Farr 280 One Design: we previewed it


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bee_farr280That the one-design world represents the future is convinced by a growing number of enthusiasts, eager to break free from the yoke of rating calculations and finally challenge each other on equal terms: few stories, the strongest wins. And, why not, in times of spending review the choice can also be a “minimum expense, maximum return” type of solution. As supporters of one design grew, so proportionally did the number of models produced by shipyards. In the beginning, the undisputed king of the industry was the J24, a solid boat with classic lines that still brings the cream of sailors to the race courses. In the 1990s, Bruce Farr introduced more streamlined and invelopped monotypes to the market, such as the Mumm 30 (later renamed the Farr 30 for marketing reasons), the Farr 40, and the Platu 25. The first decade of the 11th century was under the banner of the U.S. Melges shipyard, which produced three models of 24, 32 and finally 20 feet, characterized by flat hulls and large gennakers.

And finally, this year, Bruce Farr wanted to try again, launching the Farr 280 OD. So far of this eye-catching “sketch,” most sailors have only seen renderings, as there are only two examples circulating. We were lucky enough to try one in a European preview, “Adriatica,” owned by an Italian shipowner, Piero Paniccia, who is based at Club Vela Portocivitanova.



Trolleyable with a low load thanks to bayonet drift recovery and built (all carbon) in the United States by Premier Composite Technologies, the Farr 280 OD is most striking for its aggressive yet understated appearance, a hallmark of all the New Zealand designer’s more racer designs. Immediately the technical characteristics: low freeboard, straight bow with a slight negative slope, pinched sections at the bow, maximum beam very much laid back and enhanced, at a glance, by a flat, angular hull. A fixed bowsprit, about five feet long, and a sail plan developed in height complete the picture of the small war machine. After a morning spent aboard this boat in the breezes of the Adriatic Sea, we had confirmation that it was a successful project. More specifically, we were impressed by the efficiency of the deck plan, the ample space for crew movement-a detail not taken for granted on hulls of this size-and the attention to detail, synonymous with high-quality construction. The jib quicker, which travels on a rail flush with the deck, slides under the deck like the rest of the running rigging.

The clubman’s working position, which features an effective toeboard and a “rich” keypad (vang, cunningham, base) is enhanced by the mast control unit, which, thanks to a hydraulic must-jack, is able to adjust the tension of the shrouds even while sailing, raising and lowering the mast height by a few millimeters. In this way, the boat was able to eliminate the old rigging by attaching the rigging directly to the heaths. In the stern, a gait in which the boat sports a 120-square-meter asymmetric, we were struck by the efficiency of the gennaker funnel, capable of swallowing the huge balloon while preventing it from going under the boat’s belly.


Philip Baldassari
Philip Baldassari

In addition to the availability of the team, the icing on the cake for the “Adriatica” trial was the presence on board of Filippo Baldassari. Twenty-six-year-old finnist with the Yellow Flames, who grew up in the civitanovese club’s nursery, participated in the London Games in the Finn. With six national Laser and Finn titles behind him and a gold in the youth world team championships, the Marche native is in contention for Rio 2016. “The weather has smiled on us,” Baldassari says, “giving sunshine, 10 to 12-knot sirocco, and nearly calm seas. We turn off the quiet little inboard and leave the harbor“.

We are not yet in trim but the boat has already shown up: on the flat water of the harbor basin, just the slightest gust is enough to make it leap forward. Upon reaching the open sea, the boys suggest simulating a stick: with the wind from the SE, the platform in the South becomes a buoy in the wind. Upwind, set the sails (a square-top mainsail and a small battened jib) and crushed with the crew at the dragnets, Adriatica spins at an average of 6.5 knots with peaks of 7.2. Surprising is the great course stability, ensured by the width and edges of the hull. Steering a Farr 280 OD, however, requires a fairly experienced hand: the boat is light, and while it is easy to get it to accelerate, it is just as easy to brake it by getting the sail trim wrong, the weight distribution in the gunwale, or the rudder work on the wave. With a series of fast tacking, in which I realized the importance of accentuating the roll with the weight of the crew, we reach the platform and hoist the gennaker to get back in. Thus begins a stern ride at a 9-10 knot pace, with cues often touching 11. Wow! Even at carrying gaits the boat is stable, with a strong surfing attitude, somewhat reminiscent of TP 52s.”

James Baldassari



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