Farr 740 Sport Boat Review
Australian Sailing Magazine November 1981
By Sandy Peacock
With their light hulls, fractional rigs and chunky appearance, Bruce Farr’s trailerable yachts seemed radical when they first appeared. However, over the past few years the Farr 5000, 6000 and 7500 small family yachts, built by Sea Nymph Boats in Auckland, have had a big influence on the trailerable yacht market in Australia and New Zealand.
The “sportscar” member of the range, the 740 Sport, is a 7.4 metre (24ft 2in) speedster whose primary function is as a high performance racing yacht. The 740 is an attractive candidate for one design racing, but her main appeal in Australia is as a fast club racer and a pacesetter in trailerable yacht events. The 740 was also designed for JOG fleets. Geoff Pearson of the Sydney Sailboat Centre (whose Spit Bridge branch provide his boat for our test sail) is having Farrthing rated for Category 3 and 4 to race JOG this season. Since production began in October last year (1980) the Farr 740s have shown impressive racing form. One was top line honours boat and second on handicap in Division 1 (over 6.95 metres) of the 1981 New Zealand Trailer Yacht Championships. Another was second overall in the Victorian Kinnears Classic series last season, and Farrthing was second over the line at this year’s Pittwater Islands TY race in Sydney, beaten only by a Blazer in fierce conditions.
The 740 Sport is certainly a racy looking boat with her tall ¾ rig and powerful main, and her light dingy-style hull sitting high in the water at rest. Adding to the boat’s distinctive looks are the wraparound window covering most of the cabin, and the “clinker” topsides which the builders also claim add hull strength to the hull moulding. The cabin is set well forward on the boat, leaving room for one of the biggest cockpits on ant trailerable yacht, and the deck plan is designed to distribute the hardware and go-fast gear for racing efficiency. However, she is also comfortable to crew on, even when pressed hard upwind.
The 740 Sport is the racy alternative to the slightly longer Farr 7500, which is a little deeper in the hull, has a longer cabin and more interior room and amenities. On the Sport interior volume has been has been a lesser priority so the cabin is fairly short, thew sidedecks are wide and the cockpit is big. As a result the yacht is delightful to race or day sail. She is still reasonably large for overnight or weekend cruising, with four good-size berths plus a galley unit and room for a toilet. The pop-top provides 6ft head-room when raised.
The hull features shallow forward sections that are typically Farr, developing into hard-bilged mid-sections and a flat run aft to the wide, powerful stern, with the transom floating clear of the water at rest. The rudder is a big fibreglass blade mounted in an aluminium stock. It tilts easily with a cord that runs to a cleat on the long wood tiller. Auxiliary power is an outboard mounted on a transom bracket; the 6hp Tohatsu on Farrthing pushed her efficiently into a hard breeze and chop.
The boat’s dry weight (without crew) is 1136kg (2503lb). Displacement is 1416kg (3120lb). Total ballast is 376kg (827lb) of lead, of which 280kg is encased into the cabin sole around the keel case. Crew weight is an important ballast factor, particularly in strong conditions. The keel slides up and down in a slightly aft-angled case which is open at the cabin top. The lifting tackle leads back to the starboard halyard winch on the cabin top and the lock down pin in the leading edge of the case inside the cabin.
Yachtspars New Zealand make the spars, and the rigging includes a twin headfoil, main halyard, two, two headsail halyards and a spinnaker halyard. Running backstays support the bendy, tapered mast. They’re an inconvenience on a yacht this size but the double-ended system on the 740 Sport works well, set up within easy reach of the helmsman for quick operation in tacks and gybes.
All the halyards and control lines, apart from the boom vang and mainsail adjustments, are diverted from the base of the mast and led aft to a halyard winch and cleats on either side of the cabin top, within easy reach of the cockpit. The mainsail reefing system works quickly and simply, as was proved when an urgent reef was needed during the test sail. A trim reef and two slab reefs are fitted.
The deck features a good non-skid surface throughout, a big hatch in the foredeck. A self-draining anchor well at the bow, and a slight lip in the gunwale-moulding strip for foot support. A rubber strip is fitted to the outside of the gunwale. The two sets of headsail tracks on either side of the boat are mounted unobtrusively on a ledge moulded into the side of the cabin.
Easy access below is provided by the wide companionway, though the steps are angled almost vertically and need to be used carefully. The bridgedeck between the companionway and cockpit well is a good safety feature in boats that are small enough to fill their cockpits easily. Six adults fit comfortably into the cockpit for a day sailing; three have plenty of room to work when racing. The traveller runs full-width across the middle of the cockpit, enclosing the helmsman in the aft section and leaving most of the cockpit uncluttered. The coamings slope gently outwards to provide comfortable support for the helmsman and crew sitting out to windward. The cockpit carries four sets of bags for sheets and lines, two stainless steel cockpit drains in the transom, a stowage locker in the port seat and a fuel tank locker in the aft end of the starboard seat.
The interior has basic amenities and finish. A vee-berth for’ard is reached through a gap to port with the starboard bulkhead extending all the way to the aluminium post supporting the mast. A marine or portable toilet fits under the lifting centre-piece in the vee-berth. The main cabin area, split by the keel case, has a moulded galley unit with cupboard, sink and two-burner stove on the starboard side. Aft of it is a settee/quarter berth. On the port side a settee runs the full length of the cabin. There is stowage space under all the berths and in bags which line the length of the cabin walls, plus extra room behind the companionway steps.
Seas Nymph’s lay-up uses a combination of chopped-strand mat, woven rovings and unidirectional rovings over a Firet core in the hull and Klegecell in the deck. The boat is lightly built but is stiffened by the interior fibreglass moulding, including the bunks and lockers, which is glassed and glued to the hull with foam between the two. There is more foam under the cockpit. Like all the trailerable Farrs she has enough foam buoyancy to float when swamped.
The 740 Sport is responsive and lively, fast-accelerating and easy to control, in all conditions. I can vouch for that after sailing on Farrthing in a wide range of weather all in the one afternoon. With a big rig on a light, quick hull she obviously has to be handled right in hard breezes. She is tender enough to need smart work on the mainsheet and traveller upwind and reaching, but the helmsman never feels like he’ll lose control.
Starting a mid-week club race on Sydney Harbour in light patchy air Farrthing, lacking momentum, stopped quickly in the lulls. As we picked up a steadier 15-18 knot westerly, unusually hot for the beginning of spring, the boat felt well balanced under main and No.2 genoa, with three adults sitting on the windward coaming. She tacked easily and responded immediately to breeze fluctuations. Halfway through the race the first southerly buster of the season hit the harbour with only a few minutes’ warning, enough to take down the genoa and reef the main. For the half-mile mark remaining to the top mark the 740 worked effectively into 35-40 knots of wind and a steep chop under reefed main alone; a fractional rig in its element again.
As we pulled away to a square run the 740 took off and bolted down the harbour, planing continuously except for occasionally burying her bow. She needs weight in the aft end of the cockpit in these conditions. With the No.3 genoa set she was easier to track straight, and she would have accepted the full main off the wind. Through two gybes and on a subsequent reach the boat handled very well.
The 740 Sport is an exciting racing yacht with a reasonable compromise of performance and cruising comfort. The boat sells for $14,000 at stage 1, with all the basic assemblies fitted. Stage 11 is $15,950 with all decks fittings and rig controls fitted plus bunk cushions, storage bags and other interior fitting out. Stage 111 is the comprehensive options list, including lifelines, outboard bracket, spinnaker gear, navigation and interior lights, stove toilet and trailer. The remaining expense is in the sails, outboard motor and trailer. The full wardrobe of main, nos. 1-2-3 headsails, two spinnakers and storm jib will cost between $2,000 and $2,600.