On sailing a Folksong – evolving designs

In the Trechandiri post  a week or so ago. I was thinking about evolving boat design, talking about it in old man’s ‘generation-to-generation’ terms. But, of course, boat designers are continually modifying their ideas – and boat owners continually modify the designer’s ideas with ideas of their own.

Below is an extract from an interview between Frank Rosenow and Thord Sund, the designer of the Folkboat. It first appeared in Sail Magazine, June 1979, and was reproduced in Yachting Monthly, October 1979 under the heading “Folkboat Encounter”.


“”I first designed her (the Folkboat) with a fully battened mainsail. It took me quite a while to realize how impractical that arrangement was . . . , another brainstorm was when I saw that a canvas cot I had intended for the cockpit would fit into the forepeak with room to spare.

Another twist was that I had conceived her as a weekend cruiser, with the simplest possible rig and equipment. There were no winches of course since the jib halyard and the jib sheets could be taken care of with two-part tackles.

In spite of all this simplicity, or maybe on account of it, people started sailing Folkboats to and from every conceivable corner of the world. And I’m glad the boat proved equal to it, even without a self-draining cockpit and all the rest of it. . . .”

In 1966, Thord Sund redesigned the Nordic Folkboat for production in fiberglass. On the “inter­national Folkboat” he retained the proven hull sections but increased the freeboard from 550mm to 660mm to obtain more room below.  He also drew out the bow and rounded off the stern, for appearance’s sake. The clinker pattern of the original’s fir planking was dropped, marginally reducing wetted surface.

This time, he opted for a self-draining cockpit, mainly because potential buyers seemed to think it would make the boat safer “They” also wanted a spinnaker, so he raised the headstay attachment point on the mast and settled on an altogether new rig. The new rig configuration allowed the use of higher aspect ratio jibs and of large  over-lapping genoas. Halyard and sheet winches were now called for.

Sunden’s final variation on the folkboat theme came in the mid-1970s when, again responding to popular demand, he designed the M26 (Sunwind) with an even higher freeboard and provision for a Volvo-Penta diesel engine.

Then, with another quantum jump in the freeboard, she had come to the box-like apparition we were sitting in – “Of course, she does have a hell of a lot of space.” mused Sunden.

“We live in a different age.” he said, almost angrily. “People swarm onboard at the boat shows wearing muddy clogs, and the only thing they are interested in is standing room by the galley. So here you have it, the private flush toilet, the walk-in closet, a wall-to-wall carpet and all that garbage.”

He proceeded to decant the sherry, his heavy-lidded, sea-blue eyes staring sadly at the cork.”


At the same time as Thord Sund was thinking along these lines, Eric Berqgvist had taken the idea and produced the Folksong – this post. He too evolved his design as production proceeded.

All this was happening thirty or so years ago. Since then, technology has leapt forward, construction materials have developed, design ideas are continually being modified. These are exciting times.

Nevertheless, I picked the Folksong for the ideas that Berqgvist and Sund were working on. It suits me.

(With thanks to Mike Burns for pointing out both articles).