The result of a design competition won by Juan K, the ClubSwan 50 is outrageously good to sail, says Toby Hodges. All pics by Rick Tomlinson.
Many of the design features may look like glitzy, go-faster additions, but there’s sound reasoning behind them. The flare to the quarters extends the maximum beam right aft, for example. Twin rudders allow the boat to be pushed when reaching, so the flares create a hiking platform where crew weight is best concentrated to help keep the bow up.
The twin rudders which allow you to load up the boat also mean the mast can be brought back in respect of the keel, Juan K explains. This in turn allows the use of powerful reaching headsails. A mast stepped relatively far aft means its foot would pierce the centre of the accommodation were it keel-stepped. So, a deck-stepped mast, supported by a formidable carbon bridge below, offers the most efficient mast position. “And for offshore purposes it is a lot safer – watertightness is assured,” Juan K adds.
With a mast sited abaft midships, the boom stretches right aft, allowing the mainsail to sheet to a sunken traveller
that utilises the majority of the 50’s beam aft.
The angled companionway hatch and the control line set-up on the coachroof above is also influenced by high-end racing yachts. The V-shaped inhauler purchases on the coachroof look slick and work particularly well. The jib sheets are led via transverse jib tracks, with the blocks suspended from the shroud bases to allow three-way control.
However, it should be noted that the test boat we sailed was still very much in prototype phase. Certain parts had yet to be installed or fixed properly, such as the foot braces for the helmsman and mainsail trimmer, because Nautor wanted to perfect angles and placements.
Luxury sport style
My first impressions of the interior were similar to that of the exterior – it is so refreshing, so different, so contemporary. You expect a rocketship like this to have an interior as bare as a space capsule. Instead Nautor has managed to dust it with a fair sprinkling of Swan luxury.
The angular look, set off by the straight caulking lines on deck, is continued below using teak soleboards with holly stripes, while athwartships lines break up the bulkheads and panels. Michel Bonan, the trusted architect of Swan chairman Leonardo Ferragamo, designed the interior and he has used leather, teak and clear-coat carbon as the dominant materials to style a space that suits both racing and short cruises.
Virtually everything is made from foam-cored carbon, yet without impacting on the luxurious Italian look. “The weight saving is what you don’t see,” Vanni Galgani remarks. Lift a floorboard or peer behind a locker and you find bare carbon. Even the headliners and faux TNG side panels are moulded from carbon. Nautor shapes the carbon panels and furniture in Finland before it sends them to leather upholstery experts Poltrona Frau in Italy.
My main concern below would be the durability of the white and cream panels and leatherwork. It is also difficult to judge a boat that was certainly not finished. Some sideliners and headliners had yet to be fixed; some already showed signs of wear and tear.
The saloon table extends too far into the centre, hindering an otherwise clean walk-through, but Swan says it will be moved further outboard. With a yard like Nautor you do have a degree of faith that these things will be corrected and adjusted. Indeed, a list of refinements was planned for hulls two and three before the three raced in September.
The switch from leisure to racing modes has been well considered. The twin sofa beds in the saloon have backrests that clip up to form race berths. The tan leather hanging wardrobes all come out, as does the forward berth, to create sail stowage/packing space.
Owners can choose a two- or three-cabin layout, the former with a galley aft instead of the third cabin as per our test boat. This minimalist white box – it’s the size of a large aft heads – is practical enough for weekending. It has a two-burner stove, small sink and fridge and good locker space. In the three-cabin model, the galley steals the separate shower area forward of the saloon.
A dominant feature is the massive sandwich carbon bridge forward of the saloon to absorb loads of the deck-stepped mast. It is wide enough to allow unhindered access forward. A carbon panel that hinges down from the main bulkhead, together with a switch panel above, acts as the navstation adjoining the saloon berth. Dividing the heads and shower cabins amidships each side is a clever solution – both have a sink, so this effectively creates two washrooms.
Here’s that Swan luxury! Teak veneer is used on the soles, running boards and hatch surrounds, giving a warm effect, plus plenty of leather is used around the berth and in the collapsible fabric wardrobes. The headliner stripes really highlight the foredeck camber – the latter a design feature that helps retain 5ft 10in headroom.
Most people want to mark their 50th in some style, but Nautor’s Swan has gone the extra step and then some with this celebratory ClubSwan 50. It could not have produced a monohull so radically different from its very first Sparkman & Stephens design back in 1966, the 36.
It seems ironic that it is Swan, a name known for its timeless, graceful lines, that has produced the most aggressive design angles and innovative build solutions of the modern era.
Granted, they won’t appeal to all, but design can become stagnant and sometimes this segment of the industry needs a shake-up. The ClubSwan 50 is not just a breath of fresh air but a lungful. It is the pin-up of 2016, a brazen, aggressive beast of a sports/luxury racer-cruiser.
Factor in the one-design and Nations Cup racing element and she’s a like a 50ft Wally Cento – a raceboat with an enticing regatta programme, but one that allows premium comfort and lashings of prestige.
Nautor needs to finish the boat to a higher level than that on the first boat I tested to justify its price-tag. But I have no doubt that it will. Either way, I’m fairly certain that it won’t prevent sales. If ever there was a yacht to hook a buyer at first glance, the ClubSwan 50 is it.
Take the helm and it’s near impossible not to become infatuated.
The Nations Cup
ClubSwan 50 owners will have access to a new and existing chain of prestige races and events. A world ranking will ensure the best boat per flag/country competes in the Nations Cup, the first edition of which is scheduled in Palma next October.
Nautor’s Swan says it can build 15 boats by then – 12 had already been sold at the time of writing. German Olympic champion Jochen Schuemann is the class president and in 2018 one-design events will be established for the class.
ClubSwan 50 specifications
LOA: 16.74m (54ft 11in)
LWL: 14.00m (45ft 11in)
Beam (Max): 4.20m (13ft 9in)
Draught: 3.50m (11ft 6in)
Disp (lightship): 8,500kg (18,739lb)
Ballast: 3,450kg (7,606lb)
Sail area (100% foretriangle): 149.6sq m (1,610sq ft)
Engine: 75hp (56kW)
Water: 350lt (77gal)
Fuel: 300lt (66gal)
Sail area:disp: 86
Price (ex VAT): €935,000 (£806,310)
Design: Juan Kouyoumdjian