History of the Skerry Cruisers (Square Meter Yachts)
The Swedish name Skärgårdskryssare means Shoal Cruiser, or phonetically translated Skerry Cruiser, referring to the protruding rocks off the coast of the Baltic Sea.
The rule of the Square Meter Yachts was applied by the Swedish Sailing Association in 1908 and revised in 1925. The rule applies to the sail area in square meters.
The original Skerry Cruiser designs were the most beautiful and fastest yachts in the world when they first came out in Sweden exactly 100 years ago.
The rule produced a classic elegant racing yacht with timeless beautiful and fast lines. With its slim and long hull the speed of these boats is remarkable. In light wind the friction in the water is kept to a minimum, while at increasing speed the overhang portions of the design increases the hull speed by stretching the waterline.
On the Swedish east-coast the Square Meter Yachts soon became popular. The small classes allowed more people to build boats, and the Square Meter Yacht became one of the first folk-boats.
S-9, MARGA IV, LOA 19.85, width 2.79, year 1921, TORE HOLM
Square Meter Yachts were required to provide basic living accommodations. Because these boats were raced in the ocean, it was important the designer created strong boats that could be sailed over distance. Even the small boats regularly crossed the open-sea stretches between the Scandinavian countries on the way to the international competitions; rather unusual for boats of that size those days.
Both the 30 and the 40 Square Meters were Olympic classes in the 1920 Olympics. The choice of Meter Rule boats for the war-time Olympics spelled the demise of an era. After the war, the International Rule favored by the USA ended the competition scene for the Square Meter boats.
The “grand old man” of American yachting, L. Francis Herreshoff, was one of the most vocal supporters of the Square Meter Yachts in the US. He bought one in Sweden and imported it to Marblehead, Massachusetts. He was convinced that these boats were bound to be the new Olympics class, and he judged them far better than both the European Meter class boats and the American R-class.
Mr. Herreshoff’s enthusiasm is a prime reason for the interest the Corinthian Club showed in the Square Meters. The class was introduced to the US in Marblehead, and the first races were organized by the Corinthian Club.
In 1928, Mr. Herreshoff designed Oriole II, a 30 square meter boat for one of his customers, Chandler Hovey's daughter Elizabeth, who admitted to having more fun with this boat than any other.
Another very important “ambassador” for this class of boats was Eric Lundberg of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club who, in August 1929, finished first in all races off the coast of Marblehead in the Swedish-German-American races. No other guest ever won all 11 races before.
By the end of the 1930s the class was so popular that there were 24 in the USA, 18 in England, 13 in Switzerland, 100 in Germany and 500 in Sweden. Today, more than 1200 boats of this type are built. They sail in the waters off Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, England, USA, and Australia.
SK150, S-1, BEATRICE AURORE, LOA 22.20, width 3.20, year 1920, A. PLYM & SK-95, S-8, BRITT-MARIE, LOA 21.27, width 2.68, year 1921, TORE HOLM