Check out the winner of the 2015 Boat of The Year: the Farr 280.

When it comes to smaller grand-prix one-design keelboats, Farr Yacht Design once reigned supreme. Even today, two of their most notable—the Mumm 30 and Farr 40—have fleets that continue to deliver excellent class racing, well into their years. The Farr 400, a Boat of the Year finalist, and a bit of redirection for FYD, was a boat meant to be dual-purpose: a boat to take around the cans and offshore. It would seem, however, that owners really do prefer one or the other, so when it came to designing the Farr 280, the boys in Annapolis took a laser focus to deliver the most advanced, but manageable, little big-boat they could, and this time, they nailed it.

At 28 feet and only 3,600 pounds, it’s light enough to tow from regatta to regatta (keel on or off), and with a recommended crew of five or six, it’s a boat an owner can campaign on a reasonable budget. Class rules are in place, the sail inventory is fixed, and as a dynamic and technical boat on all points of sail, it’ll be fun in the light stuff, but especially good when the wind gets cranking.

“One of my favorite things about this boat is that, with the hydraulics, you can see the rig move, which teaches people how pumping it up and putting headstay on affects the helm,” said Boat of the Year judge Chuck Allen. “You can really feel it in the boat.”

“All the systems worked smoothly,” said Tom Rich. “What I like about the boat is that it’s innovative and they’re not trying to be everything to everybody. They made a grand-prix, go-fast, one-design boat, that’s it.”

“Anyone that’s used to a sophisticated dinghy will easily get into the boat and learn it quickly,” added Greg Stewart. “With the hydraulics you’d start out slowly figuring them out, but once you do, you’ll be using them all the time. They got the hull shape right in the stern, too. It’s a very clean round shape with a chine that’s high enough that the corners are never dragging.”

Allen’s account of the light-air sailing test was that it, “handles like a champ.”

“With all the little controls we could make the sails, and the boat, do what it’s suppose to do,” he said.

“It’s responsive to everything,” added Stewart. “I sense it will be easy to handle in more breeze, not so prone to wiping out because the rudder is pretty far forward and the hull shape is forgiving. When guys are tweaking things, the boat will really respond and go fast.”

DESIGNED FOR: One-design racing

REQUIRED CREW: Five to six

BEST ATTRIBUTES: Construction quality, hydraulic rig controls, modern systems and gear, road-worthy


2015 Boat of the Year: Farr 280

Walter Cooper