water cruiser.