Farr 52

2000 February 5

One Designr

My brain is still smoking after that schooner review. It's nice to get back inside the box and look at the newest collaboration between the Farr design office and Barry Carroll's Carroll Marine.

The partnership's Farr 40 class has been a resounding success. Now the market wants a bigger offshore one-design boat built to the same philosophy as the 40. In this endeavor the Farr office has a big advantage. It has computer files on the performance of almost every race winner in the world. This reduces guessing and allows it to target its own benchmarks on the computer. If you believe everything the designer's comments say about the new 52, the only thing it can't do is leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Farr's office claims the 52 will be faster downwind in winds under 5 knots and over 20 knots than the current ILC Maxi World Champion. In short, whatever the venue, this boat will be competitive. Probably the most stand-out feature of this design is its 54-percent ballast-to-displacement ratio. There will be a small amount of internal ballast that can be used to trim the boat to the one-design class limit, and external ballast will be in a steel fin with a lead bulb at a draft of 10 feet, 8 inches. Obviously the end product of this ballast-to-displacement ratio combined with narrow beam (L/B 3.57) is high limit of positive stability, specifically 141.9 degrees. (And this figure hasn't been fudged by adding the effect of the cabintrunk and mast!)

Notice how rudders and keels are approaching each other in area. If you didn't feel a healthy tug of weather helm on this rudder, I suspect it would not be doing its job as a big part of the boat's overall lift component. We can thank carbon fiber rudder stocks for making this type of rudder physically possible. The keel bulb is big, and the fin is swept aft 16 degrees. To keep the appendages clean you have the option of installing viewing windows in the hull at keel, prop and rudder. In plan view the hull is unremarkable in its distribution of beam.

The real secrets to this hull form are in volumetric distribution and sectional shapes. Unfortunately there's no way we can discern these from the drawings at hand. The deck plan is all business and laid out for maximum racing crew efficiency. There are coffee grinders in the cockpit for 2:1 mainsail and jib-spin sheets. The idea here is both power and speed in getting the sail in. The forward grinder faces fore-and-aft so he can watch the jib. The aft grinder faces athwartships so he can watch the mainsail.

There are no overlapping headsails so the chainplates are well outboard on the 14 degree line. The next time you find yourself mushing up the sound and struggling to make some ground to weather, consider this. The Farr 52 can probably sail to weather with a true wind angle of 32 to 34 degrees. This means an apparent wind angle of around 21 degrees. You will tack through 64 degrees. This is what high performance means. The SA/D is 34.19.

The mast is a Hall Spar carbon fiber section along with a carbon fiber spin pole and boom. If you design a boat to weigh 20,277 pounds with 11,206 pounds of ballast you had better pick a builder who can monitor every drip and sniff of resin. It requires very careful construction to hit one-design weight parameters even at more moderate weights. The 52 is built with carbon fiber and a wet, pre-preg process, vacuum bagged and cured in an oven. "Superlight" balsa is used in the high impact areas forward, and various densities of Corecell foam are used in the rest of the vessel. There is an aluminum frame to take the keel and rig loads. I told you we were going to be diverse this month.