A racer in disguise

The story of the NF (Nordic Family Boat) began in 1974 when two sailors in Stockholm decided they wanted a modernized coastal cruiser suitable for the archipelago. The Stockholm waters are relatively sheltered, but on the other hand, the area is full of underwater rocks and innumerable natural harbours with shallow conditions.

The order went to the Elvström/Kjaerulff company, the Danish boat designing team anchored to the outstanding sailor Paul Elvström, who together with Jan Kjaerulff and Ulf Rögeberg designed the NF. Elvström/Kjaerulff has over the years successfully designed a large number of boat models in the Nordic fleet of yachts.


Some of the specified NF-qualities desired: The boat should be easy to handle when family sailing, even in narrow waters. It should be able to stand up to hard groundings in the rocky archipelago. And it must be able to reach land, even if conditions are shallow. And above all – it had to be a joy to sail.

Production started in 1975, and most of the boats were built by their captains-to-be in Åkersberga, close to Stockholm. Shorter series were produced professionally at shipyards in Åland and Malax, Finland, and in Zealand, Denmark. Totally, around 300-350 boats were built, around 250 in Sweden and 50 each in Finland and Denmark. The Danes launched their last NF around 1993.

The first and most common version of the NF has a very large cockpit, too large upwind if you don’t apply footrests in its middle. But when in port, the size of the cockpit is a formidable asset, almost unique for a boat of its size.

It comes in 2 versions

The “New” NF, built in Sweden around 1985 and onwards, has another cockpit design, which is more comfortable sailing upwind. Its cabin also allows a convenient standing height and a detached toilette. On the pages of this NF web site, you will find the different designs of the boat.

No design rule, thank god

NF was designed as a protest against the trend towards “railing cruisers” with lots of interior space, but questionable sailing qualities. The aim was to make a boat that in a modernized form kept the characteristics of the formidable wooden cruisers of the Swedish/Finnish archipelago. They had gone out of fashion due to their narrow interiors and call for maintenance work.

The outcome was astonishing. The NF won lots of races – and still does – thanks to its design, and because it attracted a group of skilled sailors. It has repeatedly won the largest east coast handicap race, “Lidingö Runt”, in the Stockholm area, and has kept its one design status with a number of yearly races under this rule.

Around the buoys – or the hole distance

Because of its sailing qualities, the NF has also been used in long-distance races like the longest race in the Baltic Sea, “Östersjömaran”, 600 nm with a limited crew of two on board. The boat has proved to sail nicely also in open and high seas. The Dane Poul Folkersen made six crossings of the Atlantic with his NF, and his boat performed very well during hard weather.

Under the one design rules, the NF is sailed with a self tacker, a main sail and spinnakers of two sizes. But in handicap races, some boats have incorporated a sizable genua to be competitive during night races and other light wind conditions.

The biggest regatta is the NF Race, a family-oriented race and get-together in early august each year. The boats usually arrive Friday afternoon, participate in a friendly race on Saturday and a long and joyful evening together before leaving on Sunday. It is a true delight to see kids running about playing while the sailors visit each other boats to get tips and inspiration as well as discuss ideas.

Join the association!

The Nordic Family Boat association was established to secure the one design rules and to promote racing and cruising activities.

Danish, Finnish and Norwegian NF boat owners are most welcome in our association! Send us a line and you will be on our mailing list. You are also invited to send us some lines about your sailing activities, something we could include in the iNFo paper to our members.

We know there are NF boats also outside the Nordic countries, and we are eager to know from those of you who sail in other waters! If you have an NF sailing outside Sweden-Denmark-Finland, it is especially interesting to hear from you! Why not sending us an e-mail, telling us about you and your boat!


By Otto Fagerstedt