German Frers had designed not only super yachts, but many production boats for the biggest shipyards like Dufour, Grand Soleil, Moody, Beneteau, Hylas, besides all Halberg-Rassy and Swan since the 80’s.
Regarding the Swan and since he is designing them for the past 30 years and the boats have always maintained the same basic program : cruiser–racers in a luxurious and not radical way, it would be very interesting not only to look at the Swan 60 but also to other successful designs along the years with about the same size to have a view at how hull, keel and ruder design have been evolving along the years allowing for better, faster and safer boats.
Off course, all performance cruisers that are meant to race as well as cruising have hulls influenced by racing boats since these represent the state of the art in what regards performance and they are also influence by the rating rules that are there not to influence design but to rate with fairness sailing boats. At some time they all create distortions but then they are changed to allow faster and more modern boats to be competitive.
In the end, looking at the global picture, more than the boats being influenced by rating rules it is the boat design development towards better and faster sailboats that promote the changes in rating rules. That does not mean that looking at a particular and localized period of time the opposite is not also true, with particular relevance some decades ago, meaning that some sailboat, particularly, cruiser-racer designs (that are always influenced in some extent by the existent rating), were heavily influenced by the distortions created by rating, trying to take the better deal out of it.
In some past cases, particularly in the 80’s that influence was really big creating in some cases less fast and less seaworthy sailboats in an attempt to protect the existent fleet from more light, stiff and faster sailingboats.
Saying this it is very clear that regarding these Swan models, the more recent is always a better sailboat regarding the previous one and regarding a comparison between the first, the 1980 Swan 51, and the last one, the 2009 Swan 60 the difference in performance, interior space, overall stability and speed is huge.
Consider also that the Swan and typically almost all Nordic boats are very conservative in what regards boat design. The Swan is considered a model of elegance precisely due to its almost classic lines regarding the time of its making, generally regarding all models. The hulls follow the same trend and even if always to the state of the art always followed a classical approach, meaning on tradition and evolving rather than radical or revolutionary.
That makes them particularly interesting for this time comparison even if the first design (1980 Swan 51) is substantially influenced by the IOR rule (that disappeared at the beginning of the 90’s). After 1990 the rating rules become much more adapted to sailboat developments searching a better sailing performance and the rules were increasingly modified to take into account new design improvements. Today the two major handicap rules, the IRC and ORC are revised each year and even if the IRC remains a partially secret formula, the ORC (with an open one) counts on its technical committee (that is responsible for those annual changes) with some of the best NA, in what regards to handicap racing design. There are serious plans to join the two major rating handicap systems on a single one in a near future.
In this comparison take also in consideration that beam in sailboat design (for the same type of boat) is not entirely proportional to the length of the boat and therefore a 60 would always have a more elongated shape than a 50 ft boat and that one the same regarding a 40ft boat.
The hulls, rudders and keels speak for themselves and the evolution direction is obvious and not particular to Frers but to modern yacht design, particularly to this on the tradition approach to sailboat development that we can find mostly in Nordic and Italian designs.
The 1980 Swan 51
The 1990 Swan 55:
The 1996 Swan 56:
The 2009 Swan 60
The Swan 60 marks also a new approach from Swan that asked to German Frers not only a boat that would be beautiful, able to cruise anywhere in comfort anyhere, competitive while racing but also a boat that could be sailed easily by a couple. For sure if German Frers had designed a new 2014 model we would have seen some minor differences regarding the 60, maximizing the water line regarding the bow and the transom and judging by more recent designs, with the beam further pulled back but as it is the Swan 60 is still a very contemporary boat and as most Swans, a beautiful boat.
German Frers says about the Swan 60 and its program:
"The new Swan 60 combines a voluminous interior, a large protected cockpit and racing performance.
To conciliate these futures, we have made extensive use of state of the art technology in both design and construction methods together with years of successful experiences in this size.
The end result is a low drag hull and appendage package, with a long dynamic waterline at displacement and semi planning speeds. These performance refinements bring also improved seakeeping characteristics.
The Sail plan is powerful but easy to handle. Most of the time the Mainsail and furling jib combination will be enough to achieve a good performance. A storm headsail can be hoisted on a separate stay. For light airs and downwind cruising a furling all purpose sail can be tacked in the bow.
For racing the possibility to mount a bowsprit with large area downwind sails will make for an exhilarating ride downwind. …
The thinking behind the deck was to provide more than one area to loosen up while sailing or at anchor to avoid that feeling of having to stay in one place and provide the opportunity to flow around the yacht at ease.
The yacht can be sailed easily by two persons with the aid of powered winches and a layout that allows the helmsman to get involved in the manoeuvre if needed.
The steering wheel is positioned right behind the cockpit to enhance the steering experience from a position that allows a good view of the sails and waves. ..
A raised platform in the aft part of the cockpit provides another protected area for sun bathing and allows the storage of a tender through the transom door.
An open cockpit version is available for the racing oriented owners together with a number of practical details that have been studied to combine user-friendliness and aesthetics.
The interior was designed having great spaces with plenty of natural light in mind.….
Hull windows, coachroof portholes and large hatches confer natural light and outside views.
Forward of the saloon, the hefty owners cabin grants the privacy and feeling of a larger yacht. There are two options for the layout of this cabin to allow personalisation.…
There are two draft options at 2.9 m and 3.6 m. Both keels use the same structure and provide the same stability so it’s easy to change if needed.
A new version available is a 2.5 m draft with a smaller rig, the ultimate cruiser.
The high stability, forgiving appendages and a direct steering system are all ingredients for a light and responsive yacht."