Ian Farrier 1947 - † 2017
Rob Densem, the general manager for Farrier Marine wrote on Sunday, Dec.10:
It is with a heavy heart that I tell you Ian Farrier passed away in San Francisco on his way back from the USA yesterday. We are in deep shock as we come to terms with the huge loss of our captain, and our focus is on Ian’s immediate family and the Farrier Marine team. Ian was a visionary, a multihull genius, an all-round nice guy who leaves behind a huge legacy to the sailing world.
Farrier Marine Limited is a strong business with a three year order book for the revolutionary F-22 sailboat. Despite dealing with our grief, it is very much ‘business as usual’ at the factory today. It is our job now to carry on the Farrier legacy and ensure his vision is carried out. – Rob Densem.
This is such a heartbreaking news !
Although I never met Ian, he was always very generous with his time and always answered my questions that I shot his way about the construction of my F-39.
I felt as if Ian was a personal friend, he enriched my life as brilliant and as generous a man that I’ve ever known.
Thank you Ian for your great design and all you did for the future of performance sailing. Your legacy lives on in your timeless designs.
My deepest condolences to the Farrier family, the factory team at Farrier Marine, the F-boat sailors and all other who were in some way connected with Ian.
Below is the speech by Peter Hackett, a good friend of Ian and one of the speakers at the funeral of Ian Farrier.
Text and photos by the courtesy of Peter Hackett and Farrier Marine.Peter Hackett:
Ian's brother and son spoke, as well as Rob Densem the GM, then Neil Wilkinson, an old schoolfriend and an Acup foil whiz. I was then able to represent you guys with a typical Fboat lover life story.
My first association with Ian was as a pimply teenager in Hawthorne, Brisbane 1973. A couple of kiwis had moved into a house over the road and not long after, a plywood thing started growing under the house and then emerging into the yard. To us aussie monohull dinghy people, our first guess was that it was a caravan. When I tried to convince my carpenter/boatbuilder father that it was starting to look like a boat, he just laughed.
Not long after that my curiosity got the better of me, and on the way home from school I diverted and had a sneaky look over the fence. There was a guy under the house labouring in one of our typical warm summer afternoons, covered in sweat and glue. I asked if I could come in and he downed tools in the most welcoming way to explain to me what this strange craft was. In a scenario to then be repeated thousands of times around the world by various methods and media, Ian Farrier shared his dream with me of safe, cheap, and fast multihull sailing for the masses. I was sceptical at first but when he showed me his detailed plans I was starting to get quite excited. Then he produced a model cut out of the walls of a can with nails for pivot points. It demonstrated that with pairs of struts balancing the forces involved, this multihull trimaran with no lead keel could be trailed behind a family car to all sorts of dream locations, then sailed safely and quickly in all sorts of waters.
I was hooked.
I could not wait to tell my dad when he came home. He listened patiently to my jabbering and then ordered me not to cross the road again and to stay away from the crazy guy. I was obedient of course, but carefully followed the progress of the boats that I now know as the Trailertri 18 and then TT 680 were completed.
In subsequent years I can remember sailing in events like the Sandgate Winter Series that allowed these new trailer sailors on the course for a bit of a laugh until the ugly butterflies were sorted out and unfolded their wings in a decent breeze to annihilate all of the latest monohull designs that had no accommodation, and even less safety built in.
Fast forward to the late 80’s, and a mate who had bought one of the first Tramps asked me to do an overnight Bribie Cup race with him. I thought this would be a bit silly with no down below for a dry sleep, but packed a wetsuit and a couple of beers in my bag for the most amazing and comfortable weekend, sleeping under the extended bimini like a baby. The race home in a typical 20 plus knot westerly is etched in my mind. We busted the analogue speedo with the surges of speed as we passed so many big boats crewed by rockstars with their jaws open in disgust (the key motivation for all of our fraternity now). I came home to my wife that night and said we are getting one, even if I have to take a second job. Thankfully she agreed a few years later and like most of our partners was taken in by the level and safe sailing that the genius of Ian Farrier had designed for all of us.
It was fitting then that the first boat I could afford in a partnership was a ply TT720 (Fly renamed Try Flying) just like the Hawthorne caravan of the 70’s, but with an unhealthy dose of wood rot. Of course, like the rest of the Farrier Fraternity I emailed and phoned Ian many times to validate the purchase, and then he generously remotely guided the rebuild of the boat that helped my wife and our 2 daughters form a great cruising crew on the winches for the 5 Farrier boats we owned in total.
Like all members of the fraternity I was always looking at the other designs, and soon after bought one of the Ostac built F24 Mk II boats (by Ian at Northgate Brisbane) that had been modified in a negative way by the previous owner. As always, Ian guided me to get that boat (Side FX2) to her original state. I named her InTRIgue, the name of my dinghy from around the time that I first met Ian, with the spooky TRI already in the middle of the name. She sold a few years later to a kiwi based in Dampier WA, then coincidentally has made her way across the ditch to New Plymouth NZ.
Next up for a bit of cruising comfort was the hugely successful F27 #33 which I imported from Long Beach California. Ian found all the original documentation for me of Try to Fly and verified that it was one of the good boats from his time in the factory. We renamed her IntrIIgue, and had plenty of great cruising and racing success before passing her on to a young guy in Gladstone. I then became an employee as well as a friend in the F22 programme.
Few would argue that the F22 design was Ian again taking every aspect of a trailable boat and simply making it the best it could be. We now know that the design is wickedly fast, but before Ian would allow full production he designed a composite trailer from scratch that could be stored unassembled in a shipping container and built at the destination with a couple of spanners. He would never stand for what used to be if there was a way to improve it. He always wanted the improvements to be cheap so he also designed a carbon mast that could be assembled in the factory and shipped in kit form if necessary. The amenities inside the boat that have only recently hit full production can only be described as wizardry for the space in a little boat. Few of us probably realise that Ian’s brilliance in boat design has resulted from not just his academic and maritime studies, but also from his passion for fast and clever cars and aeroplanes.
I was fortunate to get the first F22R Boom! for testing in AUS. We called it Boom! because of the effect we knew it would have on the world and also mischievously because it featured another of his nuances, a rig with no conventional boom. This became a boat that I would always take a long time to rig or launch because I was always getting disturbed by curious crowds of wannabe owners. Ian asked me to thrash this boat as hard as I could to find any bugs so that full production would be as perfect as possible. It was not long after that I broke the first 2 carbon masts in strong winds and I still remember the phone calls I sheepishly made. He was quite unemotional and just said “That’s a shame, we’ll have to get you one sorted out fast for the rest of that series.” When I apologised for that and subsequent destruction he said “I wanted you to break stuff and you are very good at it.” When I busted stuff that actually was my fault he was still fine, saying that it was all part of the process, that the boat “Has to be idiot proof, especially in the hands of ham-fisted Aussies”.
It is no secret that the order book of 100 boats is still full, and you do not have to go far to find very pleased owners with the latest and greatest Farrier boat. I was hoping that on one of Ian’s regular visits to AUS I could get him sailing for a day and spend more quality time with him. He came out on Boom for 20 minutes, enough time to analyse some improvements that needed to be made back at the factory. Once that data was collected he said “Ok, back in to the dock please.” When I sold that boat to the next needy owner in Brisbane, it was probably the first time my race crew were seriously grumpy with me.
As an aside I now have Trinity, an F28R # 14 that Ian was again able to confirm to be one of the best made in the Chula Vista factory while he was in charge. It is a typical Farrier boat that after 20 years shows no sign of age. I think Ian would have enjoyed hearing my newby cousin’s comment when we did a casual race last week, "Why are the big leaning boats so much slower? I really like lying out on these nets when we go past them!"
Thank you so much Peter, you were a real representative of the international F-boat community.
In the aftermath Peter wrote:
It has been a tough time for all, I will provide what I can without stepping on the toes of the NZ crew.
The funeral was one of the most difficult I have been to, I did not quite realize how close I was to the man until it was too late to tell him. I don't mind now admitting I choked a couple of times. From the wonderful international readings I was able to add at the funeral and provide to the family, I think many of you felt the same. To all of us out there hungry for the best way to rebuild a mast base, or the best method to patch up that plywood rot in a 35 year boat, he simply gave us his all.
The upbeat part of the service was provided by his mates and especially the foil maestro of Oracle etc, Neil Wilkinson. Neil and Ian went to school out the back of the funeral grounds where I took that picture of the latest boat with flag half mast. It seems that they were a little wild in a nerdy way while at school making rockets that went in crazy directions, rebuilding cars including dropping a big engine in Ian's mother's Austin A40 to try and win the midweek races (which they never did). Ian even got into an argument with his Physics teacher who told the class that the largest coefficient of dynamic friction of a car could only be 1.0. Our mate thought about this all night before picking up the argument with the teacher trying to convince him that in the right conditions it could go well above that. We all know who was right, as usual. Ian and Neil even dropped out of uni at the same time, and Ian actually picked up a lot of his assembly line skills working longer and longer shifts at a tooling factory.
The rest of the story has sometimes made it to the pages here, where we know Ian got an old trimaran which had been extended in length but with no safety in the sheer line, so he had to rebuild that before taking on those big kiwi waves in 1970. He also spent time in a ferro-cement monohull in bigger waves, and we can understand now how motivated he was to find a better way.
The nice part of my trip over the ditch before xmas was to meet the latest team of about 10 blokes and a cool young lady working in the factory. They are understandably gutted, but I am pleased to say they are really motivated to keep following his lead. The work I saw them doing on the assembly line, the numbered parts in an ordered procession around the factory floor, and the burble of work going on after morning coffee excited me, and would have made the boss proud. I mentioned the young lady because like many she is a sailor. With a twinkle in her eye, she asked me how hard I thought we could push the 22 in big winds and waves. I reckon the boss picked her.
The GM taken on by Ian to run the factory a year ago is Rob Densem, and he is under no illusions about the challenge he faces. I can assure you he has the smarts to follow this through for a long time, and his experience simply building his own F22 should stand him in good stead as well as all his high level managerial and marketing time under the belt. Rob assures me that the business is in great shape financially, and I know Ian's son Michael, the accountant in Texas, has had a firm hand on the wheel.
You are probably sick of hearing me rave about how nearly perfect my first F22 "Boom!" was, so you will be be pleased to know that when I crawled over and inside boat #16 (heading to US) I found that the boss had indeed lifted the bar even further. With mouldings that the car industry would be proud of, I just sat inside with a lump in my throat and started planning "KaBoom!". I also have to admit to the owner that they had to pry my hands off the latest carbon mast for these boats. Absolute spar-porn.
The lack of email answers from Farrier Marine are partly due to the factory closing for their holiday break and exacerbated by the fact that the boss did a good job of securing his server passwords! I am sure the technical stuff will get sorted in coming weeks, we just need to be patient and stick together.
R.I.P. Ian Farrier
Update January 2023, Five years after:
With Ian Farrier, his website died also.
Farrier Marine was taken over by Daedalus after Ian Farrier's death. Now, 5 years later, it seems that nothing has come of the continuation of Farrier Marine activities. No one is involved anymore. It's very unfortunate and also embarrassing that the F-Boat brand has also died.
Ian Farrier also maintained a very interesting website with all the details of his designs. Unfortunately, it has also disappeared and been replaced by a lackluster version by Daedalus, which can be found at this link. I suspect that this will eventually disappear as well.
Fortunately, there is still a very active Farrier community present in the form of the FCT forum.The last version of the original website can also still be found in the Internet archives using the Way Back Machine. With this link , you can still open the December 2017 version.
Ian Farrier, he is missed.
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