The Swan 38 Sailboat
Specs & Key Performance Indicators

The Swan 38, a heavy displacement masthead sloop, was designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built in Finland by Nautor Swan.

A Swan 38 sailboat on a Tamar River Sailing Club mooring in Devon, England.

Published Specification for the Swan 38

Underwater Profile: Fin keel with skeg-hung rudder

Hull Material: GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall: 38'3" (11.7m)

Waterline Length: 28'9" (8.8m)

Beam: 11'7" (3.5m)

Draft: 6'4" (1.9m)

Rig Type: Masthead sloop

Displacement: 18,300lb (6,301kg)

Ballast: 7,100lb (3,221kg)

Designer: Sparkman & Stephens

Builder: Nautor Swan (Finland)

Year First Built: 1974

Year Last Built: 1979

Number Built: 116


Published Design Ratios for the Swan 38

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 15.9

  • Less than 16 would be considered under-powered;
  • 16 to 20 would indicate reasonably good performance;
  • Over 20 suggests relatively high performance.

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 38.8

  • Under 40: less stiff, less powerful
  • Over 40: stiffer, more powerful

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 345

  • Under 100: Ultralight
  • 100 to 200: Light
  • 200 to 275: Moderate
  • 275 to 350: Heavy
  • Over 350: Ultraheavy

4. Comfort Ratio: 34.4

  • Under 20 indicates a lightweight racing boat
  • 20 to 30 indicates a coastal cruiser
  • 30 to 40 indicates a moderate offshore cruising boat
  • 40 to 50 indicates a heavy offshore boat
  • Over 50 indicates an extremely heavy offshore boat

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.8

  • Under 2.0 (the lower the better): Better suited for ocean passages
  • Over 2.0: Less suited for ocean passages

read more about these Key Performance Indicators...


Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Swan 38

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of 15.9 suggests that the Swan 38 will need a stiff breeze to get her going. In light conditions, unless you've got plenty of time on your hands, motor-sailing may be the way to go.

2. A Ballast/Displacement Ratio of 38.8 means that a sailboat like the Swan 38 (which doesn't have a stiffness-enhancing bulb keel), is likely to benefit from being reefed early to keep her sailing upright in a moderate breeze.

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 345, tells us the Swan 38 is clearly a heavy displacement cruising boat. You can load her down with all your cruising gear and equipment and it will hardly affect her waterline. Not an ideal choice for coastal sailing, but she'll come into her own on an offshore passage in testing conditions.

4. Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio of 34.4 suggests that crew comfort of a Swan 38 in a seaway is similar to what you would associate with the motion of a moderate bluewater cruising boat - a predictable and acceptable motion for most seasoned sailors.

5. The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) of 1.8 indicates that a Swan 38 would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0. 


Other sailboats in the Nautor Swan range include:


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