Oldest boats in Finland
How many classic boats still exist in Finland ?
The list below is based on information collected during some years from different sources. Previous list was published in yacht magazine Frisk Bris in 2003.
Mr Pekka Barck describes in his exellent book Finlands segeljakter (Finnish sailyachts, Oy Litorale Ab, 2003), how interest in sailing increased at the end of 1800´s and boat construction quickly grow up as considerable industry. Boats were modernized, young talented designers found new inventions like finkeel, bulbs, elliptic rudder, flat hull, small wet surface and roller fock. New rules were developed to promote construction of better boats. Boat construction and building was changed drastically in few years.
According to the author Pekka Barck in total 2648 boats were built in the country between middle of the 1800´s and the year 1920. Of these nearly 300 were smaller open allmoge boats built and used in archipelago. During this period professional boatyards constructed about 2300 boats for sailing enthusiasts, quite many. The first world war and the dramatic civil war in Finland had only small effect on boatbuilding business.
Many different boat types were built. The American Universal Rule was accepted by the Nyländska Jaktklubben 1903, which brought the end to the old valör-rule. Situation was peculiar because only Finland, Russia and Estonia followed Universal Rule in boatbuilding. Sweden, Denmark, Norway and other European countries were not interested in this American rule and developed own ideas, which finally led to the International Rule. Later, Sweden accepted the Square Metre Rule. Anyway, the Universal Rule produced fast boats, which were suitable for competitions and cruising as well.
At 1920´s the R-boats and Square metre-boats became popular. New domestic types were developed and sailors wanted boats suitable for cruising, not only for competitions.
War time 1939-1944 was disastrous for the Finnish boats. Many were destroyed by bombings, boats couldnt be repaired and the lead keels were transformed as ammunition. Knowing these facts its surprising to notice that some boats from beginning of 1900´s have survived.
Appearence of fibreglass boats was nearly catastrophical for old wooden boats. It was easier to buy a new GRP boat than start to repair old rotten boards. Worst period was the end of 70´s and beginning of 80´s – wooden boats could be compared by endangered animal or plant species. However, at the end of 80´s a new upswing for wooden boats begun, and it still continues. Wooden boat regatta in Helsinki, the Viaporin Tuoppi (Viapori Trophy) was started 1985, R-boats were active in arranging sailing competitions, money was found for renovations, training programs for boat builders was started, wooden boat festivals begun in Kotka town...
So, situation is well ?
Yes and no. The R-fleet (6 and 8 mR) is bigger than ever, new square metre boats haven been imported, new wooden boats have been built, old vessels are repaired. But - some rarities have disappeared, couple of old boats from beginning of 1900´s have been cut into pieces by chain saw, and several are in bad condition just waiting someone to give them life again.