Rehabilitating an old racing boat >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

Doug Folsetter, North Sails Specialist shares his best advice for upgrading your old racing boat after modifying his new (for him) Farr 30 Sabotage. Doug navigates Sabotage out of the Royal Yacht Club of Hamilton and is a Lake Ontario racing veteran:

Without enough distraction available during one of the extended COVID lockdowns, I found myself spending way too much time online, looking at boats that were for sale. This resulted in the purchase of an older Farr 30 (which had been modified with a 5ft bowsprit) unseen at 5,000 km.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others (or do it again myself), we ended up with a good boat that can be great with a few thoughtful updates.

Despite a few online tours of the boat, as well as a survey and inspection of the rig, I really wasn’t sure what we were getting until she arrived. Once I had access to the boat and equipment, I prioritized the upgrades in the following order with the goal of making the boat as competitive as possible while at least trying to stay within a budget:

No surprise here. They are the “engine above deck” after all! I knew most of the inventory was about six years old and would need replacing. I didn’t have the budget to do it all at once, so we looked to plug holes in inventory and replace the worst or most frequently used sails first.

Before the boat arrived, we ordered a Helix Code 0 with top down furler. The boat did not have a code zero and we know it would be a perfect sail for the distance races we had planned. Then we discovered that there was no usable J3 on board, so we moved it to the top of the list.

We made it through the rest of the year with existing inventory, but replaced the Main and J2 with 3Di Raw this winter and will be working on replacing the downwind sails later this year. After that, we should be able to work on a rotation of (rather) one sail per year to keep costs under control.

While the new sails are great, a slow bottom is…well…slow! We had planned to spend a few weeks sanding, fairing and painting before the boat hit the water. That said, working in the marina was questionable under lockdown rules at the time and we didn’t want to start work that we couldn’t finish before our set launch date.

Luckily it turned out that the bottom of the boat wasn’t too bad, so we burnished the old paint and hoped for the best. We also bought a new bottom brush so that we could scrub regularly as that would inevitably be needed.

Running rigging / Control lines
There’s nothing worse than breaking a control line or ripping off a halyard cover in the middle of a race. The new lines also look good and don’t smell like dead fish (like the saltwater crusted moldy leaves the boat came with) when you lay them underneath. We ended up changing almost all the rig and sheets after having had a chance to sail just to confirm that the existing line lengths and diameters were correct.

Beauty products
While that doesn’t make the boat any faster, I admit I’m vain enough to want a nice boat. The Farr 30s are notorious for having gelcoat issues, but I have been assured that all issues have been resolved. After further use I realized these issues had not been resolved and it became a project for last winter.

We ended up replacing our chartplotter right away. The oldest that came with the boat only had a Pacific Northwest chip and there was no Great Lakes chip available. We plan to replace our current Nexus instruments with an integrated system within the next year or two.

Overall I’m happy with the boat and have put together a competitive package in a reasonably cost effective way. In the end, I’ve learned that the best return comes from tackling the jobs that make the most difference first, like sail inventory and bottom. The to-do list never really gets shorter, but the tasks get smaller as you progress!

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