Royal Irish Yacht Club Skipper George Sisk has had the Farr 42 WOW! for nearly ten years so there was a feeling that it was time to look at a new boat for his Dublin Bay and Irish yacht racing campaigns. But WOW! has been a great boat for him over the years. In particular in 2015, when he won both the ICRA Nationals in Kinsale and also won his class and overall at Dun Laoghaire Regatta. These outstanding results culminated in the ICRA Boat of the Year accolade for 2015.
George briefly flirted with a J111 but the draw of the Farr 42 was never far away. So a decision was made at the end of 2017 to see if WOW! could be brought more up to date, improve areas of weakness and see if she could live with some of the fancy new kit coming out these days. Mark Mansfield of UK Sailmakers Ireland reports on these latest developments.
A team of 'knowledgeable heads' looked at the boat to see what could be done. These included George and some of his key crew, the Farr Design office and Barry Hayes from UK Ireland Sailmakers. Some areas for improvement were identified:
- WOW! was a bit slow out of tacks and a bit difficult to keep in the groove. A decision was made that a more IRC friendly fin keel would be a better option to the fin and torpedo that she had. This deeper more straightforward keel was relatively rating neutral.
- WOW!'s asymmetric spinnakers were too tall and not wide enough due to her having masthead spinnakers. With the size of chute that was best on IRC, it was felt that a lower halyard exit would allow her spinnakers to be less tubular and a better, more correct shape. Barry Hayes then designed her new downwind sail wardrobe with this change in mind. The results, shown in the photograph below, are evident. The asymmetric sail now floats perfectly to windward and sits there allowing WOW! to sail deep and fast, with less sheet movement. Also her new Code 0 can now have a fully taught luff to allow the sail to be used to its best advantage, due to the lowering of the halyard exit and also because of the advances in sail technology. This Code 0 utilises a top down Ubi Maior furler, which has a cable in the luff allowing it to be furled and deployed easily.
The next identified area for improvement was gybing the main in strong winds. The solution was a new pair of electrically operated winches, Organised again through Barry Hayes in UK Sailmakers through their Harken winch and hardware agency, so that the main could easily and quickly be centralised.
"a solution to improve gybing the mainsail in strong winds was a new pair of electrically operated winches"
Only time will tell if these changes will make a difference. A new suit of UK Uni Titanium–Grand Prix Molded upwind sails was also selected, taking advantage of technology changes over the past few years.
Initial testing in Dublin Bay last weekend was very promising as WOW! blasted around the DBSC course. Barry Hayes and I were on hand to initially set up the rig and then to assist in the sail trials followed by competing in the DBSC race.
The sailing plan for WOW! is still being finalised for this year and may include some or all of: the Round Ireland Race, Cork Week and Wave Regatta. What will happen for sure is WOW! will, as she has always done, be a regular competitor in the DBSC series in Dublin bay, which is a firm favourite for George and his crew.