For certain sailors, boats from Swedish builder Hallberg-Rassy are the stuff of dreams, synonymous with stout, go-anywhere yachts delivered in a gorgeous, thoughtful package that makes sailing a pleasure. Hallberg-Rassy’s newest addition, the 400, more than meets this expectation in a powerful, elegant, fun cruising machine.
The 400 follows quickly on the heels of the Germán Frers-designed center-cockpit 40C, incorporating into the new aft-cockpit version the good looks and proven elements of plumb bow for maximum waterline, integral bowsprit, and twin rudders.
Construction includes multidirectional fibers and unidirectional roving combined with traditional glass mat for maximum strength. Structural bulkheads are laminated on both sides within a load-distributing grid that extends to deck level fore and aft—the whole system providing great torsional stiffness. A steel support under the deck-stepped, three-spreader Seldén mast is molded into the fiberglass.
Except for beneath the waterline, which is solid laminate, hull and decks are insulated with Divinycell closed-cell foam, helping keep this boat comfortable in damp, cold or hot, humid conditions. The hull-to-deck joint is an overlapping laminate with no fasteners (hence no leaks).
The cockpit feels ergonomically sensible and safe while still providing all the entertaining room one needs, even with the drop-leaf centerline table. Everything is clean, practical, and uncluttered. Aft-led sail controls emerge through two banks of clutches built into both sides of the cockpit coaming, which provide wells for line tails. With four Lewmar winches on the coamings, the layout is designed to make sail handling easy for one or two people, especially when electric winches are chosen.
The mainsheet traveler is forward of the traditional H-R windshield (controls led aft), keeping the cockpit clear yet still providing extra mainsail control and trim.
Side decks and foredeck also are paragons of minimalism. Two short jib tracks with adjustable cars lie close to the cabinhouse (a self-tacking jib is also an option) keeping the side decks clear. Deck hatches are flush-mounted, and the 2-inch toerail is subtle but comforting. At the bow, the genoa’s Seldén Furlex is beneath the deck, accessed via the small forward hatch that opens onto a locker that also houses the windlass.
Below, the designers have packed a lot into this 40-footer to ensure comfort while still hewing to offshore sailing needs. Safety features such as beautifully crafted fiddles that double as beefy handholds and plush settees that quickly transform into secure sea berths are seamless parts of a saloon that is warm, contemporary, and bright, finished in light khaya mahogany.
The portside galley of course has hot and cold pressure water to the deep, twin stainless steel sinks, but also the option for a manual pump that can be plumbed to fresh or raw water. Opposite, the traditional nav station (yay for a lifting chart table!) provides an expansive workspace and easy access to the electrical panel that, when opened, reveals immaculate attention to detail (each boat is delivered with an individual wiring diagram).
All tankage is low and centered. Access to the Volvo Penta D2-60 is via the companionway steps and panels in each aft cabin; there’s plenty of room in here to add the optional genset and perform routine maintenance.
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. Options include bow and stern thrusters, genset, air conditioning, watermaker, washing machine, and extra fridge or freezer.
Our test sail day in Annapolis was ideal—10-18 knots of wind in flat water. One would expect a boat with this pedigree to sail beautifully in these conditions, and she did, easily ticking over between 7 and 8.5 knots on all points of sail. At 40 degrees apparent in 11 knots true we made 8.1 with a finger’s touch on the helm. Visibility from both helms was excellent, even for a 5-foot-4-inch sailor, and a subtle pop-up foot support provided a nice brace when heeling.
Our test boat had the standard 110% jib, easy to tack. The standard boat’s mainsail is traditional slab reefing with lazy jacks; on our test boat, the vertically battened Elvstrøm main and the Seldén in-mast system made short work of reefing down 10% to go upwind in the puffy breeze and later shaking it out off the wind. Likewise, the split Dyneema backstay with a simple yet forceful block-and-tackle adjustment just behind the helm provided yet another way to tweak for maximum sail trim.
Under power, the H-R 400 turned in a boatlength quickly and tightly to port and starboard. With the 60-hp Volvo turning the three-blade Gori propeller on a saildrive, we made 7.1 knots at 2,300 rpm. Below, decibels measured in at quiet 71dBA. At low speeds, the handling was extremely responsive, and our test boat’s bow and stern thrusters made simple work of sidling into the dock, even in the puffy harbor breeze.
This boat can take you anywhere, for a very long time, in safety, comfort, and understated style, effortlessly balancing well-proven offshore elements and pure sailing chops. Go ahead—dream a little dream.
Draft 6’4” (deep), 5’6”(shoal)
Displacement (empty, standard) 24,250 lbs
Sail Area (standard) 970 sq ft
Power Volvo Penta D2-60, 60hp
Designer Germán Frers
Builder Hallberg-Rassy, Ellös, Sweden
Price in October 2022: Base in Sweden $480,000. U.S. delivery $622,000