If you follow this site, you’ll undoubtedly know that we have a huge hard on for single and doublehanded sailing and the global movement towards racing shorthanded. Although rumors are beginning to emerge that the planned debut for doublehanded offshore keelboat racing in the Olympics in 2024 may be in for a big rug pull, we don’t expect this movement to lose steam any time soon.
As shorthanded entries continue to break records and exciting new designs make this type of racing gain traction in the market place, we’re confident that the recent popularity of shorthanded racing is here to stay. With the astounding success of the new Figaro 3, IMOCA’s, Class 40’s and Mini’s as well as production designs from J Boats, Dehler, Jeanneau, Pogo Structures and JPK among others, the demand for performance shorthanded keelboats continues to outpace supply worldwide, especially in these days of COVID 19.
So when Farr Yacht Design stamps their name and devotes their extensive design expertise into a hot new 30-footer that is almost exclusively designed to race double handed and even in one-design offshore configuration, we clearly want to know more.
Led by Sydney’s own Bret Perry, the all-new Farr X2 – nearly eighteen months in the making – has moved from a dream hatched during an offshore supermaxi delivery into the actual build phase with tooling almost completed and the first hulls already sold and scheduled to begin being laid up in just a handful of weeks.
As a pro sailor, America’s Cup and VOR rigger and project manager for the first ever non-French design to achieve production class certification as a Mini 6.50, Perry and his extensive sailing and management background should ensure a boat that is built by sailors for sailors, and will live up to all of the extensive hype that he and his office can generate. Having been on the very supermaxi delivery where this idea was hatched, I saw BP’s stoke and passion for this boat firsthand and am genuinely excited to see the Farr X2 concept moving into the actual build phase, and so I gave my old mate from down under a ring to get the straight scoop for SA.
Sailing Anarchy – First off, how did the Farr X2 initially come about?
Bret Perry – We did a Farr 43 design concept that took the best part of a year. But with a boat that size you’re pinning your luck on selling a small handful of boats and you’re nowhere under a million dollars to be sailing it in a Grand Prix format. And so I was on the Infotrack delivery, coming back from Hobart with you last year, when I had this vision for the Farr X2 and I just decided to take it on and make it happen. We ended up at a point where we did a concept release via Sail-World.com and it just went nuts. We had about 45 emails of interest, and so we knew we were onto something, so that just made us put our foot down and focus on it. It has now developed and morphed itself into this project which is really quite special.”
SA – Once you decided to build something more towards the 30-foot shorthanded realm, how did you dial in your concept before moving onto the actual design phase? And what is the actual concept for the boat?
BP – Well, the Farr X2 got started while lying in my bunk, off-watch on the InfoTrack. But it really stemmed from my days in the Mini fleet in Europe. I spoke to a lot of my colleagues in the Mini class and they all had misgivings about what came after a Mini Transat campaign. For the elite few, they’d end up on a Class 40 or an IMOCA, but for the majority of sailors, they didn’t have that opportunity to step up and there wasn’t much in the 30 foot range that Mini sailors could get the opportunity to sail. A lot of the boats were heavier and more cruiser oriented, but these guys and gals wanted something fun and fast. They didn’t want to be stuck to the water because they were heavy and slow. So we started with a design brief around a fully turboed 30 footer that was at a certain price point. After many looks at it, we came up with the Farr X2. It’s important to note that the Farr X2 has been extensively reviewed and engineered by the design team at Farr Yacht Design in Annapolis, Maryland.
Using their proprietary in-house CFD program IDEOS (Integrated Design Exploration and Optimization System) this hull has been through more than 500 different shapes. With little minute changes dependent on what info we put in, we dialed in the hull shape to get what we wanted, which was a boat that could handle the big stuff in 25 knots plus but not be sticky in 7 knots and flat water. So there’s a lot to think about in optimizing the boat without sacrificing power. In saying all of this, we’ve come up with by far the lightest Category A certified offshore racing boat with the nearest boats being up to 500kg heavier and the heavier ones over a ton heavier.
We didn’t want to sacrifice power for rating, but we had to keep an eye on the ratings. Until we get traction and can build multiple pockets of boats around the world, owners will be racing on handicap, and so we calculated the boat with that in mind. A lot of the IRC racers have gone away from cruiser racers. For a long time, designers were adding furniture to make the boats rate better, but with boats like TP’s and VO 70’s winning so many events, we positioned the boat with a modest and simple but practical interior to gain just a bit back on IRC but to keep the boat as fast as possible.
What we’ve worked out is that you don’t get penalized for reaching hull speed upwind early. If you have a full upwind event, it’s very hard for a 30 footer to compete against a 40 footer. So you try and build a boat for all conditions. As we crack sheets on the Farr X2, the boat comes into it’s own. We’re looking at being fully planing in 12 knots VMG downwind with 250 liters of water (ballast) onboard. If you’re planing on the step, you’re gaining all the time, and that’s why we wanted to keep the boat at the 2500 kg mark. The boat is built to the stability index requirement of the Sydney to Hobart, so the boat comes already rated with enough stability to compete in any race in the world.
SA – Other than dialing in the hull shape with Farr Yacht Design, what else did you do to make the boat both fast and also easy and safe to sail to it’s potential doublehanded?
BP – We’ve put a lot of effort into what we call micro design. We got to a point where we were happy with the hull and the deck. So then we moved onto the mock up with Harken Australia. It’s a full Harken boat, and we worked towards making the systems user friendly but not over complicated. It’s clean. It’s neat. A lot of the things are under a false floor in the cockpit. You’re not going to have too many ropes exposed other than control lines. And there’s absolutely no holes in the deck other than the fasteners themselves. We really want it to be comfortable and dry down below.
To be continued…