Two days and nights aboard the HR44 – a new generation of family cruiser from Sweden's bluewater specialist

The bitterly cold wind is cutting through my four layers of technical clothing as though they are made of mesh – the instruments tell me the water temperature is 4ºC, something I well believe when clutching the steering wheel with numb fingers.

I’m aboard the new and comparatively modern Hallberg-Rassy 44, conducting a two-day test during the Swedish winter – but despite the Arctic conditions, looking at my surroundings it is impossible to feel hard done by.

Take a look at this short test video shot in Sweden by Rick Tomlinson:

Launched in April last year, the Hallberg-Rassy 44 marks a serious step-change for this long establish bluewater boat builder, with a new German Frers hull shape that suggests more powerful sailing performance. This may appeal to a growing group of customers that aspire to cruising 200-plus miles per day, but is this new shape really what Hallberg-Rassy owners want? Will the new features (such as twin rudders) be a bridge too far from the traditional views of seaworthiness?

Breaking with tradition

I spent two days aboard Magnus Rassy’s own HR44 on a mini-cruise around the archipelago just north of Gothenburg to find out just how different this new boat would be. Living on board I would get to test every element of this boat to see how well the traditional Hallberg-Rassy values would sit inside their new skin.

Cruising in Sweden for long summer days, easy sailing and as much solitude as you might wish

From a distance the hull shape of the HR44 looks more akin to a modern cruiser-racer. The bow is blunt and topped off with a short integral bowsprit and anchor roller.

The foredeck is long and clear, there are wide empty side decks spanning a centre cockpit and a roomy aft deck. The topsides are sheer and beam is carried aft to a wide uninterrupted transom with a minimal nipping-in above a waterline that reveals the tops of twin rudders.

The more I looked at this hull shape the more I liked it and it made me realise what a departure this is for such a traditional yard. The bluewater cruising community may have fallen into a bit of a rut with the accepted wisdom of what is ‘right’ for taking on the oceans and previous HR models have followed more or less similar lines.

It takes a bit of adjustment to accept this long legged shape. But the closer you get, the more the trademark Hallberg-Rassy elements come into focus, including the blue stripe, built in rubbing strake, deck house and centre cockpit with windscreen.

Hallberg-Rassy 44 specifications

LOA: 13.68m (44ft 11in )
LWL: 12.88m (42ft 3in)
Beam (Max): 4.20m (13ft 9in)
Draught: 2.10m (6ft 11in)
Disp (lightship): 13,300kg (29,321lb)
Ballast: 5,300kg (11,684lb)
Sail area (100% foretriangle): 106.2sq m (1,143sq ft)
Berths: 6–10
Engine: 75hp Volvo Penta
Water: 650lt (143gal)
Fuel: 365lt (80gal)
Sail Area to Displacement ratio: 19.2
Displacement to LWL ratio: 173
Price: 4,599,500 SEK (£401,277 ex VAT)
Test boat: 5,600,000 SEK (£488,564 ex VAT)
Design: German Frers

Full test in Yachting World, June 2017