It was some months ago when I was sailing with a small boat to the Danish Island of Bornholm (Read it here and here), mooring at Klintholm and standing on the jetty, when two bigger yachts entered the harbour. I was stunned by the beautiful lines of the boats, attractive sheer lines of the hulls and the unusual tall masts. I was sure it must have been X-Yachts, but the distinctive three stripes at the waterpass were missing. Instead, two thick stripes showed that this must be another brand. The moment when the yachts were landed safely and the crew relaxed, I strolled to their berth to take a closer look. “What a great boat!”, I thought and was puzzled when I read the name of the yard: Arcona Yachts of Sweden.

An ARCONA 465 in full sweep

Never heard of it. I was stunned. A European brand making such beautiful boats and I never heard a word of it?! After the trip I searched the web and read in to the brand, grabbed the phone and arranged an interview with Torgny Jansson, the owner of the yard and the “brain” behind Arcona Yachts. Here´s what we were talking about:

Lars Reisberg | NO FRILLS “Torgny, thanks for spending your time answering my questions. First of all, as I told you, I shamefully must admit that I´ve never heard of ARCONA Yachts in my life before: How would you describe the brand and the yachts to somebody unknowing like me?”

Torgny Jansson | ARCONA Yachts: “Well, Lars, we are a Swedish company of course. Compared to other bigger brands, we are a small yard making some 35 boats per year. The reason that ARCONA isn´t know to you may be explained by the fact that our main markets are the United Kingdom, where we have our strongest fan base and most clients, Norway and Denmark. Because we aren´t making too many units, it´s clear that you don´t see many Arcona yachts out there sailing. In Germany we do not sell too many units. In UK, on the other hand, we have more than 100 ARCONA yachts in the water.” “Which is a pity, speaking of Germany, because your boats are extraordinarily beautiful!”

Torgny Jansson: “More than that! We have a dealer in Germany for sure and we want to expand, but you see, we don´t want to grow by force. First premise of our yard is to make the finest boats possible. We don´t have to sell too much as we are a small yard without a big overhead. We don´t have any financial problems nor big loans to pay for. ARCONA yachts is still family owned and because we are situated near Stockholm at our family´s base where we have a large facility providing winter storage and service for sailors, we have a second source of income which makes us more independent. ARCONA employs only 14 people – so I don´t have to push too hard for selling more and more boats. I can concentrate on refining our products to make the best yachts possible.”

ARCONA founder and owner Torgny Jansson is a true passionate sailor “How would you describe and ARCONA yacht?”

Torgny Jansson: “That´s easy: An ARCONA is a new fresh approach to sailing. I want to make sexy hulls sailing particularly pretty well with a tall and efficient rigg to gain speed. The boat is very, very stiff, boasts a load of stability and is a true racy performer. Yet we want to offer a classic interior design with superior material quality. We don´t make compromises here.” “When I read more into ARCONA I was fascinated by the family´s heritage as the base of the yachts …”

Torgny Jansson: “… yes, the story is nice. I am a sailor in the third generation. My grandfather was into commercial shipping and all around the world, my father was into sailing and I myself sail since I can walk literally. In the late Sixties my father founded the yard near Stockholm which is the core base of our activities still today. When I left school in the Nineties I immediately started working at the yard. Back then we build some 10 boats per year but the most income was generated by our marina service and winter storage, a product we maintain still today. But making boats is most fun. When we started ARCONA with the ARCONA 400 we sold a total of 160 units. This was the real beginning of our brand and the business. As I said, now we produce around 35 units per year, best year lately was 60 units before the financial and economic crisis in 2008.”

Another ARCONA 465 hits the water in the Stockholm yard “When I first saw the ARCONA yachts approaching, I mistook them for being X-Yachts. Does this happen often? What made me think I saw an X?”

Torgny Jansson: (laughs) “Fortunately this does not happen too often, but I know what you mean. You see, X-Yachts, which I like very much I must admit, make boats that have virtually the same core principles and target groups. When we made the ARCONA 400 we have been very impressed by the competing model of X-Yachts for sure. Both X-Yachts and ARCONA feature a rather more aggressive, sportive look and target the same sailors who seek sleek, stable, stiff and fast performing yachts. And indeed, we very much have the same clients. But from my point of view, when X-Yachts introduced the split between Xc and Xp lines, that left a lot of clients with ARCONA who were seeking a boat placed virtually in the middle between Xc and Xp. A modern, very fast boat with classy interior.” “ARCONA offers yachts starting from 34 feet to 46 feet. What are the most sold models?”

Torgny Jansson: “Definitely the ARCONA 430 which was and still is our power seller. With some 60 boats now this yacht and this size performs exceptionally well. My favourite boat though is the new 465 which is a perfect yacht in my eyes. Yet still the ARCONA 410 is also a great boat that sails very well, is very roomy and offers a decent performance. People love her too.”

The ARCONA 465 Carbon is the current flagship of the line “Who is the principal architect of ARCONA Yachts?”

Torgny Jansson: “We are very happy to be able to employ Stefan Qviberg who is a very, very capable and well known yacht designer. You see, a lot of people can do yacht design. All you need is a CFD-capable computer, some knowledge. But that´s not the point. Stefan Qviberg came to my father´s business after he examined in the late Seventies and that´s the beginning of our partnership. Since then he is the principal designer and I must say I am so delighted by his work. For example, when we introduced the ARCONA 380 we found out that the boat was still one ton – one full ton! – lighter than the competing Xp 38 by X-Yachts! Stefan´s designs are fully race capable yachts with loads of stability which are a joy to sail. Yet very safe and simple. For us, speed is extremely important as weight is as well. Stefan really knows how to make the boats stiff and perfectly smooth and we are very, very happy having him attached to ARCONA.” “I feel that Scandinavian yachts are special in many respects. And I´ve talked to some people about it as well (read my Interview with Niels Jeppesen of X-Yachts and Magnus Rassy here), what would you think is a “Scandinavian approach to sailing” and how does an ARCONA meet these things?”

Torgny Jansson: “Well, I´d say first of all we have a lot of upwind sailing here in the Baltic area. This fact calls for specially built boats of course. This is how they use to sail: Upwind. Back in the days there was no choice, you simply had to go upwind in order to reach for certain ports. We opt to have this ability to go upwind in our boats today but now our boats are built in a slightly different way: We do try to offer wide sterns but at the same time combined with sleek narrow bows. Hulls that can take off. See, the fastest speed ever recorded on an ARCONA was 22.7 knots. That´s a lot! Close to the wind our boats regularly break 8.5 knots with ease. This is what we try to do: Offer a boat that can take off downwind but be fast upwind too. Speed is an extremely important aspect of ARCONA yachts.”

Tall and efficient rigg: The ARCONA 465 Carbon “With an ever shrinking market of classic ownerships, a shift towards charter-optimized boats and the current trend to bigger and bigger boats, what´s the perspective of ARCONA boats in the future? Will we see a 60 feet 5-cabin and 4 heads ARCONA next?”

Torgny Jansson: “I would say no because ARCONA has a very different client base compared to the big brands. But I know what you mean: People nowadays don´t want to own a boat but have fun sailing one week and maybe next week go climbing. Still, ARCONA has maintained a classic owner base. You see, 35 boats per year as a sales target isn´t that many people. We can find those people and enthrill them becoming an ARCONA-owner. That´s the advantage of a smaller company like ours. Yet, it´s difficult and we understand we have to do something to get along with the ever changing market. That´s shared ownership for example. And yes, we have a bigger ARCONA in the making yet I don´t want to talk much of it. All I can say is there will be a 54, 55 feet boat in the future as there is much interest in this 50 feet-size.” “A bigger cruising ARCONA?”

Torgny Jansson: “Yes, a boat made for the very long haul, something around 54 feet, not bigger. This is a size where we still lose clients to X-Yachts for example who offer boats in this size. But still, even the big ARCONA will stay true to our core values of making boats as stiff and as light as possible to offer a very, very fast platform for performance sailing.”

The smaller boats are classy and beautiful sleek yachts too “At last, Torgny, where does the name ARCONA Yachts come from?”

Torgny Jansson: “That´s a simple story: One of the yachts we built in the first years back in the Seventies was a Carl Beyer design, the APHRODITE. We couldn´t keep that name for the company for obvious reasons but I wanted our brand start with an A. We came up with lots of ideas but when we had the charts of the Baltic Sea on our table somebody pointed to the German Island of Ruegen where Cape Arkona is situated …” “… with most beautiful tall white cliffs …”

Torgny Jansson: “… exactly! And apart from ARCONA Yachts with a C, the name comes from this German Island. It´s a maritime connotation and a place in the Baltic Sea where we are situated. The funny thing about ARCONA as a name is that it is mentioned in Swedish weather forecast 4 times in a row, which is a nice advertising.” (laughs again) “Thanks so much, Torgny, for answering my questions.”

A Swedish boat to the bone: ARCONA 465

Now that I´ve got to know ARCONA yachts by their owner and mastermind, I want to experience the philosophy of these boats first hand. Sad to see that there aren´t too many owners around where I live. I admire the boats with their tall masts and sleek, efficient rigging, I am fascinated by the passion of Torgny for his product as he told me he is sailing the boats himself extensively throughout whole summer. The company never went bankrupt or changed ownership, is still owner-owned and manned by people who are true sailors. Time to get to Stockholm again …


You may also like to read these articles:

Magnus Rassy shows the new HR 44

A Day at Luffe Yachts

Fast boats by X-Yachts – a day in the yard in Haderslev


All pictures with kind permission of ARCONA Yachts Sweden