Swan takes new direction
In 2016 Nautor's Swan will be 50 and the company is celebrating with one of its boldest ever developments: a feisty new 50ft one-design class designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian.
The ClubSwan 50 is a significant departure for the Finnish yard, marking a break from the long-running collaboration with Argentinian designer German Frers, which dates back to the early 1980s.
This is a significant move from a yard that was presumed to have been concentrating on its larger yacht range. Nautor's Swan recently launched the first of four new 115ft superyachts, which we toured at Monaco Yacht Show (see page 70).
The ClubSwan 50 is the second new model launch to be announced in as many months following news of a new cruising orientated Swan 54. "We decided to develop a forward-looking, young, cool product - a very simple brief we gave to a group of leading designers," says Nautor's group vice president Enrico Chieffi. "It was up to them if they wanted to be conservative or disruptive:·
The ClubSwan 50 has many of the hallmarks for which Kouyoumdjian is so well-known in designs from IMOCA 60s and V070s to Rambler 88. She is a very beamy yacht (4.2m) with chines, twin rudders, a reverse sheerline and a slightly reverse bow.
She seems to strike a balance between racer-cruiser and grand prix-style racing yachts. "It will be very fast; performance is first and foremost," says Barry Ashmore, Swan's regional sales and marketing director. "We wanted a rocket boat, but one that would perform well under IRC and one that is suitable for an owner-driver."
The square-top mainsail is sheeted right to the back of the boat and the sail plan shows a huge foretriangle, which should suit flying sails set from the fixed bowsprit (she will have a sail area of up to 296m2). The ClubSwan 50 will be built in carbon epoxy Sprint laminate to a lightweight displacement of 8.5 tonnes.
Like Wally yachts, the ClubSwan 50 will have a cruising mode too. She can be converted for weekend sailing and has two double cabins, plus galley and heads down below. On deck is a furling genoa and four of the six winches are sited around the helms. These are electric as standard.
Don't be fooled, though, this is a racing yacht first and foremost. The ClubSwan 50 will be a professionally managed ownerdriver class, with a global racing circuit. The aim is to have four annual events run across three continents (Europe, North America and Asia) and four fleets.
Nautor intends to have a fleet in action at the first world championships by 2018. It believes there could be as many as 20-30 built and racing by then, but possibly more.
"The base price will be €800-900,000," says Ashmore. "It will be marketed as a package so that it won't be necessary to optimise for racing and has some limited comfort options."
To expand its building capacity, Nautor's Swan is going to develop a facility alongside its lamination factory in the Finnish village of Kai by, some miles from where the larger yachts are built. The ClubSwan 50 joins a growing Swan one-design fleet that includes the Club Swan 42, Swan 45, Swan 601 and Swan 60.
"We had the opportunity with the 50th anniversary and decided to go with a very strong message that we were not celebrating the past 50 years, but looking at the next 50 in terms of vision and a commitment," says Enrico Chieffi.
Swan's new strategy
Nautor's new designs mark only part of a branching out for the company and a wave of fresh investment. Next comes its largest yacht to date. the Swan 130. Nautor also has plans for a Swan 78 for bluewater cruising and is scaling down at the smaller end of its range. too.
"We survived a very difficult crisis of past years during which we couldn't implement things we wanted to." Enrico Chieffi explains. "We had to choose the most important things, which were big yachts. to make a statement."
The 115 has proved a successful call in a 100-130ft performance sector that is thriving.
"Bigger yachts equate to a bigger margin. but you suffer from discontinuity in production. So we made some market research into smaller yachts. where Swan comes from. It soon became very clear that there is room for a top quality brand and product." says Chieffi.
So Nautor decided to return to smaller yachts to sustain a range of work and is setting up its original inland facilities for its smaller to mid-size yacht production. It is now akin to two companies using the same technology and investment.