Today starts the 2024 edition of ancora Yachtfestival, Germany´s biggest in-water boat show. This event is a must-go for me, not only because it takes place in my old home-marina where I used to have GEKKO based, but also because this event is a stomping ground for sailing yachts of all sorts, of course, due to our location and the participating boat brands and dealerships, a focus on “Northern” yachts and brands is apparent.

Roaming the full pontoons …

Besides, end of May is a perfect time for the Baltic Sea with predominantly nice sunny weather but not as hot as during the high season. Yesterday I roamed the premises to check the show, meet colleagues from the industry and say “hello” to everyone. And of course I had my eyes open for something “special” to maybe write about. And behold! There, seemingly unimposing between the big +40 feet GRP boats, a true classic and some adorably beautiful lines jumped in my face …

Wedged between the whoppers: Eye candy!

A view you rarely see on boat shows anymore. This is the “IF New”, a new build IF-Boat, the “Internationell Folkbat” – or “International Folkboat”. I come to a halt abruptly and take a while to look at this little beauty. This is one of the true big classics in Scandinavian boatbuilding. The IF Boat has a long history dating back as far as 1966 when Tord Sunden came up with a slightly “updated” Version of the already very popular Folkboat-design (that itself was introduced in 1942!).

… suddenly acknowledging this eye-candy

The IF Boat is a classic long-keeled sailboat that featured more comforts – and thus some cruising capabilities – over the classic Folkboat. Higher freeboard, a slightly different bow and stern-section and more volume under deck to allow for some cruising amenities. She became a best-seller: More than 3.600 unit (!) had been built until the production was cancelled in 1986. IF Boats can be seen almost everywhere in Denmark and Sweden, she is still a very popular small boat in these countries. But what is it about this brand new boat then?

Meet the new IF Boat

A Danish sailing enthusiast and boat dealer named Peter Grönlund, who now lives and works in Berlin/Germany selling Seacamper and Haber Yachts, smaller modern volume GRP-boats, was madly in love with this design. As he tells me, the IF Boat is in his eyes the perfect sailboat for ambitious skippers who seek the true sailing sensation but wish for a simple, small, easy to handle and transport boat – powerful, fast, easy to sail: That´s the IF Boat!

A tiiiiiiny bit wider …

He struck a deal with Haber Yachts, a shipyard in Poland that manufactures purpose-ordered boats with a high emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. The IF New is all-new though: No old moulds are used to make this boat, everything had been built from scratch. In this, Peter insists, they tried to slightly optimize the construction within the restraints of the IF class-rules. For example, the cabin had been extended just 2 centimeters – the outcome is a much more comfortable seating situation down below: Your shoulders won´t hurt anymore.

Nice stainless steel detail

The choice for Haber Yachts as the producer is a logic one: Peter already sells their product and knows the production. Each boat ordered is a principal one-off. They are not pre-producing on stock, but just on order. Giving the future owners more possibilities to individualize their new IF Boat according to their taste.

Simply sailing / simple sailing

In any case, sailing is the principle reason for this boat to come alive. Since Saare had cancelled production of the H-Boat recently, the IF Boat remains one of the last small-boat classics available for people who seek the sailing sensations and look for a small Cat B/C boat in that classy style. Peter invites me aboard, which I gladly accept.

Slim, just like a Dinghy

She is not a big boat: With an overall length of 7.87 meters and a maximum beam of 2.25 meters she is more a yawl than a yacht. There is no reeling to grab a hold onto and due to the slightly bend deck you need to hold tight to the forestay, the shrouds and coach roof handles to navigate your way back into the cockpit. A sailboat, I instantly realize, not made for maximum comforts – she wants to sail.

Classic layout for the running rigging

Standing in the cockpit I need to keep my head down. Being 1.86 meters tall, the boom is lower than my standing height. I feel reminded back to the days learning how to sail on a yawl when one of the main things our sailing teacher tried to get into our heads (or better: Trying to become our instincts) was to keep our head down, especially during sailing maneuvers. That´s an instinct that will come alive again on the IF Boat as well.

Cockpit, note the mainsheet track

The cockpit is not very roomy. There are two benches with slightly higher coamings. Partitioned by the mainsheet traveler track people can only sit in the front part of the cockpit. Behind the mainsheet traveler the tiller will be working, so there´s a no-go zone, at least when sailing. In this, I´d say that two people can have much fun here in the cockpit – sailing with three or more will be a cramped experience on long hauls, for regatta, this is perfect.

Mainsheet track with traveler for fine tune

The IF Boat still has a vivid racing class. There are IF-classes in Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and even in Australia. The rules are, of course, strict and the racing calendar packed with events from North to South. It seems that, even after so many decades, that the IF Boat still has a huge fanbase all over the world that appreciates the easy and simple sailing sensations yet the considerably high-class building of this little yacht, which brings us back to the new IF Boat.

Lovely details: Perfect craftsmanship

After Marieholm, the principle shipyard building the IF Boat for many, many years, had been bought by AB Transatlantik shipyard and later by Albin Marin (which is a very nice connection to Peter Norlin here!) it turned out that the production of the IF Boat even then was too expensive and too elaborate. The era of cheaper mass-produced GRP boats was about to start off and Albin focused on those boats, like the famous Albin Express – done by Peter Norlin – and phased out production of the IF Boat.

What a nice wooden detail!

This high aspiration of the IF Boat is what can still be found in the new IF as well. The production quality is amazing. The boat floating here in ancora Marina is brand new, the wooden parts still seem to be freshly cut and left the caring hands of the boat joiner mere days ago. Just look at the wonderfully crafted tiller – it´s truly a work of art! Peter Grönlund explains that his foremost task was to find a shipyard that could live up to the quality of the IF Boat. And I must say, he apparently found a partner who is doing exactly that.

Unexpectedl: Volume meets beauty

Sticking my head through the entryway and taking a first peek into the salon below deck, I am amazed. There is so much massive wooden interior, I am surprised seeing so much elaborated furniture in a small boat like this. The interior is light suffused – amazing, how much natural light can enter through just the small windows in the cabin! – and welcoming. Taking down my head, I enter the cabin.

Small boat with comforts

Of course, this is a small boat and nobody should expect the amenities of a big-sized sailing yacht. There is no standing height down here, everything must be done either sitting on the nice and cozy settees or squatting. The IF Boat has no doors, so the whole hull´s length is principle one room. Staring at the bow, there´s a small fore cabin with a V-berth that could house two adults closely cuddling. A partial main forward bulkhead separates the fore cabin from a little “domestic” part with some stowage, a little nav station, some space for a cooker and little makeshift galley. The overall impression is a really rich, lush environment.

So much space in here!

The only thing I am missing are maybe some nice floor boards. I know that there may be constructional restraints permitting this, but some flooring, even if it were just nicely cut EVA-foam would hugely enhance the feeling of the IF Boat´s interior. Otherwise, I am stunned by the cozy, classy “at home”-feeling this little boat offers.

The fore cabin

In the fore cabin the V-berth reminded me of my First 27 SE GEKKO, maybe here is some more volume as well. A wooden triangle insert can be mounted to convert the V-berth into one single huge bed, a configuration most cruising couples will surely choose. There´s a skylight hatch overhead, functioning as emergency escape hatch as well, flooding this section of the boat with natural light and, when open, with fresh air too.

Stowage, note the woodworks

The Teak woodworks are just gorgeous. The furniture is manufactured just spotless, the heavy quality of the joinery is of exemplary. The real eye-candy is the use of wooden parts with continuous grain. The whole cupboard and shelves, every flap or opening is made of one single big wooden part. Something I am up to know only familiar with in high class luxury sailing yachts, like my beloved Solaris 50. This attention to detail really enriches the interior and takes it to another level.

More stowage

To both sides in the stern section, the IF Boat offers two pilot berths which could either be used for sleeping or, as I did in my First 27 SE GEKKO (LINK), for more stowage. In this, this little boat really offers stowage to fit the boat for longer trips. Theres some underneath the settees, some in the nicely done overhead lockers and a small locker in the stern section of the cockpit.

Big enhancement of comforts

I like the roofing panels which are covered with velours-material. It is so much improving the impression inside that I am stunned – thinking of some much bigger yachts in the production segment which do not even have roofing panels, just bare Gelcoat or Top Coat surface. The indirect LED light and possibly the option to choose from various colors and fabrics makes this IF Boat a versatile, beautiful classic for special people.

A boat for Connoisseurs

Which brings us to the boat market. Is there demand for such a special boat? I think: Yes! There will always be people seeking something special. As Peter Grönlund tells me, one has to sail on one of these to understand the magic of the IF-class. “She is so well balanced, it is a delight to sail her!”, he tells me: “Even under pressure, she may be steered with two fingers on the tiller.” This applies, as he assures me, to every point of sail. In return, that is maybe the biggest “new” thing about those “old” boats: They are made to deliver good performance in any condition. That´s a counterpart to modern yachts which are predominantly constructed to perform exceptionally well on a beam reach and downwind courses.

What a nice litte beauty she indeed is!

The IF Boat is clearly something for a “real” sailor. Seaworthy, sturdy but nimble. She is in my eyes the perfect boat for coastal cruising and a sailing area like the Baltic Sea. But why not put her into the Greek archipelago? As a cruising couple of two, maybe with a small kiddo – she might be just as perfect. With a starting price of just below 100.000 Euros, owners will get a very, very special boat, a beautiful head-turner and surely a boat to start a vivid sailing career.

Back on my “home turf”

I smile as I return to our Beneteau booth. The big Oceanis and my beloved First 36 are moored there. Nice yacht, optimized for high volume and comforts underway (as for the Oceanis) or maximum sailing fun for reaching regattas in planning mode (as for the First 36), they do best what they are made for. The IF Boat in itself may be a dinosaur: But a living one, with modern influences and so much love and care put to make her, I am sure she will find her admirers and hopefully buyers. Already, one day before the boat show even starts, she is my favorite boat here.


You might as well find interesting to read:

In the making: RAN 2, the sailing UFO

The undeniable advantages of owning and sailing a small boat

Return of a legend: Omega 42 by Peter Norlin!