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Interview With Carroll Marine’s Barry Carroll

SW’s editor talks with builder Barry Carroll about their BOTY winner and other new projects.

November 5, 2001
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At the 2002 Boat of the Year Awards ceremony at Sail Expo St. Petersburg on Oct. 30, Sailing World Editor John Burnham presented two awards to boatbuilder Barry Carroll. His new model, the Farr 395 One-Design, won SW’s Racer/Cruiser and Overall awards. Afterwards, Burnham spoke with Carroll about the new model and other designs to come from the Bristol, R.I., raceboat builder.

Grand Prix Sailor: Why do you think this boat is a special one?

Barry Carroll: The 395 was a little different for us because it was the first boat we developed as a product instead of a race class. We did a tremendous amount of market research and formulated this boat around a customer profile more than as a response to the IMS rule, PHRF, or one-design categories. It seems to be working well.

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GPS: Have you hit the niche you were aiming at or has anything about the people who’ve bought it surprised you?

BC: Well, it’s a little hard to say this but we were aiming down, trying to set a different competitive level for this boat–a kinder, gentler atmosphere if you will. We hit that level, but also found that we’ve become spoiled over the years working with very sophisticated sailors. Some of the things we’ve had to do in this boat have been an eye opener for us to get it to be more user friendly. For example, the owner’s manual is probably three times more extensive than anything we’ve ever done. But it’s been great, because we’re getting a customer that’s new to racing and bigger boats. They’re avid and excited, but need some help.

GPS: How are the one-design fleets developing?

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BC: We have deposits for up to Hull No. 40, which is the fastest launch of anything we’ve ever done. It has sold more quickly than the Mumm 30 or the Farr 40. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they’re selling everywhere, so there’s four boats in Europe, four on the West Coast, five on the Great Lakes; so even though there are 40 boats built or soon to be built they’re scattered. The biggest fleet concentrations are in New England and Chesapeake Bay.

GPS: By definition, the people at this competitive level aren’t going to travel as much. Is that right?

BC: Correct. The owners are much more weekend-type racers who will do one or two big regattas a year. Still, we expect that in the 2002 season we’ll have four or five major one-design events around the country.

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GPS: Beginning with Key West?

BC: There may be a 395 One-Design class start in Key West, but there may also be a 395 class in the Bermuda Race. We have about 10 people talking about doing that race, and we’d much rather see that. This boat is designed to go offshore and be reasonably handled by a shorthanded crew. The Bermuda Race would be perfect.

GPS: So you have boats to build. Now you’re gearing up for a Farr 36 One-Design and a Wally 62-footer. Tell us about those.

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BC: The Farr 36 is as far away from the 395 as you can go and still be a monohull. It’s a flat-out race boat. We gave Bruce Farr the design challenge—no rules, how fast can you go at 36 feet? The only parameters we put on him were that the boat had to be easily trailerable and reasonably easy to assemble. It’s going to be all carbon fiber and new production techniques employed. It should be a dramatically quick boat.

GPS: And the first boat?

BC: — should be sailing by springtime. They’re going to be built simultaneously in the U.S. for North America and Europe, and by DK Yachts in Malaysia for Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia.

GPS: Is that where they’re building the Mumm 30 now?

BC: They’re building the Mumm 30 and the Farr 40 there and doing a very nice job.

GPS: What about this Wally 62? Is it true you’re building a new factory for it?

BC: We’re very close to going ahead and building a new factory, but like everybody else in the world right now we’re a little concerned about the economic conditions. But we’re still heavy into the planning stage for that. This is going to be a 62-foot all carbon fiber Wally Yacht–the smallest Wally built so far, but the goal is to have reasonably close one-design racing next year. Wally Yachts is investing a lot of money in tooling, promotion, and advertising. The design is almost completed, and we’ve actually started tooling.

GPS: Will all these boats be going to Europe to race?

BC: Right now, the early boats will be, but there’s a good possibility the first two will do the Bermuda Race first.

GPS: How come they’re coming to the U.S. to have Wally Yachts built?

BC: Luca Bassani, the owner of Wally Yachts, is a tremendous sailor. He won the Mumm 30 Worlds and has a Farr 40, and he loves the idea of one-design sailing. Many his customers with boats like Wally 120s are looking for something small and quick that’s easy on the budget. In that world, that definition is 60 feet, and several of those potential owners will continue to own larger Wallys, which they’ll cruise, while they race these one-designs. Most of the Wally owners are very competitive–there were 12 racing in St. Tropez last month–so I see a strong possibility of a one-design class developing. And it’s still going to have all the Wally attributes of push-button sailing, easy sailhandling, and high performance.

GPS: Will some of those easy-to-sail, push-button features filter down into smaller one-designs?

BC: There’s no question. Our whole thrust, whether it’s full-on race boats like the Farr 40 or the 395s or Wally 60s, is on easier sailhandling with more speed and less complication. If you look at what was considered revolutionary several years ago–swept spreaders and non-overlapping jibs–that’s become the norm. J/Boats and other people have developed asymmetrical kites and made it easier for people to sail. Using them on the 395 and emphasizing easy handling is one of the things that differentiates that boat from our other more race-oriented product line. Besides making these boats more user friendly, we’re making them much more robust. When you go to regattas now you don’t have to bring two mast like we did in the old days of aluminum rigs with runners. The only way a mast breaks now is if it gets run over by a semi-trailer on the way to a regatta.

http://www.carrollmarine.com, http://www.farrinternational.com, http://www.wallyyachts.com

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