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Hallberg-Rassy 53

1997 July 5

Bluewater cruiserr

Hallberg-Rassy continues its line of GermanFrers-designed cruising yachts with this new 53. I think what makes the Hallberg- Rassy line important is that its boats represent solid solutions for offshore cruisers looking for the best combination of speed and comfort. Combine this philosophy with the skills and eye ofGerman Frers and you will certainly have handsome boats.

Let's take an in-depth look at this hull to the extent we can without hull lines. This boat shows the same bustle development aft as does the Hood boat. This time,Frers faired the bustle into a partial skeg. You can see that Frers needed this additional volume aft to make his engine installation work. The counter is elevated and is actually on the steep side to my eye, but it is elegant. The D/L is 195, but that is based upon a "maximum sailing length" and not the static DWL. I don't know how they computed its maximum sailing length, but I'll warrant that it far exceeds the DWL. I pulled out my trusty tick strip, did some basic proportional analysis with the drawings and calculated that the DWL is really 44.35 feet, which reduces the D/L to 264. That's quite a jump but it sounds far more realistic for this type of boat.

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.