man on boat

Swallow Yachts sails to success with ‘radical’ new boat design


SMART Innovation helped Swallow Yachts:

•    Develop a £180,000 award-nominated sailboat;
•    Position itself to grow its exports by 20% in the coming two years;
•    Cement itself as a leading yacht builder in Wales. 

Cardigan-based boat manufacturer, Swallow Yachts, has produced an award-nominated sailboat and hopes to boost its exports to the US – thanks to the support it received from the Welsh Government’s EU-funded SMART Innovation programme. 

Swallow Yachts manufactures a range of bespoke dayboats, which are sold to the leisure market in the UK and across the globe, with exports currently representing 25 per cent of its revenue stream. The company contacted SMART Innovation to help with the development of a high-speed sailboat that could operate at three times the speed of a regular sailboat under engine without sacrificing comfort, with a view to expanding its market share, especially in the US.

man working on computer

Matt Newland, Managing Director at Swallow Yachts, said: “My biggest joy in business comes from thinking of innovative ideas and trying to match these with a design that is commercially viable – something that our customers can and want to buy.

“Our reason for contacting Welsh Government was to discuss the feasibility of what has since come to be known as the COAST 250, a type of small yacht that is radically different from what our team, or our competitors, have done before by combining speed under power with great sailing performance.

“A regular sailing yacht has an underwater shape optimised for low resistance at typical sailing speeds, around six to seven miles per hour. They motor at similar speeds too, because if you want to go any faster you need a huge engine, since the underwater shape is so inefficient at higher speeds. Most sailing yachts use a diesel engine for additional propulsion, or a petrol outboard on the back. Outboards are much more powerful for their weight than a diesel engine, but their position at the back of the boat means a large outboard would affect sailing performance, weighing down the back and causing more drag.”

Swallow Yachts initially contacted the SMART Innovation team for help with accessing the necessary funding to help deliver its ambitions to design a boat that maintains speed under power, without sacrificing manoeuvrability and performance under sail. The company worked closely with an Innovation Specialist at SMART Innovation to develop the £180,000 concept, taking it from the drawing board to reality in 15 months.

Mr Newland continued: “With the help of SMART Innovation, we fulfilled our goal of developing a sailboat that is both fast under engine and sail. We did this by using advanced computational modelling techniques to optimise the hull shape; incorporating dynamic pitch control surfaces into the design; and placing a lightweight “outboard” engine in the centre of the boat, where you might normally have a larger, heavier diesel engine. This means the boat’s weight is distributed more evenly and ensures it can maintain higher powered speeds – up to 17 miles per hour – without affecting sailing performance. The new engine placement is also out of sight and secure, deterring potential thieves. These features enable the COAST 250 to deliver a unique performance package for our customers.

“The boat has been very well received, with our team showcasing it at the Southampton and Dusseldorf International Boat Shows, as well as it being shortlisted in the ‘Family Cruiser’ category at the 2019 European Yacht of the Year Awards. We’re also using it as a catalyst to boost our export capabilities – with an ambition to grow this part of the business by 20 per cent in the next two years – by targeting high-value markets, such as the US. It has also helped us cement our position as a leading yacht builder in Wales.

“Without the support of Welsh Government we would never have been able to receive this international recognition. I would recommend that anyone who is thinking of developing an innovative project to get in touch with the innovation specialists at SMART Innovation – it’s been nothing but a positive relationship for Swallow Yachts.”