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Hallberg-Rassy 342

2006 February 7

Family cruiser

Here's a new Hallberg-Rassy design that makes a good comparison to the new Beneteau 343. While there will be a distinct difference in the prices of the two boats I think the general target market for both designs is the same.

Given that the H-R is a German Frers design it's no surprise that the hull is quite different to that of the Beneteau. While both boats are similar in displacement, the H-R has a D/L of 196 and while this is slightly higher than the Beneteau it reflects the 342's greater overhangs by 12 inches. The L/B of the H-R is 3.0-essentially the same as the Beneteau at 2.98. Now check the plan view at deck of the H-R and you will see a hull that is much finer forward. In fact, if I take the half angle at the deck for the Beneteau I get 28 degrees compared to 21.5 degrees for the H-R. We'd know more if we had half angle of entry at the DWL but without hull lines this is the best we can do. It does indicate that there is a very high probability that the H-R is finer forward, and if you are after performance that is good. While both boats are very beamy aft the H-R is less beamy aft than the Beneteau. Frers likes to knock the corners off his transoms at the sheer and has done so for years. This looks good and helps reduce the visual bulk of the transom.

The hull profiles below the DWL are very similar, although the Frers design has a deeper forefoot indicating to me that it probably has more V-sections at the bow. Freeboard is generous but in this case there is a bulwark. Again notice that both boats have vertical rudderstocks to avoid conflict with the aft berth, and in the case of the tiller-steered H-R this gets the tiller head as far aft as possible. Draft is listed as 6 feet but I see on the drawings that a shoal-draft keel appears to be also available.

The layouts of our two boats are very similar but I like the twin sinks in the H-R and the lockers outboard of the settees. Lockers are more expensive to build than bookshelves. There is no separate shower stall in the H-R but there is a sit down, forward-facing nav station and I'd go for that feature rather than a shower stall. "OK, I smell bad, but I know where we are." There is a dedicated wet locker aft and outboard in the head. Note the large overhanging locker over the foot of the V-berth. This layout suits my style.

We could argue tiller or wheel all day and not resolve the question. They both offer advantages. I like tillers as they provide a more direct link to the overall health of the boat under sail. I like to cruise into the anchorage with the tiller tucked between my legs and a cup of tea in one hand and a chart in the other. There are some very nice hiking sticks made that extend the scope of the tiller and allow you to sit outboard to windward or leeward. Once anchored your tiller can hinge up and be entirely out of the way. The mainsheet traveler is right ahead of the tiller and this location optimizes the mechanical advantage of the mainsheet and make sheet and traveler adjustments very easy for the helmsman. Halyards are led aft to winches adjacent to the companionway. Small boats do not have the directional stability of large boats so it's important to be able to reach all your lines from the cockpit. A tiller-activated autopilot would be a requirement for this design.

The sailplan shows a mast with some pre-bend, double spreaders and 22-degrees of spreader sweep. The mainsail roach overlaps the backstay by about two and a half inches, and that's not enough to hang the roach up on the backstay in light air. I don't have I, J, P and E for this design but if I use the total sail area from the brochure I get an SA/D of 20.11. I suspect that if we used I, J, P and E this number may be closer to 18.3.

H-R and Beneteau occupy very different segments of the boat market. I do not think the choice between the two boats will hinge entirely upon small design details. I like the classic look of the H-R and the more traditional interior layout. But that's the subjective side of the equation.