Håkan Södergren’s most beautiful boat

Can you design, build and sail a 49 foot boat with stoop height below deck? Yes you can, if you are a Swede and mostly interested in sailing. What a pleasure edging windward this 55 sqm boat sitting on the ergonomically shaped coaming with small deflections on the tiller. The sensation of dinghy feeling aboard a 15 m racer.

Håkan Södergrens 55 Skärgårdskryssare

And what a feast to watch this sled in ideal conditions in smooth water. The wedge-shaped cabin with the sleek windows is familiar from modern boats. And who else sloped the transom from the aft deck to the breakaway edge like Håkan Södergren? At the beginning of the 1980s, this 55 was built as en riktig femtifemman, a real 55 square metre boat.

The rudder blade guided aft of the keel according to the sqm boat rule

Upwind fun machine

A few years earlier, Fisksätra Varv had stopped building the S30 and Swede 55 cruising version derived from the classy square metre boat. These were family-friendly cruising boats with concessions to on-board life, thus no true sqm boats. However 304 S30s and 27 Swede 55s were quite a success. Södergren’s 55 according to the 1925 sqm boat rule was an attempt to extend this.

Full head room in open hatch

To answer the obvious comfort question straight away: There is full standing height in the open sliding hatch, otherwise stoop height. Onboard toilet and galley yes, four berths plus two in the saloon plus an inboard engine. Whatever is possible on a 15 m file with a width of 2 ½ m and is really needed on board. You push the 5 tons from the berth, turn her into the wind and start heading towards your sailing nirvana. There is room for wine or a beer in the bilge, a comfortable double bed under the skylight in the front and, of course, a cooker for morning coffee. Sanitary needs are taken care of in the clubhouse or in the water around the berth somewhere in the beautiful swedish archipelago.

Four bunks plus main cabin: Room for a couple or a family

First new 55 sqm boat since 1934

The 55 sqm class is not well known in German-speaking countries and also internationally. The smaller examples, the 15s, 22s, 30s and 40s classes became a lot more successful. One exception is the 55 sqm Sonja from 1920, which is a full two metres wide at 15 metres length and is eagerly sailed in classic regattas on the German Baltic coast.

Per Thelander’s commendable book Alla våra Skärgårdskryssare (All Our Square Metre boats) from 1991 documents around 50 boats of the 55 class in Sweden and Finland, most of which were built in the 1910s and 1920s. The last classic 55-sqm type was built in 1934 as La Liberté according to plans by Erik Salander. With a length of 16.30 m and a beam of 2.53 m according to the sqm rule of 1925, it is an exceptionally beautiful example.

GRP sandwich with Divinycell foam

Södergren’s 55 was built as a two-series in Åkersberga, northeast of Stockholm, from GRP in sandwich construction with a core of Divinycell. Jan-Erik Nystedt was responsible for the interior fittings. A contemporary, low-maintenance plastic boat with a well-insulated hull, deck and cockpit.

Hakan Södergrens moderner 55er Schärenkreuzer
In the eyes of many sailors Södergren’s most beautiful boat – Foto Håkan Södergren

Unfortunately, there were just two boats built. Carina with sail number S 47 was launched in 1984 for Kjell Wallin in Lidingö near Stockholm. The second example with sail number S 49 was rigged by Göran Eldholt as Cheeta and is called Gäddskräcken II in the hands of the second owner. Pike Scare – a fitting name. An example of what can be done with modern and easy-care materials within the well thought-out rule of 1925. You can sail it easily, without sanding and painting intervals.

Mainsail luff, P measurement15.30 m
Mainsail foot, E measurement5 m
Headsail luff, I measurement11.40 m
Headsail base & spinnaker pole, J measurement3.45 m
Data Södergrens 55 sqm boat

Length over all14.95 m
Length waterline10.65 m
Beam2.54 m
Draft1.75 m
Displacement5.3 t
Ballast2.8 t
Mainsail43 m2
Genoa 165 %33 m2
Genoa 150 %30 m2
Genoa 130 %26 m2
Jib21 m2
Spinnaker92 m2
Håkan Södergren Design Nr 32 of 1982

Foto on top by Tore Källmark/Västervik