Every year, sailboat manufacturers around the world launch their latest models, and every year, American magazine SAIL’s experienced boat reviewers spend days and weeks learning what’s new, talking with boatbuilders, examining the boats top to bottom dockside, and finally taking them sailing. This culminates at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, where Sail magazines review team gets together and makes its final assessments on which boats earn top honors. Results are announced in the January/February issue, and full reviews of the winning boats will be published throughout the year.
Sail magazine writes: Hallberg-Rassy’s newest addition, the 400, quickly follows the Germán Frers-designed center-cockpit 40C, incorporating the good looks and proven elements of plumb bow for maximum waterline, integral bowsprit, and twin rudders in an aft-cockpit version that seamlessly marries traditional bluewater cruising experience with contemporary design and interior trends. Combined with this Swedish builder’s reputation for bulletproof construction, the result is a powerful, elegant, fun, go-anywhere machine.
Hallberg-Rassy’s ethos has long been that comfort and sailability add up to safe, happy sailors, and the 400 manifests this inside and out. Though it follows its contemporaries with twin helms, this boat’s cockpit feels ergonomically sensible and safe while still providing all the entertaining room one needs. Everything is practical and uncluttered, geared to making sailhandling straightforward for one or two people.
This carries through the sailplan as well; the headsail can be either slightly overlapping or self-tacking (a Code 0 is optional), and the mainsail traditional slab reefing or in-mast furling; on our test boat in Annapolis, the vertically battened Elvstrøm main reefed easily with the Seldén in-mast system. A split Dyneema backstay with simple but forceful block adjustment, coupled with the mainsheet traveler forward of the companionway, allow for maximum sail trim and control (and tweakable fun).
Below, offshore features such as beautifully crafted fiddles that double as beefy handholds and comfy settees that quickly transform into secure sea berths are coupled with a flexible layout. Owners can opt for one or two heads and two or three sleeping cabins; the forward cabin comes in three different layouts, including an owner’s version with centerline double bed and en-suite head with shower. Serious cruisers can convert an aft cabin into an enormous work and storage space.
For many sailors, Hallberg-Rassy means proven offshore experience and pure sailing chops delivered in a solid, thoughtful, handsome whole. The 400 continues that legacy with this flexible layout and competitively priced package.