Elegance is a major preoccupation for the top brass at Nautor Swan and when they began to design their new flagship Swan 108, one of the project’s primary objectives was to produce the most beautiful maxi Swan to date.
‘Like every new model we produce, throughout the design and build process we spend a great deal of time looking at data, drawings and renderings and the Swan 108 was no exception. But when she came out of the mould for the first time we knew we had something special,’ says Nautor Group CEO Giovanni Pomati.
It is difficult to think of a time when the Finnish builders haven’t been busy, but in recent years and despite the recent global challenges, the rate of production has ramped up with new models streaming into a comprehensive range that is constantly evolving. Naturally, evolution is no accident for a company that has been producing luxury offshore yachts for 57 years, neither is their reputation for leading by example. But the need to produce elegant yachts has been an underlying constant as well throughout this time.
‘As a company we are obsessed with being as modern as possible,’ continues Pomati. ‘Along with our reputation for producing beautiful yachts, which we clearly want to maintain, it’s a fast-moving world and looking old is not an option. Elegance is in Swan’s DNA and when it came to creating the 108 one of our primary goals was to produce the most beautiful blue water maxi Swan to date.’
An ambitious goal perhaps, but with the success of the Swan 98, 115 and 120 the company had the enviable advantage of considerable experience in this area. The superyacht arena has been particularly successful for Nautor and this provided a key datum for their thinking when they were creating the 108.
‘Each of the boats in the group played an important part in the development of the 108,’ Pomati continues. ‘Aside from being a great looking boat and a good performer, the 98 brought Swan back into the superyacht world with maxis that were not aimed solely at racing but were focused on performance cruising.
‘The four 115s that we built made it clear that it was possible to combine all of our previous experience with custom construction as they represented different approaches. Two of them, Solleone and Shamanna, were cruising yachts and represent milestones for Swan, while the other two, Highland Fling and Odin, were successful racing boats.
‘So, what we learned from the 115s and the 98s was that it was possible to take some of the key production elements and combine them with a custom build. This saved a great deal of time and expense and yet still allowed busy and active owners to take delivery of their perfect boat without the extra costs, complexity and longer time frames that are sometimes involved in a fully custom boat. ‘That was one of our starting points for the 108, another was to create a completely new and up-to-date hull shape.’
With these two key goals in mind and given that appearance was high on the list, it was perhaps inevitable that one of the central players in the international design team would be Germán Frers. Highly regarded as having created some of the most striking boats in the world, his team’s involvement provided a guarantee of good looks. Add to this Lucio Micheletti’s expertise in exterior design and Misa Poggi’s acknowledged talent for interior design and it’s hard to see this as anything other than a dream team.
‘As we worked through the early design concepts it became clear that the 108 provides a great deal of versatility when it comes to the interior configuration. An example of this is the ability to have crew accommodation aft for up to five people, along with a large owner’s cabin forward without compromising the space amidships that’s required for a spacious saloon and well-proportioned guest accommodation.
Entering the ruthlessly competitive power boat market was something that Swan thought long and hard about. It was clear that while they knew they could build a power boat to the same exceptionally high standards as the sailing yachts in their range, there had to be a very good reason for them to do so.
Originally the idea was to create a tender for their superyachts, to provide owners with a 360-degree experience. Swan Shadow was the result and once launched it attracted a great deal of interest. With its ability to explore bays and ports that are not easily accessible to a big yacht, it was clear that Swan Shadow could deliver a broad range of benefits while looking completely at ease with the Swan family style.
Since its launch, its success has led the Nautor Swan team to develop OverShadow, the next generation of inboard engine, gran tourismo configuration with more accommodation below decks and a capacity for longer trips.
Outside, the flush deck offers great liveability with an outside wet bar and galley plus a two-metre-long sunbed with a wide dining area around them.
The full, closed bow creates more space below deck, where OverShadow offers two alternative layouts: a double bed or a twin bed configuration where both options offer a larger and better appointed heads compartment than their predecessor.
Using the same successful and efficient hull shape as Shadow, the Swan OverShadow will be unveiled at Cannes Yachting Festival this summer.
‘Interestingly, among the people that are looking currently at the 108, all are focused on blue water cruising around the world, no one is looking at the grand prix racing scene. Having said that, superyacht regattas are frequently part of the planning for those who are mainly focused on cruising. This also says a great deal about why we were keen to create a modern hull shape with good performance while still tapping into the elements that make for a comfortable long-distance cruiser.’
The option for a lifting keel is another example of this dual thinking as a practical solution for owners who seek to combine the benefits of a long-legged global cruiser with a superyacht that can enjoy the best harbours and anchorages in the world.
‘The option for a lifting keel is one that is being asked for more and more,’ Pomati continues. ‘It’s a little bit like carbon masts were a few years ago. Back then carbon masts were an option, today they are standard aboard this size of boat and I see lifting keels going much the same way.
‘The use of stern thrusters is another example. Where once they were considered a plus, now they are a regular part of the specifications for many Swan owners.’
The sail plan is another area where the 108 has been designed to be able to cater for a wide range of tastes. From in-boom furling to more racing-oriented squaretopped mainsails, the new Swan Maxi can cater for a range of rig options. The ample foretriangle provides a similar scope for a variety of headsail configurations where up to four stays can break down the total sail area into easily managed proportions that allow simple and effective gear changes.
The 108’s deck layout is deceptively smart. Clean, uncluttered and elegant, this is also a layout that combines practicality with comfort. Twin wheels and pedestals are positioned close to the control lines while the ample guest cockpit amidships is not only in the most secure area of the boat but can be configured in a variety of ways.
The aft deck also has plenty of space for lounging and sunbathing, while the spacious fold-down bathing platform has already been nicknamed the terrace by the sea.
Below deck, the wide variety of colour schemes ranges from timeless classic through traditional navy and wine colours, the mood of which is called Wine Cowes. Each of these helps to show off the subtly different approach that Nautor has adopted, which began with the development of the innovative Swan 120.
‘We spent a great deal of time ensuring that the saloon accommodation gives the feel of a high-end apartment where you feel in touch with the outside world,’ he continues. ‘But while contemporary looks are very much in evidence with the 108, modern thinking for systems behind the scenes has been just as important.
‘The move towards hybrid systems has seen a focus on achieving a greater capacity for the hotel loads,’ Pomati says. ‘Silent running at night is important to our clients but the demands are extending into daytime activities too where operating the boat, the air conditioning and cooking facilities without running the generator is a familiar objective for many.
‘From here the second goal is to include motoring without noise, while the third phase is to achieve a large proportion of this through hydrogeneration while sailing.’
The bottom line is that while family looks are important in a brand and a range that has been famous for its appearance, it is clear that evolution continues to be a crucially important part of the development of any new Swan. And here the 108 looks set to be one of Nautor’s finest.