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Sailing a Farr 40 in Long Beach


I recently enjoyed the opportunity to go sailing at the Long Beach Race Week regatta on a Farr 40 (wiki). Most of the crew hadn’t sailed together, nor were they familiar with a Farr 40 (official) (me included). Despite having to retire early a couple of days due to equipment failure and finished last in the other races, we managed to beat one of the three other yachts in a race and that felt like a victory!

Farr 40s
Farr 40s at the 2023 Long Beach Race Week Regatta. I'm furthest forward on the rail of Caravan.

Bowman Tips

I’ve been learning how to do the bowman role on a Bravura 29. The B29 has something called an asymmetric spinnaker, or asym. It has a fixed tack which makes it pretty simple to manage. But this weekend I was tasked with learning how to use a dip-pole symmetric spinnaker on the Farr 40. A dip pole spinnaker introduces six new ropes of running rigging to the yacht compared to an asymmetric spinnaker: the two pole guys, a fore guy, a topping lift, the pole car, and a trip line. In addition to all these new lines, the sail was more than double the size of the one on the B29.

After a few races, I was introduced to Jen, the bowman on the winning yacht named Blade. She generously offered me a masterclass in doing the bowman role on a Farr 40. One of the cool things about the sailing community is that they share tips and tricks openly. They don’t have “secret knowledge”. One reason for this is that it’s no fun to dominate in sailing, you want competition.

  • The kite (spinnaker) is only hoisted or doused on the port side of the yacht.
  • As bowman, tack by going around the mast, not under the jib.
  • You shouldn’t have to skirt the jib every tack. The cockpit crew should be able to prepare the new active jib sheet to prevent the jib from blowing out.
  • Hiking is more important than cleaning up most things in the front of the house.
  • Ideally the spinnaker should be grabbed by the middle of the foot for a douse rather than at the clew end. The cockpit crew is responsible for trimming the active spin sheet so that the foot is flat and within reach of the bowman.
  • etc.,

Broken Things

A lot of things broke on our boat while racing:

  • The foreguy shackle broke and detached from the spin pole. I was able to reattach the block to the pole using some thin rope and square knots while we were on an upwind stretch.
  • The cunningham line broke.
  • The plastic jib track on the head stay broke. So we had to retire early as the jib couldn’t be safely hoisted and risked blowing out.
  • The secondary jib halyard was secured by a sail tie which broke and sent the halyard flying leward while sailing updwind. We were able to retrieve it with a boat pole.

Douse Incidents

We had two bad douses:

  • During a douse the kite wrapped around the forestay. In the process of detangling the wrap, we ended up detaching the halyard and accidentally wrapped it around the topping lift. This criss-crossing of halyards caused the topping lift to snag during the subsequent douse. Unable to take the pole down meant we were unable to tack with the jib up. We were able to eventually finagle the topping lift down and replace it with the secondary jib halyard which was clear up the mast.
  • On another douse of the kite, it was catastrophically wrapped around the forestay. We didn’t finish the race and our skipper Mike had to climb it sans harness to bring it down.


Besides learning how to improvise in the event of equipment failure, I also learned:

  • How to “run the tapes” and pack a kite. This involves making sure that two edges of the spinnaker sail are not twisted up and cleanly connect between the corners of the sail.


GoPro timelapse of all three days:

Official Drone Footage