History of Skilso

History of the Skilso Yard

History of Skilsø in short

Skilsø Baatbyggeri AS was one of the few boat-builders still a private family business up until 2012. Skilsø is today part of the Viknes Yard, one of the leading Norwegian yards. Viknes bought Skilso back in 2012, and have managed to maintain and rebuild the brand since then. The Skilso Yard was originally founded in 1919 by founder Nils Roland, and has been building boats from the premises on the small island of Tromoey just outside Arendal Norway since then.


History of Skilsø full (in part reference to www.skilso.no)

On October 2. 1919, all was ready to start the boat builder’s yard on Skilsøy, on the southern tip of Tromøy. Nils Roland was already established as a shipbuilder. Together with two cousins Roland had started building lifeboats for export to Holland some years earlier in nearby Fevik. After a few years the yard moved to Arendal, and production expanded. Among other things, Roland built a three-mast cargo ship with a 35 hp motor and a weight of 350-400 tons. With the exception of an intermezzo during the war, where the shipyard was forced to build a landing craft for the Germans, Skilsø Baatbyggeri concentrated on building pleasure boats.


The original yard had room for building boats up to 40 feet. Mostly, motorboats of various types were built. One of the largest to leave the yard was "Kongebaaten". A narrow 30 footer still resident in Arendal.


In 1932 the premises burned and the current production building was raised in its place. The Widely known red building with the large white letters reading Skilsø Baatbyggeri - it’s become the landmark of the company when you look over at the island from Arendal. The company employed around 16 and produced for the most part boats at 22-24 feet.


Before the war Skilsø built a number of boats designed by Richard Furuholmen. The cooperation continued after the war, and the seasoned designer must have been impressed with the first projects of Rolf Roland, which was built in 1946-47. Rolf Roland has since then designed all the boats Skilsø has produced. Rolf and his brother Sverre drove the company forward. 12-16 was employed in båtbyggeriet, Sverre built the sloops (sjektene) and Rolf was in charge of motorboats. Sverre Roland died in 1984, and Rolf took over the operation of båtbyggeriet.


The sloop-design (spisgatter or sjekte) was pointed in stern and aft with relative small engine, and cruising speed of around 7 knots. The motorboats were “Plattgattere” with bigger engines and higher speeds.

Breakthrough for Roland motorboats came on the first Sjølyst Fair in 1956, the 24 footer was a bestseller.

It was sort of a standard-model, but manufactured in different designs, in the beginning built of pine, but later mahogany on eikespant was used. In the 1960´ies, Skilsø began to build larger models up to 35 feet. At this point Skilsø had already started experimenting with GRP, but unlike some other yards in the region and due to the high demand for Skilsø wooden boats, it didn’t go further until 1970.


Skilso 23 

When the 23 feet GRP sloop (sjekte) hit the market in 1970 it was right on target. The 23 became widely known for great design, quality and sea keeping. Annual production went up to around 130 boats at its peak - most of them for export. 10 years later the larger Skilsø 27 was launched, but despite offering more room and better acomenndation it never became as popular as its older sister the 23.

The marked trend was going towards faster semi-planning boats.


The Skilsø 23 received a major update around 1982. The aft end of the hull was modernized, made wider and flat under the waterline so it would better support larger engines, allowing for slightly higher speed and improve sea keeping. At the same time it was a long awaited goodbye to the rubber window-frames and hello to the modern and much better looking alu-design. Around 1983/84 the rare and very sought after 23 HT (hardtop) model were produced.

Accommodation was slightly changed also, but in general stayed the same as it had been for over 10 years.


In general the boat marked in the 1980´ies proved much harder for Skilsø than the heydays of the 70´ies, not least because of new and more efficient production-methods introduced by competing yards. Increased competition on the important export-markets from UK and mainland Europe and not least other Norwegian and Swedish yards also had great impact on Skilsø. The relatively small yard with its more traditional approach to design, quality and production had a difficult time keeping up.

To meet the market trend for faster boats Skilsø 750 was introduced in 1984, with an 84 hp diesel it did about 17 knots.

The top model in the 1980´ies, the Skilsø 950 hit the water two years later, a well-thought-out boat with plenty of space and good seaworthiness – that was the beginning of the new range of fast motor-cruisers that have developed over the years to the current range.


Skilso 33

Skilso 33 Sport

The 33-hull introduced in the beginning of the 1990´ies evolved over the years and have been the foundation for the yard since its introduction.


Skilso 33FB

Today the 33-hull is offered in 3 different variations, Sport, Arctic (hardtop) and FB (Flybridge), especially in the latter years the models have been updated, with redesigned exterior-details and new interior-options with choice of woods and clever solutions, showing off the great skills of the craftsmen at the yard and keeping the range current.


Skilsø took a giant leap forward in 2007 with the introduction of the stunningly beautiful and slightly aggressive designed 36FB. Combining new technology, craftsmanship and a totally new hull and superstructure design with flowing, elegant modern lines. Not surprisingly Skilsø have received several awards for design and production for this model, and its properly the first time since the 23 Skilsø have been widely recognized above the competition – not just following trends but making them. A Skilsø 36FB delivered in June 2009 was the first boat in Norway to be fitted with Volvos revolutionary IPS joystick engine-control-system. The 36 will eventually be produced in a non-flybridge version, the 36 Coupé. The yards 90´th year jubilee was celebrated in 2009 among other things with a limited run of select 33 and 36 models in special “livery” and with extra features ect.

Skilso 39 - 2015

Skilso 39 FB 2015/2016


To the left the brand new Skilso 39 FB build by Viknes, the original design is shown above. The 36FB with a different stern design and radar arch. Viknes have also lengthen the hull by 3 feet increasing the cockpit area and giving the design a more sleek and less compact look. The interior was also updated when Viknes took over Skilso in 2011 and updated the tooling to be more production friendly.

Skilso 36FB

Skilso 34 Panorama 2015/2016


The brand new Skilso 34 Panorama is continuing the designline of the 39FB with the contemporarylines translating well to the much smaller design. The 34 is a compact and ultra modern design, on the right shown with the new addition of a center hull window is securing natural light to the mid-cabin.

The hull of the 34 is more volumius than what have been traditional for Skilso design, and thereby giving the boat a lot more internal volumen and combined with the hardtop stretching all the way over the cockpit it is very much fit for the nordic climate and changing wether.


For more information on current models please visit www.skilso.no

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