Tuesday, April 27, 2021


Apparently, the logical choice would be to compare the Hallberg Rassy 40C with the Najad 395CC, the other recent 40ft central cockpit on the market (2018), but I really dislike the Najad to the point of finding the previous model, the Najad 410 (2009), more elegant and with a nicer interior.

Najad 395CC, above, Saare 41CC2, below HR40C

I find it hard that someone would spend a small fortune on an ugly boat and because the HR is a beautiful boat with a very nice interior, it is difficult to understand how the Najad 395CC would be an option, not to mention that the HR sails better and faster, being less heavy and having more sail area. 

So, instead of making what seems a useless comparison with a boat that I don't find interesting, I prefer to compare it with a boat that I like, an older and less known boat, the Saare 41CC2. 

The "2" stands for an MKII version that arrived a few years ago and provided the Saare with a much better-looking interior, with an option for light European oak, which is really an improvement over the dark mahogany of the first boats. 

The hull is from 2008 but the MKII, besides the better-looking interior, has improved outside storage, with a bigger sail-locker. The interior storage was also improved with a big wet locker (accessible from the outside) as well as more overall storage cabinets.

The interior finish and layout were always good but the lighter wood, and some improvements in design, really make it not only look better, besides being almost perfect in regards to functionality. One great addition was the freezer that occupies the center of the saloon table. It looks not only nice and integrated as it is a great idea to store at hand the cold beer and white wine, a perfect location to keep on drinking, while seated at the table with friends.

In regards to sailing potential what matters are the boat dimensions and technical characteristics: the Saare is a bit longer with a 12.50m hull length to 12.30m, but the HR has a bigger LWL, with 11.74 for 11.20m, due mostly to a more modern bow design. But the bigger difference regards beam and displacement, having the Saare a 3.92 beam for 4.18m on the HR, and while the Saare displaces 9500kg the HR displaces 1500kg more (11000kg).

The keels are of a similar design, bulbed lead keels, with the Saare having just a bit more draft (2.00 to 1.92m). The Saare has a 41.1%B/D the HR a 33.2% B/D. The bigger displacement will give the HR bigger overall stability but the Saare has a better AVS, over 130º, one that starts to be unusual, and a better dynamic and safety stability.

Above HR40C, below Saare 41CC2
It is true that the HR has a more modern hull, but in this case, the difference in the type of hull is much more important than an eventually small hull evolution in design. Besides the Saare hull was designed by Karl-Johan Stråhlmann, best known for designing fast-cruiser racers, among them the Finngulf, and it is a very nice hull, from the family of the one of the new J45, and not very different.

In regards to sailing power/weight, the Saare compensates the HR bigger hull stability with a superior RM coming from the keel, due not only to more draft but also to a bigger B/D. But it is in what regards power/drag that the Saare will make the difference in performance to the HR, having less wetted area, due to being lighter, finner entries, less beam and a transom designed to minimize drag, especially in lighter winds and upwind.

Less displacement, less drag and almost the same sail area upwind (Saare 87.6, HR 90.1m2) will give the Saare a superior sailing performance, especially upwind and in lighter wind situations. But most of all it is necessary to understand that the yachts will sail in a different way, the Saare (out of the light wind) with more heel, to be able to take advantage of the bigger B/D, with more roll downwind, and having a more comfortable motion upwind with waves, slamming less.

On top Saare 41CC, above HR40C
With medium-high to high winds, on a beam reach or downwind, the HR will have a very good performance, being easier on the auto-pilot, sailing with less heel, less roll on the waves and probably going at the same speed as the Saare. Upwind, on those conditions, the Saare will sail faster, closer to the wind, slamming less, even if with more heel. Under lighter winds, the Saare will always be faster, no matter the point of sail.

So, it is up to you to know what the conditions are in which you sail most, and if sailing with some more degrees of heel is or isn't a problem, to know what type of hull and type of boat will suit you better. But one thing is for sure, you will have to use the engine more often on the HR, due to his worst performance in light winds.

It is fair to say that the HR offers optionally more sail area (96.6m2) but the Saare is much more adapted to use a big genoa (135%) as a forward sail. The genoa track is over the cabin is much more centered than the one on the HR (that is on the deck on a beamier hull). Using or not a big genoa as the standard sail has all to do with the setup you will use for lighter wind: You can use a 135% genoa for light and heavier wind (furled), or a 105% genoa for heavier wind and a gennaker or code 0 for light winds.

The genoa on the Saare will certainly give it a much better-pointed ability than a Code 0 on the Hallberg Rassy. A Code 0 with a 105% genoa is probably a better solution in what regards overall performance, although not in all situations. But having two sails instead of one, being one of them huge and removable, gives a lot more work, especially if the crew is an old couple or inexperienced sailors. 

Compared to a 135% genoa it is not as practical, demanding frequent changes of sail, versus furling the genoa. Out of sportive sailors, I see almost no cruising boats of this size sailed by aged couples using gennaker or Code 0. Something you should take into consideration when choosing the sail setup you are going to use on the boat. A big genoa gives a bit more work tacking, but nothing compared with the extra work for using two sails. On smaller and lighter boats the much smaller sail size makes the 2nd option more practical. 

Anyway, for using the gennaker or code 0 the HR40C comes already with a very nicely designed integrated bowsprit, one that has the disadvantage of increasing the boat size for marinas, making them more expensive (42.9ft versus 41ft for the Saare). 

The Saare offers optionally a less nice, but more practical, traditional nordic designed bowsprit/bow platform, that with the use of an integrated small stair allows easy access to the boat from the bow. 

This allows on marinas that do not have a lateral pontoon, like the ones on the med, to have the yacht bow to the pontoon, preserving the intimacy of the cockpit from passing pedestrians.

Both come standard with one-line reefing through the boom, the HR with 3 winches, the Saare with 6. The beamier HR has a twin rudder system the Saare has a deeper single one, and both offer standard about the same equipment, more than what it is normal on less expensive sailboats.

The Saare offers true deck ventilators, a very rare thing on yachts these days, particularly with this dimension. The ones forward are protected by a bench that is also useful to reach the boom and the mainsail. These ventilators while being unnecessary on hot summer days, are very useful to sail or live on the boat out of season, particularly on rainy days.

Both boats offer the same engine as standard, a 60hp Volvo Penta, with the possibility of having optionally a 75hp engine. The HR40C offers as tankage 400L diesel and 520L water while the Saare offers 320+100L diesel and 300+100L water, being the extra 100L an option.

Regarding layout, the Saare offers a better one and it is truly a 2 cabin, 2 head yacht, being both heads accessible from the cabins. The HR is a two cabin one-head boat and to make things worse, the single head is on the yacht's opposite side of the main cabin.

The galleys are of a different design but both are big and with a lot of storage, both chart tables are also big, good and of similar size. Due to the bigger beam, the saloon is wider on the HR, allowing for an optional solution with two very nice armchairs, while the Saare has a traditional saloon solution similar to the one in the standard HR.

But besides the two cabins - two heads solution, where the Saare really makes the difference is on the outside storage space, which is much bigger than on the HR. Not only the bow locker is much bigger, with a separate big hatch, a true sail locker, as the wet locker is much bigger than the one on the HR, and being accessed from the outside,  it can be used to store fenders or other material.

On top HR40C, above Saare 41CC2
The two stern storage spaces on the Saare are also considerably bigger than the ones on the HR. On the HR they chose to use more lateral space in the king-size cabin, which is bigger than the one on the Saare, at the cost of the exterior storage and also due to a larger transom.

While considering the outside storage space, I would not have a problem doing extended cruising on the Saare, I would not be happy doing the same with what the HR offers, and I am not the type that sails or lives with a lot of stuff, but as all that live for long periods on a sailboat and stay considerable periods at anchor know, a lot of material is needed, from ropes to fenders, to maintenance and cleaning products, bucket and bowls, tools, spares, sometimes bicycles or scooters, a big shade for the cockpit, a geenaker and so on.

Saare 41CC2 sail locker
But, even if I prefer the Saare in many aspects, I have to agree that the HR40C interior and exterior looks are very hard to beat and on both counts, I would say that the HR looks better than the Saare. While the Saare is a bit too much "classical" the HR looks decidedly modern and up-to-date. Who would have imagined that from HR a decade ago? You can judge by yourself and see both interiors in virtual reality in the two links below:



HR40C -
European oak
Regarding the outside, the more classical approach of the Saare is not without appeal, with very clean lines. In the inside, it is not a question of quality and finish, but truly a question of superior design quality, and I am not talking about style but how well a given style is worked on.

I don't find the Saare interior badly designed but the one of the Hallberg Rassy is of exceptional design quality and as saloon space, the optional layout with the two armchairs is really perfect for a boat of this size. The one of the Saare has at least a similar quality of finish, it is cozy and nice but has not the same appeal. One would find it very nice before seeing and falling in love with the one of the HR.

41CC2 - mahogany version
But if the HR interior design is better, in what concerns hull deck and structure, the Saare is built with better materials and better techniques. Not meaning that HR has not a high-quality building, but while more money is spent by HR on the interior looks, more money is spent by Saare in building the hull, and that's why the Saare weighs 1500kg less than the HR.

The Hallberg Rassy uses polyester resins with vinylester only on the outside coat, the Saare is built entirely using vynilester based epoxy resins. While HR uses a hand lay-up method, Saare uses vacuum infusion technology, and that allows for a perfect fiber saturation using less resin, with a final product that is lighter, and at least as good as the one using the hand-laid method. The better quality vinylester resin also allows savings in weight, for the same composite strength.

41CC2 - oak version
Both yachts use composite sandwich hulls and decks, using the same core material, Divinycel, which is a high-quality foam. On the keel area and engine area as well as in all through the hull passages, solid monolithic laminate is used. 

The boat structure is not very different, in both cases a solid GRP structure, that is strongly laminated to the hull. Both use marine-grade plywood for bulkheads, that are bonded and laminated to the hull. The deck is also bonded and laminated to the hull.

Probably because it is made in Estonia, one of the Baltic small countries, the Saare 41CC2, even if slightly bigger, is a bit less expensive than the Hallberg Rassy 40C, which is made in Sweden, where manpower is more expensive. 

Saare 41CC2 structure: remarkably well laminated

But it is not a huge difference, because both boats are very similar in quality, and quality does not come cheap. The Halberg Rassy costs about 420 000 € and the Saare about 400 000 €, both prices standard, on the shipyard and without VAT.

I find that for many sailing programs a Saare 41CC2 would make more sense than the Hallberg Rassy 41C, but the fact that HR is a very prestigious brand and the Saare has a slightly outdated look, will make the HR 40C much more popular as a choice. 

HR 40C hull structure
One can only hope that Saare decides to substitute the 41 CC2 for a 42fter, a sailboat with similar characteristics but with a more modern transom and bow, an integrated bowsprit and a more modern look. And if possible with a more modern keel that would make it even lighter and faster. 

Why a 42ft boat? Because with a bigger cockpit, a slightly bigger technical space, a dedicated locker for the liferaft on the transom and a swimming platform, this boat would be even better. The problem with small boat builders is that due to much smaller production, the costs of having a new model are proportionally much bigger than on a big or medium production builder, which can distribute those costs for many more sailboats. But one can dream ;-)


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  2. Just wanted to say thank you for your very educational and interesting blog. I learn a lot from each post. Appreciate your time and contributions to the community.

    One ask, if I may - your sailboat specific reviews or jumping off points are great and include many industry trends and analyses. It would be neat if you wanted to make some longitudinal conclusions about major things good/bad that you observe across larger swathes of boats. I'd love to read it! And anything else you want to write on theory or your philosophy of why boats are or aren't interesting :)

    1. Thanks for your nice comments.

      Being an Interesting sailboats, (or not) is a completely subjective matter, depending on the things that are interesting for each sailor, or cruiser.

      For instance, the boats made by the big manufacturers (that are very similar) are almost all interesting for the ones that buy them (the majority), otherwise they would not sell, and if they would not sell manufacturers would modify the characteristics of boats they are making.

      The blog is about boats I find interesting. It is a subjective appreciation and for understanding what I find interesting it is needed to know that I like as much sailing, as cruising, and that is not true for the majority of cruisers.

  3. "I applaud the blog's commitment to fostering a positive and respectful community. The comment section is always filled with insightful discussions. Great job!"
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