Thursday, February 15, 2018


A design comparison since while the Amel has been on the water already for some years, the Halberg Rassy 57 is being built. Even so, looking at the design data, much can be said regarding the similarities and differences between the two boats, if we know how to interpret them.

Looking at the new Halberg-Rassy we can say that they changed for good, leaving definitively old outdated designs and proposing contemporary state of the art designs for bluewater sailing.

The first ones to be congratulated for this are the boat designer and the director of the company, both sons of the ones that preceded them and that are the main responsible for this change on Halberg Rassy character, once very conservative sailboats, now modern ones.

And of course, the clients deserve congratulations too because if they had stuck to the outdated designs it would be impossible for Halberg-Rassy to have maintained this direction that started with the 372, already 8 years ago.

Some brands, like Amel, embraced contemporary design without maintaining the good things those old designs had, namely a very good seaworthiness with great safety stability and a great AVS but that was not the case with Halberg Rassy. In what regards that the differences between the Amel 55 and the new Halberg Rassy 57 are simply huge.

Both boats have similar bulbed keels, the Halberg Rassy has more draft as standard, 2.43 to 2.20m (and more draft potentiates ballast) having the Rassy 35% B/D and the Amel 55 27% B/D. If we chose to have a Rassy with only 2.20m draft (like the Amel 55) then the B/D would be considerably higher than 35% to compensate the RM.

In what regards B/D there is a huge difference that  is proportional to the difference on reserve stability, AVS and inverted stability between the two boats.

But we know that such difference, even if very important to boat seaworthiness, does not translate necessarily in a big advantage in what regards sailing. Today, with beamy hulls, only on stronger conditions that extra B/D would make a difference and the excess of weight, due to more ballast, can have a negative effect on light wind or downwind performance.

And in fact the HR 57 (a bigger boat too) is heavier, 28T to 21.8 but that difference in weight is proportionally much less than the difference between the ballast of the two boats (9.9T to 5.9T). Besides ballast and ballast CG the other big factors for stability are beam, hull shape and weight.

Being the HR heavier, having much more ballast, with a lower ballast CG, having a hull shape that increases hull form stability and being considerably beamier (5.11 to 4.14m) the overall stability of the Halberg Rassy is much bigger. If we add that to the much better reserve stability, bigger AVS, smaller inverted stability and ability to sail better on strong conditions we will have a more seaworthy boat and a much better bluewater boat.

Regarding speed on light conditions does the much bigger ballast and superior displacement mean that the lighter and narrower Amel 55 will be faster on those conditions? Beam, on light wind conditions, has some negative consequences even if not as much as weight and in what regards both counts the Amel has less so it would only need a bit less SA/D to match the Halberg Rassy performance, assuming a similar D/L.

But if the differences regarding SA/D are not very big (HR has 20.1, Amel has 19.8) the differences regarding D/L are very considerable, being the HR a lighter boat (165.6 to 185.5) if we consider as we should the LWL.

Since the entries on the HR don’t seem less finer than the ones on the Amel (even if the boat is beamier) I would say that the performance in light wind with the standard sails should be very similar  but using a code 0 the HR would be faster, since it can carry much more sail area (much more stability). 

In fact these boats compared with their older sisters sail remarkably well in light wind. The HR announces 8.75 knots in a 90 degree true wind angle with 10 knots true wind and that is a good sail performance. On medium and strong conditions the Halberg Rassy will be faster or much faster and also easier to sail fast downwind on autopilot due to more beam and transom’s shape.

Both  are good looking boats with different sail layouts and different interiors both with a very good build quality, with several interior layout options. Lots of storage with space for everything, from the washing machine to the AC and generator. The tankage is good, all the systems are designed for push button sailing making these boats easy to sail for a duo crew or even solo and both have a big engine that will give them a motor-sailor capacity.

If the sailing program is coastal sailing with offshore passages, transats or circumnavigations on low latitudes and on the right season choosing between one or the other is a question of taste. But if someone wishes to have a boat that if things go wrong can have an outstanding behavior and performance, if the program includes sailing on high latitudes or out of the season, the obvious choice is the Halberg Rassy 57.

The funny thing here is that the Amel is the one that has the fame of being a great bluewater boat (due to past models) while in fact, if we look at the contemporary models, it is the Halberg Rassy that is by far a better boat in what concerns bluewater sailing on adverse conditions.


  1. Why not mention the twin spade rudders of the HR vs the skeged rudder of the Amel?

    1. I did not refer the difference in rudders because it is secondary in what regards the difference between the two boats in what regards seaworthiness and sail performance in bad weather.

      In what regards rudder design and performance the twin rudders of the HR57 are several steeps ahead of the Amel 55 rudder. Amel has recognized this since on their last design, the Amel 50 they use already twin rudders similar to the ones on the HR.

      I assume you are new to the blog since I had already made a post about rudder design were all this is explained:

  2. Considered as a bluewater boat the HR57 is kind of disappointing if you compare the stability curve of the older HR55 to the HR57 the AVS is quite poor and approx. 10 degrees lower compared to the HR55. Also the important righting force at 90 degrees (touch down) develops the same force than at 18 degrees only! The same figure for the HR55 lies clearly above 30 degrees.

  3. You should be kidding, if you call the 120º AVS of the HR57 poor what would you call to the Amel 55 AVS that should be between 110 and 115º degrees?LOL

    Bigger boats don't need an AVS as big as smaller ones since the chances of a capsize are smaller and that is taken into account on what is demanded by the RCD in what regards AVS. An AVS of 120 º is a good one for a boat of this size and weight.

    I don't know if the stability curves are comparable since they have modified the way they are calculated for the RCD. On the time of the certification of the 55 only one curve was needed while on the 57 two curves are demanded.

    But I do know that the stability curve on the 57 is wrong: the curve with the boat on full load has to have a bigger RM (as it is the case) but a smaller AVS and on this case it has a bigger AVS and that is obviously impossible.

    Anyway looking at the data from the two boats I don't believe on that difference on the AVS. Probably they are very close and certainly the 57 has a lot more RM at 25º, a bigger Max RM while the RM at 90º should be very similar as well the inverted stability proportion.

    Meaning that the 57 is as good as the 55 in what regards seaworthiness and it is a faster and more powerful boat.

    If you have doubts ask HR and I am quite sure they will tell you the same I am saying even if they should be a bit embarrassed with that mistake on the stability curve. LOL

  4. Thx Paulo. Your detailed answer is much appreciated!

  5. Hi Paulo, Just wondering if Amels lower centre of effort is a factor that should be considered with regards to stability at sea?

    1. Regarding the sail lower center of effort it is all relative. If you are sailing with bad weather you carry very little sail and the difference will be minimal.

      You don't want to have two main sails up to have to worry about. You want to keep it simple and will be sailing with just a bit of sail forward on most cases.

      That was nothing to do with the AVS and final boat stability that are not used for sailing but when the boat is brought by wind or waves to a heeling over the max RM point, normally between 50 and 60º.

      A boat with a big final stability will recover quickly from an heeling over that point, namely one that brings the boat near 90º.

      A boat with a not so good final stability will take much more time to recover and in the meantime the yacht it is exposed to more waves in a heeling situation where the boat has very little stability, taking the risk of inversion.

      The Figaro 2 is a racer with a good final stability. I remember that once on a transat one was knocked down flat on the water while having a considerably amount of sail up. It took almost half an hour for the sailor to recover the boat to the upside position.

      Off course, an Amel 55 would be much harder to capsize but all boats are small in what regards some wind and sea conditions and if that happens to an Amel the boat would not behave better than the Figaro 2, quite the contrary.

  6. It all depends in the way you are going to use the yacht. It is a big boat and it would not make any sense to say that a an Oceanis 55, that would not have a very different final stability, would have any problem sailing offshore, or crossing oceans, in what regards stability.

    The big difference will be sailing upwind closed hauled with strong wind. On that situation I have no doubt the Halberg Rassy will sail much better. It is important also in situations that some sailors would never experience, like sailing in really bad conditions.

    Personally with more than 30 000 nautical miles I only have been in two circumstances where that would have matter to safety, one on a F10 situation while sailing almost perpendicular to 7 to 8 meter, very vertical waves, some breaking and another time I when I was caught by some weird meteorological phenomena that capsize me flat on the water for several minutes with winds out of the scale.

    Regarding needing power to go upwind against waves I experience it a lot, every year, specially because I don't mind, I would say I even like to do that.

    In fact in choosing my actual boat that good performance upwind with bad weather was a main requisite exactly because I like to do that and my previous boat was not able to do it. It is also a safety factor if you find yourself pinned against a coast.

    I don't have doubts that for most that will buy an Amel 55 that will not be a problem since they would be using the boat in a very light way and had bought the boat mainly due to its high quality interior, global good quality and good handling motoring.

    Now, if you use the boat to sail extensively and not always in good conditions, if you know that you will sail upwind with medium to heavy weather, it makes good sense to buy the Halberg Rassy or one of the many luxury boats that offer a good final stability, a good AVS and more sail power under these circumstances and they are many.

    In fact in what regards what some call luxury boats other blue water boats, the Amel is an exception in what regards final stability and AVS that is not similar to the ones of boats of the same category (and price) but more similar to the ones of cheaper mass production boats like Jeanneau or Beneteau.

    1. Hi Paulo!
      Thanks for such a great blog! I'm learning a lot with you.
      Just a personal question: if money was not a problema, what are your 5 favourite blue water boats?
      Kind regards,

    2. Hi Cristiano.

      Tricky question. First of all the boat that I would chose for myself is certainly not the boat that most would chose. I like very sportive fast sailboats with comfortable interior, powerful boats with a great stability.

      Most would prefer to the extra fun of sailing a fast boat, the more sedate comfort of a medium weight sailboat.

      And finally that concept of a bluewater boat is also a variable one. Some will call a bluewater boat the one that has strength, stability and storage for sailing bluewater without problems or concerns, others will understand it as a boat very adapted do sail on Arctic or Antarctic waters, a thing that I will never be interesting in doing (it is too cold for me there) or a boat able to pass several months away from "civilization" sailing in very remote places and regarding that, even if I like to be alone on anchorages, I don´t like to pass many days without going to a Snack-Bar, café or a restaurant and they are hard to find in remote places LOL

      Some will like to sail on cold climates and on the winter with rain and for those a boat that can be sailed from the inside makes all the sense. I don't like rain, I don't sail on the winter and I like to be outside when I sail.

      Think of me as a motorcycle man (in fact I raced them) so sailing from the inside of the boat has no appeal to me, neither sailing in the rain.

      Off course, all these are personal choices that would be very different from the ones of most people and that's why your question has little sense, unless for someone with my tastes and that is not very usual. Let me say also that this blog is not only about boats that fit my personal needs but about boats that are interesting to many other sailors with different tastes, the ones that would chose different sailboats.

      Also, I am a cruiser (that likes to sail) so, for me bluewater means the possibilities of cruising faraway places, not sailing around the world nonstop and that means I would favor a boat with a lifting keel or with a swing keel or even a catamaran. Not a centerboard with all ballast inside the boat because that would make it a relatively heavy and slow boat.

      The choices become more limited with these parameters and even more if I say that I like a lot to sail on the med where the upwind potential is very important.

      I would say that probably I would chose a JPK 45 with a swing keel or an Oceantec 50 with a lifting keel (assuming that the interior will be good) or an Ice 52 with a lifting keel. A Cigale 16 with a swing keel or a FC3 53 would be a choice too if I was interested in a circumnavigation (both less good upwind).

      For a circumnavigation a Outremer 5x would be very interesting too, but the big beam would make it difficult to find places on small ports and marinas.

      Regarding cats I would not have it smaller (even if this one is too big regarding interior space) due stability concerns. Again, very personal. Cat sailors with light and fast cats have to be prudent and conservative and I am not very good on any of those items so for me, if light and fast, only a big one and even so my wife would be hard to convince.

      I would not be interested in boats much bigger than 50ft and those I have mentioned with a bit more are already stretching a bit what I consider reasonable to sail solo that is the way I sail mostly (with a small help from my wife).

      Sure, one can sail much bigger boats solo but what if the mechanical aids stop working or if something goes wrong? The sails are just huge to be dealt by a single person unless one is a top sailor. Not my case.

      But what is really tricky is finding the money to buy and maintain a boat like that, including costs on marinas. LOL