If today we can still enjoy so many great boats that have survived the last century, Classic Boats excellent boats still capable of excitement, credit is undoubtedly due to the hands and minds behind their creation. We have already seen some of the great designers behind the signatures, but, if these boats have since seen the light of day, it is certainly also thanks to the shipyards behind them, enlightened realities capable of maintaining quality standards that are still commendable today. To celebrate them as well, then, here is a new series of articles intended to offer a glimpse into their history and some of the greatest projects they have been able to accomplish. Let’s start with a Scandinavian must-have,
Classic Boats and Shipyards: the saga of the Hallberg Rassy
Almost a statement in itself, Hallberg Rassy is, for sailing, a name and a guarantee. It is the yard of great bluewater, of comfortable and safe boats, boats conceived and designed to take us anywhere, oblivious of all logic and ratings dictated by racing handicaps. Whether they then perform on par with many others, if not better, are details. But the history of the shipyard, as well as its early models-those pre-1980s, pre-dating the arrival of
– are notions that are often, instead, lost behind the luster of the name. Also because the Hallberg Rassy saga was born before Hallberg Rassy himself even existed.
The Hallberg Rassy story begins in two parallel strands, with the distinct experiences of two key figures-Harry Hallberg and Christoph Rassy, great designers and entrepreneurs who, against all odds, would never work together.
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The first part of this saga originated in Sweden, in 1943, when Harry Hallberg opened his shipyard in Kungsviken. Here he designs and builds wooden boats, unique pieces that are able to meet with some success. The real turning point, however, came with the 1960s, when Hallberg fully understood the advantages of fiberglass, pioneering this shift toward serial production. Here was born the first major success, produced in 536 examples over the course of 19 years: theHallberg P-28, a wooden design from ’55 converted to fiberglass production from ’63 onward.
In parallel with the early 1960s, a young Christoph Rassy began his career as a shipbuilder, soon moving out on his own. In search of a suitable space, he purchased the Hallberg facilities in Kungsviken, with the site of the same name having just moved to new spaces in Ellös. Thus, from ’65 to ’72 there is a strand of direct competition between the two yards.
Birth of a myth
In 1972 Harry Hallberg retired, giving up the shipyard. Rassy, seeking larger facilities, seized the opportunity and purchased the Ellös complex, creating the Hallberg Rassy brand, capitalizing on the reputation the acquired yard already enjoyed. This is the period of Enderlein’s big hits, small masterpieces such as the
and the small but high-performance
In 1974, the first real Hallberg Rassy entered the production lines, the
, still the shipyard’s biggest bestseller: more than 900 built in just eight years. This was followed by theHallberg Rassy 41, signed by Enderlein in 1975. It is the yard’s first true bluewater, strong with a central cockpit, rich interior and equipped with every comfort.
Thus began the saga of the ultimate cruiser, immediately set with a second great success, the iconic
Hallberg Rassy 38
(top image), the first to bear the distinctive blue stripe under the sickle cap. A string of successes repeated until 1985, with Enderlein’s last signature hull, the
Hallberg Rassy 382
, marking the end of a great first season.
Hallberg Rassy. The association with Germán Frers
1988 saw a new trendsetter dominate the market. It is the
Hallberg Rassy 45
, overall winner of the ARC and the first H.R. signed by the infallible Germán Frers. The hull is fast and streamlined, strong with particularly marine lines and a new Divinycell hull lamination system, a solution that not only strengthens the structures but also implements significant thermal insulation. It is the birth of a new era for the shipyard, a golden age that will see some of the greatest projects ever born from this pairing.
The following year the success is replicated, with Frers signing the
. It will be produced in more than 600 copies. It is the litmus test. This is followed by the great classics such as the
Hallberg Rassy 46
, yacht of the year in 1995, projects that crowned and consolidated the collaboration with the Argentine designer, which is still uninterrupted, with the
new Hallberg Rassy 69
ready to see the water next year.
A total success, in short, and one that does not stop, replicating itself time after time throughout the 2000s as well, on the strength of the most commonplace and long-lived formula in history: quality, quality, quality. Where the raison d’être of any project is ultimately the pleasure of navigation for its own sake.
Three “tidbits” about Classic Boats
- Want to learn more about the world of Classic Boats (1967-1998), the iconic boats of the period, the legendary designers, the stories and races of the “golden age” of sailing? Check out our section dedicated to Classic Boats!
- Do you have a Classic Boat to sell? Put it (for free) on our classifieds market!
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