Ali, Messi, Serena... an elite few can be considered a g.o.a.t (greatest of all time). But can a boat? Is this Hallberg-Rassy 69 their greatest ever? We had an exclusive chance to find out

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Exclusive 2 day sail on the largest Hallberg-Rassy ever built: Hallberg-Rassy 69 review

Price as reviewed:

£4,411,725.00 (Base price ex. VAT)

It was proper cold. An honest cold that cuts straight through us soft southerners, unused as we are to minus double digit temperatures. The docks were covered with gnarled ice, while the Ellös marina lay still and frozen. It only served to make the Hallberg-Rassy 69 look all the more commanding and inviting as its welcoming interior lights shone through the copious hull windows into the low Swedish light of December.

The warmth of the centrally-heated, timber-lined interior is something special, a quality matched only perhaps by the regal feeling of sailing this, the greatest (in size) Hallberg-Rassy of all time.

I discovered this first hand once we’d parted the thin ice layer, navigated out past the snow capped islands guarding the yard and were into a bitingly fresh offshore breeze, whereupon this Frers-designed flagship had the searoom to hit its reaching stride.

Despite the significant extra wind chill, the temperature somehow began to feel less overbearing, and the sailing experience became all-absorbing as we averaged double figure speeds. With ease. The new model was going like a locomotive, wonderfully assured, powerfully clocking off mile after mile, and offering a transcendant helming experience.

The Hallberg-Rassy 69 has that power, that magnetic magnificence. It’s as grand as a production yacht can get, the largest and by far the most expensive Hallberg-Rassy in the company’s 80-year history. The yard has built 9,700 yachts in this time, and has produced landmark and particularly large models before – think the Hallberg-Rassy 49 in 1972 and the Hallberg-Rassy 62 in 1998 – always designed to be easily managed. But this, the 25th Rassy German Frers has drawn since 1988, is something else.

There is an elegance and grace to the yacht’s motion. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

Both on deck and below it’s still very much a Hallberg-Rassy in every way. It speaks precision quality, but not in a showy or glitzy way, rather in this brand’s renowned, refined fashion.

From the mechanical installation to the joinerwork, it’s how this traditional Scandinavian yard does things – to a production level of perfection – in this case crafted over a 16-month build.

To achieve this it has incorporated a lavish amount of intelligent technologies and practicalities, many of which we can learn from. So it is these I’ll focus on, rather than trying to walk you through such a large vessel.

Rarely has a new launch garnered so much international attention. But before the added hype of its boat show debut, there were two burning questions I sought answers to as I travelled to Sweden’s west coast: ‘Why now’? and ‘Who’s it for’?

The latter I continued to ponder throughout the trials. The former is easier to answer. Technology has made it possible to build at this size in series and yet still make it a practical yacht to manage short-handed. It is this, allied to how formidable the majority of equipment is, which really stands out.

Hallberg-Rassy 69 – a push-button 70-footer

Magnus Rassy, the yard’s helmsman for the last two decades, explains that they have always built as big as they could within the Hallberg-Rassy concept. And that is governed by ease of use which, for him in particular, means in-mast furling.

Cockpit offers comfort and protection for eight. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

“When Seldén started hydraulic in-mast furling in the early 1990s, we made the Hallberg-Rassy 53,” he explains, adding that it was the same when the tech allowed for the Hallberg-Rassy 64. So once Seldén decided they could go larger, Magnus matched them. Today, the Hallberg-Rassy 69 sports the biggest in-mast system available.

But why 69ft? Magnus puts it down to the righting moment. “You start with that as it affects the price the most,” he divulges, adding that from the keel bolts to the chain plates, the rudder shaft to deck gear, the righting moment affects all these decisions and the consequent pricing. Which is phenomenal: the Hallberg-Rassy 69 starts at over €5m, albeit for a fully equipped yacht including hydraulic furling, sail controls, thruster and genset.

Magnus always commissions the first hull for himself and uses it for at least a season to test and refine, even at this size. And he’s equipped this Hallberg-Rassy 69 with a flotilla of optional extras, particularly those designed to ease short-handed push-button sailing.

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Most notable is the carbon in-mast furling rig. “The majority of big Hallberg-Rassy owners choose carbon – it’s less than 10% of the price for a big improvement in performance,” Rassy reckons (though 10% of €5m is still one heck of an outlay!).

“It makes a good boat even better,” sales director Jonas Zelleroth adds. “There’s more stiffness for the in-mast furling, and less pitching.” That in-mast sails can be ‘shaped’ yet can still be furled away downwind, is, for Magnus, a crucial benefit over in-boom systems, the furling procedures of which are sensitive to boom angles.

There is no need to venture out of the cockpit to sail the Hallberg-Rassy 69 – handy when there is ice on deck to which no sailing boot will grip. Instead, pedestal mounted buttons were activated to hydraulically command the unfurling of canvas while still within sight of the yard’s private marina.

Decks are PU (polyurethane) moulded teak effect. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

As the fully battened, roached FatFurl mainsail revealed itself, Elvstrom’s veteran sailmaker Soren Hansen commented on how amazing it is that so much sail can fit within a mast tube.

Magnus opted for a powerful hydraulic vang over a traveller to avoid needing a traveller track, a large mainsheet car and the loads that involves. Other upgrades included our weapon of choice, the Code 0 on a hydraulic Reckmann furler (another €80,000 option).

Photo: Anton Bylund

Mile munching

Over the two days we experienced similar conditions of single figure windspeeds inshore around the archipelago and a rewarding Force 4 gusting 5 once free of land influences. Aboard a yacht endowed with this length and sailpower, apparent windspeeds rise quickly.

This is one easily driven machine. Reaching with the Code sail, we could match single figure winds, the Hallberg-Rassy 69 reacting to every two knot gust. In 12 knots true wind you average 10, and once up to 14, you’re into the high 10s.

Such speeds encourage hands-on helming and jostling for turns at the wheel. We clocked 12 in 15, while 13.3 knots was my record over the two days, in what we ‘guestimate’ was around 16-18 knots wind (despite the five strong array of clear Raymarine Alpha displays over the companionway, the wind transducer had frozen solid!).

companionway steps are wide and solid. A large navstation has instruments hidden behind a panel. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

In essence you can bank on maintaining 9.5-11.5 knots in such conditions. And when you can average double figures, you can clock numerous 250-mile days. Indeed Zelleroth remarked on how big this difference is over typical 60-footers – even their Hallberg-Rassy 64 is over 10 tonnes lighter. To put the Hallberg-Rassy 69’s size into perspective, it carries the weight of an average 55ft production yacht in its keel ballast alone.

The result is that it maintains a consistent, modest and manageable angle of heel and has the length and weight to devour miles, particularly when reaching. There is an elegance and grace to the yacht’s motion. There’s no rush, nothing twitchy, but when it has the breeze to reach its double digit hull speed, it can and will stay there and maintain that speed all day and night.

And if things get a bit spicy, reducing sail is a push-button away. “It’s still about the joy of sailing,” says Magnus – “it’s just the heavy work that has gone.”

For those tempted to remark on the aesthetic impact of a hard top, try sailing in similar temperatures. It allows you to shelter, maintain energy levels on watch and, crucially, speak to each other at normal volume in the cockpit. Meanwhile, the opening windscreen offers good ventilation for warmer climes and the roof can house solar panels.

Views of the horizon through the hull windows from a seated position. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

Below decks is also a wonderfully quiet world under sail. That said, when a cockpit winch is activated, you know about it in the master cabin. The hydraulically powered primaries are the largest winches Lewmar builds in serial production.

Magnus’s Hallberg-Rassy 69 is fitted with load sensors on the halyards, backstay and vang to give some peace of mind. Hallberg-Rassy also always adds a spare outhaul in the boom, plus a preventer hooked on the boom ready to attach a line forward and back to cockpit each side.

The slightly overlapping jib maximises sail area to the shrouds, but is cut with a high clew for visibility when sailing in the archipelago. Other options include a removable or fixed staysail or self-tacking jib. With mid-teen winds you can beat at 8.5 knots pinching at 40° or 9-9.5 knots when freed up a little at 50° to the true wind. This dropped to 8 in 10 fetching and 5-6 in 7-9 tacking through 85-90°.

While it’s easy to maintain high average speeds, it’s trickier to keep in a groove, particularly in the lighter breezes. And when tacking, it’s certainly nimble enough to beat upwind through tight channels, but hard to seamlessly settle it back on track.

Galley has a seaworthy layout, but is fairly compact. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

The furled Code sail disturbing the telltales didn’t help but there was also some slight play in the long rod steering connection, which, I’m sure will be corrected. If I’m being overly critical here, it is in relation to Hallberg-Rassy’s own high standards – in particular the delightful light wind sensitivity of the 57 and 50.

Push button options continue to provide short-handed manoeuvrability as you return to port, particularly if you choose the extra stern thruster and, in the case of the test boat, a Dockmate remote joystick control system. By controlling both bow and stern thrusters and the main engine throttle this could technically let you moor the boat solo. It’s certainly clever but an expensive level of complexity which seems a little illogical to me.

Belt and braces approach

This is a stable cruiser with high righting moment, including over four tonnes of tankage and an enormous engine block low and central. The 300hp Volvo Penta is a prime example of how equipment is deliberately over-specced on the Hallberg-Rassy 69. It’s around 100hp more than a ‘standard’ fit on a comparative bluewater yacht, plus it’s 6-cylinder.

The result is that we could motor at over 8 knots using just 1,500rpm with the overdrive function of the Gori propeller activated. So not only do you have the extra grunt and torque of the main engine when required, but the low revs make it quieter and, given the 2,300lt of diesel tanks, extends motoring range to over 1,500 miles.

The armchair option: the familiar HR armchairs were first used in 1985 on the HR49, another exceedingly large yacht for its era. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

The same ‘go big’ mentality applies for the generator. Where an 11kW is more typical for this size, Hallberg-Rassy fits a 17.5kW Cummins Onan as standard. Magnus’s theory here is low noise, low rpm, and a longer service life as it uses constant rather than variable speed revs.

It allows you to easily run the high capacity watermaker (a whopping 454lt/hour), while the genset also forms part of the larger picture of what is a formidable power system, particularly on the test boat with its optional big lithium battery package. This comprises 12 low voltage (24V) Li-ion batteries from Mastervolt, giving 72kWh.

This eye-watering €140,000 extra is worth every cent according to Magnus, as battery technology is one of the biggest advances we’ve seen in yachting. He points out how shorepower is comparatively slow, as is the time it takes to charge lead acid batteries. Whereas when you run the genset and get an instant 460A, that’s a massive surge of power going straight into a huge, efficient battery bank.

Magnus describes this and the ability to top up in half an hour a game-changer. “You run everything off the inverter, charge super quick and then go sailing silently.”

The aft master cabin with its near 20ft of beam. As well as the ensuite there is the option for a walk-in closet here. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

Owners will still want to plug in on returning to dock, however, and here is another example of how Hallberg-Rassy has made such a large yacht manageable. The shorepower hosing on its 57ft plus yachts was already at a length and weight at the limit of what a couple could easily manage. So the Hallberg-Rassy 69’s hosing is on powered drums, which literally reel in at the push of a button (note, that’s plural as there are twin cables, one for each of the Euro and US frequencies, 50Hz and 60Hz).

These are housed in the enormous, near full-beam garage, along with a 3.4m inflated RIB that launches manually on a track and sled system. And within this garage you’ll also notice examples of Rassy’s approach to redundancy.

If you lose steering, you can activate an autopilot, as there’s one on each quadrant. Then there’s a manual tiller with block and tackle rigged up in here, opposite which is a full sized spare fixed prop.

Forward VIP cabin has an island (or vee) style berth with small vanity desk area, a double opening hatch above and good stowage. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

Further forward, the sail locker also contributes to the 15m3 of deck storage. Otherwise, the foredeck is remarkably flush, pierced only by mushroom vents which provide constant watertight natural ventilation to the interior.

And this interior is very much the archetypal Hallberg-Rassy. It has a four cabin, four heads layout as standard, but with the ends sacrificed to sail and dinghy stowage it doesn’t feel that much more spacious than the HR57.

For owners/couples who don’t want to be rattling around inside that’s a positive. The interior on the Hallberg-Rassy 69 is welcoming, cosy even. Areas you feel the extra space in are the magnificent engine room, the four heads, and the superb stowage.

The garage can house a 3.4m inflated RIB. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

A cosy 70-footer?

The layout options include separate aft berths, a traditional vee rather than the central forward double berth and a fifth cabin. The proportions point heavily towards it being owner-operated, as any crew would have to be on friendly terms and use one of the midships cabins. Magnus says they’re considering a separate entrance to the forward cabin, but that would leave very little guest space.

Despite the ample light and headroom, the galley and saloon also show how it’s a yacht set up for small numbers – notably the two armchairs, and a table around which six would start to feel a bit squashed. The galley has an admirably seaworthy layout, but is again comparatively compact, with small sinks and bin in particular.

Refrigeration space is segregated into six different units, which is good for keeping items cold, if a little frustrating.

The majority of the optional big li-ion battery package is below the forward berth. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

The instant hot water tap proved its worth, as did the heating system. The Kubuto diesel heater feeds a water-based heating system, which allows precise thermostat control in each cabin. It runs through the calorifier, so if you’re at anchor it can warm the water without running the genset. The fresh water pump, meanwhile, is housed beneath the passageway sole, to prevent the water heating up, however the priming mechanism proved surprisingly loud.

The main companionway steps are a masterpiece. They are wide and solid, use stainless steel reinforcement within for a floating effect and are illuminated with hidden indirect lighting. In a feat of skilled workmanship, there’s no way of telling how they’re installed.

Structural bulkheads use a vacuum infused Divinycell core, and help open out the saloon and galley area. Despite being on one ‘lower’ level, the natural light in here is a wonder. It’s easy to tell from the outside just how large these hull windows are (1.8m wide) and they bring a seated horizon view from the saloon.

Most of my favourite features live behind doors in the passageway from the navstation to the aft cabin, notably the walk-in engine room, the electronic systems, stowage spaces kids could play hide-and-seek in (for weeks), and a practical day head with wet hanging locker.

Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud

This first Hallberg-Rassy 69 model includes the indulgent options of a walk-in wardrobe in the master cabin and a laundry closet with both domestic sized washer and separate dryer. It seems opulent, especially as there’s space for a washer-dryer in the aft shower and plenty more hanging space, but some will love such villa-style amenities. A fifth Pullman-style cabin could be chosen as an alternative here, but I doubt owners would want to pack in guests next to their suite.

This aft cabin is well proportioned and comfortable. I particularly like the desk space for calm privacy, the deep, lit and ventilated hanging lockers and accessible space below the berth (including twin 75lt calorifiers!). There’s also ample seclusion from the three guest cabins, which are all located forward. These offer good sea berths in the midships compact double and Pullman opposite, while all sport large hull windows and tall hanging lockers.

These lockers are all ventilated with hidden hinges and end stops. In fact, the shipwrights’ skills and attention to detail are evident everywhere you look. All timber panels are labelled to ensure that when a cutout is made, the grain always matches.

Long lines, powerful aft sections, a broad transom and a flush foredeck, all topped by a proper sweet sheerline from the hand of Argentine maestro German Frers. Photo: Anton Bylund

A tour of Hallberg-Rassy’s yard really helps you understand this mentality and philosophy to boatbuilding. The scale of skill that goes into building this yacht is on another level, yet it also shows so much single-minded dedication to the Hallberg-Rassy methodology.

‘This is the way’

From their old school features such as the headlining with mahogany strips, varnished soleboards, circular locker latches, satin finished joinerwork, and blue upholstery, to their insistence on white hulls with blue stripes only… It reminds me of the mantra used by the bounty hunter The Mandalorian and his fellow helmeted clan in the self-titled current Star Wars series, who preach: ‘this is the way’.

And credit to Hallberg-Rassy, it has worked. Top quality lasts, for longer and arguably more successfully than for any other production yard. It has a near 200-strong staff, willing to clock the hours, and it always, always delivers on time (even during Covid).

The problem is, people tend to get a bit fussier at this size and price level, and crave more customisation. And this needs to be considered alongside the exotic price tag. This is still a hand-laid GRP hull, a heavy, diesel powered yacht devoid of sustainable materials. Yet it’s over 15% more than an Oyster 675 – or, for the same price as the Hallberg-Rassy 69, you could buy TWO fully equipped carbon composite Y7 fast cruisers!

That Hallberg-Rassy can build such a yacht on spec tells you something about the confidence and comfortable position this business is in.

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This is a sensational cruising machine of formidable build quality, blessed with intoxicating, powerful lines, prize engineering, rich carpentry, and premium finish quality. And it’s 100% a Hallberg-Rassy. However, I’m still not sure if I understand its target market. At this size and price level people will expect more custom choices. The layout proportions and lack of specific crew quarters arguably shows you how confident Rassy is in this being owner-operated. And that again comes down to the advancements in technology – the in-mast furling, push-button handling and manoeuvring systems that allow a 50-tonne vessel like this to be short-handed. It’s still a lot of yacht, a lot of weight, which will be your friend in a seaway, but creates a lot of load everywhere. While advantages include the high and consistent passagemaking speeds, it lacks the more delicate feel and sensation the smaller Rassy models offer. Regardless of the number Hallberg-Rassy can build or sell, however, if this HR69 only serves to showcase the best of what this yard can do, it’s a worthy project. Eight decades of builds, four decades of German Frers design, poured into 876 beautiful inches. Engineering the largest Rassy ever is quite a feat, a marvel only fully realised by sailing it at full gait. Its greatest? Absolutely!


LOA:22.22m / 72ft 11in
Hull length:20.96m / 68ft 9in
LWL:19.70m / 64ft 8in
Beam (max):5.89m / 19ft 4in
Draught:2.70m / 8ft 10in
Displacement (lightship):46,500kg / 102,514lb
Ballast:18,100kg / 39,903lb
Sail Area (100% foretriangle):246.3m2 / 2,651ft2
Engine:300hp Volvo Penta 6-cylinder shaft drive
Water:1,900lt / 418gal
Fuel:2,300lt / 506gal
Sail Area : Disp:19.4
Disp/LWL ratio:169
Test boat price with options:approx €6m
Design:German Frers