Synergy is a Farr 11.6 (Farr 38). I posted pictures of her in the gallery.
The Farr 11.6's are interesting boats. They were built as cruiser/racers, and offshore
cruisers and in their day they were extremely fast compared to other 38 footers that could be cruised. Compared to cruiser/racers of that era, they were very light. With a design weight of only 10,600 lbs., they were 2/3 of the weight of a normal 38 footer. In some ways these were boats with a split personality. Sisterships are distance cruising all over the world. My boat, for example, was single
handedly sailed in from South Africa
on her own bottom. Yet, at the same time Farr 11.6's are also winning races.
I chose the Farr 11.6 in a bit of an unusual manner. It is very common for people to search for boat solely on length and the need for specific accommodations. I really think that the displacement
of a particular boat says a lot more about its 'real' size. To narrow the field of possible model choices, I went back to some time honored formulas. I looked at the traditional rule
of thumb that a proper cruising boat needed a displacement
of three to five long tons of displacement per person. In recent years, Better hardware
has permitted that ideal weight to creep up a little and the current
trends in loading boats up with modern equipment
and all of the comforts of home, has pushed that range up to closer to 11,000 to 14,000 lbs. of displacement per person. I personally prefer to cruise
more simply and so chose to try to stay in the low end of more traditional weight range. With a crew of one or two people this suggested a boat with a displacement in the 11,000 to 14,000 lb. range.
Historically, a cruising boat with a 5 to 7 ton displacement would have been 32 or so feet in length. When you look back at earlier distance cruising couples, they tended to use boats that were comparatively short when compared to the norm today. This shorter length resulted in a high length to displacement ratio (L/D) typically in a 250 to 350 range. These old style cruisers were typically pretty shallow, and carried a larger percent of their weight in their hull
and rig resulting in a lower ballast to weight ratio and consequently less stability. As a result they also tended to have less sail area and lower aspect ratio rigs in proportion to their displacement with a SA/D ratio in the range of 14 to 16 or so.
But using modern materials and a better understanding of marine
structures and hydrodynamics a 5 to 7 ton cruising boat can safely have an L/D of 160 or so and still have a higher ratio of ballast to displacement than its predicessors. This lighter L/D typically means a more easily driven hull
and the greater ratio of ballast to displacement placed lower in the water
can result in the ability to carry more sail. On more modern designs a SA/D ratio above 20 is not all that unusual. That combination means that the boat has enough sail area to sail at a reasonable speed in light air and an sufficiently easily driven hull to get by with less sail area in a blow.
Using the lower end of the classic displacement rule
of thumb, 10,000 to 16,000 lb of displacement seemed right for a couple. Using a more modern and lighter L/D near 160, I ended up with a 37 to 39 foot boat. For other reasons, I had decided that 36 to 39 feet was about the right length as well. Smaller than 36 feet it is hard to get the kind of accommodations and capacities that I wanted in lightweight boat. Over 38 feet or so, single-handing became considerably more difficult. Staying at a traditional weight range but lighter L/D results in a longer boat which is also good thing. One thing that has consistently come out of the studies of the Fastnet tragedy and the Sidney-Hobart disaster, is that there are a lot of factors that determine whether a boat is a good sea boat or not, but nothing succeeds in heavy weather
You often hear the old saws about heavy displacement being necessary in a cruising and comments such as, "light boats don't have the capacity to carry enough gear
and supplies to really go cruising." Or "they loose their speed advantage when loaded to go cruising". These kind of statements ignore that boats in this size range are often raced with 1,500 to 2,000 lbs. of crew weight and in distance racing
, an equal weight in racing gear
and provisions for this crew.
In terms of rig, I strongly prefer a fractional rigged sloop
which I consider to be the ideal cruising rig for a boat of this size. Their proportionately smaller headsails are easier to stow, fly and tack. Because their jibs are a proportionately smaller part of the overall sail plan, fractional rigs can often have a greater wind
speed range for each headsail and get by with non-overlapping jibs. For single-handing the greater ease of tacking a non-overlapping headsail can't be beat. Another advantage of a fractional rig is that the simple application of backstay tension can induce controlled mast
bend which depowers both sails
at once which often balance the helm
and thereby reduce the need to reef. Fractional rigged boats also can be generally sailed under their mainsails alone making a very handy rig for short-tacking your way in a confined area or dealing with a sudden increase in wind