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Omega 42 Charisma, SWE 301

Start: 2000

Case story: The dream-come-true project started the moment I realized that a boat builder was going to start building the classical yacht Omega 42 again. It was introduced in the 1970's, by the legendary yacht designer Peter Norlin.

I convinced the builder to re-think, and forced them to sell me the first one under the condition that I could re-design the interior into a modern design version, instead of the classical dark brown 1970 standard-ish format. They agreed eventually...

A new bright and white interior

The standard boat interior design has been based on "brown wood only" for too long. For natural reasons of course. But it was certainly about time to look at it from a new perspective – what is the purpose, what do we want from our life in a boat after a Millennium, what are we in fact doing in there when sailing and when not sailing, how much time do we spend indoor, what do we really need and what old-school stuff and habits can we exchange for new ones? 

The hull was totally empty when I stepped into it the first time. My imagination went wild. I talked to Peter Norlin, I discussed with the boat builders, I doodled tons of drawings. I was curious about how a professional industry designer, not coming from the traditional boating industry, would approach such a golden opportunity.

I met with renown designer Björn Dahlström and his team. After an hour together with them and their 3D CAM/CAD modelling computers, I realised that the point of no return was already behind me. I swallowed at least twice and then we made a deal to team up and challenge the boat interior status quo. Here is what our ideas and thoughts, and their talents, turned into:

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After comprehensive measuring of all angles, curves and proportions (since there was no reliable drawings available) the 3D software did its work. The idea was to open up, get the light in, re-think the purposes of a sailing life, introduce new materials and plan for the idea that scaling down on stuff onboard would bring joy to the overall experience and freedom.

Another ambition evolved from a sailing project and food event we were dealing with at the time – Food Onboard with the Chef Of The Year – meaning that designing a galley, we should strive for making more room for cooking and less room for navigation. It felt logical as plotters and smartphones made navigation work easier outside by the tiller. Cooking and enjoying nice meals together should move up on the list of sailing lifestyle priorities in my mind. The meals are an as important part of sailing, as the sailing itself nowadays.

I was in heaven. Suddenly I found myself discussing new bold ideas with legends like Peter Norlin and Mange Olsson, with extremely talented boat builders, professional chefs and awarded industry designers. I also had the opportunity to experience how the ideas materialize with the help of rocket science CAD/CAM-modulation software at Björn Dahlström Design Studio.

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One year later...this is the final result by the boat builders: White surfaces and lots of light, no doors between cabins (how private is it anyway?), a see-through ladder, more "space" and less storage room (how much stuff do you need anyway?) and a generous galley and "dining room" for great cooking opportunities and socializing moments.

Press event in Stockholm, May 2001

To celebrate the re-birth of a new classical yacht, we arranged an event for media and other guests. We named the new design version "Omega 42 Charisma" and on May 8th the press release and invitation was sent out. Only a few days later we gathered on the pier of Riddarholmen in Stockholm city center, with the waters of Riddarfjärden and the City Hall – the Nobel Dinner palace – as our backdrop. It was truly a sunny day. Read or download the Press Release.

Legendary yacht designer Peter Norlin and other members of the team guided the media and sailed with them under the sun. The team in front of the sculpture "Solbåten" (the Sun Boat): Boat builders Niklas Lindell and Håkan Benghtsson, Chef of the Year 1999 Karl Ljung, yacht designer Peter Norlin and industry designer Björn Dahlström.

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While at it... we introduced a redesigned Omega 42 logo.

A sleek yacht and classical archipelago cruiser

The Omega 42 was the undisputed queen of yachts in Sweden back in the 1970-ies. A 42-footer was considered a big yacht at the time and the sleek lines were loved by the owners and admired by other sailors. It had some constructions flaws being a single layer hull and slightly to weak construction for its size back then. Read the full story (in Swedish) on the Omega 42 Sällskapet website

The production went down eventually, but luckily the shipyard Lidköpings Båtsnickeri bought the rights to start again in 2000. They initiated a tight collaboration with the Omega 42 yacht designer Peter Norlin and the multi-experienced skipper and sail racing icon Mange Olsson, and a new stronger hull and and rigg construction was designed.

Photo: Magnus Skoglöf

Photo: Magnus Skoglöf

S/Y Johanna was the first in a new series of Omega 42s. The white, open interior created lots of buzz at the boat expos we participated in that summer of 2001. Young visitors entering the boat loved the design. But the conservative boat market was not yet ready for anything else but a classical brown wooden interior and the good old conservative solutions.

 

The Omega 42 Charisma version became a one-off. Our ideas in 2001 were 10-20 years too early for the market. But, in 2015 my phone started ringing again, people from Germany, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg and France had spotted the "le classic beautyfyl lady with the white charismatic interieur". She was not mine when they called, my once in a lifetime experience and treasure was sold and owned by other sailors.

We caught the new exterior on video for the press...

The Omega 42 Charisma became a one-off. But hey...rumours told me some years ago that a shipyard in Germany was planning for a new production again. Maybe time has catched up and they will pick up some of our design ideas?

Unusual media coverage

We did get some, but very slim, coverage from the boat magazines in Sweden. They were for some reason hard to get at the time. But the largest interior design magazine was quite exited. They were non-sailors and curios for other reasons. Is that ironic or what? Anyway, they came and enjoyed a good Swedish fika, loved the ideas, the materials, the details, the light and the open space and published a seven page article about the new ideas and designs... 

The interior design magazine Sköna Hem covered the story on seven pages. Read the article and translated English version here.

Swedish daily news papers showed enthusiasm about the re-borned classic and its bold interior design ideas.

Charter sailing during 2001-2003

Having a yacht measuring 42 feet and an archipelago offering 40.000 islands close at hand, opens up opportunities for hosting guests on sailing adventures. So, a side business was registered and officially launched. Smaller groups were invited. 

We had great days out on the water and the journeys were much appreciated. Making people happy by sailing in the Stockholm archipelago is an easy fix. Valuable team building experiences within the groups comes as a bonus. Here are a few memory lane references:

Charter sailing with Björn Dahlström Design Studio.

Charter sailing with the advertizing agency TBWA... with a great "after sail" downstairs...

Charter sailing with a private group, celebrating a bachelorette.

Charter sailing with the company Finanskompetens AB.

Charter sailing in November...with heavy snowfall as an extra feature....

Happy sailing, happy cooking... happy drinking?

Serving catered food was as joyful as the sailing in itself. We served home made sandwiches along the ride and we stopped at random islands for prepared picnics and barbeques. We used good recipes and trix from our Food Onboard project. What about drinks, one might ask? For a skipper on duty it is of course a no-no. But serving the guests some chilled white wine for lunch or sharing a drink after the boat is tied up in a marina should not be a big deal. Well, in Sweden it is.

 

Here is a story I laugh about today: To serve alcohol on a charter event requires a permit. Fine with me. However, I had to be at least a certified "bartender" to just be able to apply for such a permit. 

 

So I attended a bar tender admin education and 1500 Euros later I did complete the exam. But did the Swedish Authorities approve my application? Nope. Instead they unveiled the requirements I would need to fulfil onboard, in order to be allowed serve food and alcohol: A separate fridge for the guest's food, a separat dish washing area, active ventilation and a separate bathroom for staff etc. Thanks mate:-)

 

But I was also informed that if the sailing was not a public event but with a "closed group", and if the members of the group brought their own alcohol, I would not need a permit. Nor a bar tender certificate.

 

Hahaha... looking back I can not stop laughing about how insanely bureaucratic we are in this country. Or about how naive I was. But on the other hand I am still a certified bartender...

Bye bye...always a sad moment to leave the guests after a great day onboard.

 

More sailing, check out the climate statement sailing project 100% Sun Wind Water, or the world's first extruded aluminium profile yacht, also designed by Peter Norlin Profilen SWE 8971, or check out the Sailing CV.