F7500 Review

Farr 7500 Boat Review

Sea Spray Magazine October 1979

First reaction on hearing the all-up price for the deluxe version with all extras, trailer, outboard etc, and a slice for the Government in the form of boat tax, of the new Farr 7500 trailer yacht was one of scepticism.

Why, we asked, would anyone pay more than $20,000 for a trailer yacht when they could have any number of bigger stock keelboats for the same price or less? Sift through the Boats for Sale in Saturday’s paper and you’ll see columns of boats available at around, or below, that price.

A fair enough reaction. But ask yourself why experienced boatbuilders like Sea Nymph Boats have gone to the trouble and expense of setting up moulds for a new design if they are not convinced there is a market.

They wouldn’t do it.

So there must be.

So we thought again. And did some research which seemed to prove that there definitely is a growing market for maxi sized trailer yachts capable of providing the room, luxury and performance of a keelboat, for much the same reason as the general demand for trailer yachts is increasing… because mooring space is getting hard to find.

Yachtsmen who a couple of years ago might have opted for that second-hand keelboat, or even a new one, are surveying the trailer yacht market with unprecedented interest. And because their requirements for a trailer yacht are basically all the benefits of a keelboat without associated mooring hassles, they have given manufacturers all the reasons for maxi-sized trailer yachts of varying types, equipped to varying standards of sophistication and comfort. Lo and behold, the reasons for a trailer yacht which, with everything or board, costs more than $20,000.

So with no apology for cost (which start! as low as $11,895 for the basic boat) but rather an assurance that with one of the Bruce Farr-designed trailer yachts you are getting what you pay for, Sea Nymph Boats Ltd present the latest in their range the Farr 7500 designed to cater for the luxury market.

Boasting a racing pedigree that can’t be disputed (Quarter, Half, Three-quarter and One Ton world titles) the Farr 7500 looks and behaves like any other 7.5 m sailboat on the harbour, but differs in that one basic area which, according to the manufacturers, will be all-important in future years – it has a retractable keel which allow the owner the option of mooring his boat OR trailing it home whichever suits on the day.

And all that’s not to mention the advantages of shallow water cruising and ability to chose cruising locations all over New Zealand, two advantages trailer yachtsmen have enjoyed for years.

So if the cost of boat equipped like the one we tested with all the bolt-on bits including cooker, toilet, pushpit, pulpit, winches stern ladder, outboard and bracket, squabs, trim, carpet, extra sails and everything, hasn’t put you off, read on.

Because from here on in the news is all good.

A development of the successful Farr 6000, the first proper one-design trailer yacht of this type here which has found favour with racing and cruising types all over New Zealand and Australia, and the smaller Farr 5000, aimed at the day and extended weekend sailor, the Farr 7500 features the same sporty lapstrake-style hull which either appeals to prospective buyers, or doesn’t. In fact the biggest of the three is probably the best looking of the range, as is so often the case.

Overall looks of the boat are not the only aspect to benefit from being stretched in length either… the 7500’s cockpit, deck and accommodation all have much more of a big boat feel about them, and we were frankly amazed at how much room there is below decks with the pop-top raised.

The cockpit is wide and roomy, well set-up for sail trimming while racing, and also comfortable for just jogging along cruising, while the deck layout is typically Farr, carefully designed and planned for simplicity and efficiency. One halyard winch on the cabin-top to starboard looks after headsail halyards, and all sail controls lead aft to easily reached jammers on the cabin-top and coamings.

The cabin top, complete with pop top, has the removable side panels in the aft end first introduced on the Farr 6000 (Sea Spray, November 1977, p 41) which open up the cabin area and improve the lot of the family below.

When introduced on the 6000 the panels, which leave the aft end of the cabin very exposed, came in for some criticism (not from us) because of the danger of the boat filling up if knocked down or caught in rough conditions.’ However the idea seems to have caught on, and certainly nothing untoward has happened so far; so with a caution to owners to “handle with care” in bad ‘conditions, Sea Nymph have kept the idea in the 5000 and 7500 models.

The 7500 does have positive foam buoyancy built in to make it unsinkable if the worst did happen, and has passed a self-righting’ test using the NZTYA’s approved formula. So in the right hands it is obviously as safe as any other trailer yacht on the market. In the wrong hands even ocean-going liners are unsafe!

Accommodation on the 7500 really is an eye-opener compared to most trailer yachts around, big and small, and the feeling of space and comfort is, of course, heightened when the pop-top is up and the slides removed… It’s almost like not being below at all.

The 7500 features a full built-in galley to port, dinette with seating for six to starboard, and sleeping accommodation for five adults, with the dinette converting to a double to make six berths in all if necessary, though living space would be a bit crammed if six people were cruising.

Big feature of the layout, however, is the private for’ard cabin, with two single berths which convert to a double and the private, enclosed head to starboard which really shifts this boat out of the average trailer yacht bracket into the realm of big boats.

There’s a good-sized hanging locker between the cabins, and space for a portable fridge or ice-box. Indeed the interior of the 7500 reminds one of the compactness and comfort of a caravan, and reflects the experience both Farr and Sea Nymph have had in designing living accommodation into small spaces.

Finish throughout is of a high standard, again as one would expect from these builders.

Construction utilises a sophisticated fibreglass layup developed with emphasis on weight-saving while maintaining strength, with ease of towing, launching and retrieving in mind. Details of the construction are not, however, available for our report, the builders preferring in these days of competition to keep their developments in this area to themselves.

Hull shape features easy lines with a fine bow and powerful stern sections which will be both stable and dry in all conditions. Good windward performance to com- plement the legendary speed of Farr boats downwind will be assisted by a high-aspect ratio cast-iron drop keel which provides 205 kg of ballast and gives the little boat a draft of 1.8 m, which is, in old figures, close to 6 ft. With keel raised on the winch mounted on the table in the main saloon, the draft in the stub keel, with its 162 kg of internal ballast, is only 0.462 m, or 1 ft 6 in.

The rig is a simple threequarter one with masthead backstay for good all-round mast support as well as caps and lowers, and is designed with a choice of headsails and a spinnaker for racing and fast cruising.

As with the Farr 6000, chainplates are set into the cabin coamings rather than side-decks, giving uncluttered side-decks, and headsails are sheeted well inboard too, on tracks bolted to the cabin top and leading either to a cam-cleat or winch depending on the needs of the day.

Lightweight and simplicity of the rig, featuring a tapered section, means that the boat can still be easily rigged short-handed, despite the fact that it’s a maxi.

And so to the test.

As luck would have it things didn’t go completely our way with this test in the wind department. On the first attempt there was so little puff that the driver of the photo boat managed time off to go and catch a large fish and return without missing a thing, while on the second attempt to get sailing photos, we were forced to request transport back to the launching ramp since it was blowing so fresh there was no point in removing the camera from the bag!

And after an hour or so of creeping along with a reasonable amount of breeze on occasions but no promise of any more to give us a chance to test handling and performance, we decided to call it a day. The conclusions we did reach were that the boat is comfortable and easy to sail, although a little “gluey” in really. light stuff, and certainly as well set-up and easily worked for racing as any other on the market.

Launching and retrieving, thanks to the custom extension-boom trailer and surprisingly light hull weight, is perfectly straightforward and should provide families with no more problems on breezy days with an onshore wind than the average 6 m boat. You will, however, need a car with more grunt than your average family four- cylinder to tow it up the ramp. A six- cylinder is recommended, and with petrol prices soaring this is another cost to add to that of the boat when considering buying a trailer yacht of this size.

A galvanised steel tandem trailer, preferably with brakes, is also recommended.

With heavy demands on time preventing another lengthy test, we were unable to complete a full performance evaluation of the Farr 7500, but did get the opportunity on two subsequent occasions to watch its performance in a fresh breeze.

The first occasion, at the start of a Sunday winter race, was so fresh we dared not even attempt photography and opted instead for the drier vantage point of Westhaven breakwater to observe the Farr 7500 seeming to handle the conditions as well as, if not better, than most of the assembled trailer yachts there, finishing the race with a handy lead over the next boat in class.

The second occasion, when we finally managed to get some action photographs, provided us with proof that the Farr 7500 is, like the 6000 and 5000, stable and easily handled on all points including under spinnaker in fresh conditions.

In fact the 7500’s handling of a kite in winds gusting to around 25 knots, again off Westhaven drew several onlookers on a cold, grey afternoon, all of whom went away apparently impressed.

Final conclusions then?

There is little one can say that is not complimentary about any of the Farr trailer yachts built by Sea Nymph. They are well designed and well built, catering for specific markets which are obviously well researched before production. Because of the one-design aspect of all three classes, where hulls, rigs, sails, gear etc are tightly controlled by the manufacturer (although to a lesser extent in the big boat in order to reduce costs on the basic boat and thus appeal to those who prefer to finish their own), the buyer’s investment is protected, and good close class racing should result. Certainly it has with the already big Farr 6000 class.

So it’s really a case of owners analysing whether they like the rather unorthodox looks of the Farr range, and asking them- selves whether they are prepared to pay extra for the Farr name and Sea Nymph quality, bearing in mind that a suitable trailer and adequate towing vehicle will add to the cost.

If so, they certainly won’t be disappointed with the room, Iuxury, performance, and overall finish of the Farr trailer yacht, and in a few years’ time, when moorings aren’t just hard to get, but impossible, they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Prices for the Farr 7500, unlike the 5000 and 6000 which are sold complete only to preserve the one-design qualities of the class, range from just under $12,000, including tax, for the basic boat finished to minimum specifications, to just over $17,000 for the standard, completed boat minus goodies like extra sails, toilet, stove, pushpit, and pulpit, trailer.

The basic boat ($11,895 as at July 1979 but obviously subject to change) is, as it says, basically a hull and decks, with interior liners including bunks buoyancy, ballast and bulkheads fitted, along with centreple and winch, rudder gudgeons, chainplates, rig and sails, and such things as hatches, pop-top detail, locker lids etc, supplied loose.

So while the top price for the boat is high at more than $20,000 for one like that we tested, it is possible to get into the class for much less, and with time and effort put in by the owner, still end up with a well-finished, well fitted-out boat.