Magnus Rassy says this is the best boat his yard has ever built. Theo Stocker spends two days sailing the new Hallberg-Rassy 40C to see if he agrees

Product Overview


Hallberg-Rassy 40C review: Is this really the Swedish yard’s best boat yet?


Price as reviewed:

£589,900.00 (inc VAT)

“This is the best sailing boat we’ve ever built,” enthuses Magnus Rassy about the new Hallberg-Rassy 40C. The company CEO is bound to be biased, but that’s a big claim from a yard that has a reputation for generations of eminently seaworthy, beautifully built offshore cruisers.

To find out whether this yacht’s sailing prowess really is as claimed, we’d need a serious test to put it through its paces. And what better way to do that than beating out into a Force 5 and the steep chop of a bitterly cold Skagerrak in the depths of the Swedish winter, a day before the winter solstice?

Unfurling the Elvstrom Epex main and genoa as we left Ellös, the boat heeled to the first gusts skittering down the fjord. Clearly this was going to be an exciting sail. It wasn’t long before we were beating out of the channel and into more open water. With the sheets cracked slightly to help us punch through the waves, the instruments were soon showing over 7 knots and touching 8. Clearly this boat is no slouch.

Hallberg-Rassy traditionalists won’t be disappointed, however. For a fast and powerful cruising boat, the 40C remains utterly calm and composed. Sailing it, like driving a luxury car, is a restful experience. A finger on the wheel is all that’s needed to keep it under control.

So what magic has designer Germán Frers worked to make a fully loaded cruising boat capable of genuine sailing performance? The Hallberg-Rassy 40C is a dramatic departure from its two predecessors, the 40 and 40 MkII, while the 412 remains in the range as the aft-cockpit option. The 40C’s modestly pretty sheerline, blue hull stripes, solid windscreen and brass rubbing strakes instantly mark it out as a Hallberg-Rassy. The vertical ends, integral bowsprit and vastly beamy transom look startlingly different.

The hull of this new model is so wide it has virtually the same beam as the larger Hallberg-Rassy 44, and the near-vertical topsides push much of this beam down to near the waterline. Under the water, the knife-sharp entry gives way to a generously rounded forefoot, avoiding the flat sections of a V-hull that can slam when heeled, and leading aft to flatter sections for good running speeds. This is all tamed by two deep rudders, splayed to the extremity of her quarters for grip and control.

Article continues below…

Magnus Rassy believes this approach is a “win-win-win”, giving better sailing performance, greater accommodation space and more stowage. “It’s hard to see why cruising boats didn’t go in this direction before,” he says.

Born performer

While the Hallberg-Rassy 40C’s performance is impressive for a fully kitted-out bluewater cruiser, what was remarkable was the boat’s inexorable progress to windward despite the waves. It showed no inclination to slam even as it threw clouds of spray to leeward, thanks to the deeply rounded forefoot and fine-entry bow, and with plenty of power to keep it moving.

It was noticeable that the almost wedge-shaped hull did have a fairly ‘bow-down’ attitude, though the centre cockpit and windscreen elevate and shelter the crew, as well as mitigating the motion that is slightly livelier than a boat with longer overhangs.


Deep coamings and solid screen keep the cockpit dry

The deep twin rudders generally gave excellent grip when heeled and also worked well at low speeds. In flatter water, it was tempting to keep pushing the boat, but once or twice we found ourselves over-pressed in the gusts, and the rudders did lose grip, letting the boat round up to windward until the mainsheet was eased. A little more warning through the wheel would have been nice.

Having said that, this was a forgiving boat to sail with a wide ‘groove’ for sailing upwind. The single wheel remained light and well balanced throughout, with just enough feedback through the Lewmar rod steering (rotating rods rather than push-pull), a system that had no discernible play in it.

Off the wind, the Hallberg-Rassy 40C sits up and ploughs on – as we were already close to hull speed there wasn’t huge acceleration, but speeds of over 9 knots are easily achieved. On a run, we could sit comfortably at 150° to the apparent before the headsail came into the main’s shadow and speed began to drop.

We accelerated quickly on the face of the waves as they picked up the broad stern, but the rudders kept the boat on track and it remained sprightly. It may be less docile than a narrower hull shape aft, but the pay off is that this Hallberg-Rassy is less inclined to rolling.

Push-button ease

Our test boat was fitted with Epex single-membrane moulded sails for better performance than the standard Dacron sails, while still offering better longevity than laminate sails, says Elvstrom.

Set from a slender-profile, triple-spreader 7⁄8ths fractional Seldén mast, the mainsail’s ten vertical battens (five of which are full height) give the sail more shape and roach, and there’s plenty of control with the adjustable backstay. The 105% Epex genoa was led aft to adjustable cars, though a self-tacking jib is optional.


Lines head aft under cover to avoid deck clutter

The electric cockpit winch for the outhaul, coupled with the optional electric headsail furler and reversible electric Lewmar Revo sheet winches, meant setting and furling the sails was entirely push button – there wasn’t a winch handle in sight for the entire test.

It’s hard to imagine many will opt for the standard slab-reefed Dacron main, even if our set-up did add just over £26,000 inc VAT to the price.

With this in mind, the manual mainsheet aft of the helm was disappointing – the 8:1 purchase was underpowered for the sail and was awkward for the helmsman to adjust. Either a heftier purchase or the optional electric mainsheet winch would be preferable.


Split shroud bases keep the walk-through clear

After a night on board we were able to set the furling Code 0 in lighter winds the following day. The extra sail area soon had the boat up at 5 knots in 6 knots of true wind and at 8 knots in 10 knots true and, with a range from 50° to 140° off the wind, it makes the difference between a day’s enjoyable sailing or having to motor.

When we did try the engine, we scooted along at 7.2 knots at 1,800rpm using the optional three-bladed Gori Overdrive propeller (a fixed prop is standard). Unusually, the engine is mounted aft of the saildrive to make space for a generator at the front of the engine bay.

Lines in the cockpit are kept to a minimum with just the main outhaul, spinnaker and main halyards, and kicker led aft under the deck, emerging just aft of the windscreen frame to a bank of clutches, ahead of an electric Lewmar 40ST. This is controlled with a button on the helm console and the tails run neatly into a rope bin that also houses the shore power socket.


Helm console has buttons to control almost all aspects of sail handling and manoeuvring

Movement around the broad teak side decks while handling the lines and fenders was unimpeded thanks to the split lower and cap shroud bases, and the non-slip moulding on the coachroof worked well. Crossing the wide cockpit coaming was made easier by the inset step, which also houses the winch motor to avoid it impinging on space below deck.

Because the stern of the 40C is so wide, Hallberg-Rassy was able to use exactly the same cockpit layout as the larger 44, including the split-height sole. The crew can therefore sit tucked in the shelter of the generous sprayhood, while the helm is slightly elevated to give a good all-round view.

The only addition I would have liked here is a midships footrest to brace against when sitting to windward on the wide seat, although you can comfortably sit up on the coaming braced against the wheel pedestal.


Braced against the steering pedestal, the 40C was engaging to sail, even in light winds

Stowage on deck is substantial too. Aft of the moulded bowsprit is a hull-depth anchor locker, with a section for fenders and a shelf with a hosepipe to wash the chain. The aft quarters include cavernous lazarette lockers, and a deck locker on starboard, which is much larger if you opt for the standard galley.

The broad bathing platform is kept to half the height of the transom, partly for aesthetics and partly to keep the weight low enough for it to be raised and lowered with a simple rope purchase.

Stepping down the companionway and out of the icy wind was like entering a different world of warmth and comfort. The heated saloon was cosily warm but still bright and airy, even once the light began to fade when we were back alongside.


Plenty of portlights and indirect lighting make the saloon feel bright and spacious

Cleverly fitted direct and indirect lighting, in addition to the large coachroof and hull windows, makes the most of the beautifully finished interior. The light European oak on this boat is an option; Khaya mahogany is standard.

All joinery edges and corners are solid wood, with laminated fiddles curving around the galley and chart table doubling as handholds. Handholds on the deckhead above the saloon walk-through are practical.

At the foot of the companionway there’s a drained wet locker to port, just aft of the steps, though you’ll need to walk through the saloon to get to the heads – not ideal in dripping foulies.


The larger of the two galley options has room for a dishwasher, microwave and extra fridge

Galley options

The C-shaped galley is extensive – our test boat had the larger of the two galley options, extending further aft to take up space that would otherwise be a deck locker, to provide room for a dishwasher, microwave, an extra fridge and more work surface.

The saloon offers an ideal place to relax around the L-shaped seating. The large table folds out to extend across to the two armchairs, ensconced either side of an elegantly lit glassware cabinet – all very refined. A straight settee berth is standard here, but the lifting television emerging behind is optional.

Accommodation is generous and oozes comfort. The forward cabin has vertical topsides, which means the double berth can be low down in the hull. This gives ample headroom and space for lockers above as well as stowage below. Just aft of this cabin is the heads, which has a separate shower compartment and space for a washing machine.


Plenty of headroom in the wide forward berth

The aft cabin is positively palatial and has two layout options. On our test boat we had the centre-line double berth option, a full-sized rectangular bed nestled between locker space either side which, coupled with the centreline leecloth, makes this a really practical sea berth for two people.

The deckhead opening hatch extends aft into a coachroof window giving a feeling of openness and the hull windows are the right height to enjoy the view sitting up in bed in the morning.

The alternative layout includes a double berth offset to starboard and a single berth to port. This layout is slightly more expensive if you want both the stern-thruster and bow thruster, as more complex engineering is required to fit it in.

It is a drawback that there is no en suite heads with this otherwise stunning owner’s cabin. I felt that traipsing through the saloon to the heads in the middle of the night, especially with guests on board, detracts from its splendid isolation. Sadly there isn’t quite enough space to squeeze it in, so if you do want an en suite heads aft, you’ll need to look at the 44 rather than the 40C.

While tradition may appear to have been left behind in the 40C, it has lost none of Hallberg-Rassy’s rugged practicality. The keel is integral to the hull, giving a deep bilge and space for midships fuel and water tanks, though the lead ballast is externally bolted to form the lower portion of the keel.


Central double berth in aft cabin

The laminate, in places an inch thick, is hand laid-up over a closed-cell Divinycell core for both the hull and deck, with solid laminate around the keel.

Traditionally, partial bulkheads every 2m would have provided stiffness, but these have been replaced by longitudinal and transverse stringers up to deck height, allowing the interior to be much more open, but with an even stiffer hull.  The six hull portlights are fitted to flat hull sections to avoid bending stresses that could lead to leaks.


The new 40C is part of Hallberg-Rassy’s drive to redefine what a serious offshore cruiser looks like. Superficially, it might not appeal to traditionalists, but under the surface you’ve got a serious medium-displacement yacht built to withstand the rigours of long-term cruising and ocean sailing. The difference is that this boat’s performance has been turbo-charged. The substantial beam, twin rudders, long waterlines and a powerful rig means this boat will tick off the miles, whether you like the aesthetics or not. What stood out was its ability to do so equally well in both light winds and in the rough stuff. The Hallberg-Rassy 40C can be sailed comfortably short-handed thanks to her push button controls, making her suitable for long-term cruising couples to sail without crew. A more suitable mainsheet purchase and a footbrace for the helm would make for quick and easy improvements to the sailing experience. Below decks you find the kind of space and comfort seen on a 10ft longer yacht just a few years ago, with a top-quality finish. In an ideal world I’d add a heads compartment for the aft cabin but, other than that, this boat really is the complete cruising package.


Starting price:SEK 4,191,500/£369,000 (ex. VAT)
LOA:13.06m (42ft 10in)
Hull Length :12.30m (40ft 4in)
LWL :11.74m (38ft 6in)
Beam :4.18m (13ft 8in)
Draught :1.92m (6ft 4in) (shallow draught available)
Displacement :11,000kg (24,250lb)
Ballast :3,650kg (8,050lb)
Ballast/displacement ratio :33%
Displacement/length ratio:189.10
Standard sail area:90.1m² (970ft2)
Sail area/displacement ratio :19.9
Fuel capacity:400lt (106gal)
Water capacity :520lt (137gal)
Engine:Volvo Penta 60hp
Design :Germán Frers