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Rehabbing an old-ish race boat

Published on May 25th, 2022

North Sails expert Doug Folsetter shares his best tips for upgrading your old-ish race boat after modifying his new (to him) Farr 30 Sabotage. Doug sails Sabotage out of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club and is a veteran when it comes to racing on Lake Ontario:

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

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

Despite having a few online tours of the boat, as well as a survey and rig inspection, I really wasn’t sure of what we were getting until it arrived. Once I was able to access the boat and equipment, I prioritized the upgrades in the following order in an effort to make the boat as competitive as possible while, at least, attempting to keep to a budget:

No surprise here. They’re the “engine above the deck” after all! I knew that the bulk of the inventory was approximately six years old and would need to be replaced. I didn’t have the budget to do it all at once so we looked to fill any holes in the inventory and replaced the worst or most frequently used sails first.

Before the boat arrived, we ordered a Helix Code 0 with top down furler. The boat didn’t have a code zero and we know if would be a perfect sail for the distance races we had planned. Next, we discovered that there wasn’t a usable J3 onboard, so we moved that to the top of the list.

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

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

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

Running Rigging / Control Lines
There is nothing worse than breaking a control line or ripping the cover off a halyard in the middle of a race. New lines also look good and don’t smell like dead fish (like the moldy saltwater crusted sheets the boat came with) when you put them down below. We ended up changing out almost all of the rigging and sheets after we had a chance to sail just to confirm that the existing lines lengths and diameters were correct.

While it won’t make the boat faster, I’ll admit that I’m vain enough to want good looking boat. Farr 30s are well known to have have gelcoat issues but I was assured that all issues had been dealt with. Upon further use, I realized said issues weren’t dealt with and this became a project for last winter.

We ended up replacing our chart plotter right away. The older one that came with the boat only had a Pacific Northwest chip and there was was not a Great Lakes chip available. We’ll look into replacing our current Nexus instruments with an integrated system over the next year or two.

Overall, I’m happy with the boat and have created a competitive package in a reasonably cost effective way. In the end, I learned that the most return comes from tackling the jobs that make the most difference first, such as the sail inventory and the bottom. The to-do list never really gets shorter but the jobs become smaller as you go along!

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