Greatest hits: Mapping the history of Nautor's Swan

29 June 2021

Founded as Oy Nautor AB by Finnish entrepreneur Pekka Koskenkyla in 1966, Nautor’s Swan has become one of the foremost sailing yacht shipyards in the industry. We take a look at some of the greatest accomplishments to emerge from the Finland-based firm, dating from its early years to today...

The first Swan sailing yacht, the Swan 36, is produced one year after the company is founded on the shores of the Bothina Gulf in Pietarsaari, western Finland – where freezing temperatures falling to below 30 degrees celsius can freeze the seawater for almost five months of the year. Despite the odds, the yard produces the first vessel measuring over 10 metres to use the new and innovative material of fibreglass. The model was designed by Sparkman & Stephens.

A Swan 36 model named Casse Tete II is delivered to British sailor Dave Johnson in early 1968. She features fast lines and a modern separated fin keel combined with a skeg hung rudder. Johnson successfully sails the yacht on the British regatta circuit, achieving racing accolades during the notable Cowes Week. The triumphs of Johnson’s Swan 36 help cement her maker’s reputation as a leading builder of high-performance racing yachts and sparks the development of the Swan 37 and Swan 43 models.

A Swan 43 yacht wins the prestigious Admiral’s Cup regatta in Cowes, a historic race considered the unofficial world championship of offshore racing. This win further bolsters the brand’s reputation as a manufacturer of prize-winning sailing yachts. The model becomes the preferred choice of discerning sailors such as Austrian Philharmonic conductor Herbert von Karajan, who sailed a Swan 43 named Helisara II.

The 19.9-metre Swan 65 Sayula II wins the first Whitbread Round the World Race ever to be held. Skippered by Mexican sailor Ramon Carlin, the Sparkman & Stephens-designed fibreglass sailing yacht covers the full distance of 32,500 nautical miles in 133 days and 13 hours between 1973 and 1974.

New Zealand Designer Ron Holland begins his collaboration with the Nautor’s Swan brand. Between 1978 and 1981 the creative partnership resulted in five different models of which around 300 units are produced, including the popular Swan 37, Swan 39 and Swan 42 sailing yachts.

The first Swan 51 is launched in 1981 and marks the introduction of Argentinian designer Germán Frers to the creative team. After penning the Swan 51, Frers continues to work with the shipyard on a number of models including the Swan 53 first launched in 1986, the Swan 44 in 1985, the new Swan 36 in 1988 and the Swan 48 in 1995. Frers also designed the Maxi models including the Swan 60, Swan 66, Swan 80, Swan 90, Swan 100 (pictured above), Swan 105, Swan 110 and Swan 115 and continues collaborating with the yard to today, having produced over 700 yachts to date.

The biggest yacht ever to be built by Nautor’s Swan, Aristarchos, is launched. She is built on the Swan 131 model and measures 39.99 metres with a volume of 185GT. The black-hulled superyacht can accommodate nine guests and six crew members and has a cruising range of 2,000 nautical miles.

At the Monaco Yacht Show in September 2015, Nautor’s Swan presents the concept for the first Swan 115 model. Yachts since launched in the range include Shamanna, (pictured above), which hit the water in 2016. The Swan 115 becomes the flagship of the new generation of the brand's maxi yachts. The first hull of the Swan Maxi 120 is currently under construction in the shipyard, the fourth hull of Swan 98 will be launched very soon and two new models of the Maxi Swan line have been presented in May 2021 as already sold in their first hulls: Swan 88 – first electric propulsion Swan boat, and Swan 108.

A new yard solely dedicated to the production of the Swan Maxi yachts is opened in the Finnish city of Jakobstad. The Maxi Swan line consists of the 28.27-metre Swan 88, the 29.6-metre Swan 98 and the 36.55-metre Swan 108 and Swan 120. The first Swan 120 hull (pictured above) is scheduled to hit the water in 2021.

As the Nautor’s Swan brand enters the second decade of the 21st century it branches out into the world of motor yachts with the arrival of the Swan Shadow concept. The Swan Shadow powerboat will incorporate the yard’s performance-orientated sailing yacht expertise and is designed for use as a superyacht tender customised to the owner’s wishes. Three outboard engines, ranging from 225 to 350hp will power her up to an impressive top speed of 55 knots.