The Hallberg-Rassy Yard

The yard in Ellos, Sweden

Hallberg-Rassy is a Swedish company founded and run by a German expatriate, Christophe Rassy, and his family. The yard (don't call it a factory!) is in the village of Ellos, on the island of Orust on the West coast of Sweden just about 60 miles north of Gothenburg. The island of Orust has been a center of boat building activity in Sweden for decades if not centuries. Currently the island is home for 10 or so Swedish boat building companies, the most successful of which is Hallberg-Rassy.

HR, or it's predecessor companies have been building boats for some forty years and building fiber glass boats for some thirty five years. Through the 1980's they had earned a reputation for building boats that were among the strongest, the most "cruiser friendly" in the world. Their boats had also earned the reputation of being a little on the slow side.

In the late 1980's HR contracted the well known Argentinean naval architect, German (say "Herman") Frers to redesign the entire HR line of boats. Frers had achieved a world wide reputation for designing performance hulls. He designed many custom hulls which were built by yards all over the world. He also owned a yard in Buenos Aires where he built many of his own designs. His forte was fast hulls. Cruiser friendly concepts like living space, comfort, storage, sea kindliness etc were of secondary importance in Frers' designs.

So the entire line of one of the world's premier builders of awesome cruising boats, boats which happened to be a little slow, was to be redesigned by one of the world's premier designers of performance hulls, hulls which happened to be a little uncomfortable and otherwise not excellent for cruising.

Consider what the risks were in this merger of skills and capabilities. The potential outcomes were boats that were:

Fast and uncomfortable ... just another racer.
Slow and comfortable ... HR was already building them... borrrrring!
Slow and uncomfortable ... Boats which sailed like a cruiser and lived like a racer ... disaster!
Fast and comfortable ... Boats which performed well and lived like a cruiser ... awesome!

So, how did it work out? You know how it worked out! Starting with the HR 45 in 1989 Hallberg-Rassy has produced approximately 1500 boats to the Frers design. Currently they produce 200 boats in 220 work days per year. Arguably, they build the best line of production cruising boats in the world. (I said arguably!)

For the complete story take a look at the Hallberg-Rassy web site.


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