Nordic Folkboat

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Nordic Folkboat
Nordic Folkboat black.svg
Class symbol
Nordic folkboat drawing.svg
Current specifications
Crew 2–3
LOA 7.68 m (25 ft 2 in)
LWL 6.00 m (19 ft 8 in)
Beam 2.20 m (7 ft 3 in)
Draft 1.20 m (3 ft 11 in)
Hull weight 1,930 kg (4,250 lb)
Keel weight 1,050 kg (2,310 lb)
Mainsail area 17.0 m2 (183 sq ft)
Jib / Genoa area 7.0 m2 (75 sq ft)
Year 1942
Designer Tord Sundén

The Nordic Folkboat is a small sailboat, rigged as a sloop. The design of this boat was the result of a competition held by the Scandinavian Yacht Racing Union in 1942, who were hoping to create an easily sailed and low-cost boat. The competition produced no outright "winner " but, taking the best features of a number of the entries received, the organisers commissioned professional designer Tord Sundén to create a craft that met the goals of the design competition. The resulting boat went on to become an international favorite of sailors and still endures more than 70 years after its design. The first Nordic Folkboat was built in Gothenburg in Sweden, and as of 2007, more than 4000 Nordic Folkboats are still sailing around the world.


Wooden Nordic Folkboat in 2007.

The Nordic Folkboat, as initially designed, is constructed of wood in the clinker or lap-strake method of boat building. The boat was designed to be built with oak framing and fir planking, although different builders used many different species of wood. The boat has an open cockpit and a low coachroof covering a small cabin usually consisting of two bunks and minimal storage furniture. The boat is rigged as a simple fractional sloop, with minimal standing rigging, consisting only of two lower shrouds, two jumper shrouds, a headstay, and a backstay. Despite the simplicity of the rigging, the mast is highly tunable, enabling the Folkboat to sail well in light and heavy air well beyond initial expectations.

Its iron ballast keel represents more than half of this displacement, making the Folkboat extremely stiff and seaworthy, and it is one of the smallest craft to have made regular ocean crossings and circumnavigations.


Fibreglass & timber Folkboats side by side. The fibreglass boat on the left was built by Folkebadcentralen, Kerteminde, in 2006; the timber boat was built in Australia in 1964. Whilst the hulls are identical in shape, the cabin top and cockpit on the 'Australian Folkboat' on the right differ from the original design.

In 1966, Tord Sundén introduced the carvel-plankedInternational Folkboat”. This design corresponded largely to the original, but it offered more comfort below deck, and it had a self-bailing cockpit. However, the term “International Folkboat” was too misleading and was forbidden. Today, the class is simply called “IF-boat.” The IF-boat was manufactured at Marieholms Bruk in Småland (Sweden) until 1984.

In 1968, the Folkboat successfully made the transition from traditional clinker timber to modern molded GRP (fiberglass) construction ... retaining the characteristic simplicity of the design. In 1975, Erik Andreasen, a Dane, introduced a GRP replica of the original design ... the mold being taken from his own Tibbe which won the Gold Cup that year. Weights and measurements were carefully preserved to insure level competition with wooden boats, and only an outboard engine was provided. The type is called the Nordic Folkboat.

A newly built fiberglass Folkboat is an exact replica of the original Folkboat ... and today, wooden and GRP boats race together. The class rules are administrated by the Folkboat International Association. The largest international regattas are: Gold Cup (an unofficial world championship), Sessan Cup (a team race), Kieler Woche and San Francisco Cup. There are active fleets in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, USA, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia.

Long distance capabilities[edit]

In the 1950s, the Folkboat began to attract the attention of long-distance voyagers for its modest cost and seaworthiness.

  • Ann Gash from Australia, who made a single-handed circumnavigation in Ilimo between 1975 and 1977.
  • 1962/1963 Adrian Hayter sailed single handed from the U.K. to New Zealand in 'Valkyr' by the Westward/Panama route.
  • Lt. Col. H.G. "Blondie" Hasler sailed a greatly modified folkboat Jester to second place in the first Observer Singlehanded Trans Atlantic Race in 1960.
  • Mike Richie sailed Jester in several Singlehanded Trans Atlantic Races until Jester was damaged and lost at sea. Richie survived and competed for many years in a replica of Jester.
  • Rozelle Raines sailing Martha McGilda in which she was the first British Woman to sail singlehanded to Russia in the 1960s.
  • Sharon Sites Adams sailed from California in Hawaii in 1965. She was the first woman to single-hand this route.

Geographic spread[edit]

Folkboats in San Francisco.

According to Nordic Folkboat International Association by 2007, the largest Folkboat fleet is in Sweden (1300 registered boats) followed by Denmark (1125), Germany (900), Finland (400), UK (100), U.S.A. (100) and The Netherlands (48).

In the United Kingdom, a large fleet has developed on the south coast, and the class is continuing to expand. The 2004 Folkboat Nationals were hosted by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

In the United States, an active group of Folkboats in the San Francisco Bay Area is organized as the San Francisco Bay Folkboat Association, which schedules various racing and social events such as the bi-annual San Francisco Cup Regatta. The San Francisco Bay fleet has been supported over the years by the Alameda, California boatbuilder Sven Svendsen, who was the first US builder of Fiberglass Nordic Folkboats.

The Folkboat is also a popular cruising yacht especially in the Baltic Sea area, despite its small interior size and lack of "heads".

In Estonia, a recent revival of Folkboat class has occurred. During the Soviet occupation, many Folkboats were built at Tallinn Experimental Shipyard of Sport Vessels. Due to varying quality, most of these boats have not survived. Nevertheless, a group of enthusiasts has restored few old folkboats (or "folkars", as they are called in Estonian sailing slang) and brought in additional boats mostly from Sweden. In 2012, as many as 11 Nordic Folkboats have been registered for annual Offshore Championship of Estonia. Currently, 25 Folkboats are registered in the database of Estonian Yachting Union.


Builders no longer trading[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Loibner, Dieter (2002), The Folkboat story, USA: Sheridan House Inc 

External links[edit]