Nautor's Swan 45 raised many eyebrows when the first boat hit the water just over a year ago. Not only was this new boat the smallest Swan to be built for some years, it was also very firmly positioned as a one design class cruiser racer.
Back at the London Boat Show for a second year, to defend her 2002 Boat of the Show award, the 45 has also picked up the Sailing World Magazine's Boat of the Year 2003 on the way. The Daily Sail caught up with John Irving of Nautor Swan UK to get an update on how the class was developing.
The simple answer is extremely well: In the UK alone there will be six yachts racing from early April, with another coming later in the year. Yes, that is seven brand new Swan 45s racing in the Solent. In all there are now 30 boats sold worldwide, with the key European market in addition to the UK, being the smart end of the Med around Italy and the South of France. The US is home to another seven, mostly around the Long Island area.
Of the new UK boats, only two are going to existing Swan owners. Harry Evans has a new Alvine and Keith Miller has a new Crackerjack. They join the first UK owner Tony Mack and his McFly. Mack took delivery of his new boat just before Cowes last year and had a successful first week out sailing with his regular crew. In IRC 1 they found their main competition was the Corby designed Carphone Warehouse which frequently had to work pretty hard to keep the 45 at bay.
New owners into the Swan family are Glynn Williams with Wolf and Nigel Bramwell with Hawk. Both have campaigned in several classes including the Farr IC45 and will add considerable depth to the UK fleet. Another yacht is going to a pair of owners, one from Scotland and the other from London. The final 45 has been bought by a motorsport enthusiast who is new into the sport of sailing, in John Irvings words; "When he saw the boat he was convinced that if he was going to go yacht racing then the 45 looked like the right sort of boat".
Racing for the UK based boats is focused on the Swan 45 North European Area Championship, which runs from 25-27 June and is then swiftly followed by the Swan Europeans running through to the 3 July. Both events are based in Cowes and it is anticipated that most of the 45s will stay on for Cowes Week in August. The season kicks off with a number of specific coaching and racing weekends run out of Hamble. It is understood that Wolf and Crackerjack will also be attending the Scottish Series too.
Swan have had a long standing relationship with the RORC rating office who have administered the Nautor Swan Rating, commonly referred to as the Swandicap, for many years. The 45 builds on this and Mike Urwin of RORC has drawn up the class rules and Carole Abbot is the class secretary.
The 45 races in class as a level boat. The common dominator being the weight of the boat and adjustments taken in the form of lead correctors. It does not go down the 'strict' route as Nautor are keen to keep some degree of individual choice for their owners, such as deck hardware and fit out. There are for example three different styles of interior to choose from.
Building on the worldwide successes of owner-driver boats the Swan 45 actively encourages the owners to steer. Nautor understand their customers extremely well and again they have made provision for Group 1 or 2 helms, if the owners want to hand over the steering at any time.
One innovative feature of the boat is the ability to adjust the weight of the bulb for IMS racing. Up to 400kg can be added, or removed, via a specially designed access in the bulb. This has been put to good affect in the prototype boat that has been racing in the Med up against IMS weapons like the IMX 45.
During the Swan Cup last year in Sardinia the 45 came under scrutiny as two new boats both snapped their rudders. Not a great start to the new class but John quickly points out that the matter has been swiftly resolved. In both cases the carbon rudder stock failed when the boats wiped out going downwind at over 20 knots.
All the broken bits were taken back to Nautor's test facility at VTT Helsinki. This is a Government backed technical research centre in Finland where the bits of carbon where put under the microscope. The new stocks are still carbon but are now built to a much higher specification based on this analysis. The only additional modification to the boat since her launch has been to upgrade the mainsheet traveller system.
45s are being built at the rate of one every other week, thanks to Nautor's new production facility called Boatbuilding Technology Centre (BTC) in Jakostad, Finland. That means that the Swan Cup in 2004 may see a fleet of 45s drawn from over 50 boats worldwide, now that's what The Daily Sail calls good racing.
|Length overall||45.37 ft|
|Length of waterline||39.60 ft|
|Draught (light)||9.19 ft|
|Draught (loaded)||9.45 ft|
Rig and sail dimension
Nautor's Swan UK and Ireland
Tel: +44 23 8045 4880