The new Hallberg-Rassy 50 promises to be an ocean cruiser with ultra refined performance, volume and layout… Toby Hodges takes her for a sail to find out if there's a catch?

Product Overview


Hallberg-Rassy 50 tested: ultimate refinement


Price as reviewed:

£1,665,874.00 (As tested inc. VAT)

The Hallberg-Rassy 50, the latest from the renowned Swedish marque is a near masterpiece. German Frers has once again sprinkled his fairy dust over the design, conjuring up a modern hull shape that will continually surprise you with the volume it provides, yet one with enough character and thoroughbred sailing credentials to make it identifiable as one of a family line which spans five decades. And he’s incorporated an accommodation plan which appears to use every inch of this shape.

The renowned Swedish yard meanwhile has refined the deck and interior package to the nth degree. The result is a Hallberg-Rassy that is as contemporary in hull design, appendages, and sailing systems as it can be for its particular market sector, while maintaining that traditional, dignified Swedish style.

I found myself being drawn back to the Hallberg-Rassy 50 time and again during our European Yacht of the Year trials last autumn. And although the sailing is once again a first class experience, much of the appeal is in the evolution and pure refinement of the layout. The space has been used so intelligently it’s almost impossible to find fault.

Step below decks and it feels more like a 55-58 footer in fact, and could well pinch sales from that sector. Compared to the old Hallberg-Rassy 55, for example, this is actually 50cm longer at the waterline, has more overall beam, which is carried aft to give over a metre more beam at the transom.

Magnus Rassy, who was aboard for my two sails and various visits, has been preaching the benefits of modern hull shapes since the Hallberg-Rassy 44 launched in 2017, and explained how in particular the Hallberg-Rassy 50 has reaped the rewards. Its mast is further aft than previous generation boats, and everything below decks is correspondingly further aft too, so the accommodation feels wider, plus you get more stowage in a sail locker.

A powerful yet elegant shape with a tall rig, albeit without quite the same long lines of the HR57. Note: after the delivery crew crumpled the bowsprit en-route to La Rochelle, Magnus Rassy drove there with a mould and materials to fashion an invisible repair (hence a temporary lack of bow roller! Photo: Andreas Lindlahr/EYOTY

Frers has incorporated a proper sheerline, which also serves to buy headroom forward, an ingredient of the design sorcery needed to achieve a single-level sole below decks. The main engine and genset are now housed inline rather than next to each other, which creates more space in the galley and navstation and a longer cockpit.

A deeper cockpit and higher coamings are also a benefit of the increased beam, while the coamings provide additional headroom in the passageway galley below.

The Magnus factor

One reason why Hallberg-Rassys work so well is Magnus Rassy. He understands the product intricately and how to continually refine it, because he conceives each model and uses it for himself. The first boat is always called Rassker – named after the one-off, innovative 26ft yacht he designed and built as a 16-year old – and is a yacht he cruises extensively over its first year to help assess any improvements.

His father Christoph, who passed away just at the time of writing, will be remembered as a key figure in the development of today’s boatbuilding industry, but it is Magnus who is the face and spirit of the brand he took over 20 years ago.

Win wheels within the deep cockpit give good views, even if perching on the coaming becomes customary. Photo: Andreas Lindlahr/EYOTY

I contemplated this as I melted into one of the Hallberg-Rassy 50’s saloon armchairs, a traditional Rassy fixture that has featured in the boats for over 35 years, but is something I always associate with Magnus. It was so comfortable I didn’t want to move, despite the inviting sailing conditions outside. The bar was on one side, complete with storm-proof crystal glass holders, the remote for the 50in flatscreen on the other.

When I did venture to the helm, I was unsurprised to find how intelligently it has been set up to allow one person to manage the boat solo. Magnus has long been a big advocate of using modern push button controls to provide ease of use for his large yachts. Yes, I mused, this model is certainly all about refinement.

After Covid put paid to our plans to sail the Hallberg-Rassy 50 from the yard in the winter, our trials were instead held during the European Yacht of the Year tests in La Rochelle, late September.

Despite coming back for seconds, I still only saw light breezes that topped out at 12 knots over flat water. While not ideal, it did serve to highlight the yacht’s performance. It just never stopped moving, even in the faintest cat’s-paws. That’s certainly noteworthy for those who still consider wide-beamed modern designs to be sticky. Engine hours will likely remain very low.

The fun factor

For a centre cockpit medium displacement yacht (25 tonnes laden) with long rod steering connection to twin rudders, it was not only fast, but enjoyable to sail too. Fellow European Yacht of the Year judge, Morten Brandt from Denmark, who sailed it in stronger winds, told me it was the best sailing experience he’s had on a Hallberg-Rassy and noted how safe it makes you feel while clocking miles in real comfort.

At this stage I should point out that Rassker is equipped with some serious additional firepower. It’s the first yacht to feature Seldén’s carbon in-mast furling rig and Elvstrom’s vertically battened Fat Furl mainsail. This performance pack option includes mast, boom and spreaders in carbon, rod rigging, upgraded sheets and halyards, hydraulic outhaul, vang and backstay and halyard tensioners for main and genoa.

The winches are to hand and the pedestals well set-up with remote controls to manage the yacht short-handed. Photo: Andreas Lindlahr/EYOTY

Plus, for the first time ever on a Hallberg-Rassy, a mast jack. It’s a package that totals over €150,000. However, when you consider that’s less than 10% of the overall price of the boat, it’s a key investment, thinks Magnus.

“Altogether it gives a completely different performance,” he enthused. “It’s not just about pointing higher, but it’s less rolling, less pitching, less heel, better rudder pressure, being able to carry sails in more pressure… it’s all comfort! In fact I would say a carbon mast is even more important for a cruising sailor than a racing sailor.”

Even in the light breeze it’s easy to tell it’s a stiff mast which will resist pumping, while having the benefit of the hydraulic backstay control. And the performance you get from having a proper roach and headboard sets new standards for in-mast furling mainsails.

The motor for the furler is contained neatly in the mast profile, while the hydraulic ram is inside the boom. Another nice touch is the preventer permanently rigged through the boom, with a hook to engage on the forward cleat. The sail halyards meanwhile are on hydraulic cylinders, which allows you to get rid of the long line tails at the mast base.

Hallberg-Rassy 50 – engaging on the helm

The Hallberg-Rassy 50 is a little neutral in feel on the helm in the really light conditions, but becomes increasingly engaging once the breeze gets up above 7 knots – and with the Code 0 deployed.

We clocked 7-7.5 knots boatspeed in 8 knots true wind, 8 in 10, and 9-plus knots in 11-12, sailing at 60° to the apparent wind. To those who may associate centre cockpit cruisers as being yachts best left to the autopilot, I’d challenge them to try the Hallberg-Rassy 50 with this set-up – you won’t want to leave the wheel.

For downwind sailing across oceans Magnus says the Bluewater Runner twin headsail is popular these days, but reckons the Code 0 has become the go-to option for regular cruising. Our test boat was also trialling a new Seldén electric Code furler, which spun at formidable speed. This made it child’s play to deploy or furl the Code sail in under 30 seconds, all from the helm without needing to call upon another crewmember. Primaries and mainsheet winch are in easy reach from either pedestal.

The HR50 is a little neutral in feel on the helm in the really light conditions, but becomes increasingly engaging once the breeze gets up above 7 knots. Photo: Ludovic FRUCHAUD IMACIS

The twin rudders use two self aligning bearings and Frers set the tow angles. “German Frers very much encouraged the wide beam aft hull shape,” says Magnus. “I immediately understood. It’s obvious it was a much better performer and yet that it was a Hallberg-Rassy.”

Frers has now penned 25 Hallberg-Rassy designs over 34 years. There are already five models in the new generation range, which accounts for 90% of the yard’s turnover. Again the Hallberg-Rassy 50 is a refinement of these.

Deck stowage is one of the only areas you feel the difference in size to the Hallberg-Rassy 57, which has a large aft deck locker. Aboard the HR50, the aft berth extends to the transom, so there’s no option for that central lazarette. A dinghy would need to be on davits or on the foredeck.

Magnus says he wanted more deck locker space than the HR55. “Now I have a lot more because of the sail locker”. However, I still wonder if that’s enough. The sail locker is certainly ideal for carrying the offwind sails, spare halyards and fenders needed, but today’s cruisers crave more and more equipment.

Note the tall wet hanging locker by the companionway. Photo: Andreas Lindlahr/EYOTY

For liveaboard cruising, I’d personally want more space than the quarter lockers provide to stow bikes, paddleboards, and a raft of watersports gear.

Forward of the sail locker, the chain locker has a shelf for fenders and the chain wash gear. Moving along the wide side decks is easy and free of trip hazards and feels secure thanks to the toerail with teak cap rail.

The shroud bases are outboard enough to leave clear access, the scuppers drain below the waterline, and there is a step each side into the cockpit.

In the generous cockpit you’ll find comfortable benches with deep coamings and plenty of protection. Tell-tales of the premium quality are the 12 coats of gleaming varnish on the cockpit table, the extendable footbrace at its base, and the companionway washboards, which raise effortlessly on gas struts.

Single-level tradition

The interior is all on one level, a practical feature initiated by the iconic HR41 from the mid-1970s, which also set the trend for a walk-through to the aft cabin.

An inviting, spacious saloon split between relaxing and dining. Forward opening coachroof portholes make a big difference to natural ventilation. Photo: Ludovic FRUCHAUD IMACIS

The Hallberg-Rassy 50 feels particularly light and open. Magnus explained how modern hull stiffeners allow the creation of a lot more open spaces. These now run right up to deck level and, by using more longitudinal and horizontal reinforcements, fewer closed bulkheads are required.

The open bulkheads at the galley and navstation in particular help open up the interior, as does the light European oak finish and the neat integration of the keel-stepped mast by the central bulkhead.

The aft cabin is so wide it comes as standard with split berths: a double to starboard and single to port. Reportedly 99% of customers choose the central double berth, yet for some reason that remains an optional extra. Equally (strangely), a U-shape galley to starboard is the standard layout, yet a similar high percentage of Hallberg-Rassy buyers take linear galleys now, confirms Magnus, as they are larger with more worktop area, a bigger stove and extra refrigeration space.

Elsewhere, the forward cabin also has a vee-berth option rather than the island-style double, while the compact midships cabin can have a bunk above the double berth too.
For the majority choosing the linear galley format, this remains a practical sea-going design, with Corian worktops surrounded by fiddles that double as handrails. It boasts four fridges, three of which can be freezers. There is plenty of stowage, light and ventilation. However, the bin is too small – a custom shaped version with a sweep-in top may be the optimum solution.

Plenty of natural light in the spacious yet practical galley, which has electric cooking. . Photo: Andreas Lindlahr/EYOTY

The 3.5kW standard inverter is enough to run the induction stove without the (standard fit) genset, in the knowledge the large bank of lithium-ion batteries (50kWh) recharge rapidly. Hallberg-Rassy now places the majority of these batteries under the forward berth to reduce voltage drops, as the big consumers such as furlers and bow thruster are all forward.

There is complete access to the wiring looms behind the switch panel at the navstation, with every cable labelled to identify what kind of fuse it has. The chart table is spot on, with good surround stowage, including a deep cavity shelf aft for pilot books and manuals. Opposite here is a wet-hanging locker, ideally located by the companionway and heated by the engine room.

the aft cabin enjoys the maximum beam with the headboard against the transom. Photo: Ludovic FRUCHAUD IMACIS

Another staple of Hallberg-Rassys at this size is to have a walk-in engine room. Not only does it provide unhindered access to the 110hp Yanmar and 12kW genset, but the servicing is well considered in an area surrounded by thick perforated aluminium insulation. The fuel filters, mounted on panels (varnished mahogany no less), can be changed while the engine is running and there is an oil change pump and fuel sump pump fitted.

Hallberg-Rassy 50 – all In the detail

The master cabin is where you really appreciate the amount of volume the modern hull shape has bought – it’s palatial. I particularly like the offset desk/vanity area to starboard, which makes for a calm place to work. The raised sides each side of the berth will help keep you from rolling out, although leecloths are available. Some people may consider the positioning of the headboard right by the transom a downside as it could be a little noisy when berthed stern-to.

The inclusion of a panel in the deckhead for accessing the mainsheet winch without needing to remove all the headlining is smart. As is the location of the washing machine, accessed via the shower compartment yet contained within the engine room so it is sound insulated and can be removed via a panel in the cockpit floor.

The midships compact double and forward cabin share a sizable heads and shower. The shared entrance way is a little narrow, where headroom reduces to 6ft, but it opens out in the main guest cabin. This has good stowage and ample natural light from the double opening hatches.

Quality details include the lit and ventilated wardrobes, the continuous matching grain of the joiner work, and the carpeted sole, which has access panels where needed.

If you enjoyed this….

Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.


I can’t think of another centre cockpit cruiser that offers this much pleasure and performance on the helm, albeit with the premium rig package. Considering the vast amount of comfort and roominess the HR50 provides for its length, it is a stunning sailing yacht. The only slight blemishes of this masterpiece of evolution are that some may wish for more deck locker space (although others will appreciate the extra aft cabin space). And at this very top end price level, why not make the standard layout the most popular one? Two years ago Magnus told me the HR40C was the best his yard has built – but what about this? “It’s always the latest that’s the best,” he smiles knowingly. “Every new model has to be an improvement.” In short, for those in the market for a thoroughbred centre-cockpit cruiser from a traditional North European yard, this is as good as it gets. The HR50 is the ultimate in polished refinement.


LOA:16.34m / 53ft 7in
LWL:14.80m / 48ft 7in
Beam (Max):5.00m / 16ft 5in
Draught:2.35m / 7ft 9in
Displacement (lightship):21,000kg / 46,297lb
Ballast:7,150kg / 15,763lb
Sail Area (100% foretriangle):144.6m2 / 1,556ft2
Engine :Yanmar 110hp shaftdrive
Water:800lt / 176gal
Fuel:1,000lt / 220gal
Sail area/displacement ratio:19.3
Disp/LWL ratio:181
Price ex VAT:approx €1.325m ex VAT
Design:German Frers