20 September 2012

Farr 920 (Half Tonner)

Gitchy Goomy (photo Farr Yacht Design)
This is the first of a series that profiles the yachts featured in my book 'A Lighter Ton', and other interesting yachts. The Farr 920 was designed by Bruce Farr in 1975 (Design no.54) as a Half Tonner under the International Offshore Rule (IOR), with a rating of 21.7ft. It achieved great popularity, with over 50 boats built, in both racing/cruising production versions, and as with its bigger sister the One Ton class Farr 1104 (Design no.51), it is a nice racer-cruiser that still looks fast today. It was detailed for fibreglass construction in New Zealand and Japan, and in wood in Germany.


The design was the first Half Tonner by Farr since his breakthrough boat Titus Canby (1972). Farr described the improvements over his earlier design in an interview in 1976 - "She is nearly a metre longer and ten percent lighter than Titus Canby. That means she can have more sail area. She will be more powerful with a higher ballast ratio, but less wetted surface, and that means she will go a whole lot faster." Its hull shape was a development of the bigger 1104, being finer forward, slightly beamier in the mid-section and flatter aft, with a displacement of 2,220kg.  The keel was of a high aspect ratio, and the rudder a new design aimed at improved control.

Farcical (photo Greg Paul)
The design quickly established its pedigree on its debut in 1976 and accumulated a long string of good performances in New Zealand regattas. The New Zealand Half Ton Nationals in early 1977 saw a number of the boats competing, but the top performer, Cotton Blossom, had to be content with second place behind the more radical Paul Whiting centreboarder Newspaper Taxi. Two boats competed in the New Zealand Half Ton trials in October 1977 for the Half Ton Cup in Sydney - the Paul brothers' Farcical and Roy Dickson's Instinct, the latter having been converted to a centreboarder.

However, in a short space of time before the trials, the design had been affected by changes to the IOR that penalised broad sterns, and was outclassed by the new centreboard designs by Farr (Gunboat Rangiriri and Swuzzlebubble) and Laurie Davidson (Waverider) that had arrived on the scene in mid-1977.

Cotton Blossom during the 1977 New Zealand Half Ton national championships
Australian Farr 920 Vitamin C at speed (photo Chris Furey)
Vitamin C mixing it up with Three-Quarter Tonners circa-1976 (photo Chris Furey)
Farrgo, GBR (photo www.shockwave40.blogspot.com), below Cotton Blossom in recent times

Farr 920, USA, sporting a cut-down Mumm 30 main

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