There are very few luxury boatbuilders who can point to continuous production for 57 years and a list of more than 2,350 launches. Even fewer have maintained high reputations at all four corners of the keelboat world. But for Nautor Swan, these boxes have not only been ticked time and time again but the company has managed to excel in each of its diverse range of yachts while keeping the same family values throughout. It is a balancing act few others have achieved.
From blue water cruisers to elegant and distinctive superyachts, from family cruiser-racers to high-performance one designs, the diversity of this famous brand continues to be remarkable. Added to that, to create and manage a successful international one design racing circuit for a range of models has been a masterstroke.
There has been plenty of news from a company that has been extremely busy throughout the difficult global conditions but the announcement of the ClubSwan 43 at Düsseldorf Boat Show earlier this year made 2023 particularly special. And in combining this launch with an important 25-year milestone, Nautor has not only revealed more details on the new ClubSwan 43 but has unveiled another ClubSwan model.
‘When we started out with the ClubSwan concept 25 years ago we said to ourselves, before looking for new clients let’s make sure that our existing owners have the best that we can offer,’ said Nautor Group president Leonardo Ferragamo. ‘From delivering the best technical services, the best range of opportunities, events and privileges, let’s ensure that as a community they enjoy the pleasure of owning a Swan. From here we went a stage further and created a new brand that would be identified with ClubSwan.
‘We started our one design chapter with the Swan 45 and ClubSwan 42 before then moving on to the next models, the ClubSwan 36 and ClubSwan 50. From there we went even further with some bigger sisters recently, launching the ClubSwan 80 which delivered an electrifying performance in the last year and the impressive ClubSwan 125, a superyacht that is faster than the wind.
‘But that was only part of the project. Creating a circuit of regattas that would appeal to our broad range of owners led to the Nations League and the Nations Trophy was crucial to the success of the plan.
‘So, while we are of course very proud of what we have achieved, we are also very aware that ClubSwan’s success has been down to the faith that has been placed in us by a lot of owners. And it is this that gives us the confidence to look into the future and take a careful look at how to continue this success.’
Twenty-five years later, that focus and the lessons learned along the way have led to two new ClubSwan designs, both designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian. The biggest is the ClubSwan 43.
Construction is underway with the first boat due to be launched in April 2024 and a target to have four or five boats racing at the Rolex Swan Cup later in the season.
‘The CS43 provides the perfect crossover between racing and cruising and the ability to take part in the most important Swan One design events such as the Nations League and the Swan One Design Worlds. We have also spent a great deal of time focussing on the CS43’s performance under handicap racing,’ says Federico Michetti, head of sports activities and CS43 product manager. ‘It is this versatility that will help to encourage the boat into new markets. The goal was to ensure that the CS43 will compete in the Category A division at ORC events.’
To achieve this important result, the choice of construction methods is crucial.
The laminate will be an epoxy-infused e-glass sandwich construction and solid in the keel and slamming area to guarantee a lightweight, reliable structure. The first two skins will be laid up by hand for the best possible surface finish so there is no need for the added weight of fairing compound.
The moulds are female and CNC milled. Both the hull and the deck will have moulded structural liners to increase production efficiency and to help ensure precise weight control across all boats in the series.
The keel will be a CNC milled, high-strength steel fin with a lead bulb. All of these elements will help to guarantee a strictly one-design construction.
For the rig, a high-modulus carbon mast with the boom and bowsprit also in carbon fibre will optimise the performance of the sailplan. The deck plan featuring six winches was developed with the help of some of the world’s best sailors to guarantee maximum performance in racing but also to give the right level of comfort for cruising.
The transition from one-design to ORC to cruising configuration will be simple and fast. It Is Nautor’s vision for the ClubSwan 43 to be the perfect crossover between one-design racing and performance cruising.
For naval architect Juan Kouyoumdjian, creating this versatility presented a challenge. ‘We’ve been working hard on the ORC side of the development for more than a year, during which time there have been some big changes to the formulae that lie within the rule,’ he says. ‘The result is that we are confident that the rating for the ClubSwan 43 will be a datum within this size range. Also, we have been able to achieve two competitive ratings, one for the one design configuration with the larger racing sails and the other optimised for ORC. In this one the pin-head mainsail is one of the biggest differences.
‘One of the other advantages that we had was being able to use the ClubSwan 42 as a datum. This is a boat that has been successful under ORC for many years and has placed the bar very high which was a great target for us, albeit a tough one. I’m pleased to say that we are confident that we have surpassed it.’
While the focus on racing was a major factor, Nautor also wanted to broaden the use and appeal of their new design. Once again, the catalyst for this took them back 25 years.
‘One of our aims with this boat was to recreate the spirit of the 1990s when families would cruise their boats between regattas,’ says Michetti. ‘We firmly believe that this size of boat is right for that purpose and will help us achieve this.’
As a result, the accommodation layout and design were considered to be especially important. The overall layout is based around a well-tried and tested configuration with two aft cabins and a symmetrical saloon but the styling and execution by Micheletti + Partners takes the ClubSwan 43 onto another level.
‘In drawing up the interior design of the CS43, I tried to reduce and simplify the basic concepts and I organised the spaces by imagining all the activities that are part of life on board,’ Lucio Micheletti explains.
One of the areas where this design concept is most noticeable is the forecabin, which is ingenious and provides a versatile solution to the different needs of racing and cruising. Here, in cruising mode the cabin has a conventional looking bulkhead to provide privacy. But in racing mode this bulkhead is removed to reduce weight in the bows while also making the interior more spacious.
Meanwhile, after having spent a great deal of time looking at the success and the future of the ClubSwan range and how this has influenced the world of keelboat racing, the irrepressible team at Nautor were considering what was to become arguably their boldest move.
While other yacht building yards typically look at producing larger models to progress, Nautor was looking at the smallest boat they have ever created.
Announced earlier this summer, the ClubSwan 28 represents a new entry point into the ClubSwan racing world and has taken many by surprise. As with the ClubSwan 43, the ClubSwan 28 has been created to join the high-level one design events within the ClubSwan regatta scene, but also to be able to participate in many of the other important events around the world.
‘During the development of this boat we’ve been calling it the ‘ClubSwan Baby’ and it’s proved hard to get out of the habit,’ says Michetti. ‘Because the fact is that the ClubSwan 28 is the smallest we have produced and an entry into the Swan racing world. The ClubSwan 28 is also going to be a very exciting boat to race.’
According to Michetti, the sportsboat racing project is based around simplicity, quality of the boat and pure one design speed. To achieve this the specification has been kept as simple as possible with a modest sail plan that includes a mainsail, a light/medium jib, a heavy weather jib, an all-purpose kite and a reaching kite.
Designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian the ability to be trailed was an important feature, as was the need to fit into a 40ft shipping container. ‘The principles of simplicity can be seen clearly in the fact that no hiking is allowed and we have kept the sail wardrobe simple,’ Kouyoumdjian says. ‘The rig is also a carbon fractional spar with no backstays. Instead, the mast bend can be adjusted through a single mast jack.
‘We also set out to create an owner driver class with a maximum number of five crew but with no weight limit and no hiking. The plan is to have six yachts launched by the summer of 2024 and the fleet will join the ClubSwan events around the world.’
So, 25 years after Nautor’s bold move to create a successful international racing scene and a new globally recognised brand, the company can not only look back and celebrate what has been an undisputed success but can point to the future and a scene that does more to bring in new owners and sailors than ever before.