The Swan 48 Sailboat
Specs & Key Performance Indicators

The Swan 48, an aft-cockpit sloop, was designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built in Finland by Nautor Swan.

'Sleeper X', a S&S Swan 48 sailboat on her mooring in Falmouth Harbour, AntiguaThe Swan 48

Published Specification for the Swan 48

Underwater Configuration: Fin keel & skeg-hung rudder

Hull Material: GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall: 47'11" (14.6m)

Waterline Length: 37'3" (11.4m)

Beam: 13'7" (4.2m)

Draft: 7'9" (2.4m)

Rig Type: Masthead sloop

Displacement: 36,000lb (16,330kg)

Designer: Sparkman & Stephens

Builder: Nautor (Finland)

Year First Built: 1971

Year Last Built: 1975

Number Built: 46

Owners Association: S&S Swan Owners Association


Published Design Ratios for the Swan 48

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 15.2

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 39.2

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 310

4. Comfort Ratio: 42.5

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.7

read more about these Key Performance Indicators...

Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Swan 48

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of 15.2 suggests that the Swan 48 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 39.2 means that the Swan 48 will have a tendency to heel excessively in a gust, and she'll need to be reefed early to keep her sailing upright in a moderate breeze. 

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 310, tells us the Swan 48 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 42.5 suggests that crew comfort of a Swan 48 in a seaway is similar to what you would associate with the motion of a heavy bluewater cruising boat. Pitching and rolling will be well damped - your cup of coffee on the salon table stands a reasonable chance of staying there in most conditions.

5. The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) of 1.7 tells us that a Swan 48 would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0. 


Any Questions?

What is the history of S&S Swan 48?

The history of the S&S Swan 48 is quite fascinating. Here are some highlights:

  • The S&S Swan 48 was designed by Sparkman & Stephens, one of the most renowned naval architecture firms in the world, founded in 1929 by Olin Stephens and Drake Sparkman;
  • The S&S Swan 48 was built by Nautor Oy, a Finnish company that specializes in high-quality sailing yachts under the Swan brand. The company was founded in 1966 by Pekka Koskenkylä;
  • The S&S Swan 48 was in production between 1971 and 1975, with 46 hulls built in total. It is not to be confused with a later German Frers designed Swan 48 model that was in production between 1995 and 2003;
  • The S&S Swan 48 was designed to rate under the I.O.R. (International Offshore Rule) and at the same time to offer the comforts of a great cruising boat. Because of this design criteria and its extremely strong structure, the S&S Swan 48 suits very well for transocean racing as well as comfortable cruising and even circumnavigating the world;
  • The S&S Swan 48 is famous for its two wins in the Newport-Bermuda Race, a prestigious offshore sailing event that covers about 635 nautical miles (1,176 kilometers) from Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda. The first win was by 'Noryema VIII' in 1972, skippered by Ted Turner, and the second win was by 'Constellation' in 1992, skippered by John Winder;
  • The S&S Swan 48 has also participated in other notable races and events, such as the Fastnet Race, the Sydney-Hobart Race, the Transatlantic Race, the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), and the World ARC;
  • The S&S Swan 48 has been praised for its elegant lines, its reputation, and its resale value. It is widely considered to be one of the most iconic bluewater sailing designs of all time;
  • The S&S Swan 48 has also been subject to some radical refits and modifications by some owners, who have updated its interior, rigging, keel, or hull to suit their preferences or needs. One example is 'Lucky Bird', a 1972 Swan 48 that has been given a spectacular new look by Younique Yachts in the Netherlands.

What other versions of the S&S Swan 48 were built?

There were two versions of the S&S Swan 48: the original version with a skeg-hung rudder and a yawl option, and a later version with a spade rudder and a sloop rig.

What is the accommodation like in the S&S Swan 48?

The S&S Swan 48 has a traditional layout with a V-berth cabin forward, followed by a head and a hanging locker to port and another head to starboard. The main saloon has two settees that can be used as berths, a drop-leaf table, and a pilot berth to starboard. The galley is aft to port, opposite a forward-facing navigation station. The aft cabin has two single berths and a small sink.

What, if any, alternative accommodation layout versions are available for the S&S Swan 48?

Some S&S Swan 48s were built with a different aft cabin layout, featuring a double berth to port and a single berth to starboard.

What is the S&S Swan 48 like to sail?

The S&S Swan 48 is widely considered to be one of the most iconic bluewater sailing designs of all time. It is well-balanced, stable, and seaworthy, capable of handling various weather conditions and long passages. It is also fast and responsive, with good upwind performance and reaching speed.

What is the average cost of a secondhand S&S Swan 48?

The price of a secondhand S&S Swan 48 depends on many factors, such as the year of construction, the condition of the boat, the equipment installed, and the location of the boat. Based on some online listings, the average cost of a secondhand S&S Swan 48 ranges from $150,000 to $300,000 USD.

Is this boatbuilder still in business?

Yes, Nautor (Swan Sailboats) is still in business and continues to produce high-quality sailing yachts in Finland. The company was founded in 1966 by Pekka Koskenkylä and has since built over 2,000 boats under the Swan brand. The current models range from 36 to 115 feet (11 to 35 meters) in length

What other sailboats have been created by this designer?

Sparkman & Stephens is one of the most renowned naval architecture firms in the world, founded in 1929 by Olin Stephens and Drake Sparkman. The firm has designed over 2,700 boats for racing, cruising, military, and commercial purposes. Some of their most famous sailboats include Dorade, Stormy Weather, 'Finisterre', 'Bolero', 'Columbia', 'Intrepid', 'Courageous', 'Freedom', 'Nyala' and many more.

The above answers were drafted by sailboat-cruising.com using GPT-4 (OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model) as a research assistant to develop source material; to the best of our knowledge, we believe them to be accurate.


Other sailboats in the Nautor Swan range include:


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