As was mentioned above Baltic
was started by Swan employees who broke away from the company, mostly it seems because PG Johansson had a falling out with Ingmar Granholm of Nautor -PG wanted to build lighter boats with balsa cored hulls, and Granholm would't let him. The solid glass hull
vs. cored hull
debate has been played out here and other places, so I won't get into it, but I think the engineering has proven to be sound.
I think calling Baltics and Swans 'sister ships' is incorrect, as Baltic
was clearly striving for something different. There are several Swan clones (“Swan-a-bes” like Avance Yachts) from the era, but Baltic is not one of them.
Anyway, I think this Swan vs. Baltic debate started out with a misaligned comparison, that is, the S&S Swan 38 (phrf 120, 19k lbs.) vs. the Doug Peterson
Baltic 38 (phrf 92, 14k lbs.)-very much different boats from different eras. A better comparison would be the S&S Swans of the 70's vs. the early C&C
Baltics. I have been on examples of both and I can tell you that the Swans have a much nicer interior
than the Baltics. I have not sailed on a C&C Baltic, but I have been on similar C&C designs of the era (under ballasted, rule
beating, flat-bottom pounders), and I can assure you I would rather be on an S&S boat.
I will agree however that Baltic really hit their stride with the Doug Peterson
38 and 42. I have been on a Baltic 38. It is a great boat, inside and out. I feel the Swans of that era (the Ron Holland
and early Frers boats) sort of struggled to find their place, as Holland
was winning races in his light and fast designs, and Nautor was trying to reproduce them (and slowing them down in the process) with their stubborn methods (heavy, solid glass hull, beefy rigs, etc.). I do, however, have to give the edge to Swan here when it comes to the teak
decks. Swan eliminated “top-screwing” in the early 80's, having developed a method of gluing them down with only epoxy
. Baltic was a few years behind in the process – all of the decks on the 38's and 42's I have seen may be set in epoxy
, but they are also top-screwed, which will someday be a massive, massive headache.
I would be interested to hear of anyone's experience with what I would call the “third wave” of Swans and Baltics; that is, the Frers designed Swans of the 90s vs. the Judel-Vroliik Baltics. They seem to be more matured designs at the end of the IOR era, and I don't have any experience sailing on either.