that’s the spirit

Enthusiasm, dedication and a lot of patience. Essential qualities required in an amateur boat builder replicating a yacht from the early 20th century. A group of Swedish friends faced that challenge four years ago. Successfully. The reproduction of the Spirit of Garm IV from 1902 is well on its way, eager to revive old times on the water. “One goal is to participate during the German Kieler Woche in 2022. A special year for the Garm IV, as it will mark the 120th anniversary of the yacht winning the spectacular German race,” according to project leader Frederik Eriksson.

The idea for the project originated years ago during a visit to the sauna. After exchanging dreams and experiences, Frederik and Kurt shook hands on it quickly. The ‘Spirit of Garm IV’ project was born. “We both had enough experience renovating boats but no experience in building boats. Kurt and I got to know each other when he converted his 1912 skerry cruiser to gaff-rig. I had converted my 1896 cutter to original gaff-rig the year before. I pitched Kurt about the spectacular Gaffer from last century. We were both impressed by its rich history.”

The story behind the Garm IV is indeed an impressive one. Gunnar Mellgren, brains behind the boat, repeatedly succeeded in designing fast-speed boats in the early 19th century. Wholesaler and sailing fan Olof Mark noticed his talent and asked Mellgren to design the ultimate boat, without paying too much attention to the costs. The expectations were high, and certainly not unfounded. The 18.2 long boat proved its strength immediately in its first racing season, crossing the finishing line first in 10 out of 11 races in the year of 1902.

The impressive results did not go unnoticed by the Swedish press. Newspapers were filled with proud competition reports after the Kieler Woche-win in 1902. It was very unusual for a Swedish boat to participate in a foreign sailing competition. Back then, winning was unthinkable. From 1906 onwards, the boat dominated the East-coast racing-scene and participated in a challenge that instituted the “Gotland Runt”, the largest off-shore race in Northern-Europe. Despite its successes, however, the boat was donated to the Karlskrona navy in 1909. Her fate since has been vague, but in the sixties, she was most likely demolished.

The boat’s rich history enabled Kurt and Frederik to persuade four amateur boat builders near Oxelösund to come on board. Joint goal: the boat launch in April / May 2020 and competing in races for a period of seven years. The group started the construction of the impressive yacht in 2015, so far without any significant problems. “The project is going well. Most parts have been going according to the initial overall plan,” says Frederik. ‘’The important concept has been trying to source most material locally. We have bought local wood (elm, ash, pine, cherry) to saw and dry, the keel is made from SSAB STRENX 700 steel mad from Oxelösund and a lot of skills and competence has been locally engaged. Tradition meets high-tech and local expertise. Nowadays, if you want to recreate a 1902 racing machine, we would not be able to convince each other to use material such as rainforest wood or led.’’

But as always, the last mile is the longest. The team still has a lot of work ahead in the next couple of months preparing the boat for offshore sailing. The mast must be ready in October so that the sailmakers can start. The winches, electronics and interior are scheduled for upcoming winter. The heart of the boat system is the Sailmon Model E4 processor. Not without reason. “I like to choose and pick various sensors (log, wind etc) from different manufacturers. Sailmon offers advanced component calibrations as well as a whole system calibration. And we believe Sailmon can help us achieve results like the Garm IV did 100 years ago. The ability to go back and review performance, for example. Or to configure the displays the way we want. ”

If all goes according to plan, Garm IV will see the light next year for the second time around. Time will tell if it is able to surprise friend and foe with impressive results, like it did 100 years ago. Whatever the race results, our Swedish friends can look back on an impressive construction journey. Filled with enthusiasm, dedication and lots of patience.