We wet but willing Boat of the Year judges flopped like flying fish onto the deck of the Hallberg-Rassy 37. The underway transfer from our Ribcraft might have gone smoother had there been a gate in the lifelines, but with a wild wind whipping up the waves off Chesapeake Bay’s Thomas Point, nothing would have made the boarding easy.
We’d just come from test-sailing a vessel nearly twice the length and more than four times the displacement of the 8-ton Hallberg-Rassy. The owner of the larger boat hadn’t wanted me to test his rig in the sporty downwind conditions. When we’d come to the edge of the channel, I was forced to tack the behemoth through what my colleagues called a “chicken jibe.”
No such precautions proved necessary on this smaller but built-for-anything beauty.
Like the Swedes who manufacture it, the Hallberg-Rassy 37 is a hardy sailer. It practically scoffed at our little Chesapeake Bay nor’easter as we joyfully put it through her paces. Its design offered good directional stability, and the wheel felt light. When I finished my turn at the helm, I sat on the windward side deck, and I reveled in the exhilarating sail under the reefed, mast-furled main. A lesser vessel might have unnerved me at such an acute angle, but the boat’s solid feel instilled confidence.
The 37 is the smallest center-cockpit design the company builds. While the aft deck and wide side decks encourage movement, the three shrouds on the double-spreader rig break up the fore-and-aft flow. Once you’re in the cockpit, however, the long, ergonomically designed seats provide comfort yet are close enough together for bracing in a blow. Winches and lines are all easily accessible to the helmsman. The characteristic Hallberg-Rassy windshield provides much-appreciated protection from the elements.
The boat is touted as a well-built long-distance cruiser. While others may talk the talk, this one walks the walk. Greater than average storage and ample tankage (91 gallons of diesel and 107 of water) set the HR 37 apart from weekenders and coastal cruisers. Two sea berths fitted with lee cloths in the saloon and a foot pump in the galley are rare but welcome finds. There’ll be no cramped oil changes on this midsize cruiser. The engine room allows easy access to the service side of the four-cylinder, 54-horsepower Yanmar. A standard spare prop mounted nearby is evidence of the attention to detail for which Hallberg-Rassy is known.
In spite of the dreary weather on the day we tested it, the boat’s interior was cozy and inviting. The joinery with rounded corners oozes quality and luxury, and the honey-colored light mahogany glowed-even without the tasteful accent lighting. The galley lacks counter space, but the designers made up for it with a slide-out extension and inserts for the stove and deep double sink.
Much about the HR 37 reflects a “bigger is better” attitude. A coachroof raised slightly higher than on the popular 36-foot model gives 6-foot-4-inch headroom in addition to excellent visibility out the opening ports. The V-berth is 58 inches across, extra-wide at the foot end, and long enough for anyone less than 7 feet tall to stretch out in comfort. The aft cabin isn’t the most livable space on board, but with two berths, one has a choice whether in port or at sea. The wraparound navigation station is downright sumptuous.
A test sail of the Hallberg-Rassy 37 proves that with this model, the attention to detail is what makes it a delight. The boat’s seakindly performance gives the assurance that it can take you anywhere, and once you get aboard, that’s exactly where you’ll want to go.
Hallberg-Rassy 37 Specs
LOA: 37′ 2″ (11.33 m.)
LWL: 33′ 6″ 10.21 m.)
Beam: 11′ 8″ (3.56 m.)
Draft: 6′ 3″ (1.91 m.)
Sail Area: 744 sq. ft. (69.1 sq. m.)
Displacement: 16,500 lbs. (7,484 kg.)
Water: 107 gal. (405 l.)
Fuel: 91 gal. (344 l.)
Engine: Yanmar 4JH4E
Designer: Germán Frers
Price: $276,000 FOB Sweden
Hallberg-Rassy, (410) 867-9022, www.hallberg-rassy.se
Suzanne Giesemann is currently cruising in the Mediterranean with her husband, Ty (see www.libertysails.com). She’s written four books, including It’s Your Boat, Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water