It was in March 2011 that Ted Mannerfelt received a phone call from Kalle Wessel wondering if he was interested in drawing a “modern open boat, with unmistakable Delta lines, but as a new classic.” To be perfectly clear with how Delta works, Kalle Wessel added: “No shortcuts, no stingy material choices. No compromises”. An inquiry that anyone would have difficulty deflecting.
– No time to rest, just to get started. Ted felt right away that it needed to be an innovative product which can immediately be recognised as a Delta. The forward-looking hull with the turquoise tone was the immediate hallmark. It was a mixture of many different boat models – a fast-moving boat, but less robust and sportier than many of its competitors.
Mannerfelt Design Team has its design office at the top of a store that sells boat accessories in an exclusive marina a few miles north of Stockholm. Framed photos of racing boats hang on the walls. That’s how it all began, Ted and Dad, Ocke Mannerfelt, built a racing boat for Ted when he was 12. In the office bookshelves, carefully stacked books and magazines lie on two clear themes: boats and cars. Ted Mannerfelt has quickly become one of Scandinavia’s hottest coveted boat designers, but it was with cars it started. Right after Lumpen, the same year he became the youngest world champion ever in offshore boat racing, Ted moved to Coventry, England to study car design. Six years and two years later he was hired as a designer at Jaguar.
– Ted worked at their advanced design department and did concept cars. “It was us who produced Jaguar’s vision for the future. That’s exactly what I dreamed of when I was sitting at home in the boys’ room and building Star Wars ships in Lego,” he said.
After four years, it was time to move home. Partly because Ted got tired of long compromising decision-making processes – he could sketch on one and the same model for two years and then be told that it would not be put into production. But mainly to get back to the boats. By constantly keeping an eye on developments in the boating industry, Ted realised that, around the turn of the millennium, interesting things started happening on the design front.
– The more extreme design began to be accepted and he was eager to go back to boats and bring with him the car industry experience.
What was the biggest challenge in drawing Delta’s first open model?
– It is important to recognise the clear design language from other Delta boats. I wanted to make the Open series modern with a classic twist. It would be a combination of a day cruiser and a walkaround. A classic detail is one that I picked up from what boats looked like in the 1930s. The small wood details also feel classic.
How do you translate 1930s inspiration into modern 2010 design?
– That’s what the feel of design is. It’s a venture; to be able to combine different expressions with the right feeling. The inspiration comes from many different angles, not least from the other Delta fleet. But also, from modern bathing boats in the Mediterranean.
How did you actually use the Delta language for the 26?
– I tried to capture the angled box by taking the same basic shapes and turning everything 180 degrees up and down. It’s exactly the same proportions.
Former Delta models are built primarily for a Scandinavian climate. What do you see as the primary use of the Delta 26?
– For the Mediterranean, this boat fits well as a bathing boat. It is a different thought about how to use boats there. In Sweden, there is more protected water and you use the boat a lot to get from A to B. In the Mediterranean, you anchor up and sunbathe and swim and hang out on the boat. But of course, it is also intended for Swedish water.
Delta has become known for producing energy-efficient boats that, at high speed, draw less fuel than competitors’ boats. How do you tackle that challenge?
– In order to make an efficient hull, we usually base ourselves on what it is for the motorboat to be sold with. Then we design and build the boat around the engine so that it becomes a good match between size and weight. The ambition was that the boat would make about 38 knots with a D3, so we assumed that. We have a program where you can launch the boat in the computer to simulate floating modes. But it always starts with a pencil sketch. The feeling is there: in the pen. Then you have to have the ability to transfer that feeling to the computer.
You draw all the models in 3D?
– In today’s boat production, almost everything is done in 3D. Delta also has very modern technology available internally, which makes it easier for us. They have their own 3D cutter, which so far is almost exclusively in the automotive industry. They have guys on-site in the factory who know 3D programs, so it went very smoothly.
The financial crisis has hit the boating industry hard, with many players simply not developing new models. How do you see Delta’s strategy that instead of stopping all the time, develop new boats?
– It is quite right for Delta to dare to develop new products during such difficult times. Most often, it is those who come out as winners when the crisis is over. Many customers follow the market closely – and buy what is new and feels modern.