Hallberg Rassy 53: modern styling and timeless elegance
The Hallberg Rassy 53 was built for fifteen years between 1992 and 2006. 88 yachts were built. Designed by Germán Frers, the Hallberg Rassy 53 combines modern styling and a performance hull but still retains that timeless elegance that is the hallmark of the range, while down below it provides the space and comfort of a luxury floating home. The interior is finished in glowing rich red mahogany, again a Hallberg Rassy trademark, one of which they are justly proud. Satin finished, smooth, rounded, warm to the touch and soothing to the eye, the interiors of these boats are superb. The layout is designed to allow unimpeded access from bow to stern, in a smooth line with no obstructions. The saloon table has superbly radiussed fiddles that fades away in the corners. The engine room is a full-height, walk-in compartment, with ample room to work around the six-cylinder engine. Also in here is the generator, with room for a water-maker if required, and easy access to all systems. Perforated aluminium linings cover the sound insulation, adding to the high quality feel of the installation.
The Hallberg Rassy 53 was not designed with competition in mind, although the boat achieves good performance, particularly when sailing upwind from testing we carried out on keel and rudder shapes. Her moderate displacement is in line with the yacht’s strong construction and high level of equipment carried on board. Sail area too is generous, and coupled with the excellent stability gained from the 53´s special bulb keel, performs well, even in light winds.
The keel is a low-aspect-ratio fin with some type of bulb at the bottom. The rudder has a partial skeg that allows significant balance area below it for a nice, light feel to the helm. The rudder is large, contributing to directional stability. I find it very interesting that the rudder stock is raked forward 2.5 degrees. I wonder if Mr. Frers would be so kind as to explain this feature to us. Given his track record with the world’s most exotic yachts, I’m sure we could all learn from him. Hydrodynamic considerations aside, to my eye it looks like the rudder stock was raked so that it would exit the deck in a convenient location, just barely aft of the cabintrunk, for hooking up emergency steering.
Note that the mast is stepped directly over the intersection of the keel’s leading edge with the canoe body. This relative location of the mast usually results in a well-balanced boat. I like the idea of keeping the rig forward so that the helm is nearly neutral. If you really want some weather helm, it’s always easy to dig some up. But if you start with too much, you can’t always get rid of it without compromising trim. The SA/D is 16.24.
Hallberg-Rassys are beautifully finished. This model is available in three basic layouts. They are all three-stateroom layouts, but the size and location of the third stateroom and the location of the galley varies. I prefer the layout with the galley to starboard just aft of the dinette and with the V-berth double stateroom forward. I’d go for a straight settee to port in lieu of the chairs. All the layouts are fine, however. Who needs to nitpick when the basic package is as polished as this one?
The 53 has a 145-horsepower Volvo diesel and 223 gallons of fuel. The fuel and water tanks are located in the deep bilge to help keep the VCG down. The prop shaft is in a nacelle to eliminate a strut. Ballast is external. I particularly like Hallberg-Rassy’s optional hard dodger.
The Hallberg Rassy 53 is not only a comfortable and well built long distance cruiser. She also performs well. Peter Harrison’s HR 53 “Russe Noir” won her class in the ARC. Peter Harrison is the man who brought back England to America’s Cup. The American Hallberg Rassy 53 “Solstice” owned by Bernie Jakits and Kate Christensen won the Bermuda Cup.
In 2004 the Hallberg Rassy 53 became a face lift. For example she got a new transom with a new bathing platform and a new triple spreader rig.
Source: “Hallberg-Rassy” Web site and “Sailing Magaine“.
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