Built in Sweden by traditional craftsmen, the Malo 37 offers all the quality of a proper ocean-sailing yacht in a design suitable for a cruising couple.
The west coast of Sweden is home to several of the world’s premier builders of custom, semi-custom and production cruising boats. The names Hallberg-Rassy, Najad and Farr may be familiar to many North American sailors, but one of the oldest yards building in the region, the one that really spawned the more famous brands, is Malo Yachts, which still today may be one of the best kept secrets in boat building.
If you have heard of Malo, it may be because noted author Nigel Calder has had not one but two semi-custom cruising boats built at the yard. And if you have read Nigel’s books or heard his lectures, you will know that he is a fierce stickler for quality and ocean-going detail.
Family owned for three generations, Malo is run by Lars Olsson who takes a very hands-on approach to crafting every cruising boat launched at the yard in Kungsviken, the Bay of Kings. Here tradition matters, since the local craftsmen have been building ships and yachts for Scandinavian royalty for 950 years.
BWS had the opportunity to visit the Malo yard in Sweden during the annual Open House weekend in August. During that weekend, Hallberg-Rassy hosts a boat show at their marina nearby and an open house at their large boat building facility. Malo and Najad, just down the road, also open their doors to sailors, their family of customers and potential new clients.
The net result is a weekend-long boat fest that draws more than 20,000 people from all over the world who are eager to see the latest from these high quality builders of cruising boats. If you are interested in owning a Swedish-built cruising boat, then attending the Open House weekend will be time extremely well spent.
While in Sweden, we had the chance to sail hull number one of the new Malo 37 line. We took her out on a blustery, rainy afternoon, late summer in Sweden and put her through her paces in the enclosed waters of the archipelago off Kungsviken.
The 37 was hanging in the Travel Lift slings at the dock as we prepared to head out for a sail so we had a good look at the hull shape, the keel and rudder. Created by the Angermarks DesignTeam, the group that draws all Malo yachts, the 37 has a moderate displacement hull form with a fairly full entry at the bow and easy, smooth lines running aft.
The fin keel, which is a low aspect cruising NACA foil, has a swept aft ballast bulb that lowers the boat’s overall center of gravity. The concept is to make the boat fairly light for all around sailing performance but stiff enough and stable enough to be comfortable and capable when the wind pipes up to reefing strength.
The spade rudder, which is quite deep, has a high aspect tear drop foil shape that is designed to reduce wetted surface and resistance while still offering the helmsman plenty of bite on the water even when the boat is heeled over.
The boat’s design numbers indicate that the 37 will be well behaved in a wide range of conditions and be fast. The boat has a moderately narrow beam by modern standards of 11 feet, 10 inches with a length-to-beam ratio of 2.75. The displacement-to-length ratio, which is an indication of relative displacement, is 233 which puts the boat in the company of most modern blue water designs – not too light but light enough to sail well. Finally, the sail area-to-displacement ratio -indicating the rig’s power relative to the boat’s weight is a fairly high 17.6. Given the numbers, the 37 should be capable of achieving hull speed of 7.63 knots easily and will be able to maintain high average speeds for a 37 footer.
The lift operator lowered the boat into the water, we powered up the engine and backed away. In tight quarters, the boat backed straight, stopped surely, turned it in own length and then motored seaward at the predicted 7.6 knots. The helm under power was sure, light and we always felt in complete control.
As we cleared the channel we hoisted the fully battened main, rolled out the genoa and switched off the engine. The breeze as bowing at 10 to 15 knots with gusts above that in the puffs, but we did not need to reef the main or roll up some of the genoa. The boat stood up nicely and converted wind pressure into boat speed.
Tacking to windward, we found the 37 would settle down into the groove at close to 42-degrees true and tacked easily in less than 90 degrees. This gave us confidence as we navigated close to rocky islands and through some narrows.
Off the wind, the 37 hit hull speed without breaking a sweat and would surge to 8 knots when the gusts hit. The high aspect rudder held the course with authority. We did not fly a cruising chute that afternoon but the boat was so solid underfoot and at the helm, that we would have been happy to hoist one for a spirited sleigh ride.
There were five adults aboard that afternoon, but we did not feel crowded in the cockpit as we tacked and jibed. The winches are well placed for crew and the helmsman to trim and ease sheets. The mainsheet traveler, which runs on the Targa-type cockpit arch common to all of the modern Malos, is out of the way yet the control lines and the mainsheet are readily at hand.
The 37 handled well and was a pleasure to sail. The boat was nimble and fast enough to be fun to tack and jibe yet had a big-boat feel and big-boat manners that will give her crew real confidence when heading off on a long coastal run or offshore.
The Swedish boat builders are known for their traditional interiors with finely crafted furniture built in warm colored woods, mahogany in particular. The Olsson family played a leading role in developing this style, so it is no surprise to find the interior of the new 37 fitted out with rich mahogany bulkheads and built-in furniture.
The accommodation plan of the 37 we sailed had a fairly traditional layout. The forward cabin has a comfortable V-berth with ample stowage in cabinets outboard of the berth, in storage compartments beneath it and in the large hanging and storage lockers just aft of the berth. This will probably be the guest cabin yet there is locker space enough for a comfortable extended cruise. For a couple living in the aft cabin, the forward locker space provides extra room for linens, towels and spare clothing.
The master cabin is a large double berth in the aft quarter of the interior. The double berth is tucked neatly under the cockpit but does not feel claustrophobic in the least. Two American-size adults can fit on this berth. Lockers have been built in above the berth that are large enough for personal stowage and the hanging locker is ample for a cruising wardrobe.
The head is to starboard of the companionway and is finished in white laminate with mahogany trim. Again, plenty of locker space has been provided for toiletries, a medical kit, cleaning supplies and much more. The head is fitted with a hand-held shower.
The main cabin has the galley and U-shaped dinette to port and the chart table and settee berth to starboard. Four adults can live in this space easily and comfortably while six or even eight can find space enough to enjoy a social evening together.
The interior will be great for living aboard at anchor or in the marina. It is bright and airy although not at the expense of the traditional woody feel. Plenty of ventilation has been provided through opening ports and deck hatches, so in warm climates, you can keep the breeze flowing. But, Malos are primarily conceived as higher latitude cruisers, so the interior is also quite snug. With a heater or small stove pumping out a little heat, we can easily imagine spending many comfortable nights aboard even when the temperature on deck has a chill to it. For offshore sailing, the after cabin, the dinette and the settee in this arrangement plan will make good sea berths.
One of the distinctions of having a boat built by Malo is your ability to customize the interior plan and even the on-deck arrangement to a degree. The Olsson family, their design team and their band of craftsmen know a lot about what works on a cruising boat and what doesn’t and they can help a new owner through the maze of decisions that a new semi-custom boat requires. And if you have a special need, a brilliant design idea or a stylish whim, they will be able to find a way to fit it into your boat.
There are a few regions of the world where over the decades boat building traditions have planted deep and firm roots. For Americans, Maine style and quality is known country-wide. In Europe, the east coast of England, Brittany in France, Holland, Finland and Sweden all have long-established boat building traditions that have produced generations of fine cruising boats.
Certainly the west coast of Sweden has to be considered one of the leading boat building regions for fine, proven, somewhat traditional offshore cruising boats. Out there in the world’s finest voyaging destinations, you are always bound to encounter Swedish-built boats. Among them will be a fair sample of Malos. The boats are solidly built to a very high standard of finish. Their systems are proven, efficient and serviceable. The boats sail well in a wide range of conditions safely and swiftly. And, for those who want to add their own personal signature to their boats, a Malo can be created just for you.
The new 37, small by modern cruising boat standards, packs a huge amount of tradition, quality and expertise in a boat that is truly a blue water cruiser. For those who want their cruising simple, elegant and manageable, the 37 would make a very handsome choice.
Displacement 17,857 lbs.
Ballast 5,952 lbs.
Sail Area 828 sq. ft.
Engine 39 hp. Volvo
Fuel 65 gals
Water 105 gals.
Hull speed 7.63 knots