Toby Hodges is excited by the prospect of this new 54-footer from Nautor, the smallest cruising Swan in ten years
Nautor’s Swan has announced an exciting new model for 2016, its smallest cruising Swan in nearly ten years – since the Swan 46 and 53 in 2005, in fact. And rumour has it there might be something smaller and sportier to come – more on that next month.
This news comes at an unexpected time, with Swan in the midst of producing some of its largest yachts yet – four 115-footers are currently in build. Are we seeing the return to the mid-size fast cruiser shapes that forged the Finnish company’s long-standing reputation?
A bluewater cruiser from Swan is particularly exciting. The term may bandied about a bit these days, but there are certainly clues with this Swan 54 to suggest that Nautor is targeting an ocean cruising client base and not simply pushing another performance cruiser into an already crowded market.
Stowage on deck looks excellent and includes a cockpit locker, lazarette and that particularly valuable commodity for long-distance sailors, a sail locker. The cockpit locker is actually a utility cabin, which can house a generator and washing machine, or be used as a workshop or converted to a berth if desired.
Down below there is a double cabin amidships and a U-shaped galley beside the companionway, a practical arrangement at sea. Tank volume is at the moderate rather than impressive end of the scale for this size yacht – 495lt of fuel and 684lt of water.
Just right for ocean sailing
German Frers has given the 54 a modest shape, which might look a little dated compared with some of her competition, but should suit ocean sailing. The raked stem, fin keel and sloping transom, for example, are features we might have seen in a Frers Swan from the 1980s, but their attributes are just as relevant today. The stem should help softly part waves, while the transom cleverly folds out to produce a 2.5m bathing platform – which will be appreciated in warm anchorages.
A vee-shaped hull below the waterline is a tried and tested design to ensure as comfortable a motion as possible to weather. Interestingly, Nautor’s Swan is providing the option for a shallow keel of just 1.4m combined with twin rudders.
Gone is the super lightweight carbon construction seen on recent Swans. The 54’s hull will be built in single-skin glassfibre reinforced with vinylester laminate.
Frers has given the 54 a generous sail plan, including a large foretriangle, but one that is promised to be easy to handle. The four winches on the coamings close to the aft helms are all powered, with clutches to enable multiple tasks. Jib tracks are mounted on the coachroof, promoting close pointing ability and clear side decks. The mainsheet is also mounted on the coachroof instead of in the cockpit, to create space for a sizeable bimini.
Swan says the interior will be both bright and refined, with plenty of natural light and a natural oak finish. The galley looks particularly generous in size, and provides the option of up to three fridges. Two of the double cabins are to port, and the owner’s cabin forward, linking to one of two heads.
The first 54 is scheduled to launch in July 2016 and has been sold to a British couple.
Price ex VAT €1.1m (£988,093). www.swan54.com
LOA 16.48m/54ft 7in
LWL 14.40m/47ft 2in
Beam 4.75m/15ft 6in
Draught 2.44m/8ft 1in
This is an extract from a feature in Yachting World October 2015 issue