Battle lines: the pre-start duelling is fierce and close matched in the race to win the hearts, minds and wallets of the next generation of racing yachtsmen. A recent arrival to our southern shores, the Farr 400 is the latest 40-something hi-tech production race yacht boasting a new level of sailing performance, whether in one-design or ocean racing modes reports Anthony Twibill.
Hence, the popularity of 'class' or 'one-design' racing all around the world. In the 40-footer market sector, the new Farr 400 is but one of a crop of new one-design production racers, all featuring world-class sailing technology at down to earth prices, including the Brazilian Soto 4o, and Australian McConaghy MC38 to name a couple, each with different attributes and specialty focus.
However, today's leading sailing technology is only leading for as long as it takes for the next big thing in racing performance to arrive on the scene. So, for most yacht owners without a bottomless chequebook to build a top-tech custom creation, the most direct and inexpensive path to winning races and savouring the glory and the glint of racing silverware, is one of these "next generation" performance yachts. Interestingly, the new entrants are mostly one-designs focused on levelling the playing field of yachting technology, putting the emphasis firmly on talent and your team, rather than a yacht with the most expensive "go fast" design, or most extensive new sail wardrobe and equipment.
So saying that, for the performance sailing-orientated yachtsman, let's face it, the speed and overall performance of a dedicated racing yacht is going to be preferable to the crop of well-sailing cruiser-racers on today's market if, that is, you can get it past 'the boss' of the family finances. If you can win that most important pre-start maneuver, and you're looking for a 40-footer that can perform inshore 'around the cans' in weekend races, back up for regatta weeks, one-design fleet racing, or even a few shorter offshore stints, then take a good look at the new Farr 400.
The first Australian delivery is to well known Sydney yachtsman Matt. Allen, who as immediate past Commodore of the CYCA certainly knows his boats. Indeed he currently races everything from his Jones 70 ocean racer Ichi Ban to Melges 24's with considerable success, and is a respected opinion leader for the Farr design office and builders of the Farr 400 Premier Composite Technologies to have secured for the first Australian-delivered Farr 400.
Having most recently added the latest Farr to his collection, taking on the mantle of the Ichi Ban on its stern, Matt is enthusiastic about the new boat's sailing performance, versatility and overall value. "Most importantly", says Matt, "it's simply great fun to sail. This is what sailing is supposed to be about," he says, after a flying downwind run on Sydney Harbour.
Watching the new yacht racing against earlier Farr 40's from afar, as well as sailing aboard the new 400 with Matt, I noticed that the upwind performance numbers of the new boat are really not all that different to its Farr 40 predecessor. The upwind VS numbers from Ichi Ban max out around eight knots of boat speed in 20 to 30 knots of pressure, showing maybe half to one knot of improvement over the incumbent Farr 40 design.
But being fully constructed of carbon composites, the new Farr 400 displaces less than four tonnes (3.92 to be precise) and is a particularly spritely performer in light air, needing barely a puff to get it moving when others are still parked. Here is where the 4,00 really shows the advantage of its lightweight, slippery profile and refined rig and sail plan to best effect, with impressive upwind speeds of 4.06 knots in four knots of breeze, 5.68 knots in 5 knots, and 6.65 knots in 8 knots as the breeze builds.
Impressive as those numbers are for a 4,0-footer, it's the downwind and reaching speeds, under a huge asymmetric spinnaker on extendable carbon bowsprit, that are another world of sailing excitement aboard the Farr 400. Powered by a 235 sqm downwind sail area, more than doubling the 102 sqm of upwind sail area featuring a large square topped main, the Farr 400 gets up and planes at seemingly effortless speeds, flying downwind at up to 23 knots as pressure builds, leaving its older 40-foot sibling in an altogether different wake at any wind speed. Aiding the large spinnaker, the lightweight planing hull and highly efficient foils of the Farr 400, sees it sail faster than the breeze downwind to around ten knots of pressure, where the target boat speed is 9.75 knots. The excitement turns up as the breeze builds, with the 4,00 easily accelerating onto the plane, reaching downwind speeds of 15 knots in i6 knots of breeze, 18.5 knots in 20 knots of breeze, and a thrilling 23 knot sleigh ride in 3o knots.
Although clearly very quick for a mid-size 40-foot racing monohull, the Farr 400 is actually a compromise in design, intended as an all-rounder, not an "out and out" high-performance craft. Its versatility on the water for inshore, offshore, one-design or handicap racing, is coupled with ease of transportability. Both are equally vital to the design of the boat, with the dimensions and profile of the yacht (particularly the moderate beam), intentionally designed, almost constrained, to ensure low-cost transport by road or ship to regattas around the world. These aspects, combined with the very latest sailing technology above and below the waterline, at a realistic price around the AU$500,000 mark (excluding racing sails and instruments) may prove to be another winning formula for Farr. But how do these new yachts deliver such exciting sailing for the price?
Each decade sees gradual evolution in performance, but recent years have borne witness to some genuinely giant leaps in sa i I i These new technologies, materials and processes have been developed on many fronts, ranging from the AC4,5's and giant 72's now preparing to line up for the Auld Mug in next. year's 34th America's Cup: to the resilient, high-speed hull. rig and sail designs of Volvo Ocean Race yachts enduring thousands of sea miles of nautical torture, both on man and sailing machine. These revolutionary ideas in sailing design, advanced materials applications and composite construction techniques, have already trickled clown to the production yacht market. with the latest. Farr 400 a good example.
Clearly designed and marketed as the natural "next generation" of the ubiquitous Farr 4o one-design class that has proved so globally popular, the new Farr 400 is a far superior sailing machine, capable of doing an 'horizon job' on its own older sibling, even when racing inshore. I've seen it happen recently at the Sail Port Stephens regatta where the new /chi Ban. was racing, and I can tell you it's almost a family embarrassment. The Farr 400 is just so good as an all-round sailing machine, so well thought out, and built to minimal tolerances of imperfections, that it will make even a very 'average' skipper and crew look like sailing rock stars out there on the course. For the skipper, there's even the choice of a tiller or twin wheels to drive, without any penally under the new Farr 400 one-design class rules.
The new boat is clearly from the sailing brains trust of the Farr Design office, designed for, and marketed to, an international market, and constructed at Premier Composite Technologies (PCT) in Dubai, UAE. It's unusual looking design makes the very most of the recent escalation in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis of aerodynamic and hydrodynamic flows over sails, foils and hull, in a high-stability, fast hull form that genuinely looks like no other production racer. but apparently drawing some of its lines from custom Grand Prix race boats.
As a production yacht, riot a custom build, the Farr 400 makes the most of available hi-tech carbon composite materials from SP Gurit. High Modulus and the latest construction techniques for strength and very light weight. It is entirely built in carbon fibre/epoxy sandwich construction, making it one of the first carbon production yachts in the world, along with the RC44. Hull, deck. and interior structure are fabricated with vacuum infusion technology to ensure high fibre volume ratios and to reduce weight variation.
Farr Yacht Design describe the new 400 as an all carbon, 4o-foot racing yacht that combines Grand Prix level performance with innovative design details that allow for easy, cost effective transportation anywhere in the world.
Bruce Farr says the 400 was specifically designed with three main objectives in mind:
Unrivalled performance that is synonymous with the Farr brand, certainly one of the most successful One Design offices in the world.
The availability in a smaller, more affordable yacht of next generation, grand prix style racing that was recently developed in the high performance TP52 class also dominating the results boards of the IRC-handicap racing circuit.
A boat with no performance compromises that can be easily shipped around the world on a 4o-foot flat rack container means substantial cost savings for the owner.
The design objectives for the Farr 400 were "to produce a fun, state-of-the-art, very high performance. easily managed keel boat of around 40 foot. LOA with anticipated broad appeal for Inshore, One-Design, IRC or PH RF racing, and with usable interior space and capabilities to race offshore", according to Farr. That's a big ask for a new boat of such apparent compromise, but Farr and Premier Composites appear to have rounded that mark with their new boat.
Vital to the attraction of this yacht is that it can be easily and i nexpensively transported, differentiating the new Farr 400 class from most others of this size, with the possible exception of the all-new McConaghy MC38 and Archambault's smaller M34 which are also designed to be easily transported.
The overall beam and length of the Farr 400 have intentionally been constrained in Farr's design to allow the hull to be tilted at up to 80 degrees to fit within the dimensions of a 40 foot flat rack container for shipping, whether directly on the flat rack or on its own dedicated trailer on the flat rack. The keel and rudder can be quickly removed, and the boat can also be transported on the road without exceeding driving restrictions in most regions, on its own dedicated trailer or with the flat rack on a truck or trailer.
The carbon mast separates into two sections and all components fit completely within the transport system footprint. Given the popularity of the regatta circuits, it's good thinking on Farr's part.
The modern hull shape penned by Farr designers incorporates moderate beam and light displacement, with an emphasis on power, low drag and responsive handling characteristics.
A deep retractable bulb keel of 9 metres with a near 6o% ballast ratio produces a deep VCG and high stability. These features, combined with a large Southern Spars carbon rig flying a square-topped main, and supported by EC6 carbon rigging, together with masthead composite runners, and keel-stepped mast jack to easily tension the forestay and trim sail twist, makes for a powerful, but easily sailed, 40-footer.
The unusual asymmetric deck layout of the Farr 400 follows modern Grand Prix race boat practice, for efficiency and fast manoeuvres. The primary grinder pedestal system allows for high-speed spinnaker gybes, sail hoists, and string line spinnaker drops, similar to a TP52. These efficiencies combined with its high stability hull form and 2180 kg of ballast, allows the boat to be raced with a crew of just eight.
Sailing aboard Ichi Ban, it's evident that everything is exactly where it should be, with a cockpit and crew design that works a treat. Sailing this boat is a logical affair, as long as you plan ahead for the higher boat speeds the yacht delivers.
The central pedestal driving the two carbon primary winches is clearly the 'engine room' of the boat, generating high line speeds to power everything from sail hoists, lightening fast tacks and gybes, and high-speed, line-driven kite douses.
Taking the helm, the feel is again one of comforting stability given all that sail area towering above, pointing high and true upwind.
It's a real pleasure to drive thanks to the deep fin and low-hung ballast, and a deep blade rudder with plenty of authority and feedback, without being overly sensitive or twitchy.
All in all, steering this boat is a confidence inspiring experience for a 40-footer capable of such exciting sailing performance and, for owners and crews alike, the Farr ktoo is destined to attract deserved attention out on the racetrack wherever it sails.
MODEL FARR 400 LOA 11.80m/38.71 ft LVVL 11.11 m/36.45 ft BEAM 3.42 m/11.22 ft DRAFT 2.9 m down/1.98 m up DISPLACEMENT 3920 kg/8624 lbs BALLAST 2180 kg/4796 lbs CREW 8 IRC TCC 1.250 ISAF OSR CATEGORY 2 CONSTRUCTION Carbon / Epoxy Sandwich SAIL PLAN I: 15.60 m/51.18 ft, J: 4.45 m / 14.60 ft, P: 16.15m / 52.99 ft, E: 5.80 m / 19.03 ft, STL: 6.82 m SAIL AREA UP 102 [m.sup.2] SAIL AREA DOWN 235 [m.sup.2] PRICE $500,000 (excluding sails and electronics)
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|Title Annotation:||FARR 400|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2012|
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