Hallberg-Rassy’s new 340 has a bowsprit, twin rudders, twin helms and no chart table. Have the quintessential Swedish boat builders lost the plot? Graham Snook travels to Sweden to find out
See Yachting Monthly February 2018 for the full boat test
It was a bitterly cold morning; the ice on the pontoon was as slippery as a freshly caught eel. A brisk Force 4-5 from the North-east doing its best to break through my many layers of winter clothing.
Raising her Elvstrøm Epex mainsail was easy and unfurling the genoa using the optional electric furler was just a flick of a toggle switch. The wind on Ellösefjorden was light, 10-14 knots true in the south on the fjord, but built to 15-18 knots toward the northern end as it funnelled through the surrounding hills.
With full sail up she recorded good speeds in all conditions and even when pushed, with around 20 knots of apparent wind, she was losing little speed even though she was past 20 degrees. Despite all of this, she remained composed and in total control; her twin rudders providing plenty of grip.
She has a nice feel to the helm, the Lewmar steering has weight – albeit a little more than I like –is smooth, and she’s responsive, in a graceful manner, similar to the feeling one gets from driving a powerful car that is built for both comfort and speed.
Under engine at 2000rpm, she made 5.6 knots comfortably.
At the helm
The 340 is the first Hallberg-Rassy to offer twin wheels, although as standard she is fitted with a tiller; all of the first eight yachts ordered have opted for twin wheels.
The wheels do make movement through the cockpit, to and from the fold-down transom, easier, as well as markedly improving visibility forward to see where you’re going and keep an eye on the genoa telltales. The backstay makes moving from one wheel to the other a little awkward though, as there’s also only 35cm clearance between each wheel and the 1:48 backstay.
The helm seats, outboard, are a clever design; the coaming remains at full height (28cm/11in), and while the seats aren’t particularly wide (28cm/11in) they are long enough and provide a comfortable and sheltered seat, feeling like you are sitting in the cockpit rather than on the deck. It isn’t the most spacious of helm positions, located as it is, immediately forward of the fold-down transom, but’s not bad for a 34-footer with twin wheels.
Set in the coaming forward of the port helm is a handy switch panel for navigation lights, electric furling and windlass, and forward of each wheel is an excellent grab handle that makes passage to and from the helms easier.
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The test verdict
I loved sailing the 340. She feels solid on the wheel and the high coaming gives security and protection. I was less convinced about the twin helm layout and would have liked to have a bit more space without the backstay bisecting the passage from one wheel to the other. She’s beautifully built down below, with wonderful craftsmanship and a large saloon.
The space, however, comes at the expense of the galley and a chart table. These may be deal breakers for you. If so, start saving for the Hallberg-Rassy 372.
It was the late superyacht designer Jon Bannenburg who said ‘a straight line was the cheapest distance between two points’ and, while it might have been cheaper or easier to make the 340, there are gentle curves that contribute to her design and feel. Remove them and she’ll no longer be a Hallberg-Rassy.
Then there are the materials used – this amount of solid wood is not often found on production yachts. All this work costs time and money, the latter you’ll need a decent amount of to contemplate buying this boat.
Would she suit you and your crew?
As with most of the Hallberg-Rassy range, the 340 was designed to be sailed by a couple, maybe with occasional family or friends, and for this, she excels.
The twin wheels offer more shelter than most, but there is also less freedom to move – a moot point if keeping the tiller. The craftsmanship on board is lovely, and the saloon is large, bright and comfortable. There are many details that make a Hallberg-Rassy desirable, and the 340 has all the hallmarks and many more – it’s the little details and features that contribute to making life afloat that little bit easier and more comfortable.
Like a life partner, no yacht is perfect. If you can look past their idiosyncrasies and still be smitten, you’ll die a happy soul. The Hallberg-Rassy 340 achieves what many larger boats aspire to do, including twin helms and a large saloon, but this comes at the cost of compromises elsewhere. That aside, she is a genuinely great boat that sails superbly and is beautifully made.
Facts and Figures
Price as tested £266,900 Inc VAT
LOA 10.95m (34ft)
Hull Length 10.36m (35ft 11in)
LWL 10.10m (33ft 2in)
Beam 3.47m (11ft 5in)
Draught 1.90m (6ft 2in)
Displacement 5,980kg (13,145 lb)
Ballast 2,300kg (5,070 lb)
Ballast ratio 38.5%
Sail area 63.7m2 (685sq ft)
SA/D ratio 19.7
Diesel 188 litres (41 gal)
Water 277 litres (61 gal)
RCD category A
Designer Germán Frers
UK Agent Transworld Yachts
Tel 023 8045 4000