Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: Dickerson Farr 37. I have questions
I want to start by saying that before I ever bought my boat, I planned to own her for a very long time. I also figured that I would be sailing single-hand a lot and hoped to race single or short handed. With that in mind, I was purposely looked for a performance boat with a sail plan and hull form that would be forgiving and could be easily adapted to changing conditions.
While I definitely considered a number of IOR boats, the issue with them tends to be that most were short on stability, had sail plans with small high aspect mainsails and were heavily dependent on large overlapping headsails. There were certainly better and worse designs to sail short-handed. For example, boats like the Farr 37, or the Soverel 33 were better than many IOR oriented designs.
In the case of the Farr 37, after the Fastnet Disaster, the IOR Rule was amended so that stability was not so heavily penalized. Many of the Farr 37's were altered and had a lead bulb added which definitely improved stability. Ideally you are looking at one of those.
But I also bought my boat planning to optimize the deck plan and develop a sail inventory that targeted towards more efficient short-handed sailing. In terms of the sail inventory I wanted to avoid having to do sail changes or sailing with partially furled sails, which meant developing sails that were designed for a very wide wind range.
I am suggesting that you might want to talk with a sailmaker before you buy the boat but it can't just be any sailmaker. I is really important to find a sailmaker who understands what I was trying to accomplish and was willing to help me develop a proper inventory with the properly sized and shaped sails.
That is not always easy.. I had a terrible experience with North Sails for example. But before I explain what happened I want to explain my thoughts on what makes a good short-handed headsail. In order to produce a headsail with a maximum wind range it will by necessity be smaller than an AP Genoa on a fully crewed boat. To maximize the performance of this smaller sail, it needs to have the maximum luff length that won't 2-block. It needs to be as light a weight as possible for light air. It needs to be cut slightly full like the leading edge of the full sized Genoa, but it needs to be designed for more than usual headsta sag. The headstay sag will hurt pointing ability very slightly but it allows you to tension the forestay (on the Farr 37 with the backstay and check stays) and flatten the Genoa in heavier air.
The only way that works for heavy air is to have the sail designed with an exceptionally large amount of high modulus fiber to prevent the slightly fuller shape from stretching in stronger winds. While high modulus fiber is expensive it still represents a small portion of the overall cost of a high tech sail. (My understanding is that greatly increasing the amount of structural fiber in my sails added roughly 5% to the overall cost of the sail.) The added fiber also increases the durability of the sail.
My experience with North was that since I was asking for a smaller sail with extra reinforcing fiber, they produced a standard racing #2 which was way too flat to use in lighter winds. When we tried with a second sail, it was cut pretty well but had much less reinforcing and so had a rediculously narrow wind range. I hardly ever used that sail and it delaminated very quickly.
I ended up working Dave Flynn at Quantum in Annapolis, who got it immediately. That sail Quantum produced was miraculous. It was good down to 2- 3 or so knots up to 120 degs true and up to around 20 knots, After 10 years and a lot of abuse, I replaced it with a second version of this sail. The new sail uses fiber and technology that was not around back then and it has an even wider wind range than the first Quantum.
To save cost, I typically figure out what I want in a sail and then buy it during the annual sale period with flexible delivery which makes it somewhat more affordable.
I am not sure what to tell you on the spinnaker. IOR boats typically have problems carrying chutes once the apparent wind gets near 90 degrees. My gut reaction is that I think if I were designing a spinnaker for a Farr 37 I don't think I would make it smaller, but I would want it to be flatter cut to reduce excitation rolling and allow you to carry it at a hotter wind angle without weight on the rail. This is one that you should definitely discuss with your sailmaker and let us know what you find out.
That's about it for tonight.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay