Swan 58 proves “fit for purpose”: Germàn Frers
It’s very hard to ‘improve’ a Swan design, especially when the last one in line came from the drawing board of the inestimable Germàn Frers. But it is possible.
By Guy Nowell.
The Swan 58 was launched earlier this year
The first time I raced across blue water, it was from Hong Kong to San Fernando in the Philippines. I now wish I had taken more notice of the boat I was on, which was a Swan 53.
I have crossed the South China Sea many times since then and have discovered that few – if any – of the boats involved offered the seaworthiness, comfort and performance of that Swan. Indeed, some of them should never have gone out of sight of land at all.
The 58 is among over 90 Swan models designed by Germàn Frers since 1981
Nautor’s Swan, the chaps that build boats all through the dark and freezing winter in Finland, and then roll them out come springtime when the sea ice thaws, have now added a Swan 58 to their collection. And if you think it looks like a grown-up version of the Swan 48 launched in 2019, you’d not be wrong.
“They were both designed at the same time, but the forward sections are a little softer in order to make the upwind ride more comfortable when it’s blowing force 5-6 offshore,” says Germàn Frers, who turned 80 in July.
This boat is specifically designed to be more comfortable crossing an ocean. Swan calls it the ‘Bluewater Concept’.
The Swan 58 premieres at this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival
“The devil is in the details, because that’s how you design to be fit for purpose,” adds the Argentine, who has been designing for Swan since 1981 and is responsible for all the brand’s current yachts apart from the ClubSwan models.
“There’s no sense in drawing a flat-out race boat and then trying to dress it up as a family cruiser. The new Swan 58 is designed to be easily handled by two people when cruising or to be raced by a full crew, and to be as comfortable a living space as possible when crossing oceans.”
A SAILOR’S BOAT
Step on board and stand at the helm, and the first thing you see is an almost obsessively clean deck space stretching away 58ft to the bow.
The symmetrical cockpit has L-shaped sofas and foldable tables on both sides
The hatches are flush, the running rigging has all disappeared so that you can’t step on it, the sprayhood has vanished into its ‘garage’, and the profile of the coach roof is so subtle as to be all but invisible.
Nevertheless, the ropes are still easily accessible, the winches are close to the helm, the liferaft is housed in its very own cockpit locker, and the anchor is stowed on the integral bowsprit. It’s a boat on which there’s a place for everything and everything has its place. You’re never going to be writing a letter to Mr Frers asking: “Why on earth did you put that, there?”
Frers’ elegant design includes a sleek coach roof that almost blends into the deck
Swan never strays from its tagline, ‘Performance, Quality, Elegance’. This boat is laid out to be an efficient racer as well as a long-distance cruiser, with twin wheels, twin rudders and plenty of working space in the cockpit, which has twin tables and generous L-shaped benches.
The cockpit can change in a moment from race control to social centre for cocktails or dining, or even a sleeping space when the weather suits. Five carefully-positioned electric winches make for easy sail handling, the wheel pedestals are equipped with full instrumentation and a plethora of storage lockers provide more than ample storage. There’s absolutely no excuse for untidiness on this deck!
The transom folds down to create a large swim platform and garage access
One step back from the helm and the lazarette opens to reveal sufficient space for a 3m inflatable tender, as well as access to the steering gear. Open this impressive space the other way, by dropping the transom, and you have a swim platform that would be the envy of many much larger boats.
INTO SWAN SOUL
Let’s go below, where Italian architect Misa Poggi has created a warm interior with a couple of interesting layout options, particularly for the navigation station, along with a choice of décor ‘moods’: Swan Soul, Scandi Vision or Velvet Vibe.
Both hulls one and two feature the Swan Soul décor by Misa Poggi
The companionway is closer to a stairway than a ladder, with wide treads swept up at the ends, and from there the distance to the forward saloon bulkhead is fully 5.3m (17ft 5in) away. This a big saloon, but it has been divided in a practical fashion, so nobody is going to be thrown a long way in a lurching seaway.
Deckhead grab rails and extra-deep fiddles around horizontal surfaces facilitate safe movement. The galley includes a fridge (plus a second one if required), freezer, microwave, dishwasher, icemaker and so on – and provides an abundance of storage space. There are separate boiling water and mineral water taps, so no need to bring plastic bottles on board.
The layout options include a fourth cabin to starboard (above) or a full navigation station (below)
The saloon table, like its siblings in the cockpit, performs transformer tricks and can be reconfigured any number of ways.
Opposite the table, a fore-and-aft sofa doubles as a pilot berth, and the position and orientation of the chart table is just one of the layout options, which include a fourth cabin to starboard opposite the galley.
The saloon table can be folded for coffee or games and expanded for dining
The owner’s cabin is, of course, number one. We’ve come a long way from the humble, cramped V berth shared with wet sails (more about the sail locker, later). Here, there’s a full king-size bed, a vanity table or desk, and an en-suite bathroom that’s the same as in the Swan 90. Spacious.
The aft cabins in the quarters can be configured as twin berths or doubles, and all berths are provided with lee cloths – we’re going ‘blue water’, remember. When the breeze dies in the middle of the Atlantic, the Volvo D3-150 engine, which also features in the Swan 65, will push you along at 7.5 knots for 1,500nm thanks to some over-generous tankage.
The starboard sofa includes a hinged, fold-down backrest with table
There’s one more optional cabin. The sail locker is accessed through the foredeck and is big enough for sails (of course), a pipe cot, head and sink. Further forward still is the anchor locker, complete with electric windlass, 100m of chain and a dedicated chain box that keeps everything in the right place and everything else clean.
THE ELEGANCE OF SWAN
In 1966, Arthur Beiser wrote, “of all the elements that go into a proper yacht, the one that should never be compromised is beauty”. The Swan 58 does not disappoint, even if the days of overhangs, narrow beams and full-length keels are long gone.
The owner’s suite has an aft-facing bed, storage on both sides, en-suite bathroom and a vanity table cum desk
Today, yacht designers have vastly more sophisticated design tools and mathematical models at their disposal, but an eye for a good line is still a prerequisite for a good design. Frers has been drawing Swans for four decades, creating over 90 different models spanning 36-131ft, every one of them with a version of that distinctive silhouette that says ‘Swan’.
The most recent yachts benefit from huge amounts of interior light coming in through hatches, coachroof windows and hull windows, giving the feeling of being inside a much larger, luminous, well ventilated yacht. So, why 58ft?
Germàn Frers: “The Swan 58 is designed to be easily handled by two people when cruising or to be raced by a full crew”
Frers explains: “The final length was settled after a thorough study of the interior volume as required to fit three full-size en-suite cabins plus a possible fourth, a comfortable saloon, ample galley, together with the space necessary to fit all the complements and machinery required by today’s high standards of living, and the necessity to accommodate an eventual temporary crew member.”
It’s just not possible to be all things to all men: even the concept of a perfect racer/cruiser is a contradiction in terms. But think of a fast, powerful yacht that can take you anywhere in comfort and style, kitted out in a practical fashion, and you may well be thinking of the Swan 58. Get your name on the waiting list.
In her first race, the ClubSwan 125 Skorpios took monohull line honours in the 49th Rolex Fastnet from Cowes to Cherbourg, with owner Dmitry Rybolovlev competing in his first offshore race.