History & Design


Almost 60 years ago a young Dane sailed his Dragon class racing dinghy into Bronze Medal position in the 1948 Olympic Games. These were the first Olympic Games held after WW II, and the sailing events were held in Torbay, south west England. That young man went on to build many boats, the most famous being the Great Dane 28: his name was Klaus Baess.


The ketch rigged prototype, named Great Dane, was built in wood around 1960. Baess then approached Aage Utzon, designer of the legendary class Spidsgatter for advice. Utzon drew the hull and suggested modifications, including rigging the boat as a sloop and attached his name to it as designer, as a mark of endorsement. When Baess went to the London Boat Show in 1967, the GD28 was then marketed in the UK through the Carl Ziegler Agency in Walton on Thames. The hull was made from hand-laid fibreglass to Lloyd's specifications and the customer could choose between wooden or aluminium spars and between the Volvo MD 1 or MD 2.

In 1969 Baess sailed the GD 28 into first place in the Yachting World One-of-a-Kind Rally, beating nearly 30 other boats of between 25 ft. and 30 ft. This welcome publicity raised awareness of the GD 28 and it began to sell well. In all, over 250 Great Dane 28s were built between 1966 and 1980 when the moulds were chopped and burnt as Baess felt the time of the GD28 over.

There were, of course, modifications made as production continued, particularly to the lay-out below decks, but the overall appearance changed very little- low freeboard, sweet lines and plenty of teak in the cockpit giving a classic appearance.

Thanks to Juliette from Tauala for the text. The photo shows Aage Utzon, a boat builder Brandt Møller and Klauss Baess discussing the GD28 (approx. 1965?)



The Great Dane 28 was inspired both by the Folkboat and the Sisu Spidsgatter. She looks rather similar to the Twister (in the UK), but both her hull and complete coachroof/deck mouldings have always been made of GRP.

The cockpit coamings, wash-boards, hatches and locker-tops are of teak and her transom-hung rudder extends the full depth from transom to keel. The propeller is sited in a cut-out of the rudder, giving it maximum protection from fouling. The long keel of encapsulated lead gives her a low centre of gravity and a 46% ballast ratio. The cut-away forefoot reduces some of the maneuverability difficulties traditionally associated with long-keeled boats in tight spaces. The off-centre heavy teak main hatch slides on brass rails and the companionway is of a comfortable width and depth. Moving from cockpit to saloon is safe and made easy by the steps covering the forward end of the engine. The engine is also accessed by removing the cockpit sole.


Below decks, there is just over 6 ft headroom in the saloon (1.8 m). The layout varies, but a dinette to port was the standard in the boat built before 1970. This converts to a small double berth and there is a galley and quarter berth to starboard, with foot space below the starboard cockpit seat. The generous use of teak below decks gives a warm, traditional appearance. The heads (to port) and hanging locker (to starboard) separate the saloon from the forward cabin with its V-berth, which has large lockers beneath it. The forepeak contains the anchor chain.

In the more recently built boats, the dinette at port side has been changed into a longitudinal table and a L-shape sofa that can also be transformed into a double berth. With another sofa at starboard, the galley is in the rear of that saloon. The cockpit coamings are made of fibreglass and the forehatch made of aluminium and acrylated hatch.



LOA 28' 0''ft. (8.50 m)
LWL 21' 4'' (6.45 m)
Beam 8' 2'' (2.50 m)
Draft 4' 6'' (1.45 m)
Displac. 8,500 lbs (3855-4200 kg)
Ballast 3,900 lbs (1800kg)
Tonnage TM 7 tons
Sail Area 370 ft2 (34.4 m2); Main 215 ft2, No.1 Jib 178 ft2, No.2 Jib 155 ft2,
Storm Jib 75 ft2, Genoa 250 ft2, Spinnaker 608 ft2
Rigging plan
RORC Rating 17.75 approx.
Headroom 6' 0'' (1.8m)
Designer Aage Utzon, Denmark
Builder Klauss Baess, Copenhagen, Denmark

Hull and stability factors

The Great Dane 28 is a well designed and well built little sailboat having good comfort and seaworthiness, but not the fastest racer (of today!). I've heard someone said once that you can have only 2 of the 3 following options for a sailboat: speed, comfort or cheap price! Well, I guess its acceleration at the start won't destabilize you and that you won't arrive first on the line, but you'll arrive there safely and happily…

More details on those hull and stability formulas to describe (one of) the best ever built pocket cruiser (!)

Sales brochure

Next is a sale brochure published for the danish market. It shows sail #112 on page 1 which was sold in Aug '69 so the brochure was probably used for the season '70 as it mentions the 69 Yachting World Rally Award. But other photos could have been taken earlier. It shows the "old" interior design, meaning the dinette and long galley on starboard. There's also a rather unusual feature in the form of a high locker in the rear of the dinette and the chart table is on the quarter berth (well I think it's rather unusual but I can be wrong!). Baess has used his 2 (slim) daughters as models - it makes the sofa appear wider…

Brochure1970p1s.jpg Brochure1970p2s.jpg brochurephoto1s.jpg brochurephoto2s.jpg Brochure1970p5s.jpg Brochure1970p6s.jpg Brochure1970p7s.jpg Brochure1970p8s.jpg

The next file is exactly the same as the previous one, but without the "family" pictures and in swedish (it's actually the only document in Swedish we have). Thanks to Erik from Nina:

Swed1s.jpg Swed2s.jpg Swed3s.jpg Swed4s.jpg

There's a document with the GD28 line drawing and a text written by K. Baess telling about his boat in english. All line drawings of the boat where lost in a pipe bursting accident (material from Baess archives)
KB0010gs.jpg KB0010hs.jpg

Sale brochure in danish/english/german around 1973 (provided by Bernhard from Kalypso):
GD28_Pr1s.jpg GD28_Pr2s.jpg GD28_Pr3s.jpg GD28_Pr4s.jpg GD28_Pr5s.jpg GD28_Pr6s.jpg GD28_Pr7s.jpg GD28_Pr8s.jpg

Sales brochure from 1976 (provided by Knud on Lisa):
GD28-50006s.jpg GD28-60007s.jpg GD28-70008s.jpg GD28-80009s.jpg

Any other scan or copies of articles or original brochures you'd like to send are really appreciated, especially ones prior to 1970 !

Visit the picture page to see the boat today! Alternatively, read more on our boat test or find some old cuttings from K Baess scrapbook

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