Streamlined, fast and powerful, the ground-breaking Farr (Mumm) 30 has become a modern classic in the field of fleet racing. Still many years from retirement, these boats are enjoying an active competitive life on the one-design racing circuit. We speak to Chris Turner of Ovington Boats and Alon Finkelstein of Farr Yacht Design about how meticulous design, impeccable build credentials and the use of PRO-SET® laminating epoxy have kept this class relevant more than two decades after it first launched.
Looking at the busy calendar of activities on the Farr (Mumm) 30 website, anyone outside of the sailing community might think the class is relatively new. Not so, however. “It’s already over 20 years old. She was first built in 1995,” says Chris Turner, Managing Director of Ovington Boats. Then Ovington Marine, the business was one of two main global producers of the legendary yacht. “We stopped producing them in the mid-2000s. Today, it’s the buoyant second-hand market that keeps this class active.”
When it was first launched, the 30-foot Bruce Farr design was regarded by many as, quite simply, ground-breaking. Everything about the boat was meticulously designed for optimal strength and stability, while introducing new advancements in speed and handling. So impressive was the Farr 30 that she was, in fact, chosen as the sole vessel for the annual Tour de France à la Voile between 1999 and 2010. “Boats on the Tour need to withstand rough seas and strong winds as they sail around the coast of France,” says Chris. “The Farr 30 is purpose-built to withstand those conditions, while still delivering on performance.”
A ground-breaking design
When designing the Farr 30, Bruce Farr and his team drew on years of experience designing Whitbread 60s and America’s Cup yachts. The result was a boat that delivered reliable upwind performance, impressive speed downwind and easy handling at all times – irrespective of the weather conditions.
The keel, for example, was a transformative design, with a large lead bulb supported by a cast steel fin. This provided the strength the boat demanded but also – arguably for the first time in a boat of this type – maximised the righting moment and offered efficient lift, while minimising downwind drag. The carbon fibre rig was ultra-light, as was the autoclaved carbon fibre rudder stock. Plus, with no overlap on the headsails, the boat could afford to have small winches and therefore a smaller, lighter crew.
“The Farr 30 was unique at its launch and remains special today because of several key features,” says Alon Finkelstein, Senior Design Engineer at Farr Yacht Design. “The high performance carbon fibre rig, aesthetically pleasing hull shape, slender keel fin with large lead bulb, open cockpit and functional deck layout have all become widely emulated features in one-design race boats.”
Epoxy was used throughout the build to help balance strength with speed. “The hull was built of wet pre-preg epoxy/glass with a foam sandwich, vacuum-bagged within split moulds and then post-cured. This technique was, in the early days, pretty state-of-the-art,” says Chris.
This process involved wetting out an exacting specification of dry glass fabrics with epoxy (mixed epoxy resin and hardener), using a machine to precisely control the amount of mixed epoxy impregnated into the fabrics. “Precision was extremely important during the construction of the Farr 30; as a one-design yacht it was vital we kept within the specifications of the class,” explains Chris. What’s more, as a production boat, these cutting-edge techniques enabled Ovington Boats to produce a fairly high volume of parts at a decent speed. “We could manufacture a hull in a day, for example,” Chris says. “However, it still took eight of our team to do it! Yet the demand was there, so it was very much worthwhile working in this way.”
A reliable epoxy
In terms of the type of epoxy used, Ovington Boats employed PRO-SET epoxy resin and hardener throughout the build. “We used PRO-SET LAM-145 Thixotropic Laminating Resin, combined with either PRO-SET LAM-226 Medium Laminating Hardener or PRO-SET LAM-229 Slow Laminating Hardener. The two types of hardener gave the build team flexibility in construction,” explains Chris.
Indeed, both major global producers of the Farr 30 – Ovington Boats and Carroll Marine – used PRO-SET epoxy for their builds. “I can see why PRO-SET epoxy was the ideal choice for this boat,” says Chris. “Farr Yacht Design wanted to make the Farr 30 a simple yet state-of-the-art design; something that performed flawlessly but that was easy to handle while being economical, too. From my experience of using PRO-SET products, it’s ideal for providing optimal strength while keeping structures light and efficient. It’s also ultra-reliable and building reliable boats is very important to the Farr brand.”
A class that’s alive and thriving
Ovington Boats built more than 120 Farr 30s during the time of their production. The boat builder’s efforts clearly paid off. Mumm sponsorship ended in 2007, but more than 20 years after they were first built, the boats are still actively used and celebrated.
“The Farr 30 has proven itself to be truly timeless,” says Alon. “Across more than 20 years of sailing, the Farr 30 has accumulated a substantial fan club, and one which we happily subscribe to.”
2016 has been packed with class events, from the Farr 30 International Regatta in August, to championships in North America and Canada. Meanwhile, both Farr Yacht Design and Ovington Boats have gone from strength to strength. “At Ovington Boats, we’re proud to have a global reputation for excellently crafted, high performance small boats. Equally, Farr Yacht Designs is recognised today as the top racing-yacht design team in the world; few other single design groups have won so many races,” says Chris. “It just proves the importance of meticulous design, scrupulous building standards and the highest quality materials. It’s this combination that will deliver long-lasting boats with unbeatable performance.”
Alon agrees entirely. “The combination of overall performance, balance, and forgiving sailing attributes make the Farr 30 exciting and confidence inspiring even to the latest generation of one-design sailors.”
So Farr, so good indeed – but there’s more to come yet.
To find out more about the Farr 30, visit the Farr 30 Class Association website, www.mumm30.org.
To explore the full range of PRO-SET epoxies and related products, visit the West System International website.