F6000 Review

Farr 6000 Boat Review

Sea Spray Magazine Boat Test Nov 1977

WHEN fizz boat manufacturers Sea Nymph Boats Ltd decided to produce a trailer yacht, they had little hesitation in choosing Bruce Farr as their designer. Director Kim McDell's long association with Farr through 18-footers, told him the successful Auckland designer would be sure to come up with something good ... and he wasn't far wrong.

Farr, commissioned to design a trailer yacht "of medium size, suitable for high-volume production" produced a fast, sporty 20-footer which is one of the best compromises of accommodation, cockpit space, performance and looks in a trailer yacht, we've seen in long days of watching that species grow.

According to Farr, high-volume production demands that the boat appeal to a wide range of buyers, so he set out to design a "safe, stable, reasonably priced, fast, practical, roomy, good looking trailer yacht"! After a sail on Auckland Harbour in a 15 knot breeze and short chop, we were convinced that pretty well all those objectives have been achieved. The Farr 6000 is certainly easily handled, apparently safe, stable, fast, practical and roomy to staggering degree, and with sporty styling that doesn't appeal to everyone, but certainly grows on you fast.

Hull form features wide beam, adding stability as well as providing high internal volume for accommodation, and for'ard lines that are fine low down with reserve buoyancy at the sheer, giving an easily driven, dry hull that performs well uphill and down.

The long shallow keel adds directional stability and strength to the construction, and reduces the amount of centrecase projecting into the interior. The little amount that does appear in the main cabin in fact serves as a perfect footrest while sailing. The centreboard is a cast aerofoil shape which pivots from the for'ard end.

Traditional-looking lapstrake-type construction also adds strength to the solid glass lay-up and gives the Farr 6000 a distinctive look that either appeals, or doesn't. Cabin top design is unusual, featuring a fizz boat-style wraparound tinted windscreen, which we weren't too crazy about to start with but grew to like as the test progressed. Whatever your feelings about the windscreen's looks, there's no disputing its advantages as a light source below and a means for those remaining in the cabin to see everything that is going on while sailing.

One of the increasingly popular poptops is another feature of the Farr yacht, and with removable panels in the sloping aft end of the cabin top the boat ran be opened up to provide full head- room and a sort of extended cockpit area, within minutes.

The advantages of being able to open up the boat are numerous with poptop up at anchor, the 20-footer "expands" to have the spacious feel of a bigger keelboat, and though that is probably best left in place while sailing, the open-ended cabin keeps those below decks - kids, grandmas, and the like - involved with what's happening on deck rather than buried out of sight and mind.

Jib sheets can be worked from the cabin too, which has already proved an advantage in terms of weight distribution and cockpit efficiency when racing.

As with all such innovations, the setup has its drawbacks, but only if allowed to do so. In the wrong hands - that is totally inexperienced or just plain stupid - the boat could be left open in rough conditions when the slides should be in place, in which case a fair amount of water could start sloshing around in the main cabin. But this sort of boat was never designed for offshore sailing, and anyone who uses a trailer yacht for long passages across open water should be experienced enough to know how to cope when conditions deteriorate.

The slides can be adequately secured with hooks and shock cord, and when in place, would stop undue quantities of water going below.

If the worst did come to the worst, however, it would be nice to know that the Farr 6000 does have positive foam buoyancy to New Zealand Trailer Yacht Association safety regulation standards, and has proved to be self- righting and unsinkable. Other safety features include a system for locking the centreboard down, again a good idea in deteriorating conditions.

Construction is solid fibreglass, up to 10 oz in the layup which includes gunstock and woven rovings, with foam and wooden stiffening. Interior mouldings - one for'ard incorporating bunk frames, the other aft being the galley unit, bunks etc - were designed as structural members bonded to the hull, providing an economical construction which is light, but strong.

As could be expected from Sea Nymph Boats Ltd, one of the biggest and longest-established fibreglass boatbuilding companies in New Zealand, the standard of finish is high both internally and externally. Non-skid finish on the decks is quite sufficient, and the hull-to-deck join is neat and tidy. Down below, waterproof carpet, a bit of timber joinery here and there, and fabric-covered squabs and back rests (all standard) soften the fibreglass look.

Accommodation layout is cleverly designed to make maximum use of the space available - two full-length berths for'ard and three more in the cabin providing sleeping accommodation for five, and there's provision for a toilet immediately for'ard of the main bulkhead which ensures complete privacy. Galley facilities are adequate for weekend cruising or even longer, and comprise a recessed area for stove, moulded sink with water pump and hose, and space under in a locker, for a 5 gal (23 litre) water can.

A mirror on the bulkhead, which can prove rather disconcerting when you peer in from the cockpit, and glass rack are standard features. Stowage space abounds, under bunks for'ard, main cabin berths, behind bunks and inside the coamings. There's further stowage under the cockpit floor for such things as outboard motors, etc, and all in all, the Farr 6000 impressed as being well laid-out below.

As usual with today's trailer yachts, rigging the 6000 was simple and quick. The rig features a tapered Baverstock mast which is standard, with swept- back spreaders requiring merely a forestay and sidestays. Stays are fitted with rigging screws rather than the non- adjustable clips found on some boats; this is perhaps a little more time consuming, but the effect is a well-tuned rig which makes sailing so much more enjoyable. Sidestays are well inboard on the coamings in fact, which leaves clear side-decks to walk on. The rudder is a fibreglass blade with aluminium stock, raised and lowered by a simple dinghy- style system of lines. Locking the rudder down is simply a matter of cleating the line.

Once launched we hoisted the main (outboard and outboard bracket are not standard, and the test boat wasn't fitted with a bracket), sailed out of Westhaven and we were immediately impressed with the boat's quick acceleration and easy handling. The centreboard is controlled from the cockpit and raised and lowered by a self-sustaining drum winch just under the bridge deck. A nifty little Perspex window in the cockpit beside the handle allows the crew to see, by the amount of wire on the winch, how much plate is up or down from the cockpit.

Sail-plan features a moderate aspect ratio mainsail with a short-footed, high aspect jib which requires no winches for sheeting, and a spinnaker can be added for sailing enthusiasts.

Sail-trimming devices are plentiful, simple and standard - mainsail cunningham, kicker and outhaul, leech cords on main and jib, mainsail traveller, and sheets.

The jib is sheeted on a double purchase block system reminiscent of old sailing boats, the sheet running from the for'ard end of the traveller, through a block on the clew of the sail (the block is shackled securely on to the sail) down to a jib lead block and back to an eye- bolt and cam cleat.

The mainsheet traveller system is equally cleverly devised, being simply a light line running from a central point on the traveller, through the block and back to a central point on the other side of the traveller. With both these systems the boat almost tacks itself, and there's little effort required in sheeting the headsail. The cam cleat is set slightly off-centre to the sheet lead on the coaming, to allow a crew to play the sail while racing.

The whole deck layout, and the kind of gear and fittings used on the Farr 6000, reflects designer Farr and yachtsman Kim McDell's long experience in such things, and it was a pleasure to go sailing on a boat so well set-up and so easily worked.

Halyards, incidentally, can be hoisted either from the mast or the cockpit. Every mast has three exit boxes, for main jib and spinnaker should it be required, and there's two leads and cleats back to the cockpit, and one at the mast. This allows individual owners to sort out their own system, the most common, when the spinnaker is in use, being jib and kite hoisted from the cockpit, and main at the mast.

Once out in the harbour and sailing we came hard on the wind in a good 15 knot breeze, and slogged up harbour into a wind-against-tide chop. The boat handled well, footing fast despite the sea, and chucking back a minimum of spray. In the puffs we tended to be slightly overcanvassed, a situation easily remedied by playing the mainsheet, but even if the main was left cleated, the 6000 did not lay over alarmingly, or round up.

Spring sheets and reach back down harbour and the little boat, in true Farr tradition, really flew along, catching waves and giving us the feeling that with spinnaker on, it would plane readily. Flat off, it was still a stable platform, a benefit of wide beam aft, and we came away generally very impressed with performance. Throughout the test the boat was easily handled, although we were surprised at the weight in the helm on all points of sail.

The boat was designed, we are told, with a certain amount of weather helm which makes learning how to sail easier for novices than no helm at all, but we couldn't help feeling that the Farr 6000 was very heavy compared to many other trailer yachts. On the plus side, however, as we said before, the boat didn't have the tendency of most others to screw up in a gust.

Overall, our feelings about the Farr 6000 were enthusiastic. Not only is the boat a good performer, with ample accommodation for a small family, both below and on deck, but it features several innovations we admired, the removable aft end of the cabin being not least of those.

In a rather unusual move by a trailer yacht manufacturer, Sea Nymph have introduced a one-design quality to the Farr 6000 whereby the boat is sold as a package deal with only few optional extras. The approach is modelled largely on that used with the successful Laser dinghy. Boats can only be bought at sailaway stage, with all gear including spars, rigging, sails, sheets, halyards, fitted. Sails are cut by Hood NZ Ltd to a master pattern owned by the company, and only main, jib and spinnaker are available - from what we could see that's all that's necessary.

The one design aspect is interesting in a boat of this size and type, and while not appealing to everyone, particularly the do-it-yourselfer, it has many big advantages, not least being that the boats will hold their value whether used for racing or cruising, since all are identical.

The other obvious advantage of one- design is the class racing aspect, which should be of great appeal to competitive trailer yacht buyers. The Farr 6000 is a slightly more racing-oriented design than some, simply because of its efficient gear layout, sophisticated rig and good speed, and class racing is likely to get off the ground as early as this summer.

So far, 25 boats have been sold, Sea Nymph have another 25-odd on order, and a class association was in the process of acquiring status as a recognised class with the New Zealand Trailer Yacht Association at time of writing.

On the price side, the Farr 6000 is higher than some at $7560, plus another $1298 for a trailer (specially designed for the boat). But the list of optional extras is a lot smaller than some too - outboard bracket, toilet, stove, lifelines, pushpit and pulpit, spinnaker, plus a few sundries like rope bags, pop-top curtain, etc, and that's about your lot.