A „royal“ boat for the people
It was the "Royal Gothenburg Sailing Club" who first made plans to bring more of their fellow countrymen on the seas, or rather on the boats. Around 1930, sailing was a rich people’s sport and the sailing clubs had rather few members. Therefore a boat needed to be built which was affordable to many. It had to be suitable for cruises for up to 4 persons and of course it had to be able to compete in a regatta. The members of the Sailing Club swiftly initiated a competition to design such a boat. However, despite many entries not one of the designs was good enough for the jury. It was then that the organisers commissioned professional designer Tord Sunden to create a craft that met the goals of the design competition. He used some of the features of best entries received but in the end came up with a design that was largely his own. In the spring on 1942 the first boat was completed and christened to the name “Folkboat”, in German “Folkeboot”. The outcome was a small, simplistic but very seaworthy 4-person sailing boat.
At first, this particular type of boat did cause some controversy, since it did in no way match the prevailing taste of the 1940s. Sailors as well as onlookers were used to watch luxurious racing yachts with their opulent dimensions. In contrast, the Folkboat had a high freeboard, and also the underhung rudder and the transom stern were some features most people still had to get accustomed to.
However, the Folkeboat’s excellent behavior at sea and the rather deep, safe cockpit did their own to convince many sailors. The first large-scale production of 60 boats already sold out during pre-ordering. Price at that time: DK 3,500.
Originally, only regional woods like the Nordic pine were used when building the Folkboat. The long-keeled hull with its S-shaped frame was clinker-built: this method of building sailboats kept the price rather low. It was possible to build the Folkboat in large scale factory production as well as to do it yourself. The mast was also glued from wood.
Over the years, the Folkboat grew to be a little more comfortable and luxurious. At first, the superstructures as well as the interior fitting were made out of mahogany and from time to time carvel work was used instead of the clinker method. This way, costs for a Folkboat rose up to 20,000 Deutsche Mark in the 1960s. Since the 1970s Folkboats are also built from glass fibre reinforced plastic. Not only the typical outer appearance of the clinker method was preserved, but also the weight distribution and shape had to match the wooden boats. However, the masts get to be built from aluminium sometimes. Until today, boats made from wood as well as GRP boats are competing in the same regatta classes without any distinction made between the two types.
In 1966, Tord Sunden again designed a Folkboat, this time completely forgoing the typical clinker method. He called it “International Folkboat”; however, this term was considered as misleading by the Swedish Folkboat Association and was banned. Since then, it is only to be called “IF-boat”. Since 1994, open Folkboats are also built in Denmark and used primarily in sailing schools.
Approximately 30,000 Folkboats are beating about the seas, lakes and rivers today. Countless regattas are sailed in the U.S.A., Canada, The Netherlands and of course in the Scandinavian countries. The largest international regatta is the Gold Cup. Serving as the unofficial World Cup, it is held alternately in Denmark, Sweden or Germany.
Today, the biggest fleet comprising of 100 Folkboats however do not have its mooring at the coast, but deep in the midland, in Berlin.
Length over all: 7.64 m, Beam over all: 2.20 m. Draft: 1.20 m,
Mast height: 11.0 m.Hull weight: 1.930 t, Ballast: 1.043 t. Sail area: 24 sqm,
Class symbol: F.
For further information please take a look at: www.folkeboot.de