This is an English version of this article.
There are really only two Swedish yacht builders left with an international reputation in 2020? Arcona and Hallberg-Rassy. And they do that by staying with a proven strategy where the target audience knows what they’ll get and the progress happens in small steps
Diva and Linjett are two others that have managed to keep their course, but I don’t expect to find them on the docks of Hamble or Seattle.
In the opposite ring corner is Najad, who has changed owners, design and style so many times that they’ve lost any moment they once had. Therefore, it’s exciting that the same owner now runs both Arcona and Najad. I was initially skeptical to the deal, and wouldn’t have been surprised if Arcona as a brand had been lost in that maneuver. But now it’s clear that they manage just fine, even after the designer Stefan Qviberg sadly passed on a couple years ago.
The main reason for this is of course founder Torgny Jansson’s continued dedication and passion for both sailing and boatbuilding. And it’s clear that the Arcona 465 Carbon is Torgny’s own dream yacht. Blådåren XX is his third boat of the same model and as the phrase goes: “third time’s the charm”.
This is where we wake up on Friday morning.
We’ve looked at the weather forecasts for a while and it seems that Friday is going to be a late summer day in November. I’ve convinced the others to gather at 6.30 in the morning to be under sail when the sun rises on Baggensfjärden. Although they told me it wasn’t a problem, they looked doubtful the evening before.
But we don’t make it very far before we all know that it’s going to be an amazing day at sea.
One of those days that help you get through winter.
The sunrise is just as magical as I’d hoped, and the first rays of sun warms my face.
We raise the mainsail and roll out the jib. Everything is working neatly and the boat doesn’t feel at all as big as it is on paper. Torgny has chosen the systems carefully; carbon mast + boom from Axxon, deck hardware from Harken and Spinlock, jib furler from Ubi Maior (see below), and proper winches from Harken (electric for the main halyard).
Even though the wind is only blowing at 4-6 knots on Baggensfjärden, the boat still accelerates nicely. And those of you who know Torgny know that this isn’t just any old Arcona 465 Carbon:
The thought behind “Blådåren XX” was to build a boat that is just like a standard boat but lighter, this with the help of Figaro divinycell and lots of carbon: multiple modules, bulkheads and floorboards, rudder/rudder post, as well as some smaller pieces. This has given us a boat that is 5-600 kg lighter than its sisters!
We’re not going to primarily use her for racing. She’s supposed to be a great boat to sail and live in for longer periods of time. Maybe not necessarily in warmer latitudes, but… We’re not going to sail far but for long!
I’ve sailed all my life and it’s a very central part of my life. To be able to do that in a boat that sails fast and with a nice feeling is worth every hour I’ve put into her.
Out on Ingaröfjärden we’re able to put up the all-new gennaker. It’s supposed to be a A2/runner on a top-down Profurl-roll, but it came delivered in a sock. We also didn’t have an adjustable tack line, so we choose to loosen the halyard to get it into shape. It’s going to be perfect once everything’s adjusted After all the boat is brand new, and has just been sailed from the builder in Uddevalla.
It’s fun to sail with Torgny and Magnus Lundgren who we’ve battled with so many times on the water. Both his old Arcona 340 but even more the newer 380 Ikagai. A lot of competence on board and that everyone is continuously adjusting things to get 100% out of the boat.
Here we see the furler from Ubi Maior, a so called JB Jiber. Unlike most others, there is no foil but the jib sits with soft-hanks on the rod forestay which spins when you furl. I’ve seen it on Class 40 where you mainly want to save weight. Worked very well.
The boat felt very light on the rudder and slips away in the puffs. It’s fun to sail even when the wind isn’t strong, which is a good grade in this size. In bigger yachts you’re often “along for the comfortable ride”, but here the active helmsman and trimmer are rewarded. It’s a combination of a relatively slim hull shape and a low weight.
Torgny’s hunt for extra kilos to save is paying off.
A natural comparison is with X-yachts X4⁶ which we test sailed in Denmark this spring (the yacht owned by X-yachts owner). That boat came in around 12,35 tons in DH (Danish Handicap), which is more than 30% above the weight of Blådåren XX. Of course, you feel the difference.
|Assym spin||197 m2|
|Yanmar 80 hp med S-drev|
But, it’s upwind that the boat really delivers.
After a season where I’ve sailed all kinds of boats (except my own), I’ve missed the perfect balance upwind in 12-16 knots. The small adjustments of the mainsheet to get a little bit of preassure in the wheel, eyes wandering between the tell-tales and B&G display in the ever-lasting hunt for target speed (in this case 8.2 knots). Bow down a little to pick up speed. Careful with the heeling angle. Let the boat come back up. A little bit more when there’s a small puff. And then press for speed once again.
I could keep doing this all day.
I let Magnus take the wheel for a moment to see if his helming is different from mine. After all, he went to the Olympics and has spent thousands of hours in Arconas. But there are no major differences, which feels good.
Of course, it’s dead upwind the whole way back. And puffy between 10 and 20 knots in the narrow straits. But the boat feels nimble and easy to sail doublehanded. If you get caught with the mainsheeet to hard, you may round up, but if you’re plan ahead it’s noproblem. Sailing with the family you might reduce sail area or just trim a bit more conservative.
Back in Gustavsberg. It’s at boat number 20 you really know how you want it. I have a few left before I can flaunt an X in the numbering.
I really like the quote: “no object created by man is as satisfying to his body and soul as a proper sailing yacht”.
The cockpit layout works well. Straight forward and no gimmicks. Above all the mainsheet trimmer is well placed and it’s quite easy to adjust the traveler even with a main that’s 75 square meters. Helmsman both stands and sits comfortably.
I do think it looks nice with a flush aft deck, but the Arcona’s is a little raised. It creates a feeling of safety, gives more storage space and I realized that it’s quite nice to stand a little higher than the helmsman at the back.
The interior is of course world class. Some of the best boat builders from Orust and the Swedish west coast have come together as Sailyard in Uddevalla.
If you take a close look you will notice that many parts are made of carbon, but that definitively hasn’t taken away the feeling of a cosy family boat. I don’t think anyone wants to know how many hours Torgny has spent on this…
So how do you summarize this?
This is of course a boat that most of us only can dream of. But if you were to build a modern cruiser/racer for our waters, I’d say that the Arcona 465 Carbon is very close to ideal. Here, Grand Soleil, Italia, Solaris, and X-yachts have some serious competition.
Here are some more pictures for those who are interested.