History of the Swan 42


The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) celebrated the launching of the first NYYC 42 in September, 2006, the ninth one-design class created by the club since 1900. Some 200 members and guests took part in the festivities at the NYYC’s Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, RI, many of whom sailed aboard the boat.

The boat is designed by Frers and built by Nautor’s Swan. Its introduction was unparalleled: 35 boats sold within the first six months, 25 to members.

The concept was for a Corinthian one-design multipurpose yacht that will be very competitive as a one-design racer and also under IRC. The yacht is capable of racing and cruising locally as well as offshore. NYYC Rear Commodore David K. Elwell Jr., who spearheaded the project, said the boat is "one answer to the growing concern by Corinthian owners about the domination of professionals in the sport."

Known as the "Swan 42" outside the club—is a powerful, state-of-the-art yacht, showing a high-aspect-ratio rig and T- keel. The LOA is 42.6 feet, the LWL is 37 feet, beam 12 feet, sail area 1,175 square feet and displacement is less than 13,986 lbs., of which 48 percent is ballast.

The Swan 42 features two steering wheels, providing a better steering ratio and better feel; two accommodation plans are offered: a two- or three-cabin version.

Keeping costs down, initially and over time, has been another consideration. To that end, boats will have an initial order of seven sails: a main, three spinnakers and three headsails. No more than three inshore and one offshore replacement sails are allowed each year, according to class rules. Further, while up to two professionals can race on a boat, they can’t steer and can’t be compensated for sailing on the boat except for the boat captain.

Others working on the project include Chris Bulger, Gibb Kane, Sandy Vietor and Paul Zabetakis. Mick Harvey, who built several America's Cup yachts for Dennis Conner, was project manager and class measurer.

Nautor’s Swan built a full-scale mock-up of the interior, including wood members that correspond to the ceiling height. This was helpful in determining the best use of available space. Building a full-scale mock-up is almost unheard of in a yacht of this size.

The legendary yacht designer Nathanael Herreshoff, an honorary member of the NYYC, designed the Newport-30 class in 1896. Members who had seen or sailed in these Newport 30s went to "Cap'n Nat," and in 1900 the NY 70 became the first NYYC class. The famous NY30s followed as a Club class in 1905. (In 2005, this class celebrated its 100th Anniversary Regatta at the club’s Harbour Court facility. Seven of the 18-total yachts built made an appearance.) The NY57s came about in 1907, the 50s in 1913 and the popular 40s in 1916 (24 were built). In 1935, Olin Stephens, a member of the club since 1930, designed the NY32. Twenty three were built, and they were a very popular class in their day. In 1980, a group turned to Naval Architect Bill Cook who drew the lines of the NY36. Sixty were built. Three years before came the NY40 -- of which 21 were built. It remained a popular class at the New York Yacht Club for more than 25 years.

The first NYYC 42 went to the Cahoots Syndicate—a longtime partnership of NYYC Commodore George R. Hinman Jr., Rear Commodore Elwell, Richard Werdiger and Donald Elliman. Like the previous yachts it was named Conspiracy.

After one year, thirty-five boats were ordered and built with the delivery of the last dozen yachts due by December 2007. Today in 2014, forty-five boats comprise the Swan 42 fleet. Boats have been sold in seventeen countries.