4 February 2016

Dr Feelgood (Farr 40)

Dr Feelgood was a US semi-production and masthead-rigged version (Design #143) of the Farr 40 Design #136 that had dominated the 1983 Southern Cross Cup and had finished first, second and ninth in the 40-boat fleet (Pacific Sundance, Geronimo and Exador), winning the Cup for New Zealand. Dr Feelgood was built by Garrett Marine, the first of what was to be a fleet of yachts known as the Garrett 40. Dr Feelgood was launched in Florida in early 1984 in quest of SORC glory.

Geoff Stagg, skipper of Pacific Sundance in the Southern Cross Cup and marketing director for Farr International, said at the time that his "light years" victory was particularly gratifying because the original design had proved fast in a wide variety of conditions, and on all points of sail.

Sail Magazine described Dr Feelgood and the Garrett 40 as a "production boat" in the sense that "one could be ordered tomorrow.  However, she goes toe-to-toe with custom-built boats in many important areas. Vacuum bagging and Kevlar laminates are part of her construction". The Garrett 40 was slightly shorter and heavier than her Design 136 grand prix sisterships. However, particular attention was still paid to keeping weight out of the ends of the boat, even down to the tapered faceting of her transom. 

Dr Feelgood during the 1984 SORC (Sail magazine)

Freeboard was also kept low compared to her IOR contemporaries. Sail magazine noted that Farr's distinctive, deep lozenge-shaped rudder, deep blade of a keel and practiced handling of the IOR hull shape (with a touch of emphasis on downwind power) all helped explain why their Southern Cross competition was far from happy with the Dr Feelgood sisterships. 

Garrett 40 internal arrangement plan
Dr Feelgood, and the Farr 40's generally, carried their maximum beam relatively far aft. This maximised the effectiveness of crew weight, but also afforded a wide, workable cockpit. The masthead rig chosen for Dr Feelgood and the Garrett 40's had three sets of spreaders, rod rigging and running backstays. Stagg commented "the secret of this design is in its simplicity. Not only does that save cost, it means that because you don't need a pack of experts aboard to make everything work, the average guy can race and really enjoy it". 

Dr Feelgood puts her bow down during the Ft Lauderdale race in the 1984 SORC (photo Larry Moran)

Dr Feelgood lined up against similar-sized One Tonners (30.5ft IOR) at the 1984 SORC, including the 1981 Admiral's Cup champion Diva, the J/41 Dazzler and Mark Soverel-design S-39 and Finot/Berret/Fauroux designed Evolution First One Ton, and sat very much in the middle of that company in terms of her key IOR measurements. Unfortunately Dr Feelgood was still be built on the SORC racecourse, and completed only the first two races (9/7 in class, and 41/24 in fleet) and so not much could be gleaned as to her overall potential.

Dr Feelgood sails upwind in light conditions (photo Farr Yacht Design)
Compared to the dinghy-like Diva, Dr Feelgood was beamier and fuller aft, with a proportionately finer forebody. A review by designer Bruce Kelley, for Yacht Racing & Cruising magazine and focused on the 1984 SORC One Ton fleet, suggested that the boat would have been happier with a fractional rig in deference to her relatively more trim-sensitive hull shape. Kelley also considered that the boat was slightly heavier than intended, with a SHR (sail/hull ratio) of 15.62, lower than expected for a Farr design, and a DLF (displacement/length factor) of 1.0022 that was also lower than typical.

Dr Feelgood during the 1984 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
It is unclear how many of the Garrett 40's were built, but on the racecourse Design #143 was certainly eclipsed by her fractionally-rigged sisters, and later developments of that design that were consistent top performers in the One Ton class throughout the 1980s.

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