|Hallberg Rassy 400|
|Above, Saare 41AC, below HR 400|
I saw this year the Saare 41AC again, at Dusseldorf, and it looks as good as ever, with a very nice interior, very well built, very seaworthy, and relatively fast, so why the hell not to make an article about it, even if it is not a recent boat?
It is one of the best mainstream cruisers on the market, and the fact it is not new should not matter, even if when we look at magazines, it seems that new boats are always better than older models, and comparing a new one with a sailboat with some years does not seem to make any sense to them.
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, transom design and displacement, having the Saare a 3.92m beam for 4.18m on the HR, and while the Saare displaces 9300kg, the HR displaces 1700kg more (11000kg).
Above, Saare 41AC, below HR 400
The bigger displacement and more hull form stability will give the HR bigger overall stability, but the Saare has better dynamic and safety stability with an AVS over 130º, one that starts to be unusual.
It should be said that the HR has already a good AVS (over 125º) and also a good dynamic and safety stability.
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 new J45, and not very different, except in what regards proportionally having less beam, a hull that will provide a good balance between upwind and downwind sailing.
The hull from the HR, even if it has fine entries, goes with the modern tendency of offering the maximum possible interior volume using a very large beam, and all beam pulled aft.
The Hallberg Rassy hull is more optimized for downwind performance than for upwind, with disadvantages in light wind and upwind, but will allow to sail with less heel than on the Saare, and that can be a big advantage, depending on the sailor, and the sailor's wife, or the crew.
|Note that while the genoa traveler on the HR is at the beginning of the course,|
the one on Saare is at the end, allowing for trimming a much bigger sail.
Both are beautiful boats, the HR 400 managing to hide its big beam due to a nice design that allows for having a small swimming platform (optional), while the Saare only provides a seating steep.
Both look more sportive and slightly more elegant than their CC version (which are both nice designs). The Saare 41CC is that kind of design that is truly timeless and looks like a true classic and the HR looks modern, well-designed, with a touch of class.
In regards to sailing power/weight, the Saare compensates the HR bigger hull form stability with a superior RM coming from the keel, due not only to more draft but also to a much bigger B/D.
|Above Saare, below HR 400. The HR is very well designed|
and manages to hide its beam and volume, but not always.
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, having finer entries, less beam, and a transom design that minimizes drag, especially in lighter winds and upwind. Downwind it provides less drag but also less hull form stability and in medium-high to strong wind, HR can eventually compensate for the bigger drag with more power than the extra drag, but mostly it will be easier to sail fast on autopilot.
Less displacement, less drag, and almost the same sail area upwind (Saare 87.6m2, HR 90.1m2) 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, having more roll downwind, but also having a more comfortable motion upwind with waves, slamming less.
The HR offers optionally what they call "an optimized sail area", having 96.6m2 instead of 90.1m2 and that will put the HR light wind performance closer to the Saare.
But the Saare is adapted to use a big genoa (135%) as a forward sail. The genoa track over the cabin is much more centered than the one on the HR (that is on the deck on a beamier hull), much bigger, and that will allow good trimming, maintaining a good upwind pointing ability, while offering a remarkable improvement in light wind conditions. 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 medium and heavier wind, and a gennaker or code 0 for light winds.
The genoa on the Saare will certainly give it a much better-pointing ability than a Code 0 on the Hallberg Rassy. A Code 0 with a 105% genoa is probably a better solution in regard to overall performance, although not in all situations. But having two sails instead of one, one of them huge and removable, gives a lot more work, especially if the crew is an older couple or inexperienced sailors.
Compared to a 135% genoa, the setup of 105% genoa and a Code 0 is not as practical, demanding frequent changes of sail, versus furling the 135% genoa.
I see very few cruising boats of this size sailed with a gennaker or code 0, and practically none of them is sailed by an aged couple, 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 than a 105% genoa, but nothing compared with the extra work of using two sails, being one of them a huge one. On smaller and lighter boats the much smaller sail sizes make the option for a 105% gennaker and a code 0 more practical and less demanding.
I know what I am talking about because, in my boat, some years I have used a jib, others a 135% genoa while cruising extensively, (both in conjunction with a big gennaker) and that's why I am quite sure I would prefer a 135% genoa over a 105% genoa on the Saare. My boat is also a 41ft boat, but a performance cruiser, 1300kg lighter than the Saare, and with a bigger SA/D, with many similitudes in regards to hull and rigging (about the same beam, shrouds in the same position, also a long genoa traveler). I have a lot of experience using both sails for extensive cruising, while coastal sailing, and I know quite well the advantages and disadvantages of both.
The advantages of a bigger genoa lay in bigger flexibility and being much more useful with lighter winds.
If you are going to use extensively a code 0, then a 135% genoa does not make much sense, but if you sail solo or duo and do not want to mess around with huge fragile sails, that, except on very light wind, is much more difficult to handle, then, a big genoa makes sense. But you cannot use one if the boat has the shrouds close to the hull, or fixed to it, like many these days, and that includes the HR.
The bigger disadvantage of a big genoa is the performance loss upwind with stronger winds because you are not going to be able to use the forward part of the traveler, and that means you will not be able to trim the sail correctly. This happens because with a 105% genoa (or jib) the sheet will pass on the inside of the shrouds and with a 135% or 140% genoa, on the outside.
This can be solved by adding a single fixed block on the traveler all forward, using the other sheet on the same side, if the wind increases too much, or even using thinner Dyneema ropes and passing the two sheets by the same traveler block. Of course, after having the reefed sail working on the forward block, you will have to take the other sheet to the other side, to be able to tack or to gibe, when needed and that with heavy weather can be difficult, and in many cases, you will have to almost stop the boat against the wind to make that safely.
You can notice the smaller Saare freeboard Saare.
I confess that I have for years the extra block to mount in my boat's traveler, but every year my will to go away sailing is bigger than my will to spend time doing the job. As an excuse, in the winter and fall the boat is far away from home, so I cannot work there, and in spring I am always in a hurry to put the boat on the water and sail away.
If that was really a big inconvenience I would have already done that but the only inconvenience I have is when sailing upwind, close to the wind, with over 30kt. In those conditions, my boat sails well with only a small head sail, smaller than a jib (a very furled genoa), and that means necessarily a very poorly trimmed sail.
With those conditions, I can only sail at 35º off the apparent wind, doing 6 to 6.5kt, but with that wind, waves have at least 2 meters (in the Med are very steep), and with a lot of boat motion, going up and down the waves, with water flying around, I don't want to go closer to the wind, because that means taking the waves more on the bow, and an even more violent motion for less speed.
|Cockpit to Saare. Look at the genoa and the mainsheet|
directly around the winches, with clutches only for the
two winches over the cabin.
For using a code 0 the HR400 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 has an optional traditional Nordic bow platform that will work not only as a bowsprit but as a boat access point, having an integrated folding ladder. This allows you to put the boat at the marina with the stern towards the outside, allowing more privacy.
But this does not mean the HR is a slow boat, downwind or in a beam reach, with medium-high to high winds, on those conditions 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, because it is easier to handle on autopilot on those conditions, most will sail it faster than the Saare.
|On the HR 400 all the lines, including all sheets, except the|
genoa, come to these clutches, on this, and on the other side.
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.
The Saare offers another option, a cutter rig, slightly more expensive, and less fast in most circumstances, but with an unmatched easiness and it is not even expensive at 6525 euros, including a Furlex 304s and two double clutches for sheets. I never saw a 41AC with a cutter rig and in a boat of this size it would make more sense a Solent rig, and I don't know if it is not that what they call a cutter rig.
In this case for simplifying the running rigging it would make sense to have the jib mounted in a self-tacking rail and a really big light genoa, or a reacher, mounted on the bowsprit.
To know what type of hull and type of boat will suit you better, it is up to you to know what are the conditions in which you sail most, and if sailing with some 6 or 7 more degrees of heel is, or isn't a problem. But one thing is for sure, you will have to use the engine more often on the HR, due to its worst performance in light winds.
Most of this was already said in the post about the comparison between the Saare 41CC and the HR40C, the central cockpit versions of these boats, which are also an interesting option, that can be seen here:
The real difference between the Aft cockpit version and the Center Cockpit has not to do mostly with the sailing performance, even if the Aft Cockpit offers a bit less windage, a more direct rudder connection, with a better feeling.
Curiously the CC version of the HR has a more easy-to-use main traveler and one that offers better main control, due to the traveler's position (aft the cockpit on the CC and over the cabin on the AC), and the point where the mainsheet is connected to the boom (at the end on the CC and in the middle on the AC).
The Saare offers, on both versions, equally efficient systems, both having the mainsheet to boom attachment point at the end of the boom. The traveler is, on the AC, forward to the wheel, and on the CC, aft the cockpit, over the cabin.
|The Saare has a bigger sprayhood and can be completely covered,|
the HR leaves the wheels out and can be sailed with the cover, but
the cover is too big to be practical for sailing.
The Saare can also be equipped standard with an arch, that will facilitate a bigger sprayhood, and a bigger bimini, being the mainsheet German rigged through two blocks on the arch. The solution is not so efficient as the one with the traveler near the wheel, but the short distance between the arch blocks and the boom mainsheet block, as well as the arch being substantially more aft than the traveler on the HR 400, will probably make it as effective as the HR solution, with a traveler over the cabin and much easier to use, because it dispenses a traveler.
Both boats use German rigging for the main. The Saare comes with 5 standard winches and the HR with 4, but while on all the photos I have seen from the HR, they have the standard 4 winches, on most photos of the Saare clients opted for having six, with two over the cabin, for reefing and other functions. 5 winches will be better than 4 (the winches are on both boats of similar dimensions), and they will make the use of clutches less needed.
I hate to have the sheets on clutches, instead of directly on the winches. If there is a sudden gust you would have to change the sheet, put the other one around the winch and open the clutch, to be able to depower the sail, while if you have all the sheets around the winches, it would be much faster and simpler.
|First Saare, then HR. The difference in beam is huge.|
Not to mention that if you have all the sheets on winches and have electric winches, you can control everything at the touch of a button.
Both can be sailed easily from the cockpit, and the winches are correctly located, but the Saare offers, for the reason I explained above (number of winches), better and faster boat control, even more, because the traveler on the Saare is not only easier and faster to work with, but the mainsheet offers a better trimming due to the block on the boom being situated at the end of the boom, while on the HR is in the middle, due to the location of the traveler in each boat.
The Saare has a keel-steeped mast, or a deck-steeped (depending on the client's wishes) and the HR a deck-stepped. A keel-stepped mast is more resistant, but a deck-steeped mast allows for a better mast tunning in racing boast and allows for a lesser interior intrusion.
The Saare has a single deep rudder and the HR a twin rudder system. The first allows for easier maneuvering in marinas and (if you are experienced) to dispense an expensive bow thruster (about 7000 euros), while on the HR400 it makes sense to have one. The two rudders offer better reliability in case one is destroyed by Orcas, or by contact with a heavy object, and offer an advantage while med mooring, due to being less deep.
Saare and HR hellming positions. The cockpit seats are about
the same size, but the cockpit is much wider on HR.
The cockpit space on these two boats is much bigger than what is offered by the CC versions, but even so, they are very different, due to the difference in beam and the HR having all beam pulled back.
Due to the large transom, to offer a good seating whelming position, the HR has to have a two-wheel setup, and two steering posts, while on the Saare, to provide that, a single wheel is enough. The two-wheel setup allows also for an easier passage from the steering position, or from the quay, to the cockpit.
The bigger single wheel provides a better feeling and, in conjunction with the narrower transom, a more protected steering position at the wheel, with easier movement when the boat is deep-heeled. In regarding efficiency, it is more important the hull and rudder design, more than having a single or duo rudder, but, a boat with a big beam and a large transom, like the HR, would have needed a very deep single rudder, and that makes the double rudder a more reasonable option.
The smaller Saare transom allows for a less deep single rudder than it would be needed if the HR had one and that turns that option into a good one.
Above, Saare saloon, below, HR.
The cockpit living space is much wider on the HR 400 than on the Saare, and does not allow for a comfortable position with the boat heeled unless you have a 1.80m height, or more, otherwise, you will not be able to reach the other seat with the feet for support. That makes the permanent use of the HR removable cockpit table convenient. On the Saare medium-sized people will have no difficulty in sitting comfortably with the boat heeled, and the absence of a cockpit table will make sailing easier, with a better ability to move around.
The Saare comes with a standard foldable table, that is stored on the wheel pedestal, one that is smaller than the optional table provided by the HR.
In regards to outside storage, contrary to the CC versions, these two offer very good storage, both with a bow locker (bigger on Saare) and access through the cockpit seat, to a big interior storage compartment (bigger on HR).
|The difference in luminosity has to do with the way photos were taken, the|
one on Sarre with closed curtains, not with a much less luminous interior.
Both have another locker under the opposite cockpit seat, for the liferaft on the HR, and for other stuff on the Saare because Saare has a liferaft storage place on one of the deep lockers at the stern, with the liferaft being able to be extracted from the outside.
The HR offers an under-the-cockpit locker, less deep but of considerable size. Both offer much more outside storage than the CC versions and I find the outside storage space adapted for extensive cruising (two-cabin layout).
In the interior, these two boats, compared with the CC versions, offer also two cabins and two heads (the HR40 CC only offers one head) but while the aft cabin is a king-size one on the CC versions, on these it is a much smaller one. These ones offer much more interior storage and slightly smaller galleys, even if of good size.
But the much bigger beam, allows the HR 400 to have a bigger interior volume even if the Saare is longer. That results mainly in the HR having a bigger equipment and storage space aft, the Saare having a bigger sail locker at the bow, and the HR having a wider aft cabin for similar-sized galleys and not very differently sized heads.
|Above Saare, below HR.|
The head that serves the bow cabin is slightly larger on the HR. Of course, the HR saloon is wider but I would say that does not count for anything and it can even give to Saare a better-proportioned look, seeming bigger than what it is.
The space for extra equipment is smaller on the Saare and not as well positioned because while on HR it is located behind the engine, on a tunnel, on the Saare it will be mixed with the storage space.
The storage compartment can be detailed and compartmented, but it diminishes the overall storage space. But I would say that the space on the Saare is enough, even if obviously HR comes ahead here. That's what Saare pays for having a better upwind and light wind sailing boat.
The biggest interior disadvantage of Saare is the less wide aft cabin where the shape of the transom makes it smaller aft. Saare proposes an intelligent solution to avoid this shortcoming, with the space occupied with two berths at different levels, the one to the hull higher.
|Above, Saare aft cabin with a raised berth, below, HR aft cabin.|
That solution can look even better if the cockpit locker on that side is eliminated, with the space reverting to the interior. Also, a foldable rail should be added, to prevent the one that sleeps on the top berth to fall, when the boat is deep heeled.
Both things are easy to accomplish and the Saare offers a great degree of customization, much bigger than the one HR can propose. The Saare will remain with less outside storage, but if the storage space is well-detailed it will be enough for most, and with this solution, the aft cabin is a good and nice one.
In regard to detail the storage in the big locker I remember something that I saw once, I believe in a Jboat, and never saw replicated again: On the access to the deep storage space there was a large tray with space for the smaller stuff that is always needed and difficult to find in a big locker.
That tray could be taken away to access de deeper part of the storage "room" that could be accessed also from the interior.
That solution could be improved using a larger tray that moves sideways, mounted on rollers that could be locked while sailing, and could be slid to one side to allow access to the deeper part.
It will add costs but I believe that the improvement on the aft cabin would be so big, visually and in feeling, that it would be well-spent money.
Of course, it all depends on how much you value space feeling and I know most people value that a lot, but if it was for me I would want a solution that would make the big locker more usable from the outside, and I would want also the second locker under the other seat. I would value more the cockpit locker than the nicer cabin.
|First, Saare bow cabin, directly above HR bow cabin.|
But I am part of the minority that, in what regards sleeping space (cabin), think that it is the comfort while sleeping, and functionality that matters, and I would be satisfied with just a rail, not to fall from the berth when the boat is heeled. In fact, that solution with two single berths not only provides more space than a single one, but it provides also better privacy and flexibility because the two that will occupy the space can be a couple, or not.
In the end, you will like either the Saare or the HR and it would not be small details like this one that will matter, but how comfortable and enjoyable you will find the interior. Both offer a very high-quality well-finished interior but with a clearly different flavor: slightly more luminous and more modern on the HR, more detailed and slightly more traditional on the Saare.
Above and bellow, Saare: Main head and storage space
I like the more detailed Saare approach regarding galley cabinets, which are simpler and not as nice on the HR. The superior detail is extensive to the saloon, with an optional cabinet (on the galley part that faces the saloon) dedicated to cups and a small, but very practical optional, refrigerator at the center of the saloon table.
If the bigger "windows" give more light on the HR, the ones on the Saare are all openable and provide better ventilation on hot days, if the port hulls on the HR are bigger and provide a better outside view, the much smaller ones on the Saare give the hull better integrity.
Both boats offer natural ventilation that will allow, on rainy days, to dispense forced mechanical ventilation, but the Saare system is better using the traditional system HR used to have, with big vents. while HR has smaller ones not profiled to catch the wind.
You can look at both boats in detail, inside and out on these 360º views:
The Saare carries as tankage 330+100L water plus 310+100L diesel (100L optional).
The HR carries 520L water, 400L diesel. The Saare and HR share a Volvo Penta with 60HP. Regarding equipment both boats have a long list of optional, however, there are some considerable differences:
Above, HR space for technical equipment
behind the engine, below, main head.
The HR comes with a 3 blade fixed propeller, the Saare with a flex-o-fold foldable propeller. The HR comes with Dracon sails (a main and a small 105% genoa), both have steel windscreens with tempered glass and sprayhood, that on Saare is bigger and finishes in an arch.
Both come with some electronic instruments, the HR with Raymarine i50 Speed, i50 Depth i60 Wind, and the Saare with a Raymarine log, and echo sounder i70. Both come with hot water, the HR has 2 house lead batteries with a total of 240Ah, Saare with 2 house AGM batteries with a total of 330Ah.
Oddly, on HR the electric anchor windlass is optional, while it is not only standard on Saare, as it comes with a 20kg stainless steel anchor and some chain and rope. Also standard on Saare and optional on the HR: the cockpit table, the Flexiteek side decks and coach roof, the diesel heater (Eberspacher with outlets in all cabins, saloon and heads), shore power connection, charger, inverter, and one more electrical winch.
The value of optional equipment offered by Saare is almost 4 times bigger than the value of the optional equipment offered by HR, a difference of about 60 000 euros, so, even if not equipped standard with sails as the HR, the Saare is better equipped, as a standard boat, and both are better equipped than mass production boats.
The Saare has a technologically more advanced building, using vacuum-infused technology, and uses a better vinylester resin (which does not absorb water). HR only uses vinylester on the outer layer of the hull and a polyester resin in all other composites, using hand-laid technology, both using sandwich hulls and decks with a high-quality foam core, both using monolithic fiberglass where it is more convenient, namely when there is trough the hull passages, keel area, and engine support.
|Above, Saare main structure and bulkheads, below, deck, cabin,|
cockpit and transom vacuum-infused in a single shoot.
Both use a strong GRP structure molded outside and strongly glassed to the hull. The bulkheads appear to be made of plywood and strongly laminated to the hull and deck. I tried to get more information regarding bulkheads from both shipyards but did not get any. Hallberg Rassy uses in much bigger boats (69) a vacuum-infused main bulkhead, but on smaller boats, the pictures clearly show plywood bulkheads everywhere. On the Saare, it is less clear and some pictures suggest that some bulkheads are fully glassed plywood, or have a balsa core.
None mention on the boat specification bulkheads' material. Saare clearly specifies that not only the bulkheads are laminated to the hull on both sides, but also to the deck, which is also glassed all around to the hull, besides being also bonded together on a high flange, with a very strong bonding agent.
Both L-bulbed keels are entirely made of lead, not very different, and bolted to the hull in a similar manner, using a stub for fixing the keel to the boat structure. Both boats are strong and well-built, but the use of vacuum infusion on the hull and deck, as well as the use of a superior quality resin allows the Saare to be lighter, for a similar strength.
The decisive factor for many is price: the Saare costs standard at the shipyard without VAT 469 734 €, the HR, 471 400 €, but the Saare comes with more than 60 000 € equipment.
HR engine structure and bulkheads.
In the end, you would have to equip both boats the way you want to be able to compare how much less expensive will the Saare be over the HR, but I would say that if you have the money to buy one of these it would not be a difference of 70 000€ that will decide what is the one you will buy, even if may contribute to the decision.
Anyway, you cannot go wrong with any of these two: they are both great sailing boats that will allow a couple to cruise extensively anywhere, with considerable speed, safety, and comfort, still offering an extra guest cabin with a separate head.
Both boats will need equipment to sail away and I know that a fully equipped Hallberg Rassy 400 without VAT can cost as much as 600 000€, and that is a huge amount of money for a 40ft boat, and it shows how much boat prices have increased in the last 5 years. But with the Saare not costing much less, that does not mean that it is unjustifiably expensive, it means that high-quality boats are today very expensive to build, even if surprisingly both brands continue to sell well, each one at a different scale, the one of a medium size builder and the one of a small semi-custom builder.
|Above, Saare electrical panel, below HR one.|
The Hallberg Rasy has the advantage of the prestige that is associated with the name and a bigger volume interior, the Saare is a faster sailboat, but a connaisseur boat, and many while being impressed with the boat's quality, which is evident anywhere, have never heard about it, and if you say to a friend you have a Saare, the chances are that he would ask you what kind of boat that is, while everybody knows Hallberg Rassy's quality, and what it means in the sailboat's world.
Both boats have a high resale value, curiously the Saare, even if not as well known, too, because the ones that are better informed know well about its reputation and quality.
There are always sailors looking for them in used condition and the boats on offer sell quickly and at high prices. An additional Saare advantage is that, because they are produced in much smaller numbers than the HR, the Saare degree of possible customization is hugely superior, and because they have already done that for many clients, they have a big showcase of possible different solutions for almost any request. This does not only diminish the cost of the alteration (because they know exactly how to do it and the cost) as well as in many cases they can show to you the result with photos from previous boats.
If the Hallberg Rassy is the one you prefer and want to choose between the AC and CC versions, this post may help you to choose the model that suits you better:
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