Swede 55

Cabins extend over 39 feet © Swedesail

Swede 55 was conceived in 1975 by naval architect Knud Hjelmberg Reimers in Stockholm/Sweden as a modern version of the traditional square metre boat.  Since the early Twentieth Century the square metre boat is admired for its beauty, speed and joy to sail. Inspired by the elegance of the precursing class, Swede 55 should suit better to the requirements of a family, providing more comfort.

Swede 55 with lines made to sail © Swedesail
Swede 55 with lines drawn to sail © SWEDESAIL

Swede 55 became slightly wider, got a little more freeboard and offers full headroom below the long cabin roof. Recessed between the main and aft cabin the cockpit is comfy and safe as aboard motorsailor. It is nice to have a couple a of metres behind in high seas.

Thanks to its length the boat is easy running and fast. Her slim lines offer soft motion in a seaway. The distance between keel and rudder provides good directional stability. The balanced rudder gives responsive control.

The time aboard is spent mostly in the comfortable and safe cockpit: albeit sailing, relaxing, chatting or dining.

Swede 55 built by Fisksätra Varv

Brochure introducing Swede 55 © Swedesail
Brochure introducing Swede 55 © Swedesail

Swede 55 was built by Fisksätra Varv AB in Västervik at the east coast of Sweden. One of the pioneers of glassfibre manufacture in the country, Fisksaetra built small powerboats like the Mustang or Folkparca and motorsailors like Havsfidra, Storfidra and Parant in substantial numbers. Further, more than 300 S 30 cruising squaremetre boats, the smaller sister of Swede 55, were built by Fisksaetra since 1972.

Being introduced with a nice brochure and advertized for instance in the SAS flight magazine, Swede 55 was displayed at the Hamburg Boat Show and I heard that one boat was brought in a cargo plane to make it to the Toronto Boat Show in time.

How many were built?

Swede 55 Counterpoint winning the Bermuda Race in 1986 © Swedesail
Swede 55 Counterpoint winning the Bermuda Race in 1986 © Swedesail

This led to 27 Swede 55 Fisksätra manufactures from 1976 to autumn 1979. Most of the Swede 55 went to Sweden, Finland, three to Germany, one to Switzerland/Lake Constance, one to Italy, some to the Mediterranean and USA. Fisksaetra belonged to the Swedish Business Conglomerate Gylling, which withdrew from Fisksaetra in 1979.

As far as I know six Swede 55 were built from 1982 – 84 by a successor named Aqva Båt in Nyköping using the original mould, among them Counterpoint. This boat has been sailing since 1992 in Capetown/South Africa as Spilhaus III. So from 1976 to 84 a total of 33 Swede 55 were built. Details of fleet here.

Construction of Swede 55

Hull: Hand laid fiberglass reinforced polyester resin with woven roving. Thickness varies from 4/5″ (20 mm) in the keel to 3/10″ (8 mm) in some parts of the stern where stress is minimal. Several longitudonal stringers.

Deck and superstructure: Including the cockpit made in one unit of GRP which was reinforced with a 4/10″ (10 mm) balsa core on horizontal surfaces. The deck and superstructure were further reinforced with 3/10″ (8 mm) aluminum plates in places of tracks, cleats, winches.

Length over all52 ft 6 in – 16 m
Length actual waterline42′ 06″ – 12.96 m
Beam9′ 9″ – 2.97 m
Beam waterline8′ 9″ – 2.65 m
Freeboard bow43″ – 110 cm
Freeboard midship section (station 15)32″ – 82 cm
Freeboard cockpit (station 10)30″ – 78 cm
Freeboard stern31″ – 79 cm
Design draft6′ 9″ – 2.05 m
Real draft≈ 7′ 2″ – 2.17 m
Design displacement17,085 lbs – 7.75 t
Real displacement≈ 18,078 lbs – 8.2 t
Displacement (half load)≈ 18,739 lbs – 8.5 t
Ballast (lead)7,500 lbs – 3.4 t
Air draft with Windex59′ 5″ – 18.1 m
Nominal sail area, main triangle + 85 % fore triangle  (hence the 55)592 sq ft – 55 sqm
Main and jib797 sq ft – 74 sqm
Main474 sq ft – 44 sqm
Jib323 sq ft – 30 sqm
Yankee215 sq ft  – 20 sqm
Genoa II431 sq ft – 40 sqm
Genoa I517 sq ft – 48 sqm
Spinnaker1,400 sq ft – 130 sqm
Hull speed9 kn
Sailed top speed22 kn
Length/Beam ratio5.3 : 1
SA/D ratio (relating to 18,739 lbs)18.07

The Sail Area/Displacement Ratio is the sail area in sq. ft. divided by the displacement in cubic feet to the 2/3 power and commonly used by US sailors. Reference: 16 – 18 heavy offshore cruisers; 18 – 22 medium cruisers; 22 – 26 racing boats; 26 + extreme racing boats.

Sail measurements
P (luff mainsail)15.20 m
E (foot mainsail)4.85 m
I (height fore triangle)13 m
J (base fore triangle)4.40 m
T (headstay length)13.70 m
SL (Spinnaker leach length)13.95 m
SMW (Spinnaker width)10.00 m
Spinnaker foot8.00 m
Yardstick German Sailing Association (Deutscher Seglerverband) DSV with/without Spinnaker89/91
SRS Handicap Svenska Seglerförbundet, Version SRS 2014.5.0 with/without Spinnaker1.316/1.269
Scandicap with/without Spinnaker10.20/10.95
Lidingö Yardstick (LYS) Sweden1.27
Time Correction Factor TCF Channel Handicap 19881.29
Performance Handicap Racing Fleet PHRF (Seconds per mile)81.0
Klassiker Rennwert (KLR) of German Classics Association, Freundeskreis Klassische Yachten146
Cabin heights
Companionway, Galley, Navstation1.89 m6.2 ft
Main cabin1.79 – 1.82 m70 – 72 in
Bathroom1.68 – 1.72 m66 – 70 in
Forward cabin1.55 m61 in
Aft cabin1.22 m4 ft
  • U.S. Coast Guard Tonnage Measurement for Recreational Vessels: Gross Tonnage 14, Net Tonnage 12,5
  • Original engine: Volvo Penta MD11C two-cylinder with 27 HP (23 kW) or MD17C three-cylinder with 35 HP (27 kW)
  • Transmission Volvo Penta Saildrive 110 S
  • Fuel 19.5 US gal. / 74 l
  • Freshwater galley 18.5 US gal. / 70 l
  • Freshwater bathroom 43.6 US gal. / 165 l