The Classic Boating Hobby Continues To Grow In Sweden – Just Ask Anders Værnéus


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What are these eager spectators waiting to see?

With all the recent talk about Last Gasp and remembering the year of classic boating here in America, fellow Woody Boater Anders Værnéus from Sweden thought it would be fun to share some photos and a video from one of their annual classic boating events from across the pond. Anders has been involved with the classic boating hobby in Sweden for many years and notes that the hobby there continues to grow in popularity – which is great. Here’s his report from “Fri Fart” on the Göta Canal in Sweden. – Texx

Classic Boats Take On The Göta Canal In Sweden
Story by Anders Værnéus – Swedish Classic Boats
Photos by Mikael Pihlgren

I’d rather be flying! No, no, no – just kidding. But this summer I’ve been closer to flying than ever before, thinking that a nice float plane would have been more than useful for those of us who want to be at every boat show in Scandinavia. The tempo in the Swedish classic boat hobby is higher than ever before, with more local boaters participating in events, and enthusiasts turning out to see every show and event, to enjoy every little moment of classic boating joy.

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Classic boaters flying close to the spectators in Sweden.

I normally save the best to last. But this time I can’t. I’ll go right on, telling you about the biggest high speed event we have in the classic boat hobby here in Sweden. The name of the event is “Fri Fart”, and to all of you that enjoy your morning laugh – feel free to laugh now. Done? So – let’s continue. I’ll translate it for you – in English it means “Free Speed” – an event that we organized at three different locations this summer; In Sölvesborg, Ronneby and the biggest show on Göta Canal, just outside the Motorboat Museum we are running.

On the early morning hours of July 27 – 26 boats were launched in the brown canal water, all of them classics in one way or another.

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26 classic boats, all shapes and sizes, preparing for the Free Speed event on Göta Canal.

From old wooden runabouts from the 1930’s, to post war wooden Chris-Crafts, to more recently built replica boats…

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To classic fiberglass boats from the beautiful 1960’s and 1970’s, as well as some custom fiberglass classics…

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Classic fiberglass c/w classic life preservers – nice touch.

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Classic glass, classic Mercury outboard and classic captains cap – a perfect combo.

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A cool Glastron Carlson V-8 – Looks fast standing still…

To small wooden outboards, plywood outboards, outboard racers to magnificent record breaking hydros.

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Entertaining the spectators along the 65 foot wide canal.

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Great to see the younger guys out in their outboard race boats.

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And yes – the last one was “Sverige”, the newly built competitor for the once legendary Harmsworth trophy. This boat that was designed by Ruben Östlund in 1929 to compete with Gar Wood back in the day, with the objective of bringing the Harmsworth trophy back to Sweden. The race boat that never was built in 1929, was recently completed, tested and is now ready to rock. (You can see the original story of “Sverige” we did a few years ago by Clicking Here.)

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“Sverige” up on plane navigating the narrow canal.[/caption 
[caption id="attachment_188441" align="aligncenter" width="440"]DSC_9794 - Copy The sound of the twin Rolls Royce Meteors gets the attention of the spectators on shore.

The spectators were thrilled to see “Sverige” participating in the “Fri Fart” speed event. Imagine the sound from two Rolls Royce Meteors roaring at 57 knots in a lovely low mahogany hull in the middle of the flat lands of Östergötland. And all this on just a 20 meter (65 foot) wide canal with rocks on the canal banks and fields of weeds just waving outside.

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And a crowd of people that never has been seen on the shores before this event was impressed. It was one of those memorable days, with all the lovely speedboats from all over Scandinavia. Roaring V8’s mixed together with a gang of classic Mercury Marine “Towers of Power.”

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The gentleman’s race boat looks great with the Swedish countryside in the back ground.

Glittering gelcoat and fresh coats of varnish made for an outstanding day of classic boating fun. Next year will be the 10th Anniversary of the “Fri Fart” event, and plans are now in the works for an “over the top” celebration. The folks in Sweden absolutely love their classic boats. For more info – please enjoy

Anders Værnéus

Here is great video of “Sverige” running on the canal during the 2013 “Fri Fart” event, with the beautiful sound of those twin V-12 Meteors purring away.

Special thanks to Anders and Mikael for sharing their story with us today. For those of you who don’t know, Anders wears many hats in Sweden including Editor of the magazine Klassiska Båtar (Classic Boats in English) Scandinavias largest classic boat magazine, Editor and Publisher of Swedish Classic Boats, Project Manager for a number of significant wooden boat restorations (including Sverige) and he is also the Co-owner of the largest motor boat museum in northern Europe which you can see by Clicking Here.


43 replies
  1. Troy
    Troy says:

    This shows why the hobby is growing there. While we stand on docks looking at boats tied up with a bottle of wine and a fruit basket on the engine cover these guys are racing down a narrow canal giving the spectators a real feel, sound, and smell of these boats.
    Too much liability for America.
    Video was AWESOME!

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:


      The docks are there so you can get in and out of the boats, not leave them tied up. Personally, I don’t think it has much to do with liability. I think it is the emphasis on judging and awards that has driven the American boat show format.

      • Troy
        Troy says:

        Does not look like “Sverige” is acurate. Looks like they used Frearson screws and the original plans called for Reed and Prince.
        WHO CARES!
        That is a COOL boat!

        • Alex
          Alex says:

          Who cares? WHO CARES?! I’ll tell you who cares. MikeW cares. A lot! He’s the freakin’ Reed and Prince police. Here he is busting Gru for omitting them.

          “Bee-do Bee-do Bee-do Bee-do…”

        • m-fine
          m-fine says:

          The expense is another issue. No matter the cost of the restoration, if you want judges to be able to nitpick all the boats, assign scores, and pick winners, it helps tremendously if they are neatly tied up at the dock.

          • Sean
            Sean says:

            I used to show my 72 911 at Porsche shows… IMHO, the best Judges are those that pay to get in to the show, and the ONLY worthwhile award is the “Peoples Choice” award. 🙂

    • Jimmuh
      Jimmuh says:

      Terrific video Anders! You guys really “get it” about how to do a raceboat video…’s the motor(s), without any silly music! 24 cylinders IS the music. Thanks so much, and post more when you make them!

  2. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    It’s amazing that an area with a boating history way longer than what we have here is just picking up on “Pleasure” boating. Love the audience. I send a package of parts every week or so to the Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and this week to Italy. Wish I could deliver in person.

  3. Chad
    Chad says:

    Great event. Thanks Anders!

    Jim, let’s pack up the truck with parts and make the trek next year! I’ll cover gas for the first leg of the trip if you can cover the 2nd leg.

  4. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    The only Swedish I know is “torsion bar suspension” and I think the translation is “you’ve got a great pair…of legs” I think.

  5. Gary
    Gary says:

    Troy and m-fine probably have it right. In September I went to have fun and give rides, no judging, but they got on me when I was getting ready to take a friend out.
    The Gotta looks a bit safer than some of our sloughs.
    When are the Swedish girls going to become a banner?

  6. brian t
    brian t says:

    Speaking of Sweden… small rivers… and great boats….

    Check out the homemade boat below with a supercharged 400hp Volvo engine. And if you park your car just right on the bridge – a free car wash !!

  7. cobourg Kid
    cobourg Kid says:

    A Fri Fart?. Now that’s innovative concept reminds me of the Sammamish Slough races that were once a massive attraction in Seattle way back in the 50s and 60s

    Hey ACBS Toronto and Ottawa chapter board of directors , how bout a joint ACBS “Fri Fart” on the Trent-Severn next summer! The run from lock 12 (Ranney Falls) to Lock 13 (Campbellford) Waterway would be perfect with plenty of public roads and parks riming the canal for spectators to gather along with a high bridge for those that like to be on top of the action. Other attributes like great pubs, bakery, fast food, a chocolate factory and even a well known boat builder all within walking distance, would keep spectators entertained between runs. Best of all a location that straddles the two ACBS chapter boundaries !

  8. TomH
    TomH says:

    I think if you have some of those Swedish girls hanging around the boats less people would be concerned about speed, noise and Reed and Prince screws.

    The Pacific Northwest Samamish Slough run was started again in the 90’s but was killed off by well meaning envior/mentalists concerned about fish and errosion from wakes so the police stepped in and wrote tickets. No more fun for skippy.

  9. Randy
    Randy says:

    S-1 is just an awesome beauty! At the end of the video was another one showing her launch and I noticed she had the typical rudder location for the time period — up forward. Compared with the Detroit III replica it is much farther back, but still these boats are a real challenge to control at speed. For safety the bow rudder in the III was replaced with twin aft rudders. It would be interesting to hear more about S-1’s handling characteristics at speed in choppy water, plus see videos running the course.

    • Anders Værnéus
      Anders Værnéus says:


      I drove her in a perfect choppy waters some days later. And it was really something special. With the rudder under the front deck and two engines back, it was like driving a boat with three rudders. I mean – it’s very hard to keep the two V12’s at the exact same rev. And every little difference between them must be compensated with the front rudder. And then you try to get the engines in the same rev – and you directly need to steer with the rudder. Ande eferything with two hands. And in 60 knots. Imagine then to do it on the canal in 57 knots… The owner of Sverige is a very skilled driver I must say… 🙂

      • Randy
        Randy says:

        Thanks for the report. I know the original owner of the Detroit III rolled the boat once — which probably is what scared him out of it (resulting in it’s eventual sale). It only had a single engine shaft and the rudder very close to the bow. I’m sure if it was running in a chop and the rudder came out of the water, the boat had better be pointed in the same direction as the rudder when it came back down. If the rudder was turned off center at all it would tend to trip (and roll) the boat.
        I can picture the challenges going on controlling S-1 with twin engine shafts competing with that rudder. Too bad they could not obtain an electronic synchronizer that would keep both engines at the same rpm — but that would be ‘historical cheating’, would it not?

  10. Texx
    Texx says:

    Thanks everyone for the wide range of fun and informative comments today – it was great to see. – Texx

    24 Cylinders – a Marine Pipe Organ…

    • Anders Værnéus
      Anders Værnéus says:

      Andreas, must say thank you for your fantastic work regarding Larson Boats. I just wrote an article about the LArson family here in Sweden and I was really impressed over what you have done.

Comments are closed.