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Princess Svanevit

The Book on the Fantastic History of the Baltic’s Queen.


Princess Svanevit (Princess Swan White) is the fairy-tale name of one of the most fascinating boats in Swedish sailing history. After many years overseas she has been returned to Sweden to be restored and set sail again.


Princess Svanevit was built in 1930 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (Kungliga Svenska Segelsällskapet, KSSS). She was commissioned by the wealthy publisher Erik Åkerlund, who wanted both to attract foreign competitors to the prestigious 12mR-class racing regattas and showcase the best in Swedish boatbuilding. That’s why Åkerlund hired the top names in the business: the designer Gustaf Estlander and, to carry out the construction, the world-famous Neglinge shipyard. The artist responsible for the lavish interior with its unique wood-inlay decoration was Ewald Dahlskog, whose work inspired a Swedish renaissance in a technique similar to marquetry called intarsia. The interior design reflects the dominant fashion of the period, a style known as Swedish Grace. 


Princess Svanevit is the longest 12mR ever built and is considered among the yachting world’s historic masterpieces. One of the most lavish sailing boats the country has ever produced, she contributed to Sweden’s reputation as a leading nation in sailing, design and craftmanship.   


Many years after she disappeared over the horizon, stories and memories came to life. The idea of returning the legendary boat was nurtured by two sailors for whom classic boats are both a passion and their profession. After searching long and hard they managed to find her standing on a quay in southern England. The 10 years of diplomacy and patient effort that followed culminated in August 2017, when the 22-metre long yacht returned to Sweden. But that was only the start of the sequel… 


In addition to the extensive renovation of the yacht and her interior, archive research and interviews have shed light not only on her history but also the period and people that gave her life. This is a biography that’s also about the golden age of Swedish craftmanship, captivating personalities, dreams and ambitions. Princess Svanevit’s story is equally one of historical and societal changes, which make us think about how such a prestigious project would be accomplished today, and what its aims would be. In addition, there’s a lot of deliberating to be done when giving an old boat new life, to make her ready for the sea and to go racing again.


Princess Svanevit’s various owners deserve their own chapter. Who were they and how did they live? How did their paths cross with that of this beautiful yacht? After Erik Åkerlund there was a succession of prominent and interesting owners. With businessman Ernhold Lundström her name changed to Irene and she had Malmo as her home port. Then followed the businessman Nils Gäbel, who rechristened her Silvervingen X (Silver Wing X) and sailed her to Spain where he established the holiday resort Torrevieja on the Costa Blanca. Her mast rose above all other yachts in the Mediterranean, bringing her to the attention of British property magnate Harry Hyams. For almost 60 years she resided in England under the name Barranquilla. These different owners had many other notable sailing boats and motor yachts. Several of them also collected cars, properties and art. So it’s a book full of art and cultural history, and is richly illustrated.   


The story came full circle in autumn 2017, with Princess Svanevit returning to Saltsjön – the same Baltic bay where she was built – to be restored to her original glory. Her re-launch is set for the summer of 2021, just in time for her 91st birthday. The book which reveals in full her fascinating history is due to be published in a few years' time.

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