Never sail this Swede 41

September 21 Richard invites me for an afternoon aboard his Swede 41 Sleipnir. After he left me the tiller for three unforgettable hours on Fehmarnsund, I must warn you straight away: Never sail this one, as this sailing Elysium is a dangerous, momentous experience. Not so much due the heel or for being so close to the sea. The problem of  such an adventure is rather that it spoils you for the regular mainstream “Super-multioptional can do anything boat” without creating a desire for more.

If you are interested in sailing and square metre boats, you find two observations irritating. First, the boat has plenty of cloth. There is a 47 square meter light wind “weapon” at the bow fitting, called “Code Zero” in today’s regatta lingo. Approaching the Fehmarnsund Bridge we try it and keep a old X-yacht behind, which I always dislike to meet in light air conditions. So the day can’t start better for little boys like us.

Swede 41 with impressive sail area

Already with jib and main, the displacement/sail ratio is as strong as 5.2. With the mentioned light wind weapon instead of the jib, it come with an impressive 6. It may be interesting to note how this value comes together. Well, here the sail area is offset against the displacement using the following formula: 2nd  root of the sail area in sq. m., divided by 3rd root of the displacement in metric tons. Common cruising yachts are afloat with 3.5 – 4, modern boats with 4.3 – 5. A displacement/sail ratio of 4 in little wind is boring, 5 means hope, 6 = smile.

Displacement/sail ratioSwede 41 Sleipnir
Molich X
S 30
Lotusclassy 30 square metre boat
Displacement in t
43,83≈ 3,50≈ 2,752,7
upwind sailarea sqm main & jib
upwind sailarea sqm main & genoa5349,84352,50
upwind sailarea sqm main & Code Zero87
displacement/sail ratio main & jib5,24,244
displacement/sail ratio main & genoa4,64,64,75,2
displacement/sail ratio main & Code Zero6

Swede 41 is impressively stiff

While it is always nice to hoist that amount of cloth, the question remains how long we can sail with it on this September day with increasing wind. Thanks to the 50 percent ballast ratio, mounted along the low edge of the deep keel, Sleipnir comes with a fabulous end stability. So we are knifing along the windward edge more like an R-yacht (meter class) than aboard a classic square metre boat or with one of its cruising variants like the Danish Molich X, the S 30 or a Lotus of the seventies. Sailing with that lot of cloth in a sound force 5 – 6 does not work with these boats. Here you just lie on the side.

On Sleipnir, the deck stays at sea level even in hefty gusts. I am leaning relaxed in the comfortably upholstered  cockpit with the Baltic Sea at shoulder height. What an addicting experience.

So Sleipnir covers the usual wind spectrum from a mild breeze all the way up to a lot of wind much better than any classy square metre boat and modern cruising versions. These are somewhat underrigged in light winds and comparatively tender in strong winds. Thus Sleipnir demonstrates the evolution of the boat type over the past 2 1/2 decades. I know the first plans of the boat from the nineties. At that time, it was developed alongside Swede 41 as a relaunch of the S30 with the voluminous and angular superstructure of the second generation Fisksaetra series manufacture as Swede 41 classic.

To understand how this is possible, a second look at sail physics helps, more precisely at the so-called “righting moment”. Unfortunately it is a complicated matter to determine this value. Luckily, the Swedish mast builder Seldén offers an online calculator. I have asked several yacht designers to check it’s usability

Matthias Broeker of Judel/Vjrolijk & Co points out that the calculator contains considerable inaccuracies, especially since the focal points of buoyancy, ballast and the total weight of the individual boats are not taken into account, nor is the waterline width, among other factors. According to his southern German colleague Klaus Roeder of Carpe Diem Yacht Design, it is important to consider actual gross weights rather than optimistic brochure figures when making such a comparison. Hakan Soedergren, who designed the Swede 68, among others, believes that the tool is at least suitable for a rough estimate of righting moments.

Righting momentSwede 41 Sleipnir
Molich X Meter

S 30

classy 30 sqm boat
Beam in mm
Draft in mm
Displacement in kgs
4.0003.830≈ 3.500≈ 3.0002.700
Ballast in kgs1.9001.8201.4501.2501.376
modern bulbkeelyes
righting moment of the boat in kNm at 30 ° heel
19,815,614,410,7 11
equivalent power in kgs at 10 m lever arm (i.e. mast)

But what does a kilonewtonmeter mean? Fortunately another calculator of the Internet helps. It shows how many kilograms of weight are needed at the end of a 1 m long lever for the respective kNm. How this in turn translates in 10 m height, I compiled in the lowest column of the considered boats: Compared to the classic square metre boat and the similarly slim cruising versions like Lotus, Swede 41 is sailing with twice the righting moment. All this results in the impressive stability, even though in the long run you hardly sail at 30 degrees heel, as can be seen in the photo from demo sailing.

Swede 41 Sleipnir
Deep ballast and modern rigging makes Sleipnir managable in gusty conditions – Photo Marc Bielefeld

Swede 41 with Southern Spars carbon mast

Swede 41 predecessors like the classic square meter boat and the seventies cruising versions have filigree rigs. In my eyes, they suit this type of boat better. The sight of the chunky Southern Spars carbon mast, with which Sleipnir is rigged, does not appeal to me. But when sailing, it convinces with its backstay-less easy handling. This is made possible by the aft-inclined spreaders, which are common on today’s mainstream boats up to the current Luffe yachts.

What is very pleasant about sailing with Richard is that he says nearly nothing. He just lets you steering his toy with your mouth open, smiling and enjoying the ride. But it increases the effect and aggravates the consequences: After all, how can you leave this experience behind without a serious problem? After docking, I stumble around the east bazin of Lemkenhafen in a daze, take a deep breath, and take a walk toward the ancient mill, wondering how I’m going to get to such a toy. What could I sell to finance this? And how can I introduce the new family member at home?

The charm of the past and the pleasure of today – Photo Marc Bielefeld

So looking and gawking Richards Swede 41 is okay. You admire the stylish hardware with modern Andersen Niro winches of the superfancy current Full Steel series, exquiste Spinlock stoppers, classy Harken blocks with shiny stainless steel cheeks, the cool Loophole Barberholer. Then you better grab an ice cream at the Samoa Bar and leave that basin. Because this custom-built toy from swedish Rosaettra boatbuilder, de facto a one-off, comes with a sound price tag.

Swede 41 for gourmet sailing

Although Richard is a low-profile fellow with an inaccessibly seductive toy which he owns and you won’t, he is on the other hand a really fine fellow. He usually registers for local races like Max Oertz in Neustadt or Schlank & Rank in Lemkenhafen, which I find frightening. Sleipnir is sailing upwind with 67 sqm, Gamle Swede with more than double weight is driven by 74 sqm. So to understand the consequences, we won’t need an online calculator again. Somehow Richard is around at such events, fortunately only in the harbor. He never appears at the start. So that memorable day in September I asked Richard about his strange habit. “Oh” he states friendly and modestly with his gentle voice, “you see, I’m just a pleasure sailor”. Well, I hope that Richard just stays that fine chap he is.

Length over all12,50 m
Length Waterline≈ 10 m
Beam2,50 m
Draft≈ 1,78 m
Displacement empty3,8 t
Displacement loaded≈ 4 t
Ballast (Lead)1,9 t
common upwind sail area (Main and Jib)66 sqm
Main40 sqm
Jib26 sqm
Code Zero47 sqm
Gennaker80 sqm
Light air upwind sail area87 sqm
Fresh water in keel130 l
Lenght/Beam ratio5 : 1
Yard/year of constructionRosättra, Norrtälje 2016 -18
Electric motor with shaft drive

4,8 – 5,2 kW for 4,5 kn cruising speed, 7,8 kW for 6 kn full speed

4 Lithium 160 Ah Batteries, range15 – 20 nm

Foto on top courtesy by Marc Bielefeld