Stuffing the Status Quo
Stuffing the Status Quo
For three successful one-design classes, a down economy is no time to rest on their laurels. Tech Review from our May 2010 issue
A project is underway to replace the foam-and-steel-cored centerboard with one made of fiberglass. This would be a good move. The new board would be more durable, but not lighter.
Finally there is the hull, which has become sturdier with added reinforcement over the years. But this has come at a performance cost. Perhaps it’s time to cut the hull weight back to 125 pounds and use higher tech methods—hull core—to strengthen problem areas.
In the end, it will still be a Laser. But it will be faster.
By Stuart Streuli
Performance has never been a problem for the Farr 30. Even 16 years after it was first drawn up by Bruce Farr, the nimble 30-footer can produce grins like few boats ever have. It combines all the technical elements of big-boat racing—sail selection, rig tune, and precise teamwork—with dinghy-like maneuverability and speed. The problem is the Melges 32 now occupies the same real estate in terms of size, cost, and annual operating budget. It’s 10 years younger and the class is growing rapidly. So does this leave the Farr 30 on the scrap heap? Hardly, the class must recast itself as a bargain DIY thrill ride rather than the grand-prix E-ticket adventure it once was.
Used Farr 30s run from $50,000 to $90,000. And with the Tour de France á la Voile transitioning to a new design in 2011, there should be more used boats hitting the market this year. But the key to rebuilding interest in the United States and elsewhere is reducing the annual campaign costs.
The 2009 class rules allowed two professional sailors and one “industry professional” per crew—normally the boat sails with six or seven. For a class regatta, teams can carry three jibs and four spinnakers. One of the spinnaker slots is for an asymmetric kite, which necessitates extra hardware and cordage.
Reducing the professional sailor quota to one, paring down the inventory to one full-size jib and one heavy-air jib, and allowing only symmetric spinnakers will make it less expensive to compete at the highest level.
The boat will be nominally slower around the course with the all-purpose sails, and the tactics and boathandling won’t be as crisp without as much paid help. But will anyone complain if the class returns to the point where 15- and 20-boat fleets are the norm?
The class now controls its own fate as longtime class administrator Geoff Stagg has stepped aside.
The 2010 Worlds in Hyères, France, which will be run under the existing class rules, offers a perfect opportunity to give this great, middle-aged girl some new legs.
By Tim Healy
The first step to modernizing the archetypal one-design keelboat would be to lower the crewweight limit from 882 to 725 pounds. This would give teams the option of sailing with, on average, either four 180-pounders or five 145-pounders. Currently, most teams sail five-up, with women’s teams usually consisting of six sailors. With less weight on the rail, the boat will be faster and livelier upwind in less than 10 knots, and faster in all conditions downwind. It will also allow more room for each crewmember to perform their respective jobs. Sailing with one less crew will make it easier to field a full crew, and the boat will be less expensive to campaign.
With less weight on the rail, the switch from the genoa to the blade should take place at around 12 to 14 knots. Currently, the top teams sail with the genoa in all but the windiest conditions. Going to the blade earlier will make the genoas—the most expensive sail in a J/24 inventory—last longer. While smoothly cross-sheeting the J/24 genoa through a tack in 18 knots is a badge of honor among class stalwarts, making the small-jib sail plan competitive above 15 knots will enable a pick-up sailor of any size to perform much closer to the top trimmers. Without the genoa in breezy conditions, the tactician and helmsman will have a much larger field of view to leeward, which should reduce collisions and fouls.
Both sails would be most durable if made of an aramid fiber such as Kevlar or Technora, which is currently class legal for only the genoa.
A full-length top batten in the main would prolong life of that sail; an existing mainsail could be retrofitted for approximately $100.
Eliminating the outboard motor and simplifying the list of required equipment will reduce the weight of the boat by up to 140 pounds. Do we really need a fire extinguisher on a boat with no motor and no wired electronics?
The total weight savings between the reduction in crew weight and the required gear represents an 8-percent savings over the previous sailing weight.
The class could look at eliminated the genoa once teams have had time to get accustomed to sailing in the lighter configuration. More power could be found by slightly increasing the roach on the main. Replacing the wire backstay with aramid and installing a flicker—as on a Melges 24—would allow a further increase in sail area.