Bluewater Sailboat – Swan 441


This Ron Holland design is Bluewater Sailboat Swan 441, which is 38 years old, was created for ocean racing but has plenty of flair.

The pool of possible owners ready to bestow care and attention on a boat when she approaches 30 years old or more gets smaller and smaller. The Swan 441R is one of those ships, but there are those that simply stand out. The blue water cruiser is exceedingly well-built and somewhat quick.
Swan 441
Swan 441
  • Hull Type: Fin w/spade rudder
  • Rigging Type: Masthead Sloop
  • LOA: 44.36 ft / 13.52 m
  • LWL: 36.75 ft / 11.20 m
  • Beam: 13.32 ft / 4.06 m
  • S.A. (reported): 961.00 ft2 / 89.28 m2
  • Draft (max): 6.50 ft / 1.98 m
  • Displacement: 24,700 lb / 11,204 kg
  • Ballast: 11,000 lb / 4,990 kg
  • S.A./Disp.: 18.20
  • Bal./Disp.: 44.53
  • Disp./Len.: 222.17
  • Construction: FG
  • Ballast Type: Lead
  • First Built: 1979
  • Last Built: 1980
  • # Built: 40
  • Builder: Nautor
  • Designer: Ron Holland


They are extremely rare and hard to find, but the story of Best Buddies, a 1979 441R, may show that certain sailboats select their owners instead of the other way around. In actuality, Best Buddies twice choose Kay-Johannes and Susann Wrede as her owners.

In 1996, Kay, who works as a topsides paint consultant for superyachts, discovered the Swan in poor condition. He may have overstated a little in describing her condition to entice his wife to come meet her. Susann claims that when she opened the companionway hatch, a yellowish-green haze emerged. The odour was indistinguishable, so I answered “absolutely not.”

Susann had her doubts, but the Swan quickly made her way into the yard where the family lived for a complete refit. She was obviously going to be used as a topsides paint test subject. But everyone, including Nautor, the original builder, found her whole interior renovation to be a bit of a deviation.

To improve the lighting below decks, Kay added indirect lighting, a high gloss American cherry finish, and a glass cockpit floor they called “the aquarium.” Additionally, a distinctive Dickinson diesel stove made her on board. When we eventually began competing, we had a reputation as the fastest fireplace on the track, Susann continues.

In order to continue calling the Bluewater sailboat a Swan while making changes to the original design. Kay had to obtain consent from Swedish function Nautor Swan, who was dubious. At the 1997 Hamburg boat exhibition, his modifications made Nautor sit up and take attention, which may have inspired the builder to think about making adjustments to their own designs to follow. The Wredes sold the yacht three years later, only to re-discover her in 2006 in far worse condition.

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Without a doubt gorgeous stuff, as well as what appears to be a fantastic Bluewater sailboat, but for cruising. That companionway configuration could be more than just irritating and inconvenient. The rigging of a dodger to offer the helmsman any meaningful protection is practically impossible, and climbing up and down that ladder would drive you insane.

The companionway system has one positive attribute, which is that she is exceedingly safe and unlikely to flood. The fact that there has never been discovered to be a load helps to explain how such a large aft cabin is possible. Although the dodger is modest and does not provide as much helm protection as some other designs, this is part of what makes her unique. The dodger’s diminutive size and lack of helm protection compared to other designs contribute to its distinctive and swan-like appearance. By controlling the autopilot with a handheld device at the companionway, you may navigate the boat while remaining dry.

The second refurbishment comprised replacing the rig with a carbon-fiber mast, adding 400 kg to the fin keel, and keeping a modest skeg to gain a better rating because she never lived up to her racing handicap. The masthead sloop could now carry substantially more sail area than the original 90 square meters (966 square feet), and her righting moment improved noticeably. She even got a carbon rudder in 2012.

Quick Notes

Best Buddies is the third hull in that group, and prior to joining the Wredes, she had been owned by five different people. According to Susann, who stresses that she is now a member of the family and will never be sold, she apparently won’t have anymore.

The 441R’s crew pool consists of 30 men and women, primarily relatives and friends, as she does not really make a good couple’s cruiser due to the 14 winches on board. The boat is never left alone for very long because ten to twelve people are always racing. It made sense to choose that name. If you happen to swim past Best Buddies while they are in an anchorage, you might be asked to join them for drinks as the boat selects yet another stranger to be her friend.

It’s amazing that one of these models is still available for purchase given how uncommon and coveted they are. Although it’s unlikely the hull has an aquarium or a fireplace just yet, she is still a 441R and has a long history of successful racing. Don’t dally if you’re searching for a robust, traditional speed demon with pedigree; she might just find a new owner on her own.

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