erhaps because I spend the majority of my time living aboard a sailboat in New England, I enjoy a warm and bright cabin where I can retreat on a cold, gray day. And since most of my sailing takes place with just a couple of us aboard, I appreciate boats that are easy to tack and handle but still spirited when the breeze is on. After visiting the Hallberg-Rassy 412 with our Boat of the Year judges during last year’s U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, I was able to check off both those boxes, and then some. On the day of our dockside visit, there was a nasty rain falling, so it could have been steamy and uncomfortable with several of us down below and the hatches closed tight against the weather. Instead, thanks to a pair of cabin-top vents, fresh air circulated through the saloon, and light poured in from an overhead fore-and-aft-opening hatch and ports in the cabin sides and hull. “Great ventilation. I starred this one,” noted BOTY judge Bill Bolin. And later, when we went sailing? Let’s just say there was a good-natured fight over who got to drive. In a decent breeze of 10 to 11 knots, the 412’s powerful main and slightly overlapping jib sent us skipping upwind closehauled at 7.3 knots. I like to sit to leeward when steering, and I found my perch quite comfortable, and better yet, the double-ended mainsheet was at my fingertips on either tack. Coming about singlehanded was not a problem either, with winches for the jib sheets within reach, and I found sight lines forward and across the cabin top to be quite good. I must say, after sailing mostly twin-helm boats with relatively small wheels on recent sea trials, it was a nice change of pace to have a large-diameter helm that responded instantly to fingertip pressure. A rudder post set in a pair of self-aligning bearings helped too.