When the Finnish swan reveals her talents…
Yacht Class n°7 (dec-jan-feb 2017)
This new Swan certainly looked good among the giants of the Monaco Yacht Show 2016, with her 35 metres deck in teak, her "Park Avenue" boom and her 50-metre high carbon mast. But, undoubtedly, it is on the ocean that the Finnish swan will reveal all her skills as an ocean racer, skills that many could envy. We were on board off Palma in a Force 6 wind, on a full-scale test.
Text: Emmanuel de Toma - Photos : Kurt Arrigo
Here, no inverted bow, no beam carried well aft like Imoca of the Globe Challenge, nor inevitable hard chine we find on Maxis… Just the rounded shapes, the sharp bow and the elegant silhouette that has characterized all the Swan since the arrival of German Frers at the Nautor's shipyard in 1981. This is definitely not the first sloop over 30 metres for the Argentine architect since the Swan 112 in 1999. However this new 115 FD seems to have nearly reached perfection regarding the "speed-comfort" compromise. FD stands for Flush Deck and that's not just a name… Look at this area of 35m x 8m in premium teak ! A lake of blond wood scarcely wrinkled by an imperceptible deckhouse. The blue hull, with its six discreet rectangular portholes, conceals underneath the water its primary structures, conceived to ensure stability, lift and speed on every point of sail. Lucky skipper of Hull n°1, Daniel Calascione explains that the flat aft sections do wonders on downwind conditions. The seaman is certainly the best to judge since he run before the wind from Finland to the Balearic Island without any stop. "The wind shifted with us in Gibraltar to propel us to Palma de Mallorca", he still says in fun.
During our sea trial, a 25-knot wind with gusts up to 30 knots and a long deep swell coming from a recent northwestly storm was hitting off Mallorca, perfect to help us form an opinion on this Scandinavian jewel. Let's start the engine ! Almost nothing. No vibration. Just a faint hiss coming from below. And yet, she is equipped with a 400 hp, 6 cylinder Scania. Even from a Swedish marvel, we expected at least some decibels. The secret of such discretion lies in the starboard passageway in the door section opening onto the engine room : a 20 centimeters thick insulating layer ! Avoiding the many landing stages spread at the far end of the Port of Palma is no walk in the park. At the helm, Daniel is focused and controls on the keyboard the stern and bow thrusters. The 113 tons of the sloop immediately comply, in spite of the first gusts of wind whipping the bow. After a 180-degree turn on the spot, we can see the horizon straight ahead between the jetties of the outer port. With an extreme discretion, the keel goes into the abyss. Her bulb will dive at 5 metres underneath the hull. Facing the wind, the huge Lewmar hydraulic winch, located at the mast foot, will hoist in less than a minute the 280-kilo mainsail at 45 metres above our head… the equivalent of a fifteen-storey building ! This also represents a sail area of 349 m2, made of exotic fibers, at the mercy of every wind. A simple pressure on the keyboard and the skipper trimmed the sheet in, eaten up by the hydraulic winches into the coaming thickness. The Swan bends. A torrent of foam rumbles at the stern. Pitiless, the bow attacks the first waves, still modest at the port exit. The speedometer slowly rises and under the sole mainsail, our ship seems impatient. A few seconds is necessary to unfurl and then trim the genoa into the aft hydraulic winch. It is worth noting that, unlike the current trend, the sheet naturally passes over the gangways, without any concealment. The heel increases but remains manageable, while the speed doubles. On a beating upwind : she reaches 16 to 17 knots with an average real wind of 23 knots, plus the gusts of wind joining the party. And the Swan immediately reacts. And the speedometer displays a 19 knots with a wind of 28 knots. A large smile lights up the skipper's face. But, considering how demanding is a 3-metre swell on the sailboat, reason had to prevail on the ambition to reach the 20 knots threshold. The genoa is furled, then the staysail kicks in, this time with the support of running backstays. Facing the long swell, the bow makes wonder. Only once does the boat falls into a through. The ensuing muffled vibration proves the hull stiffness. Carbon… 35 metres of carbon !
Aboard a flush deck boat sailing at 15 knots in a rough sea, the most dangerous for the passengers is to take a great lesson of humidity. At this point, only the foredeck is soaked. The water runs off toward the stern along the gangways, but the cockpit is only exposed to a few sprays carried off course by the wind. That's hardly a reason to shelter inside. As an aside, it should be stressed that using the word "cockpit" - for this boat but also for all the modern Maxi yachts - is quite old-fashioned, considering that this place is actually a luxurious and comfortable saloon on the deck. Actually, only the heel and the boat movements should be closely monitored since, when sitting there, you can be thrown from windward to leeward faster than expected… We will humbly recommend the addition of teak foot bar and a couple of stainless steel handrails to secure the way between the cockpit and the helm station. Talking of which… wow ! For passionate sailors, this place is a paradise, an eden, a nirvana ! Standing at the helm, we are comfortably settled on the floor, reclined according the heel while, thanks to the flush deck, we easily take an overall view on the ship, her sails and the sea. The mechanical helm immediately engages the twin rudders. Unlike our skipper, we will not not go as far as saying that it feels like sailing a dinghy, yet we must admit that the pleasure of positioning the bow to cut through the wave or adjust the direction when the wind changes is only equal on much smaller racers. That being said, we can, not without regrets, hand the helm to the highly competent automatic pilot and head towards the bowels of the ship through the electric door and forget for a while the wind lashes and the assaults of the waves. A few steps take us into the world of silence. The motion of the boat are still perceptible, but so much peace immediately suppresses any inclination to fight against the elements.
No slamming there, not a door or even a drawer, everything is adjusted to the nearest micron. No plates, no cutlery can be heard clattering. Forks, knives, spoons… all have their own compartment. The sound of the sea slamming and running along the planking is almost entirely muffled by the thick insulation. As for the decoration, there is no ostentation, nor eccentricity. Teak veneered partitions, dark wenge flooring, leather panels, rounded and perfectly fitting woodworks and white leather ceilings. And in the bathroom : white, more white, plus mirrors and leather. These mild shapes and these colours are almost anesthetics. The larger width of the hull accommodates the saloon, divided into two by the keelbox… dressed in leather, of course ! On port side : the living room with its coffee table surrounded by deep sofas. The starboard side features the dining room with a table for twelve guests, sitting on a director's chair, in leather and stainless steel. Aft, the large kitchen is fitted with top standard amenities to ensure twenty meals a day but above all to remain operational in all sea conditions. Finally, at the very back, are fitted the apartments for the captain and his crew of six members on average. The cabins are simple but on a "normal" boat, they would be described as luxurious. The navigation area, located at the bottom of staircase leading to the deck, features the most sophisticated instruments to monitor all the systems and optimize in real time her course to distant destinations. Sign of the modern times, the chart table is composed of two giant screens and a constant monitoring by satellites and radar.
In the dining room, a corridor leads to the two guest cabins and gives a view on the impressive carbon mast which, for aesthetics, is adorned there with crossed-fibers. At the forward end is located the master suite. A leather sofa, a finely crafted desk and teak veneered cabinets surround the large double bed, its head towards the bow. A dressing room and a large bathroom complete this highly luxurious place. The large porthole, overlooking the sea, is equipped with electric curtains and blinds while, as everywhere else, the door handles and the handrails are in leather. In that respect, since the boat is still heeled over, let's note that all this sophistication has not disregarded the marine-related needs. From the kitchen to the saloon, and from the gangway to the cabins, every room features handy handrails to move safely. Down to the smallest detail, the shipyard Nautor's asserts its expertise in the art of combining the performances of a blue water sailing yacht with the most extreme technologies and refinement.
The word of the architect German Frers
After designing this Swan 115' for clients who wanted a large and luxurious sailboat, capable of causing some adrenaline bursts on a run before the wind, German Frers acknowledged that the world of cruiser/racer has made a huge step forward. "We really had to extend her waterline to the maximum and reduce the weights, he explains. We have opted for twin rudders for a better control of the navigation. A thorough study was conducted to optimize the size and position of the rudders, especially to ensure good performances at a reduced speed. In addition, this double rudder option combined with the lifting keel will allow low draft anchorages. A racing version of this boat, with a displacement of only 72 tons and a fat head sail, will allow to race in the Maxis circuit. Finally, everything has been conceived to give to the commissionner a high degree of customization while a special effort was made on insulation".
- Overall length : 35,20 m
Lengh of waterline : 32,84 m
Mid-Ship Beam : 8,12 m
Draft : 3,50 / 5,75 m
Unladen displacement : 92,5 t
Mainsail : 356 m²
Jib : 303,8 m²
Asymmetric spi : 630 m²
Engine : Scania D113 070M 450 ch.
Fuel : 5 500 l
Water : 3 000 l
Price : about 15 millions d’euros HT
Naval architect & Exterior designer : German Frers
Interior designer : Nautor’s Swan
Builder : Nautor’s Swan (Pietarsaari – Finlande)
Importer : Nautor’s Swan Villefranche (Villefranche-sur-Mer)