Hallberg-Rassy 40 Mk II

After 100-plus launches of a popular 40-footer, the ­Hallberg-Rassy 40 MK II is a fresh take on a seasoned bluewater cruiser.

Having the option to fly a powerful headsail gives the HR 40 MK II versatility.Billy Black

Perhaps it’s the allure of splendid sails along the Scandinavian coastline and 20 hours of sunlight each summer day that challenge the craftsmen at Hallberg-Rassy to build interiors exquisite enough to lure you below occasionally. Once there, you can appreciate creature comforts like rich mahogany joinery, thick cushions and soothing upholstery, a Webasto diesel furnace for when it’s cold, plentiful hatches and opening ports to make things bright and airy, and work and living spaces that have been designed for life at sea.

That’s my theory, anyway, after having spent some time this past fall aboard the new HR 40 Mark II, a handsome center-cockpit bluewater cruiser from Sweden’s largest production boatbuilder.

As CW’s Boat of the Year judge Tim Murphy put it after our dockside inspection and subsequent sea trial during the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, “As far as fit and finish down below, this is, bar none, the one that I would most like to live in.”

The Mark II incorporates several changes to the company’s popular 40-footer that’s been in production for about a decade. The boat we sailed was hull number 164. In comparison to the Mark I, it has a slightly taller (25 centimeters), three-spreader Seldén rig; more headroom under the boom thanks to a deeper cockpit; minor changes down below to provide more headroom in the walkthrough to the spacious aft cabin; and several additional features such as ports embedded in the hull, a removable stainless-steel sprit for asymmetrical sails, adjustable-from-the-cockpit fairleads for the optional 140 percent genoa (a 100 percent working jib comes standard) and, on the boat we sailed, a roller-furling main.

Down below, designer Germán Frers’ original drawings were tweaked to allow for four possible layouts. We saw the standard interior with settees on each side of the saloon and a drop-leaf table in between; the aft cabin was ­fitted out with a double berth to port and single sea berth to starboard. Other layouts replace the portside settee in the saloon with a pair of captain chairs with a cocktail table in between, and in the aft cabin, a double berth to port with seating to starboard or a centerline double berth with seating to either side.

In all the interiors, the well-­appointed galley is located to port at the foot of the companionway, opposite the nav station. Forward of the saloon, there is a large hanging locker and vanity to port just aft of the V-berth, and a head with separate shower to starboard.

As with all sailboats, size, accommodations and equipment compete. The HR 40 MK II packs a lot into a 40-foot hull. While one sailor might find some spaces tight, another would call them cozy, which was the case with our BOTY judges. With several of us aboard, the bimini and canvas dodger made the cockpit feel cramped during our dockside visit; I found when sailing (with the bimini down) and with fewer of us taking up space, that I enjoyed the room behind the wheel, and I appreciated the easy access to the Lewmar sheet winches when trimming sails.

Construction of the HR 40 is top-notch, as it should be on a boat that, well-equipped, sells for $520,000 (base price is $427,000). The hull is solid fiberglass to the waterline and then cored above it, as is the deck, with Divinycell foam to keep weight down and provide insulation for heat and sound purposes. A layer of ­vinylester resin is added behind the ­gelcoat to prevent blistering, and the bottom comes from the factory with two coats of epoxy primer beneath the antifouling paint. Unfortunately on the day of our test sail, the breeze took a holiday. Even so, the wheel and rod-linked steering was smooth and responsive, and in about 5 knots of wind with the optional screecher set on a continuous-line furler, I was able to coax the speedo up to 3.

I must say, even in those light conditions, I was smitten. I left the HR 40 MK II longing for a few of those 20-hour days filled with breeze and sunlight along a secluded coastline.

Mark Pillsbury is CW’s editor.