In 1966, Pekka Koskenkyla started Nautor in Pietarsaari, Finland. His focus was to build a quality fiberglass 10m sailboat. That dream became the Swan 36 by Sparkman & Stephens. With the success of the 36, Nautor and Sparkman & Stephens partnered on 37, 38, 40, 41, 411, 43, 431, 44, 47, 48, 55, 67, and 76 Swan models. In 1977, they introduced finally the Swan 57. A former Nautor Swan broker told me about the history of this design. He explained that “many people do not realize that the Swan 57 was at the centerpiece when Nautor and Sparkman & Stephens fell out.” Arguments about the design and build of the Swan 57 culminated in the separation of these two mighty companies. From Nautor’s inception in 1966 until the introduction of the Swan 57 in 1977, only Sparkman & Stephens designed Swans. Since the 1977 introduction, Sparkman & Stephens has never again designed a Swan sailboat.
Olin Stephens was the principle designer. The 57-footer has the classic S&S rocket ship stern, modest sheerline, and raked bow. These Swans always are handsome yachts with their sexy low freeboard and wide decks. More than one client we have tried to talk out of buying a boat this size, but the siren call of a Swan is a powerful draw. Even 30 years after her introduction, a Swan 57 is sure to be one of the prettiest yachts in any harbor. She is a different class of yacht from your modern pilothouse cutter.
In 1977, Nautor started production. Teak decks were optional. With a few hulls completed, Nautor started noticing problems. The stiffening support structure was not right. Under testing, the boats were not handling stress correctly. Either to floors were not designed or built correctly. Nautor went to Sparkman & Stephens with complaints. S&S looked it over and said Nautor had misinterpreted the specifications and built the boats wrong. Nautor was offended that S&S didn’t take responsibility. The disagreement left both sides apart. While Nautor was able to correct the issues, they vowed to never use Sparkman & Stephens again, and they meant it. They continued to build the 49 hulls of the 57 Swan until 1984.
What To Look For
So be careful choosing a 57 Swan if this is one the first few hulls. The earliest couple had this floor framing issue which split up S&S and Nautor. That is pretty serious quality question and something you would think of with a Swan. Another problem is the teak deck. Look for a 57′ that has new teak decks or no teak deck. If a 57 Swan does not have new teak decks by now, then you are in for trouble. The teak has to be replaced. Teak decks are an expensive item of $50,000 to $100,000. The generator location is of interest Many times owners install the generator aft which is noisy for the aft staterooms. Look instead for one with the generator amidships in the saloon/galley. She comes in both ketch and sloop varieties. Watch for the rare centerboard models with 6′ 8″ draft board up. That is the shoal-est draft, largest Swan combination you will find. Otherwise, the fixed draft is 9′ 1″.
On Deck and Down Below
The 57 sleeps six in three staterooms. There are three owner and guest staterooms including two guest heads. Starting forward is the forepeak and storage followed by a chain locker. The guest cabin is located amidship with upper and lower berths. Next aft is the large and spacious main salon featuring a dining table and settee that seats eight and expanding teak table. The nav station is opposite the galley to starboard with a passageway aft to the master stateroom adjacent. The master stateroom has a slide out double berth to port and a single berth to starboard with a bench seat between and expansive storage area behind. If you are looking for a centerline queen aft stateroom, she is not it; she has a classic racing type interior.
Engine and Underway
The original engine is a 73 HP Perkins. Of course, Swans are wonderful racers, and the 57 is a great cruiser, too. And for her rare centerboard versions, you can get into tight spots. A broker who owned one says, “I had a 57 fixed keel version. I carried 9′ around. I wish I had the centerboard. I could have gone in so many more places.” He tells of sailing offshore in heavy seas in comfort. The 57′ was and is a young man’s boat, best handled by at least a couple. These are athletic yachts not meant for short handed sailing.
Nautor switched to designers Ron Holland from 1978-1981 and then German Frers. Today, these 57’s are no longer new boats but classics. They are sexy racer/cruisers of the famous Swan quality and beautiful Sparkman & Stephens design. They are last of the S&S and Nautor boats. In 1998, an Italian group lead by Leonardo Ferragamo purchased Nautor. They continue the design relationship with German Frers building ever larger quality yachts up to the ambitious 131′ Swan. Nautor Swan from its humble Finish beginings is arguably the most famous sailboat brand worldwide. Prices range from $300,000 to $400,000 on the brokerage market. The best source for additional information is the Classic Swan Owners Association.