In the thirties the eager racing sailor, boatbuilder and publisher Uffa Fox of Cowes/Isle of Wight made the anglosaxon yachting scene familiar with the benefits of the square metre boat. In the late fourties H.G. „Blondie“ Hasler proved the offshore qualities of the long and lightweight boat aboard his Tre Sang with bold cruises around the exposed Cornwall coast and across the Irish Sea. Besides being easily driven he found the light displacement boat remarkably seaworthy. The reserve buoyancy of the long forebody helps the boat to climb across the swell instead smashing through it. With their 22 and 30 square metre boats Fox and Hasler inaugurated new thinking and a fresh concept to offshore sailing. It would soon put through in the racing scene.
Besides Uffa Fox’publications – his books were read worldwide – the successes of Fidelis and Siska in australian waters helped to spread the light displacement gospel. Siska measured 50’6″ x 8’6″ (15.40 x 2.60 m).
A lightweight, long and easily driven boat needs less sailarea and goes faster than the conventional wide bodied and heavy boat as was common then. This concept was converted to an up-to-date method of construction of the elegant 52 feet Swede 55, for instance with a balsa cored deck.
As can be seen at the Swede 55 design dated January 1975, Reimers had planned a longkeeled underwater body. The rudder attached to the keel was still common at traditional yachts at the time. Further it was prescribed by the swedish square metre boat rule.
The remarks in red of the second drawing show the step towards the fairly modern keel and rudder and other alterations like a slight extension of the boat. The up-to-date appendages were designed by Prof. Sven Olof Ridder of Stockholm – an expert in low speed aerodynamics, inventor of the Windex wind indicator, consulting SAAB airplanes – by means of specific NACA sections and a carefully balanced rudder.
The hull was extended from 51’7“ by 11“ (15.72 to 16 m). Cockpit and steering position, later the engine compartment were changed and the headstay moved forward.
The separation of keel and rudder provides good directional stability, the distance between the fins control of the boat in a turbulent sea state and safe steering at high speed under spinnaker. The cleverly designed skegless rudder with carefully chosen balance – the free standing rudder was considered to be risky at the time – enables the helmsman to turn the boat instantly and sail the 52 footer in narrow fairways, rivers or even into ports.
Considered to be risky in the seventies was the fractional rigged spar as well, secured with runners. Swede 55 carries a 474 sq ft (44 sqm) main and a 517 sq ft (48 sqm) Genoa 1. Although it is part of the sport, reefing the main or replacing this Genoa with its 23 feet (7 m) foot is a laborous and wet job. It was not yet common to furl sails in the seventies. That is the reason why a ketch version of Swede 55 with smaller sails was planned by Reimers. It was never built. Today the handling of such sail sizes is not an issue.
Foto on top of this page: Siska arriving at Albany in south-west Australia during the Fremantle – Albany race in 1969 © Rolly Tasker archive