We sailed with S/Y Dolphin Dance (I) from 2010 to 2017. The boat was sold in summer 2018. She will be sailing under a German flag and new name in the future and her new owners are planning to do some extensive cruising in the Mediterranean in the coming years. For me and Minna it was nice to sell our beloved Dolphin Dance to sailors who are planning to sail the boat frequently in the future. All in all, that is what this boat is made for.
Dolphin Dance I was a Hallberg-Rassy 29 nr. 483 built in 1990. She was designed by Swedish yacht designer Olle Enderlein together with Christoph Rassy, founder of Hallberg-Rassy. The model was in production 1982-1994 and total of 571 hulls were built, which is an excellent result. The Hallberg-Rassy yard is situated in Ellös, west coast of Sweden, and like all HRs, the 29 is designed for the North Sea weather conditions. Yachting Monthly wrote on Second look -article(11/1996) about HR29:
”With her deep body, long lead-ballasted fin keel and a rudder hung an almost full-depht skeg, the hull looks capable of handling just about anything the sea might throw at it.”
Hallberg-Rassy 29 has many great innovations and qualities that would be nowadays too expensive to built on a boat of this size. Also design trends have changed: flat-bottoms, bulb-keels and spade rudders are a norm in modern sailboat design, whereas HR29 represents traditional sailing boat design with her longish keel and deep body. Hull is solid lamimate with an encapsulated iron keel (i.e. ballast inside the laminate). This construction allows a very deep bilge which is good thing to have at sea, but not so practical for cleaning. Here is more information on hull and keel construction. GRP deck has a sandwich structure with polyvinyl cellular plastics (Divinycell) as a core material. Most of the HR29s have a teak deck on top the GRP deck. Here is more about pros and cons of the teak decks.
Foredeck is flat and you get good grip of toerail when working on deck. The chain locker is arranged for self stowing
Although being a rather small boat, Hallberg-Rassy 29 grows bigger at sea. With a displacement of about 5 tons and deep hull, the boat takes waves very gently and the movement, in general, is comfortable. The hull is cleverly designed so that the spray from waves rarely reaches cockpit. Also the sprayhood gives good protection and often the cockpit remains completely dry when sailing. We have not ever had the cockpit flooded with seawater. High cockpit coamings are efficient in keeping the seawater away from the cockpit. Skeg hung rudder is large and has a very good holding. I have never broached with this boat and this is one of the things that I most like in Hallberg-Rassy 29: you feel that the boat is under control even in stronger gusts and high seas.
The relatively heavy displacement and deep hull have their benefits when it comes to a comfortable ride at sea but have a downside effect on light winds performance. With a furling genoa the sail area is about 46 m2. In light winds the use of gennaker or spinnaker is recommended.
Yachting world wrote in the 1989 ’Long test’ article about the sailing characteristics of HR29:
”Just because a boat is destined for a cruising lifestyle doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be interesting to sail. HR29 certainly keeps the helmsman interested and offers a perceptible response to correct sail trim. ”
”Generous sail area offers good light weather performance”
The layout is traditional – two cabins separated by a toilet and a hanging locker. There are folding doors so the toilet compartment can be closed from both cabins. Our boat has four berths: double in forepeak and two single berths in the saloon. Some versions have also a quarter berth on a starboard side, in which case the navigation table is removable. Our boat has a large, fixed navigation station with chart locker and there is also an additional cockpit locker. I prefer this layout since this gives more locker space and good working place for navigator.
Settees in the saloon are wide and very comfortable when the backrest is raised. They make also excellent seaberths right in the center of the boat. The double V-bed in the forepeak is also comfortable and full lenght (2m). However the bed is placed quite high due to the water tank just under the bed. Thus one must do some stretching to get into to the bed and also the headroom is quite low. The headroom in the main saloon is typical 1,80m and just enough for us. The L-shaped galley is equipped with stove/oven and 50 litres fridge. There is additional galley space behind the step (on top of the engine). However problem is that the space in the galley is flat so it may be difficult to find solid place to rest plates, mugs etc. while cooking at sea. There is good locker space in galley as there is throughout the boat.