Sailboat Spotlight: Hallberg Rassy 42E

Have you ever thought about sailing around the world? If yes, the sailboat you should do it in is a Hallberg Rassy, in particular, the Hallberg Rassy 42E. This sailboat was built between 1980 and 1991 and she is for sure one of the most iconic blue-water cruisers in the world. She has a lot of flaws, for example, the slow speed with weak winds, but her owners love her anyway.

Some famous sailboats of this model, are the Mahina Tiare II and the Solveig IV, having sailed around the world with their owners, sometimes non-stop for 6 months. Those endeavors are a sign of reliability and strength.

Designed by Christoph Rassy and Olle Enderlein this boat mustn’t be confused with the newer Hallberg Rassy 42F. The 42E was produced in 225 units and the price after 30/40 years is still relatively high, and in my opinion, this is the sign of quality, reliability, strength, and functionality. The first hulls were rigged with a ketch rig, and after the shipyard moved for an easier to handle sloop rigging. Today the successor of the Hallberg Rassy 42E is the 412.


The deck of the 42E is flush, on it, there is a glass half-sprayhood that protects the cockpit from the waves, the boat was also available with a hard dodger, but it isn’t quite rare. The cockpit is very deep and it has a U shaped seat, on the aft of the cockpit there is the helm wheel. All the lines arrive at the cockpit except the halyards that are at the base of the main mast where you can find two supports where you can hold on. The genoa lines have two winches, the mainsail is control ed manually and the stern sail line is operated by a winch behind the helm station (only on the ketch). The hull design is quite old but very efficient in high waves: the hull is wide and the bow is a bit elevated from the water to penetrate the waves in a better way. The stern is not wide and is a bit elevated from the water like the bow. The deck is completely made with teak, but be sure that there aren’t screws in it because the first hulls were made with screwed teak and not with the glued on teak. If there re some screws and the teak isn’t in very good shape, plan to change it.


Also here the Hallberg Rassy 42E offers us a classic layout for the center cockpit sailing boat: the master suite in the stern part, the saloon in the middle and a v-berth aft cabin. Let’s start our tour from here.

In the bow cabin, we find a v-double bed, with lockers underneath the bed and in the rest of the cabin. There is also a very spacious head with a separate shower.

In the saloon, there are some sofas with a foldable table. On the starboard takes place also the U shape gallery, with a large fridge and a gimballed stove. On the port, there is the chart table, with all the instruments. To go to the aft cabin (the master suite) you have to walk along a corridor that brings you there, there is also a door to access the engine room. In the master suite, there is a private head and a v-double berth. The master suite in the stern has a very important advantage: this part of the boat is the one that oscillates less. The furniture in the interior is very durable and well made and has a lot of places where you can hold on.

Rigging & Hull Design

There are two types of rigging available on this boat, ketch and sloop. The sails surface on the ketch is 101.5 m², and the sail surface on the sloop is 95 m². The keel of the Hallberg Rassy 42E is a long keel with a draft of 2.05 meters and the ballast is 4500 Kg. The long keel guarantees you good handling in high waves but not a lot in the harbor. The rudder is a semi-skeg.

Engine & Systems 

The original engines were three: the Volvo Penta MD 21, the MD 31A, and the TMD 31, all with the shaft drive. The engine is located under the cockpit and it is accessible from the cockpit and the corridor between the saloon and the master suite. With the standard engine, the MD 31A (62Hp), the boat can reach the speed of 8.1kn. Some used boat may have the original motor, that can be a good shape because there aren’t electronics in it. The original batteries were four of 135Ah, but it is recommended to change them with some more modern, safer, and higher performance lithium ones. The tanks have a lot of fluid storage space: the water onboard in 725 liters and the fuel 395 liters. The systems on this boat are old and used for long passages, so check them before purchasing the boat!

Recommend Upgrades

I’d personally recommend changing some things, for example, the gimbal stove, the water heater, and the air heater. All of these have become more efficient (a 1980 water heater consumes the same electricity as two of them in 2020).

If you want to do some long passages plan to install a new marine electronics system with Navionics charts. The most suggested is a B&G Zeus3, 7, or 9 Chartplotter in the cockpit, that has all that you need for a 40ft sailing boat, it has a small keypad to control it also without touch (for example with gloves), it can be connected to other chart plotters in the network and comes with the NMEA 2000 net connection, that allows you to update your network later. In addition, you can buy a B&G Triton2 wind/depth pack to have all the information you need and an additional display. If you want and additional upgrade you can consider buying anther B&G Triton2 and a B&G Halo 20 or 24 radar. If you want an autopilot you can buy a B&G autopilot compatible with your network for about $2500/3000, it depends on what configuration you want. If you want to have the charts also inside on the chart table with the GoFree app you can mirror the screen of the Zeus Chartplotter on your tablet or smartphone, so you don’t have to buy to of them or if you want an additional upgrade you can buy another B&G Zeus3


The price of these sailboats ranges from $80,000, for a boat that needs a lot of work, to $180,000 for a turn-key, and upgraded sailboat. If you want another bluewater cruiser to check out the Amel Santorini (it is available in ketch or sloop rigging too).


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