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Southern Ocean Company and Swan 51 “Eira"

Southern Ocean Company was founded in the first years of the new century but basically restarted in 2009 when shares got redivided among a new set of owners. The mission was to purchase a yacht capable of doing long transatlantic voyages, housing large crews and put it out “on the trade". After considering a number of options the decision fell in favour of a proven design, the Swan 51, and the optimal version, the alternative one layout with its additional crew space.
The search started immediately. After viewing several potential boats one stuck out, the hull 009 for sale in Sweden. She had previously done several seasons in the Caribbean and was already equipped for long hauls. Her general condition was also good, or as the surveyor from Nautor loosely put it – “she’s pretty much the same boat that rolled out of the factory in 1981”.

In 2010 she was delivered to, what was to become her new homeport, the island of Blekholmen in the middle of Helsinki. She also got a new name “Eira”. The name relates to the goddess of healing in the Nordic mythology. Later someone told us that it meant snow in Welsh, both very suiting names for this particular boat.
The following years she did extensive cruising, sail training and racing around the North Atlantic Basin, Mediterranean, Caribbean and North European waters. She logged an impressive 50 000 NM in just three and a half years, being in constant use with only brief stops for necessary overhauls and upgrades.

When she finally came back in 2014 she had proven the reputation of the 51:ones as durable workhorses for blue water purposes. It is impressive how many of this particular design is out there in most demanding conditions taking out sail trainees, racing crews and guests ranging from complete beginners to more seasoned yachties.
Today her main operating area is the Northern Baltic but she’ll still do the occasional longer cruise, as one planned to the Caribbean in the winter 2020-2021. The preparations are already in full swing with a sailing itinerary shaping up for the ARC, lots of European cruising, Caribbean racing venues as well as good old laid back holiday sailing for individuals.

As we’ve done quite a few transatlantic crossings and extended offshore racing events we decided to take everything to a different level. Our aim is to sail the Ocean Globe Race in 2023. The OGR is a retro event paying homage to the old Whitbread races back in the 70s and 80s. Eira will place in the smallest class and at the moment we are looking for sponsors, crew and lots of bits and pieces for us to be able to do the starting line. 

Check out our “On the Horizon" section for more information!

My first impression of her was that of an ancient beast looming at you with an open question – do you have what it takes? After spending miles on her, enough to circle the planet a few times, she sometimes still reminds me of that moment.

The choice to go for a Swan 51 was a conscious one. Her famous predecessors, drawn by the legendary Sparkman & Stephens design bureau, would have been an option for anyone .. still we wanted something more agile, without loosing strength and quality, and went for an early German Frers design. Her hull and the sheer size of the rudder blade give her responsiveness well needed for where she was about to go for a number of years. Pressed hard in the trades manoeuvrability, speed and stability was key and she excelled in all aspects.

A clever interior with ability to house a large crew was also a prerequisite and the pure joy to rest your eyes on all wooden details makes one feel a homely warmth in ones heart.

Personally I consider her as one of the best yacht designs ever, a true modern classic, and I am very proud to have skippered her for so many years.

Sebastian Gylling

The Swan 51 “Eira" in numbers
Hull Type Fin/spade rudder
Rig Type Masthead sloop
Length 15,62m
Beam 4,47m
Draft 2,70m
Displacement 20 000kgs
Version Alternative 1
Designer German Frers
Cabins 5
#Beds 11
Heads 2
Showers 3
Auxiliary Power
Main Engine Perkins 80hp (rebuilt in 2016)
Genset Westerbeke 6kW
Water 700L
Diesel 270+120L
Main 52,42 m2 2011
Genoa 120% 67,47 m2 2011
Spinnaker 230 m2 2011
Gennaker 250 m2 2011