Like many production sailboat builders, Hallberg-Rassy of Ellös, Sweden, publishes a newsletter that is distributed to its boat owners, friends and the media. The news includes notable voyages of HR vessels, technical improvements, and in a recent edition, a report of a daring theft of a new 31-foot HR from a Swedish west-coast port.
In October 2000, the vessel disappeared without a trace, according to the newsletter. “You can’t hide a boat like this forever,” the company stated. “There are many committed and well-informed Hallberg-Rassy ambassadors around the world, and sooner or later HR yachts will reappear.”
The report went on to describe the various actions of a “Mr. A,” a fellow who saw the vessel at a marina in Lofthammer, Sweden, in the summer of 2002. Mr. A, who owned an HR-31 himself at one time, had apparently heard of the vessel being stolen and noted that the one he saw had wheel steering. When done in the factory, a wheel-steered HR-31 will have a Y-shaped crowfoot separating the backstay to make room for a tall helmsman. This vessel’s backstay was different.
Mr. A contacted HR, which contacted the police, who impounded the vessel. When the owner returned, he found his vessel out of the water and surrounded with police tape. The owner was questioned and eventually arrested when it was determined that the boat’s registration number was fraudulent. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years for charges that included insurance fraud on a previous incident and the purchase of stolen property.
Hallberg-Rassy noted with satisfaction that the vessel had been kept in perfect condition. “A Hallberg-Rassy is well-kept — even by a thief!”