So, why is she so cool? Just look at the design features. She’s aggressive and flared, with muscular, powerful lines that possess a raw sex appeal. Juan Kouyoumdjian seems to have pushed all contemporary features to the extreme: the pronounced, curved reverse sheer and stem together with the menacing bowsprit forward that creates a swordfish look; the forward sprayrail and hard chine aft; the prominent flare to the quarters and the angular companionway.
The mast is positioned well aft, deckstepped and raked back like a multihull. This creates a massive J area for flying powerful A-sails, combined with a potent square-top mainsail. It’s monohull meets multihull, raceboat meets luxury performance. If there were a Top Trumps game for monohull design this would be the card to hold. This is the first Swan not designed by German Frers in four decades. Nautor held a design competition with a brief for a contemporary, fast, competitive one-design that could sail offshore and be converted to a sports cruiser sailed with limited crew. A small ask, then! More importantly, it said: ‘In one word, this yacht has to be cool.’
In Juan K it found a designer with similar Argentinian flare to Frers, but with a more innovative, cutting-edge racing focus. He is known for his very shallow, wide-stern designs and his repeated VO70 successes – ABN Amro, Ericsson 4, Groupama 4 – and more recently the silver bullet Rambler 88.
“I looked a lot at what Frers had done with Swan to try to keep the Swan DNA,” Juan K explains. “For me it was essential to keep it as a racing boat that could cruise, not the other way around. Weight was essential.”
The 50 is seriously light at 8.5 tonnes. A good indication of her slippery profile was immediately apparent as we planed away from Nautor’s marina in Pietarsaari – under engine. The whole structure is built in carbon epoxy Sprint laminate. Even her keel fin is carbon – only top racing yachts such as VO65S have that. The modern interior is a lesson in disguise: all-carbon dressed in wafer-thin leather and teak veneer.
Glance through the specs (off-the-scale for a production yacht) and you can imagine Juan K giggling like a mad professor as he came up with the design. The outrageous sail area:displacement of 36.5 is by far the highest ratio I’ve seen for a series-built yacht. The 50 also has a feather-light displacement:length ratio of just 86 – and over 40 per cent of that displacement is in the keel’s torpedo bulb. She can set nearly 3,000ft2 of asymmetric sail.
Above: little more than a few guiding fingers are needed on the helm. The dual rudders provide a delicate mix of feedback and grip. Intoxicating!