The design for the IW40 was originally commissioned
1973 for South Hants Marine yard in England, but then transferred to the
IW Yacht Yard on the island of Orust on the west coast of Sweden in 1974
(named after its owner Iwar Åkesson). That yard had previously built
the halftonner IW31 also by S&S, as well as some motor launches and
speed boats. As usual with Sparkman & Stephens, there was serious
quality control by the designers during the building of the first hull
and the setup of the production. The quality and strength of the IW40
are of very high standards. The first hull won the major Swedish Gotland
Runt race, and achieved some brief notoriety. But it seems that by hull
no. 35 or so, the yard had to close (1980), perhaps having invested too
much in the production of this yacht, large by Swedish standards and of
exceptional strength (the yard premises were taken over by Najad). A new
IW yard produces small motor yachts.
The mast was lengthened 1.5m at some point in the production,
as it suited the usual racing and cruising in protected waters. On Firefly
however, we find that we do perfectly well with the original rig, mainsail
and only a 85% working jib.
The keel mold was also modified at some point, as the
trim was found to be a little stern heavy. We assume that is because Scandinavian
owners rarely fitted them with bow anchors. However, Firefly is balanced
with the original keel and full anchoring equipment (we removed some internal
lead ballast in the forward bilge).
It was only by special permission by S&S that
the original owner was allowed to buy the hull and deck, with all the
major structural parts already in place. He then finished the interior
himself using the factory pre-fabricated wood furnishings, though redesigning
the layout to accommodate his family of 6 children. (The 2 small upper
bunks in the saloon were later transformed into book shelves and closets
by the second and present owners.) Around 1985, he was able to buy the
last unfinished IW40 hull, which he later completed with the standard
layout (but plus the extra aft entrance).
Hull no. 6 was never officially named during the first
10 years by the original owner, but only sometimes referred to as "Performance",
after the name of his own dinghy building company. Therefore it was deemed
safe to name her "Firefly" in 1986.
Her first 10 years were spent cruising and racing within
Scandinavia and every 6 winter months she was hauled and under cover,
and therefore aged relatively little. Since 1987, she has been hauled
and under cover for varying periods every year or so, otherwise used full
time while cruising from Sweden to England, Spain, France, Morocco, The
Canaries, Senegal, French Guyana, Venezuela, the Caribbean, the Bahamas,
Bermuda and the east coast of north America from Florida to Nova Scotia
Most other IW40's are in Scandinavia, with perhaps
a few in the Med. and at least one more having been to the Caribbean.
Leo Lindstrand. All rights reserved.