History of Your Classic Boats: Flash (Farr IMS 39), the early 1990s missile


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Flash - Farr IMS 39
Flash (Formerly Flash Gordon) – Farr IMS 39 (279)

Flash (formerly Flash Gordon) | Farr IMS 39

More than 200 of you have sent us stories and images of your Classic Boats, enriching the online archive dedicated to them and making so many of these great designs of the last century available to all. Keep up the good work! Now, after recounting dozens of them through your words and descriptions, we are also on the ninth installment of our in-depth series, another gimmick to celebrate these sailing classics to the fullest. Here then is a small masterpiece, part of a pair destined to give light to two great serial hits of the last century:
, l’
former Flash Gordon
(Farr IMS 39) topped the IMS charts in the mid-1990s.

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Flash | Origins

By the early 1990s little remains of the design canon related to the large Classic Boats of the early days of fiberglass. The narrow, starry sterns, the maximum midship beams, and the broad 60s and 70s swells have indeed gone, and, as perhaps only in those early days of the IOR, the boats now change dramatically.

IMS is the new dogma for racers, and cruising either homogenizes to the new lines and trends or blissfully ignores them. The maximum beams grow, receding from toward poppo, less and less tapering in meeting the now increasingly wide and “flattened” mirror. Among the first to sign off on these new designs undoubtedly popped up an increasingly popular name, the signature of so many of the one-designs that would tackle the race courses by the hundreds thereafter: Bruce Farr. And, just of these, is also the design of Flash, one of only two Farr IMS 39 prototypes (11.95 x 3.79 m).

Flash Gordon
Stern and cockpit of the then Flash Gordon

Flash | Project

Flag-bearer to the early 1990s and the IMS (International Measurement System), then, we find a great boat, perhaps passed over in silence, but destined to give birth to a lineage of award-winning one-designs. Created in 1992 and signed as design No. 279 by Farr, along with Rush-the only twin- Flash was a hull designed to meet emerging IMS handicaps.

Rush – Farr IMS 39

Response that is found in the combination of maximized waterline lengths (LWLs), moderate sail surfaces and extreme detail engineering. Overall, an excellent combination of lines, volumes and weights, ensured by the extensive use of “exotic materials,” such as Kevlar, among the construction materials. Indeed, the construction involves Kevlar and S-Glass inserts in a sandwich with a PVC foam core, for maximum strength strong with significant structural lightening.

Designed to respond best to fleet racing, the two Farr IMS 39s immediately prove to be great performers, paying off especially in moderate wind ranges of 8 to 12 knots, where the long waterline and relatively moderate sail area also pay off in terms of handicap.

Rush – Farr IMS 39


The two prototypes, however, would prove to be a far greater success than the early results, albeit victorious, suggested. In fact, two very successful series were born from these: the Farr 39ML (design No. 336) and the iconic Farr 40, the one-design par excellence of the late 1990s. Flash’s great performances include victory at the 1993 IMS Championship and a one-two with Rush on the highest steps of the podium at Key West Race Week that same year.

Classic Boat
FARR 40 – 1997

Flash sails and races to this day in the Ionian and Adriatic thanks to the passion of its three owners, A. Milizia, F. Nardone and G. Foggetti. His file can be found here.

Flash at the Brindisi Sailing Cup 2023 | photo: Simon Palfrader© editorial use only

Data Sheet

Designer Bruce Farr
Project number #279 – Farr IMS 39
Length at Waterline (LWL) 11.95 m
Baglio Massimo 3.79
Weapon Fractional sloop 7/8
Year of construction 1
No. Specimens 2
Construction site Cookson Boats

*An interesting note to some, the design just prior to Flash and Rush (279), is the 278, or Merit Cup, the Maxi that ran in the Whitbread Round the World Race of ’93 and ’97.

Three “tidbits” about Classic Boats



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