Sikari is perhaps the most unique boat ever built at Åbo Båtvarf. It is a high-speed experimental boat built in 1929 at the boatyard. The “Cigar” is owned by the active boat enthusiasts and experts Esko and Jani Vahto of Turku. Sikari spends its summers at its birthplace in the Turku boatyard, astonishing the pierside audience at the Ruissalo shipyard.
It is not entirely certain who designed Sikari, but apparently it was a collaboration between the chief designers of the boatyard, namely Bruno Westin, Zaké Westin and Jarl Lindblom. The boat was built as an experiment for demonstrational purposes. No similar boat was ever built. Its hull was designed on the lines of a Thornycroft torpedo boat. Probably the purpose was to collect information on really fast-moving boats, with a view of gaining torpedo boat orders from the Finnish navy.
The boat has a special shape: a short, deep V-hull, narrowing into a conical tail, ending with a direct-drive propeller. The rudder blade is located at the bow about half a meter in front of the helm. The boat’s seams are covered with longitudinal ribs on the inside. Thanks to its peculiar shape, the boat is called Sikari (the Cigar).
Originally powered by a six-cylinder 80-horsepower Universal, the engine turned out to be too heavy, and the boat did not move as well as expected. After a breakdown of the engine, the boat languished for a couple of decades in a shed at the Turku boatyard, until it was bought by Vieno-Verner Sillanpää, the workshop manager at the Valli-auto firm in Turku. Sillanpää installed a new engine and a marine clutch into the boat, reaching at its best the blazing speed of 60 knots.
In 1951, the boat was used for advertising the Aura River Speed Runs, and in 1964 for promoting the Crazy Finland movie of Spede Pasanen. The Cigar was pulled around Turku on a trailer attached to a tractor.
Esko Vahto discovered the boat in the 1970s, immediately understood its historical significance and started to restore it. However, Sikari remained standing until the 2010s and was left to decay, until Esko Vahto and his son Jani restarted the renovating process. In 2013, the finished boat was displayed at the Helsinki Boat Show and the American Car Show. Sikari has also received the first K-label granted to culturally significant boats in Finland.
Length: 9.60 m
Beam: 1.60 m
Year of construction: 1929
Designers: Bruno and Zaké Westin, Jarl Lindblom
Registration number: T-121
Original engine: Universal Six (6 cylinders), 80 hp
Current engine: Ford V8 “Flathead”, 85 hp
Speed: about 60 knots