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On board the first 29.6m Swan 98 sailing yacht BeCool

15 July 2021 • Written by Elaine Bunting

From a vantage point offshore, the owner of BeCool would watch the yacht racing off Porto Cervo. He followed in his 16-metre tender, a 50-knot missile powered by three 630hp outboards, observing the mark roundings and spinnaker hoists. His life in the fast lane included a Mangusta 108 that can run at 36 knots and kiteboarding in big waves. But he had never owned a sailing yacht.

"When people look everybody asks us: ‘What boat is that?’”
All images courtesy of @YCI | Carlo Borlenghi

“When I used to watch the racing with him, he would ask me: ‘You see the head of the mast doesn’t have a crane? Why is that?’” says marine consultant Odo Giordo. “He was always very interested in the technical details. But this boat came as a surprise. Three years ago, at the end of summer he called me and said: ‘Are you free because I need to tell you something. I am signing this contract.’.”

BeCool, the first 29.6-metre Swan 98, was never to be anything but quick. Nautor and designer Germán Frers conceived it as a fast performance cruiser but hull No 1 was refined even further as a super light, agile version created for someone used to the thrills of the express lane.

BeCool was never meant to be anything but quick

The semi-custom Swan 98 fits into the company’s existing maxi line between the Swan 88, the Swan 108 and the flagship Swan 120. It lands in an active racing niche while also being a good size for world cruising and charter.

“The 100ft (30m) maxi yacht range is what we have been famous for, so the 98 is an interesting size for us,” says Benny Brännbacka, Nautor Finland chief operations officer. “We try to find the perfect balance between performance and cruising, and a platform owners can tailor to their needs.”

Brännbacka has a family heritage with Nautor, which is not unusual at the Finnish yard. It goes a long way towards explaining why the company has been so continuously associated with quality for over 55 years. He is the third generation to work there. “The first Swan 36s were laminated in my grandfather’s brother’s shed – his brothers set it up – my father worked in the plug and mould area for 36 years and my father’s cousin was here for 46 years,” he says.

Every avenue possible was explored to boost performance

The Swan 98 shares a common aesthetic theme with others in the Maxi line, with a staunch plumb stem and straight-sweeping sheerline topped with a sliver of low profile coachroof. The hull and deck are built in epoxy SPRINT pre-preg carbon-fibre skins on a core of Corecell foam, giving strength and stiffness but at the lightest possible weight. The yacht’s beam is carried well aft, max-imising space below and giving the yacht good form stability.

BeCool has a telescopic keel that reduces draft from 4.9 metres to 3.2 metres to access shallower anchorages, yet is efficient for upwind sailing. This is an option that combines some of the benefits of both a fixed keel and a lifting keel: it achieves similar draught adjustment to the lifting keel with relatively minor intrusion into the interior.

Down below, BeCool is unmistakably a Swan, with the deceptively clean Nordic look and fastidiously-executed joinery

Every avenue possible was explored to boost performance. Odo Giordo of OG Marine Consulting acted as the owner’s representative throughout the build. He comes from a background that includes the build of race-tuned Wallys such as Tango and Magic Carpet, and says: “This boat had to be more performance [orientated] than the normal version, especially in lighter airs, because it would be sailing all the time around Sardinia. So you have to act from the very beginning to make sure the hull is stiff enough for a higher modulus mast.

“We started with an analysis of the hull together with a structural company so that from the beginning we knew we would be able to achieve speed, especially upwind.”

A detailed weight study was carried out and the quest to save kilos cascaded to almost every area of the build and specification. From interior components to brackets, furniture and cabin sole – everything was to be as featherweight as possible. “All the machinery supports and electrical conduits are made in carbon fibre rather than aluminium, plastic or steel,” he says.

“We started with an analysis of the hull together with a structural company so that from the beginning we would be able to achieve speed."

“We also worked on deck hardware. We have used lashings everywhere possible rather than metal [fittings]. For the headstay we went for a furling system with a torsion-resistant composite cable rather than a foil, a system very similar to the ones used on IMOCA 60s as a concept.”

The mast is a Southern Spars high modulus carbon spar supported by aerofoil carbon shrouds, verticals and diagonals in ECsix. When racing, a large square top mainsail is set, which can be swapped over for a 10% smaller, more manageable cruising pinhead main.

The sail inventory from North Sails in 3di can be used while cruising as well as when racing. And while these will provide potent performance, there is more in BeCool’s tank. She is not fitted with a bowsprit, because the owner preferred the look of the yacht without one, but if fitted it would give BeCool another warp speed.

BeCool features a traditional navy theme on the interior

“To give you an idea, a spinnaker [set on a bowsprit] could be 200m2 larger. Instead of 800m2 total we could go up to 1,000m2,” says Giordo.

Nevertheless, the Swan 98 is poised for champagne cruising and her two cockpits include one for guests abaft the coachroof that is free of lines and perfect for guests to relax underway.

Down below, BeCool is unmistakably a Swan, with the deceptively clean Nordic look and fastidiously-executed joinery that is the brand’s hallmark. Four themes were chosen by Genovese designer Misa Poggi and Nautor’s interior designer, Heini Gustafsson. This yacht features a traditional navy theme, with dark oak furniture and vertical slats.

“The oak has a hand-rubbed satin finish which has a very tactile finish and is easy to repair,” says Gustafsson. “It is the way Nautor has done it for decades and although it is time consuming it is part of our DNA.”

The mast is supported by aerofoil carbon shrouds, verticals and diagonals in ECsix

Contrasting with the straight grain of the furniture, 20cm wide planks of crown-cut, cathedral grain oak is used on the cabin sole for a more lively pattern. The furniture and floors are counterpointed by hand-stitched leather and linen panels, and leather detailing.

“There are a lot of silky and leather features and we are using 100% linen upholstery, which also has to do with the overall tactile feeling,” Gustafsson explains.

The saloon can be configured in different ways for dining, entertaining or lounging. To starboard, two height-adjustable tables can slide to form one long dining table for eight people. To port, a coffee table with tray top and storage beneath sits opposite the lounge sofa but can be converted into a pouffe and moved towards the sofa. A TV rises from the aft end of the sofa.

In the bedrooms, the wall upholstery is in linen by Filippo Uecher

Leather inlays on the table tops and stitched panels on the aft bulkhead are matched by retainers for the bookshelves in the style of leather belts. In a nod to the history of the classic Swans, the deckhead panels and hatch surrounds are trimmed with wood. “We have reinvented ourselves here,” notes Gustafsson.

The owner’s cabin occupies the aft end of the boat, and is a self-contained suite with a walk-in wardrobe and heads to port. As in the guest cabins, the wall upholstery here is in linen by Filippo Uecher. Companionway steps give private access to the aft deck, but when the hatch is closed over, they look almost exactly like bookshelves.

The owner of BeCool decided not to have the hull windows in the saloon and cabins, so that going below feels like a retreat. A keen art collector, he commissioned photographic art for the cabins, which is placed where the hull windows would normally be. “We played with different lights and put some backlighting there and it is a fantastic feature. You don’t feel the lack of [the windows], be-cause you go from harsh sunlight to what feels like a cosy cave,” says Gustafsson.

After BeCool was launched last summer a plan to deliver under sail to Sardinia had to be changed because of Covid restrictions, and instead she was shipped to Italy. It was possible to make a cruise along the coast of Tuscany south towards Rome, but no opportunities yet to line up against other yachts.

The secret of BeCool is how good she looks both flat out under full sail and at rest at anchor

“Our first impression is that the boat is fast,” says Odo Giordo. “The first time we were sailing with the owner there were 25 knots [of wind] and he was driving and was very happy. It was just for crew, me and the owner, and in gusts of 28 knots the boat performed well with the jib and full main, and we were reaching at 17 knots. You can feel lightweight, especially when you are accelerating on a reach.”

The secret of BeCool is how good she looks both flat out under full sail and at rest at anchor. “This boat is beautiful because on the one hand you have really a lot of details to admire if you are an expert, but you can also be attracted by the look of it,” says Giordo. “The colour of the mast changes depending on the light, and the oyster white hull and the coachroof in light metallic grey look very custom and different. When people look everybody asks us: ‘What boat is that?’”

More about this yacht

Nautor Swan   31.05 m •  2020

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