Farr helped cause a stir in the America’s Cup nearly three decades ago with the design of Kiwi Magic. While other 12s were built of aluminum, KZ-7 was the first to be built of fiberglass and was nicknamed the “Plastic Fantastic.”
Dennis Conner took another view, hinting that he thought the Kiwis were cheating. While practically invincible in earlier rounds, Kiwi Magic lost to Conner’s Stars & Stripes, which went on to reclaim the America’s Cup for the United States.
“One of the things we really take from that era and bring into the modern era is that they will be very robust boats that will have very long life spans and not much maintenance,” Farr said from Annapolis, Maryland. “That’s all good in a one-design class that sails in the rough-and-tumble of San Francisco.”
Farr and Britt Ward, who will be the lead designer, say Farr Yacht Design will be under somewhat of a tight timeline to allow for production beginning next summer so there are enough Super 12s for the inaugural SFYRC in 2017.
Ehman has said his goal is to have 10 yachts for the first regatta.
“There’s been a pretty positive reaction from all over the place,” Farr said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if in six months we’re trying to figure out how to build 15 instead of 10. It seems like it’s struck a nerve with a lot of people as a way to get back into wonderful sailing in big boats at a lot less cost.”
Ward said he thinks the cost of a boat could be substantially less than Ehman’s initial estimate of $3 million.
Farr said the Super 12 will mix the classic look of a 12-meter with modern design elements.
“Visually, it will look a lot like a 12-meter,” Farr said. “People who have that attraction to the elegance and style of the 12s will see a 12-meter. But it will be a thoroughly updated boat. Not being designed to the 12-meter rule gives us a lot of freedom to make it a better boat. The 12-meter rule had idiosyncrasies that corralled you into certain things, and some of them were not fast.”
Ehman said one of the biggest concerns is that the Super 12s be tough and have a long, competitive life, “especially for the windy and tough conditions of San Francisco Bay.”
The 1986-87 America’s Cup was the last sailed in 12-meters. Only one 12-meter has been built since 1986, launched days ago in Norway. It was built of wood from a 1939 design.