Leading Luxury Yacht Debuts “Swan” That Re-affirms Nautor’s Brand Ethos Quality
Nautor’s Swan have long been recognised as building some of the very best bluewater racers in the world. Now they are adding thoroughbred races to the line-up. Guy Nowell ventures a long way north to take a look.
Midsummer at 63 ̊N, and the sun seems to take forever to set. When it does, it’s not for long; the night is never dark, and dawn returns at 0300hrs. For a first-time visitor to Finland, it is ethereal, almost unnerving. This is Pietersaari, on the east coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, and it feels like a very special place. And so, it is, for this is the home of the most celebrated marque of sailing yachts of them all: Nautor’s Swan.
Nautor’s Swan Ultimate Quality
In 1966 a young man named Pekka Koskenkylä launched a 36ft yacht named Tarantella. The lines were drawn by Sparkman & Stevens, the pre-eminent yacht designers of the day; the boat was molded from a near-revolutionary material called grp (glass reinforced plastic moulded, or fibreglass), and it was the first of an intended series production. Tarantella distinguished herself at Cowes shortly afterwards, and a legend was born practically overnight.
Over the following 52 years, Nautor’s Swan has built more than 2,000 production boats to 91 different designs, all from the drawing boards of just four designers, and all at their original facilities in Källby and Pietersaari. Every one of them is meticulously engineered, exquisitely constructed, and painstakingly finished to the highest standards possible. “We are building people’s dreams,” confides Marco Rintaniemi, Layup Foreman. “Our owners enjoy our products for years and years, not just five minutes. So, we build with that in mind.”
Today, the Swan catalogue involves nine models in three distinct product lines. The differentiation is part of an all-encompassing five- year plan that Swan launched in 2015. Vice-President Enrico Chieffi sums it up succinctly. “We introduced a new model – the Club Swan 50 – to our line in 2016, and people started to ask whether Swan was becoming a “performance” brand. In fact, we now have three distinct product lines – the one-design Club Swans at 36, 50 and 125 feet; the performance bluewater Swans at 54, 60, 65 and 78 feet; and the Maxi Swans, 98 and 120 feet.”
Nautor’s Swan has a presence in 31 countries, involving 44 sales offices and two headquarters’ – in Pietersaari and Florence. The company divides its operations between northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Americas and Asia (which includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong). And just as regional managers look after the Regions, product line leaders oversee the product lines. Peter Naeyé is happy to be looking after the biggest section of the fleet – in waterline length, at least. Swan started its history at 36 feet, but the latest Maxi Swan from this iconic yard floats on her perfect lines at 98 feet.
“All through the design concept we were aware that this had to be a real Swan, with stunning looks.”
As if we have ever seen one that looked less than beautiful? Maxi Swans are intended to compete in top-drawer events such as the Rolex Swan Cup and the other superyacht regattas. They combine nuances of “top quality”, as Naeyé puts it, with all the practicality that you expect from a designer such as German Frers – you can even fit a 4m tender into the garage of a Swan 98. Frères has designed 43 boats for Swan since 1981, and clearly, it is a relationship that works well. Rather modestly, he describes the Swan 98 as “pleasant to be on board, offering comfort and safety as well as performance.” Four interior options designed by Misa Poggi and Swan’s Heini Gustaffson, two different configurations (owner forward/ owner aft) make this a boat that will suit absolutely anyone who has the good taste to appreciate it. There’s a Maxi Swan 120 soon to be launched as well.
“The epitome of style and luxury.”
Hey, it’s impossible not to use superlatives when talking about Swans, but anyone who is already familiar with the boats – and especially anyone who has been to the yard in Finland and seen them being constructed – fully understands. The company has long been an advocate of performance cruising.
Nobody wants to travel so slowly that a passage becomes a trial, however stylish. These boats are happily capable of taking you around the world, and that is just what is intended. Swan’s long-distance cruisers are “not just a pretty sheer line.” Product Line Leader in charge of the “Swan” Line is Vanni Galgani, looking after the Swan 54, 60, 65 and 78 models. “Everyone knows that Swan builds beautiful yachts, but the very best part is what you don’t see,” he says. That means that obsessive attention to detail goes into the build of every Swan, and every one of them will take you wherever you want.
The Swan 54 is a particular favourite of German Frers, “This is a boat for anyone with a wealth of offshore experience and a taste for bluewater cruising with family and friends, or young people looking to have the adventure of their lives.” For something a little more spacious, look at the recently launched Swan 78 – one of which was recently the star of the show at the Cannes Yachting Festival, while her sister ship was making waves at the Rolex Swan Cup and the Genoa Boat Show. At 23.7m overall, this boat falls neatly into the EC 24.00m category. She’s an owner-driver recreational boat in the proper legislated sense of the word. Much of Nautor’s experience in racing and cruising yachts have been poured into this Bluewater beauty, and the result is exemplary. Prepreg glass/carbon, telescopic keel, twin rudders, powered winches, and a large opening transom with a huge swim platform: it’s all here.
There are certain Swan aficionados who will always hanker after an S&S Swan 65, probably the most iconic boat ever produced by this impeccable yard. It’s a tough act to follow, but Frers has taken inspiration from the 1972 S&S classic, and updated the concept of “beautiful, trustworthy, comfortable and fast”.
The all-new Swan 65 is clean and modern, without being tied up to any short-lived fashion statements. All Swans are designed for performance, and all Swans are designed for both safety and comfort. The secret is in the mix: many designers and yards have tried to perfect the notion of the true cruiser- racer, but with this 65-footer, it is just possible that Nautor’s Swan and Frers have put their finger right on the balance point.
Her just-a-little-smaller sister, the Swan 60, was first produced in 2009, and has become something of a reference point among 60ft yachts. Once again, Frers and Swan have created a boat with a split personality, although (happily) the two sides of the character coexist very happily. Cruising and racing do not have to be mutually exclusive. The perfectly flush decks mark this boat out as a working space for a racing crew. Creative engineering design such as the foldaway anchor roller that she is a cruiser, too.
The blend is seamless, and it is not hard to imagine a later afternoon at anchor, when the crew gather for an après-racing aperitif before retiring below for supper in perfect comfort and luxury. Nautor’s Swan caused something of a stir in 2016 when they introduced both a new designer, a new design, and a new direction for the yard. Juan Kouyoumdjian’s ClubSwan 50 was the boat that prompted people to ask, “where is Swan going?” and caused the company to reflect and then redefine itself. ClubSwan is the unalloyed performance sector of the Swan range, and it consists of the ClubSwan 50, a 125 (in build) and the 36. All boats are designed by Juan K. Phillippe Oulhen is the PLL for the ClubSwan line. He says, ” Swan has been racing since the brand was created. Tarantella distinguished herself on the racecourse and established the brand. We all know that if you scratch a cruiser, there is a racer underneath! So, we wanted to further to develop the racing side of Swan with a true and thoroughbred racing boat. It had to be big enough to be noticed, small enough to be managed efficiently by a crew of no more than 12, and presented to the world as a strict One Design class. “The result was the ClubSwan 50: an instant success story, and a remarkable way in which to mark the 50th birthday of Nautor’s Swan.
The ClubSwan 50 is at the absolute leading edge of race boat design. With its debut at the Rolex Swan Cup in 2016, and now over 25 boats launched, this is a boat that has caught the imagination of the sailing world. From the reverse bow to the full pre-preg carbon and Sprint tech hull and deck, from the twin “tubercules” rudders to the carbon steering pedestals… a combination of Juan K’s imagination and Swan’s highly-skilled build team has produced an 8,200kg 50-footer to take on the world.
The Nations’ Trophy is an exclusively Swan One Design regatta, involving the ClubSwan 50, Swan 45 and ClubSwan 42 fleets. This is a biennial event specifically to “revitalise the concept of competition between nations”. The 2017 regatta in Palma de Mallorca proved to be very popular indeed, and Swan quickly expanded the concept into the Nations’ League – a circuit of events in the Mediterranean and the USA, aimed at fostering the “spirit of gentlemanly competition among Swan owners, from one year to the next.” The 2018 League events included the Monaco and Scarlino Swan OD regattas, the Giraglia Rolex Cup and the Copa del Ray in Palma.
But that’s not all. Following the near-instantaneous success of the ClubSwan 50, comes the ClubSwan 125. This concept is simple: a racing supermaxi intended to be the fastest 125-footer afloat. When it is launched in 2019, the CS125 will be unlike any other race boat out there.
“The complete trust of the owner and his desire to create a high- performance superyacht are the perfect ingredients for a designer. We can’t have a better environment and I think we are doing something that will set a milestone in the sailing world,” says Kouyoumdjian.
“Only Nautor’s Swan, with its heritage and experience, could have accepted this type of challenge,” adds Enrico Chieffi, Nautor’s Swan Vice-President. “We have gathered the very best consultants to create a world-class technical team that is capable of dealing with all the aspects of this complex new yacht.” The ClubSwan 125 explores entirely new avenues in yacht design, most particularly involving Juan K’s revolutionary C-foils that are also integral to the ClubSwan 36 concept recently revealed (June) in St Tropez.
And that – the CS 36 – is the last boat in this little story. “36ft is a pleasant echo of Swan’s first masterpiece – Tarantella,” says Chieffi. When Nautor’s management started casting around for a concept to become an entry-level boat smaller than the instantly successful CS50, 36ft was chosen. It’s a pocket racer, not a sports boat, and its distinguishing feature will be the c-foil. Deep dagger boards stop a boat making leeway when a canting keep is in operation, but they become very tall daggerboards in the “up” position. Imagine a C-shaped foil that moves through the hull of the boat from side to side, and never appears above deck. Juan K’s design indicates that such a foil provides sideways resistance at lesser speeds, and then lifting force as speed increases. This is not an attempt to create a fully foiling boat like and AC45 or a Moth, but to life the hull sufficiently to reduce drag and increase speed. Swan expect there to be a CS36 division in the Nation’s Cup in 2019.
After half a century, Nautor’s Swan is showing no signs of slowing down or ever resting on their laurels, This is a company that marched to the front of the line where performance and quality are concerned and has stayed there ever since. It is a company that has fostered the pleasure of being an owner of one of their boats by cultivating racing and social occasions in the shape of Club Swan.
And now it has done a step further by creating an all-new line of boats, the ClubSwan ODs, without losing sight of the heritage of quality, comfort, safety and Bluewater performance for which the company has so long been famous.
Chieffi reminds us that, “a Swan is always a Swan. A Swan comes with a reputation of which we are exceedingly proud, and which we work very hard to maintain.” Maybe, while they are being built, the boats acquire some of the ethereal quality of light that surrounds them in the summer. Maybe they take on some of the intensity of the long dark winter days. Either way, boats built by Nautor’s Swan at 63 ̊N have a very special quality: they are some of the very best boats in the world.