Nautor`s Swan-A Nordic Legend

The beginning

Nautor`s Swan was founded in 1966 by Mr. Pekka Koskenkyla in Pietarsaari, Finland.  

With hundreds of years of Finnish boat building tradition, Pekka Koskenkyla was inspired by a vision to start producing high-quality and high performance sailing yachts, made for the those, like him, who had the passion for cruising and racing in full contact with the water and nature. This was despite the challenging environment around the small town of Pietarsaari, where temperatures can fall to -30 C in the depths of winter and the sea can be frozen for up to five months of the year.

A young and ambitious Pekka Koskenkyla at his desk

A young and ambitious Pekka Koskenkyla at his desk

Mr. Koskenkyla, educated in the USA, had the intuition and the ability to convince Sparkman & Stephens - New York, one of the most acclaimed yacht designers at that time, to design his first sailing yacht in fibreglass trimmed with wood. No one before had built a vessel over 10 metres in length with this material, which was still in its infancy for shipbuilding. He had a vision that this material would dominate the production of vessels in the years to come.

The First Cygnet

The first Swan yacht produced was the Swan 36, a yacht that introduced, in addition to the fibreglass used for the hull, a significant number of innovations such as the rudder positioned fully aft, the skeg separated from the fin keel, the centre of the hull shifted back with the application of a bustle, and the swelling of the keel aft thus providing great steering stability. The result was a fibreglass vessel whose behaviour and safety equalled that of the traditional wooden vessels, that could provide greater steering stability but with less weight and better living space. It was a vessel that marked the beginning of one of the most prestigious boat yards in the world. These yachts have come to embody the ultimate luxury and quality in the sailing industry with full respect for the founder’s motto - “the very best”.

Swan 36 "Tarantella" Owned by Nautor`s first customer, Mr. Heinz Ramm-Schmidt

Swan 36 "Tarantella" Owned by Nautor`s first customer, Mr. Heinz Ramm-Schmidt

Sparkman & Stephens plays a significant part in the success

Sparkman & Stephens were the designers of approximately the first thousand Swan yachts sold by the Yard. These included the memorable and iconic Swan 38 and Swan 47 which, together with the other models, have positioned Swan as synonymous with performance coupled with quality and elegance, enduring reliability, and timeless lines. The unmistakable “Arrow” indented in the hull of every Swan, has eliminated the need to display the brand name. Often copied at other yards, still the original arrow is still unmistakable an icon.

Rod and Olin Stephens Photo©Rosenfeld and Sons   

Rod and Olin Stephens Photo©Rosenfeld and Sons


Fire almost destroyed the yard

In contrast to the initial overwhelming success, fate was soon to deal a blow that would have ramifications for years to come. Shortly before Christmas in 1969, the Assembly Hall of the Nautor’s Swan boat yard burnt to the ground, destroying a dozen hulls in various stages of production. As a result, Pekka was forced to sell stakes in Nautor’s Swan to finance the rebuilding of the yard and to resume production.

Nautor`s Swan Yard in Winter 1970s

Nautor`s Swan Yard in Winter 1970s

Despite this setback, Nautor’s Swan continued to fulfil expectations entering the market for larger seaworthy, elegant and timeless yachts with the introduction of the Swan 55 and the Swan 65. These models offered owners all the joys of cruising combined with the opportunity for racing success - most poignantly, this included Swan 65 Sayula II’s victory in the first ever Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973/74.

A great feature documentary was recently made about the Swan 65 Sayula II. You can watch it here.

Argentinian Design

During the 1980s, Nautor’s Swan entered a new era with the appointment of German Frers as designer, who has since been responsible for the design of all Swan yachts, maintaining that vital balance of competent racers, comfort and beauty in their design. Over 700 yachts have been produced on Frers’ designs, including his first Swan, the Swan 51 in 1981, which was then followed by further great successes such as: the Swan 46 I and II between 1983 and 1997; the Swan 53 in 1986; the Swan 44 in 1985; the new Swan 36 in 1988; the Swan 48 in 1995; the Maxi models represented in the current SwanLine including the Swan 60, Swan 66, Swan 80, Swan 90, Swan 100, Swan 105, Swan 110 and Swan 115.

Legendary Yacht Designer German Frers. Photo: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

Legendary Yacht Designer German Frers. Photo: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

The contribution of Frers also permitted Nautor’s Swan to enter in the “one design” racing yacht segment with the design of the Swan 45 in 2001, followed by the “Club Swan 42” in 2005 developed in association with the prestigious New York Yacht Club to encourage the return to traditional Corinthian sailing competitions and finally the Gazprom Swan 60 Class founded in 2012.

Italian Flair warms the cold winters in Finland

Since 1998 Leonardo Ferragamo and a group of investors have controlled and managed Nautor’s Swan. A passionate sailor, he already owned two Swans before taking over the boat works, and he has since added another six to his stable. “When I first got married, my wife wanted a summerhouse and I wanted a Swan—I bought the Swan first,” says Ferragamo, who visits the yard every two or three months. “So when I acquired the company, I already had such respect for the brand. I recognized the enormous pride and craftsmanship that went into building a Swan.” Said Mr. Ferragamo in an interesting interview in The Wall Street Journal i 2015.

The management has evolved the brand by continuing to push forward a whirlwind of innovations and changes that firmly place the Swan yachts at the forefront of the international sailing world. The fact that both Ferragamo and Nautor’s Swan hail from cultures that take very long-term views of the business of yacht design is comforting to all Nautor`s Swan aficionados. 

Unparalleled Build Quality

Nautor’s Swan is proud of its unmatched quality control, which is guaranteed by the fully integrated in-house building process, from the design to the finest details and final testing before the handover of each yacht to its owners.

In the lamination halls of Kållby, Finland the plugs are carved out by a robot milling machine, moulds are made and hulls laminated and cured. The hulls of the pure cruising yachts are still hand laid-up rather than vacuum-infused, while the bigger models are in foam-cored carbon, or in some cases with a skin of carbon on the inside and another of glass on the outside – heavier, but easier to repair. The attention to weight saving here is extremely impressive. 

The build material used in the carbon hulls is a mixture of pre-preg carbon and Sprint, depending on where it is to be used. The woven carbon of Sprint fabric sandwiches a toughened, hot melt epoxy resin. It makes a good tough bond with the foam core, but not with honeycomb, so pre-preg is used on honeycomb-cored bulkheads and for components that require fine, sharp corners. 

The joinery factory where the interiors are crafted by hand is near the town of Kronoby. In most cases, the process begins with the so-called ‘teak hunter’ who travels to Burma to select the timber that will be used for veneers on the majority of Swans. Nautor’s Swan is unusual in stitching the veneer skins onto the plywood itself (all the furniture is foam-cored). Many other builders buy this ready-made. 

Swan 60s


Nautor’s Swan stands out amongst its competitors for the exceptional in-house knowledge and fully self-sufficient design process – unique assets that set the company apart as leader in its field. The work carried out at Oy Nautor Ab covers all elements of design and construction – from the composite/structural engineering, to the deck layout and sail handling design, interior styling, systems and hydraulics, HVAC engineering, electrical and electronics. Most other yards that produce yachts of similar range and characteristics outsource some of the work, usually part or all of the engineering. The team at Nautor’s Swan has complete control over the quality of each and every single component of the boat and each and every step of the building process. No stone is left unturned.

The Latest Evolutionary Step - A New ClubSwan 125

A newly-formed ClubSwan Yachts division is moving forward with pace after the launch of the ClubSwan 50 last in 2016. Another exciting project has just been started, marking yet another milestone in Nautor’s Swan’s history of craftsmanship, innovation and technological advancement.

Juan Kouyoumidjian designed ClubSwan 125

Juan Kouyoumidjian designed ClubSwan 125

Designed by the talented mind of Juan Kouyoumidjian, who also designed the ClubSwan 50, the ClubSwan 125 is a project being realized for a knowledgeable and skilled racing owner, who relishes the high-performance ideals and fresh-thinking behind the concept.

Nautor`s Swan seem as dedicated as ever before and technology from the new ClubSwan line of super fast yachts will certainly trickle down on other models as time and development continues.

Here is to another 50 years!

The Editor (right) behind the helm with his older brother. The S&S Swan 57, Whitbread competitor, Berge Viking in the early 1980s

The Editor (right) behind the helm with his older brother. The S&S Swan 57, Whitbread competitor, Berge Viking in the early 1980s

Source: Nautor`s Swan, The Wall Street Journal.

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