Hallberg-Rassy is known for its sea-kindly and solid boats. Duncan Kent examines the nuances of the popular Hallberg-Rassy 352
The sea kindly Hallberg-Rassy 352
In her time, the Hallberg-Rassy 352 went a great deal towards affirming the Swedish yard’s reputation for solidly-built cruising yachts.
In addition to having a comfortable interior and practical layout for liveaboards, she was one of the first to incorporate a corridor into a huge aft cabin, removing the need to enter through the cockpit.
Early versions of the 800-plus Hallberg-Rassy 352s launched had poor headroom, especially in the corridor to the aft cabin, but over the following 14 years of production the deck was twice raised to alleviate this problem.
Her hull was hand laid using generous amounts of fibre and resin, and glassed-in longitudinal stringers were incorporated for strength and stiffness.
Bulkheads and much of the furniture were also bonded to the hull and deckhead to further improve the rigidity of the structure.
They have a long, encapsulated fin keel containing three tons of cast iron ballast with a cutaway forward to aid tacking and manoeuvring at close quarters.
They also sport a full-depth skeg to support the rudder.
Many 352s were ordered with teak decks, which was the icing on the cake and really enhanced her classic looks.
They do, however, take some upkeep and can look scruffy if left to deteriorate.
Furthermore, renewing them is a mortgage job, unless you happen to be cruising in Taiwan or similar, where both teak and labour are cheap.
Her sidedecks are wide, easy to negotiate and continue right around the boat.
The Hallberg-Rassy 352 has a low, streamline coachroof, which makes stepping up to the mast safe and simple, but puts the handrails below knee level.
She also has plenty of clear foredeck space for working on gear, headsails, spinnaker handling or setting out the ground tackle.
There is a single bow roller and an above-deck windlass but the anchor chain is fed into a deep, deck-accessible chain locker.
Her cockpit is compact but snug and secure thanks to her fixed windscreen and high coamings.
Stowage is in two half-depth seat lockers and a lazarette aft with a rather small hatch.
Rig, sails & engine
The Hallberg-Rassy 352 had a traditional, but very stout masthead rig with a full complement of oversized standing rigging.
Early models had a relatively conservative sailplan but those who wanted a little more sail power could opt for a taller mast with twin spreaders, though at the expense of having to reef a little earlier in a blow.
She is easy to single-hand with the primary sail controls within easy reach of the wheel.
However, as standard, reefing is done at the mast, unless upgraded.
In some ways this works better as it keeps the small cockpit from being overwhelmed with string and, should you have them, a pair of granny bars at the mast are really useful for stowing spare lines.
She came with a 30hp, freshwater-cooled, three-cylinder Volvo diesel (either the MD21B or post-1985 the 2003T), which had plenty of power to fight a foul tide.
Manoeuvring into tight spots, however, isn’t her strongest suit and requires practice as her long keel, big, barn door-style rudder and copious prop walk conspire to make it interesting, to say the least!
When you descend into the 352’s interior on a cold, drizzly day it feels like you’ve entered a log cabin with a big stove crackling away in the corner.
Hardwoods abound, along with matching grained veneers, all of which were so well varnished from day one that many have remained in top condition with just a light routine polish.
The layout is straightforward and somewhat dated, but it’s a practical layout that works well at sea.
There’s a proper seagoing, U-shaped galley immediately to starboard, enabling the watch to brew up without disturbing those sleeping.
It’s not huge but stowage is plentiful, mostly in easily accessible lockers, and there’s room for a full-size cooker with oven and grill.
Opposite is a pukka nav station with a forward-facing, Admiralty-sized chart table, a dedicated nav seat and ample space for instruments and chart storage, although early models did lack bookshelves.
The corridor to the aft cabin starts behind the nav area and, in all models requires ducking down to avoid banging your head.
In the corridor itself are a couple of large clothes lockers to supplement the stowage aft.
The aft cabin is roomy and has twin berths, although one is larger than the other and makes a reasonable double.
There’s plenty of room around the large, drop-leaf saloon table to feed six in comfort and the settees, being long and straight, make excellent sea berths with the option of pilot berths above created by the hinged seatbacks and lee cloths.
The heads are forward of the saloon and are a reasonable size with room to shower with the door closed.
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With the saloon door also shut the heads are, for all intents and purposes, en suite to the forecabin, which itself is comfortable with a good-sized vee-berth and bags of stowage in lockers and on the deep shelves.
The Hallberg-Rassy 352 was progressively improved over its years in build, so the later models have nicer galleys, more headroom, louvred locker doors and bigger hatches and skylights.
The same improvements continued on deck too, with more cleats and stowage, plus in-mast reefing and cutter rig options.
A few were even built with a hardtop but not with the normal deck.
Instead they sported a deeper cockpit to create space under the hardtop at the expense of losing the below-deck corridor to the aft cabin, leaving it accessible via the cockpit only.
I’d class the performance of the Hallberg-Rassy 352 as steady, undramatic and thoroughly sea-kindly.
She’s no racer, especially the early shorter mast model, but is a dogged mile-muncher.
Her generous displacement helps keep average passage times up by her refusal to be knocked off a wave and her full (but not long) keel results in little leeway and superb directional stability.
Furthermore, the deeply vee’d forefoot eliminates any slamming and lends a gentle, soporific rocking motion when beating to windward.
Being a centre-cockpit yacht, visibility under the large genoa is nil.
For this reason, many carry a high-cut, high-aspect Solent jib for busy waters, only resorting to the large overlapping genoa offshore.
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