2 September 2013

Freefall and Migizi (Farr 37)

For this article we look at the design that relaunched the Farr Yacht Design name in IOR racing in the early 1980s. Farr's light displacement yachts of the late 1970s were heavily penalised by changes to the IOR, primarily through the new displacement to length factor (DLF), and his initial response to these changes did not meet with the success that had come to be expected of Farr designs, and his last boat to race in the SORC had been Mr Jumpa, a 1977-generation One Tonner.

The commission for Design 124 came from Ted Simpkins who had enjoyed several seasons of racing a boat built to Design 54, but with a larger rig that had provided extra downwind performance. Simpkins wanted an all out grand prix IOR racing yacht of just above One Ton size, that would excel as an all-round performer in typically strong winds experienced in the SORC, and to be fast and easily handled in hard reaching conditions. Simpkins also required a yacht that was as fast as possible in light airs. 

Freefall in light airs, prior to the 1983 SORC (photo Farr Yacht Design)
The design was, as a result, slightly longer than a One Ton yacht, but also incorporated a large rig which was right on the limit of incurring a 'sail correction factor' penalty.  A fractional rig was chosen to allow easy de-powering of the large sail plan in changeable weather. 

The underbody was a clean and fair shape for an IOR yacht, with only minor distortion through the aft end to minimise any unnecessary restrictions to downwind performance. This represented a significant development of Farr's earlier 'lighter than normal' approach, but with careful proportions of beam and displacement and a conservative approach to fullness for'ard and width aft. This produced not only a faster boat under the IOR in all conditions, but one which was more easily handled. 

Equal attention was paid to the engineering of the hull structure to minimise weight in the ends, and utilised Kevlar/S Glass skins er a PVC foam core.

Design 124 deck layout (Sail magazine)
Simpkin's boat was Freefall which immediately showed great promise in pre-SORC racing off Florida in late 1982. She was closely followed by Minneapolis sailor Woody Baskerville III's Migizi (launched originally as Erzulie)

Migizi in tight reaching conditions during the 1983 SORC (photo Farr Yacht Design)
Notwithstanding the changes in design concept, Freefall
and Migizi remained characteristically 'Farr boats' as any of his past designs, but were the first seriously raced boats since he moved his office to Annapolis. Compared to Mr Jumpa, the new design was about 800lbs heavier and 4-5% shorter in rated length - even then the boats still attracted a considerable 1.46% DLF penalty. 
Migizi (photo Farr Yacht Design)
Migizi went on to be a standout performer in the 1983 SORC, no doubt benefiting from having Russell Bowler from the Farr office aboard. She won Class F against a fleet of 20 boats with results of 1/15/1/1/1/1, and finished in 10th place overall in a series dominated by Class D boats such as Locura and Scarlett O'Hara. Migizi revelled in the heavy reaching conditions of the Miami-Nassau race, where she not only took out her fifth win in Class F, but took overall fleet honours as well.

Migizi during the 1983 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
Freefall finished fifth in Class F, and 28th overall, although she sailed with a lower rating of 28.6ft IOR, against Migizi's 28.9ft. Simpkins sold Freefall to Bernard Blum and she returned for the 1984 SORC as Hot Tub, and had a more successful series, finishing in second place in Class F.

Freefall punches her way upwind during the 1983 SORC (photo Farr Yacht Design)
The proven concept for Design 124 went on to form the basis of Farr's breakthrough 40 foot design, which first made their mark in New Zealand in the shape of Exador, Geronimo and Pacific Sundance - the trio that walked off with the Southern Cross Cup in late 1983.

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