Legendary 150 sqm boat Singoalla

As the drawing reveals, Singoalla had an owner’s cabin with en suite bathroom, saloon and even a small kitchen next to the mast. Floorboards placed deep midships, the skerry cruiser provided full headroom. The largest Skärgårdskryssare ever built was almost 11 feet wide. Of its 79 feet, the third shown above was habitable. The other two thirds helped to look nice and make sailing pleasant.

Sailplan of 150 Skerry cruiser Singoalla 1919 by Gustaf Axel Estlander
Sailplan of 150 sqm skerry cruiser Singoalla 1919 from Uffa Fox: Sail and Power 1936

79 footer with 39 inch freeboard

Singoalla was drawn by Gustaf Axel Estlander (1876 – 1930), who didn’t do things by halves. Neither in his Skärgårdskryssare designs, they were the most consequent examples of the class, nor on the race course.

In 1918 he received the commission from Nils Österman to design a 150 sqm Skärgårdskryssare. Österman had made a fortune in the previous years. But while Hästholmsvarvet on Lidingö near Stockholm was completing the sleigh, Österman no longer had the neccessary Swedish Kroner to finish. 24 meters were a lot of wood back then. So Estlander took the burden. He called her Singoalla, which means All in one.

The story of the legendary skerry cruiser

Due to some issues in 1919, Estlander began sailing Singoalla seriouslay the following year. At that time, Estlander lived temporarily in the German Reich for professional reasons, where he briefly designed for Abeking & Rasmussen in Bremen and then the up-coming Pabst Werft in Köpenick near Berlin. After the First World War, the Germans wanted to race with other nations again. Skerry cruisers provided the international stage. Thanks to Estlander’s skill, Pabst even sold skerry cruisers to Finland and Sweden. Almost like Bavaria and Hanse export to Scandinavia today.

Development of skerry cruiser rigging

Manfred Curry comparision sail geometry
Manfred Curry. Regatta-Segeln. Die Aerodynamik der Segel

In the 1910s, skerry cruisers were gaff-rigged. In 1912, Charles Nicholson had a large racing yacht rigged for the first time in his Camper & Nicholson yard with a continuous spar for the gaff main and the top sail above it. Alluding to the telegraph poles of the Italian radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, the fragile spar was called the Marconi Rigg. And while Estlander was designing Singoalla, his colleague Nathanael Herreshoff was replacing the gaff mainsail with a triangular main on his large racing yachts in the States. Apparently Estlander was at the cutting edge of sail technology with Singoalla.

Large main, small jib

The jib was considered as spoiler to improve the flow along the mainsail. As the scetches show Manfred Curry covered it in his book Regatta Segeln. Die Aerodynamik der Segel. Singoalla had such a spoiler-type jib. Her forestay reached just about half the height of the mast.

Singoalla probably 1920 or 21 with swedish Sailnumber 3 - Photo perhaps Bertil Emanuel Norberg
Singoalla probably 1920 or 21 with swedish Sailnumber 3 – Photo perhaps Bertil Emanuel Norberg Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet

Four fifths of the sail area was in the main, the rest in the jib. At about 36 ft (11 m), the mainsail foot was nearly half as long as the luff. What seems strangely antiquated today was state of the art in 1919. It is hard to imagine how an almost 1,356 sq ft (126 sqm) cotton sail was reefed and stored on the long boom in the evening.

Another rare shot of Singoalla, Sandhamn race August 6th, 1922 - Photo Bertil Emanuel Norberg
Another rare shot of Singoalla, Sandhamn race August 6th, 1922 – Section of photo by Bertil Emanuel Norberg PDM 1.0 Deed Sjöhistoriska museet

When Finland’s Nyländska Yacht Club celebrated its 60th anniversary in Helsinki in 1921 with many boats, the ambitious Estlander won the race with Singoalla in front of 64 skerry cruisers.

The photo, the sail plan and the sail dimensions of Singoalla show how she was rigged.

Sparlength above deck≈ 24 m≈ 79 ft
P (Mainsail Luff)≈ 22 m≈ 72 ft
E (Mainsail Foot)≈ 11 m≈ 36 ft
I (Height Headsail ∆)≈ 13,50 m≈ 44 ft
J (Base Headsail ∆)≈ 4,20 m≈ 14 ft
nominal Headsail ∆ (85 %)≈ 24 m2≈ 258 sq ft
Mainsail≈ 126 m2≈ 1,356 sq ft
Jib≈ 28 m2≈ 301 sq ft
Measurements taken from Singoallas sail plan

It is interesting in this context that in 1927 Estlander balanced the main and headsail area of his 75 sqm skerry cruiser design only slightly different, at 75 : 25 instead of 80 : 20.

Accomodation aboard Singoalla

Estlander placed the deckhouse aboard Singoalla halfway between cockpit and mast, similar to large meter classes or J-Class boats. The bathroom was located amidships near the companionway. Note the curtains for privacy in the owner’s cabin.

In the blue layout on top, Estlander had suggested a boatswain’s cabin to starboard next the companionway. Skylights above the owner’s cabin and the salon provided daylight. So much about the 26 feet (8 m) dedicated to onboard life.

150 sqm skerry cruiser Singoalla 1922 in Kanholmsfjärden, Stockholm Skärgård
Singoalla 1922 with finnish Sailnumber L1 on Kanholmsfjärden/Stockholm Skärgård – Photo Bertil Emanuel Norberg CC BY 3.0 Deed KSSS

This leads to the essentials, the remaining 52 feet (16 m) to look and sail nice. Few surviving photos give an idea why Singoalla was considered the most beautiful yacht of the Baltic.

Overhang, raised flat out of the water, stretched the waterline and thus hull speed. The annals report double-digit speeds in Kiel waters and on the way to Copenhagen. A result of the length, slim line and low weight. At 16 tons, Singoalla displaced half of a slightly shorter 12 mR-Yacht.

The pleasure of sailing Singoalla with just 39 inch of freeboard is not recorded. However, a sailor easily imagines the pleasure of agile sailing. That’s the reason why some keep dreaming to relaunch her again based on the Estlanders drawings. One of them is Nils Förfält from Stockholm.

End on Priwall peninsula of Travemünde?

In late autumn 1922, Singoalla sailed her last miles to Travemünde. On December 15th that year she burned in winter storage of the Hans Böbs Yachts- und Bootswerft on the right bank of the Trave river due to a fire foundation. It is the place where the old people’s home Rosenhof Residence is located on the Priwall peninsula today.

In 1936 Uffa Fox published an amazingly clear and factual tribute to Singoalla in Sail and Power, where some of the drawings come from.

The yacht suited to her designer and owner, who is remembered in Finland and Sweden as Trollkarlen, a magician. Let’s see whether and how the story of Singoalla, the All in One sledge continues beyond those memories.

Principal data

Length23.94 m ≈ 79 ft
Length Waterline16.40 m≈ 54 ft
Beam3.35 m≈ 11 ft
Length : Beam ratio7.3 : 1
Freeboard≈ 1 m≈ 39 in
Draft3 m≈ 10 ft
Displacement16 t35,284 lbs
Ballast8 t17,637 lbs
RuleSkerry cruiser rule, 2nd Version of 1916
Yard/LaunchedHästholmsvarvet, Gåshaga Lidingö, Stockholm/1919
WhereaboutsLost December 15, 1922 in fire at winter storage Priwall/Travemünde

Credits to Estlander expert Magnus Swahn/Stockholm and KSSS. Further information by Yachtsportmuseum of Freundeskreis Klassische Yachten, who had countless articles digitalised, mostly the of German Yacht magazine since 1904 by Bildungszentrum Hamburg-Hamburg/Jugend in Arbeit for many years. Since 2003, around 100,000 pages are accessible with a few clicks.

Photo above: Interior plan Singoalla by Gustaf Axel Estlander 5.1.1919 – CC PDM 1.0 Deed Sjöhistoriska museet.