Jan-Erik Nyfelt, affectionately “Janne” to his colleagues at Baltic Yachts, passed away on January 28. He was among the co-founders of the Finnish shipyard and still active in its activities even after retirement.
The news comes from a Baltic Yachts statement. It does not mention his age at the time of his death.
Baltic Yachts got its start 50 years ago, and has remained focused on the same principles and customers since then. Namely, it prioritizes lighter, stiffer, and faster yachts for global cruising and racing. Nyfelt was one of five co-founders who established Baltic Yachts in 1973, in the city of Bosund. This is in the western Finnish region of Ostrobothnia, an area with a long history of boatbuilding. (Baltic Yachts remains in Bosund today, but also has a facility in the town of Jakobstad.)
Not surprisingly, Nyfelt himself learned boatbuilding at an early age, working alongside his father in his father’s shop. After learning craftsmanship, he took an interest in other aspects of construction. Namely, he sought to learn more about design, including how to make line drawings, as well as calculations and boatbuilding’s theoretical side. Nyfelt went on to work for a local ship’s engineer especially to become better educated about theory. Further notable, he was an integral part of the Nautor’s Swan team, a fellow Finnish boatbuilder. He served as a boatbuilder there when it opened its doors in 1966.
As a co-founder of Baltic Yachts, Nyfelt saw more than 550 sailing yachts, sailing superyachts, and motoryachts depart its sheds. They include projects like the Baltic 146 Custom, Path. He played a strategic role in the shipyard’s overall development, including using new materials and methods. For instance, in the late 1970s, Baltic Yachts introduced carbon fiber rudder shafts for cruising and began using vacuum bagging for larger components.
Despite retirement, Nyfelt was on hand last summer to welcome the Baltic 46 Queen Anne, bearing the name Diva at launch, back to the dock. Diva was the first yacht to see construction at Baltic Yachts, debuting in 1974. Her current owner took her to the shipyard for a refit, to relaunch in time for this year’s anniversary celebrations.
Two further generations of Nyfelt’s family work at the shipyard. They include his son, Kenneth Nyfelt, the sales director.
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