THE CLUBSWAN 50 is the leading light of Nautor’s ‘ClubSwan One Design’ programme which now includes the amazing ClubSwan 125, the Juan K designed flagship (which gives Nautor a weapon to challenge or indeed exceed the success of the Wally Cento) and now, the recently announced ClubSwan 36.

The ClubSwan 50 made its regatta debut in Palma last year, successively at PalmaVela and then 36 Copa del Rey MAPFRE and since its launch in 2016, the 50 has perhaps sold a little slower than Nautor might have wanted, but nonetheless it is proving a big success.

It is an out and out, totally ground breaking modern, strict one design performance race boat which owners and their families and friends use for weekend and short period cruising, writes Yachting Life racing editor Andi Robertson.

Although owners so far are from Italy, Spain, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Russia, Monaco and Germany, most of the boats are kept in Palma which is deemed to be the ClubSwan 50 hub for the time being. That keeps the fleet in one place, it is accessible to all of Europe, it is sunny and it is centrally placed in terms of going and returning to other Swan regatta venues such as in Monaco, St Tropez and Costa Smeralda.

Now the first British owner has signed up to have boat number 23 next year, and in Palma during Copa del Rey he dipped a toe in the water by chartering one of the five ClubSwan 50s which are owned through Saint Petersburg YC.

The 50 was conceived as a statement yacht as much to mark Nautor’s 50th anniversary year. They launched a design competition which was won by the uncompromising Juan Kouyoumdjian who has subsequently drawn the 36 and the 125.

The ClubSwan 50 is quite an aggressive design for a racer-cruiser with a dreadnought bow, reverse sheer forward, curved foredeck, chunky chine aft and a wide, flared stern. The powerful, all carbon Southern Spars rig is set well back in the boat, the twin wheels well forwards. The cockpit owes its shape, form and function to the TP52, but crucially it has no pedestal winches.

The raceboat technology build is all carbon, with all of the interior layout, structure and furniture in carbon composite. And the deck stepped rig is accepted on a massive bridged ‘flat U’ bulkhead structure which allows a toilet on one side and washroom on the other in the two cabin version, or in the three cabin version, this space to starboard between the saloon and forecabin is given to a small galley. Up front is a big owners cabin with a central double bed.

Juan K notes, ‘From a balance point of view the dual rudder configuration allows for the keel to be placed further forward on the boat which helps significantly shifting the CG (centre of gravity) forward and hence allowing for the hull shape to be straighter aft, which has a significant performance impact when reaching and downwind sailing.

‘We also featured the tubercles rudder which is a feature that we’ve developed in recent years that postpones the stalling point of a given rudder. The construction is full pre-preg and Sprint carbon fibre. To minimise weight while keeping the construction method and procedure in line with that of a serial production setup, I believe we managed to achieve the objective since the weight of all the structural components, including the keel fin, is just over 2,000kg. The keel fin itself only being 160kg and built mostly of high modulus carbon fibre. The structural criteria for the carbon fin was specifically focused on eliminating flutter.’
The decks are kept super clean and clear as is the cockpit. In broad terms the cockpit and deck layout borrows from the TP52 or similar with all the control lines hidden. The mainsheet track is sunk into the cockpit floor and the controls run through two magic wheels so reducing the loads. Similarly the key rig controls are on hydraulics.

The mast is set well back in the boat which allows for the big asymmetrical kites which are both masthead or fractional. There are running backstays which are not essential when the boat is in cruising mode in moderate winds and when the main is required to be reefed in big winds, then the runners are cleated off and the boom passes them easily. There is a furling jib option and when the breeze allows there is the option to set a staysail.

The jib clew is controlled on floating eyes set from a simple transverse jib car. It is sheeted to the primary on top of the coachroof though. The main and jib halyards are on locks.

There is an option being discussed to have an electric winch allowed for the mainsheet, but this was just ‘under discussion’ in Palma. The class rules allow four pro-crew and one boat captain to be paid professionals, but this is due to change to clarify the role of the boat captain, becoming five pro-crew.

There is also the plan to reduce the allowable jibs to two, plus a number four, dropping the number three jib completely. The race programmes are looking to introduce more coastal races as the boat sets a Code Zero which is rarely used otherwise, although some boats are doing more offshore races and in fact Skorpio won the Rolex Giraglia race.

Ian Budgen has been sailing with the British crew at Copa del Rey and recalls, ‘It is really good one design racing, it is competitive and there are some great sailors in the fleet. The boat’s mechanically quite difficult to sail as we don’t have the normal winch and grinding systems.

‘For sailors who come in from the TP52 for example where the winches are hydraulically driven then it is all the more challenging because they are not used to pulling ropes.

‘You revert to old techniques such as bouncing the spinnaker up and manually dropping the spinnaker, having to pull it down, also generating new techniques for gybing the spinnaker. That makes the boat quite challenging to sail and rewarding when you get it right.
‘The boats are relatively sensitive and tweaky. They are heavier than say the TP52 or RC44 race boats and so the sails are a little bit deeper and with more twist. There are British owners who have been in the Swan 45 or the Swan 601 which this will appeal to,’ said Ian.

Estimates from within the class put the running costs for a race season at around £250,000 – £300,000 per year, that is competing in the main ClubSwan 50 circuit events. There is an option, putting a toe in the water as some owners have done, to charter a boat for a regatta which costs somewhere in the order of £45-50,0000.