Flagship: Best Boats Swan 60

Since the moment of its inception in 1967, Nautor’s Swan has been the epitome of a Scandinavian boatbuilder—highly regarded for its traditional boatbuilding skills, its exquisite woodwork and cabinetry, and its exceptional attention to detail.
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Since the moment of its inception in 1967, Nautor’s Swan has been the epitome of a Scandinavian boatbuilder—highly regarded for its traditional boatbuilding skills, its exquisite woodwork and cabinetry, and its exceptional attention to detail.
 Photo by Alberto Cocchi

Photo by Alberto Cocchi

Since the moment of its inception in 1967, Nautor’s Swan has been the epitome of a Scandinavian boatbuilder—highly regarded for its traditional boatbuilding skills, its exquisite woodwork and cabinetry, and its exceptional attention to detail. Its Sparkman & Stephens-designed Swan 65 ketches won the first three Whitbread Round The World races, ensuring there would always be a long waiting list for these sturdy performance cruisers. They also set the scene for ensuing generations of Swans, including the 60.

 Highland Fling. Photo by KOS Picture Source

Highland Fling. Photo by KOS Picture Source

The first Swan 60 appeared in 1994. A German Frers design, it was very much a Swan, solid and conservatively styled, but quicker than anything Swan had built before. Hull #1 went to well-known Scots businessman and racer Irvine Laidlaw, and his custom-built version, Highland Fling, set a new standard for future iterations. With its fractional rig—a Swan first—and crew of professional racers, Highland Fling easily won the Swan European and World championships, and the Key West Regatta two years running. The Swan marque was changed forever.

By 1998 the Italian fashion house Ferragamo had acquired the company and set about changing the design brief to create a more sharply styled, performance-oriented line of boats. But it wasn’t until 2004 that a new 60-footer launched. The Swan 601 was brought to the market in the hopes of establishing a 60-foot one design fleet, but there were too many compromises in the design to keep either cruisers or racers happy. It turned out to be neither competitive in handicap racing nor fun to cruise, and very few were sold.

Then in late 2009, Swan launched the latest version of the Swan 60. The Frers office’s brief was for a fast, comfortable and competitive cruiser-racer. Many would agree that is exactly what has been produced.

Swan 60 Racing

 Photo by Franco Pace

Photo by Franco Pace

On the racing circuit, the Swan 60 Emma finished second at the 2010 Swan Cup in Sardinia. In a fleet of 21 Swans, Emma was the smallest yacht in her class and despite being bullied at the start by her larger competitors still prevailed over all but the highly optimized Swan 90, DSK Pioneer.

Compared to the Swan OD 601, the new Swan 60 is 18in longer, 2ft wider and 3,700lb heavier, with a rig that is 6ft taller. The mainsail measurements are about the same, but the area of the asymmetric spinnaker has increased significantly without compromising the yacht’s IRC rating. Despite the uptick in sail area and waterline length, an increase in stability resulting from a wider beam and more ballast and some clever rating optimization means it actually rates lower under IRC than the Swan 601, even though it is arguably faster. Racing sailors will certainly appreciate the carbon hull, mast and PBO rigging, while the flared topsides are ideal for aggressive hiking.

Race-optimized versions, like Emma, have a racing boom rather than the Park Avenue style that comes on the cruising version. However, Emma is equipped with a Magic-Trim system that does away with the traveller, drastically reducing mainsail trim options. A racing mainsheet system is available as part of the optional $35,000 competition package.

On deck, sophisticated sail control systems and an ergonomically designed layout allow the Swan 60 to be easily sailed by just three people. The Magic-Trim mainsheet is a very safe innovation for cruisers, as it has no exposed finger-jamming blocks and includes a quick release that allows the main to be dumped in response to a large gust or when bearing away. Optional remote control systems include an anchor windlass and hydraulic bathing platform, and the aft section houses an excellent garage to store a tender—a well thought out facility that is often not even attempted aboard yachts of this size. All winches on board are electric, enabling effortless sail trimming and creating an uncluttered central cockpit devoid of pedestal grinders.


Belowdecks, there are several different layouts to choose from. Swan has traditionally opted for an aft master cabin, but the Swan 60 has a forward master cabin option as well. This cabin is smaller than a master cabin aft, but is far less subject to dock noise or the sounds of crew coming back from the nightclub when the boat is moored stern-to. At sea, a forward cabin is also well away from the noise of electric winches.


Overall finish is of the highest quality, with furnishings that are true to the Italian brand’s stylish approach. Practical details include a compact galley that is not only extremely well thought out, but equipped with an optional microwave and espresso machine. All three cabins have ensuite heads, and both the rear cabins have twin beds that can easily be turned into doubles.

Rumor has it that six new 60s have already been sold to a Russian buyer, suggesting that a one design class is a distinct reality. Since 1994, the 60ft Swan has played a big part in the company’s development, and there is every possibility that the latest example could be a company standout for years to come.


LOA: 61ft 11in


LWL: 54ft 10in

Beam: 16ft 7in

Draft: 11ft 9in

Displacement (light ship): 41,200lb

Ballast: 17,000lb

Sail area (100% FT): 2,325 ft2

Builder: Nautor’s Swan, Pietarsaari, Finland

U.S. Agent: Nautor’s Swan USA East,

Price: from $2,830,000 ex-factory


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