BRUCE K. FARR, Vice President, O.B.E.
Bruce Farr is the Vice President, Director and founder of Farr Yacht Design, Ltd., the world's foremost designer of racing and cruising sailboats.
Born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1949, Bruce first came to prominence sailing, designing and building in the very competitive and stimulating restricted dinghy classes in New Zealand through the 60s and 70s.
On graduating from high school and obtaining university entrance qualification, there was no formal education available in New Zealand for Bruce's chosen career. Instead, his insatiable drive to the art of yacht design drew him to building, racing and drawing boats that were fast, light and reliable virtues that are still present in his work today. His success in the extremely competitive 18-foot skiff class earned him a reputation and client base that enabled him to focus full time on design from 1973.
In the 70s, designs by Bruce Farr to the then fledgling International Offshore Rule (IOR) were faster, cheaper to build and easier to sail than the accepted standard designs from the incumbent designers at that time. His designs won 1/4 ton, 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton and 1 ton world championships. The world noticed and Bruce's launch to being a dominant influence on racing yacht design had begun.
Turning his drive and enthusiasm to fresh pastures, Bruce produced a new breed of cruising designs that were fast, cheap and easy to handle. A set of trailerable sailboats, produced to meet the new demands of a world facing fuel restrictions, was a huge success. This diversity gave his growing design practice a broader client base somewhat remote from the fickle world of race boats designed to a rule.
Through the 70s, his design practice earned a reputation for accurate, well-detailed information that boat builders could trust and build to with confidence. It was these qualities that enticed competitors in the Whitbread Round the World Race to seek out his office in Auckland, New Zealand, and commission them to design boats for the ultimate test of boat handling, speed and reliability. This was an excellent match Farr-designed Whitbread boats have been present in every Race since 1981, and have won the 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998 Races.
Toward the end of the 70s, with the list of winning designs growing contest by contest, Bruce realized that the practice needed a presence in the northern hemisphere to be more accessible to the bulk of the market. In 1981, the business opened an office in Annapolis, Maryland, USA, where it is based today.
The general recession in the industry in the early 80s was discouraging, but not enough to cause his team to deviate from the goal of being the world's premier design office. In their new location, Bruce began to impress clients from the USA and Europe. He re-entered the IOR racing scene with a vengeance and by 1985 was the dominant designer at all major IOR regattas worldwide. The mid-80s also saw his entry into the sacred realm of America's Cup design with the stunning New Zealand entry, KZ7 , in the Perth, West Australia regatta.
The late 80s saw the dominance of Farr designs grow to unprecedented levels with all major worldwide championships being won in designs from Farr Yacht Design. Bruce was quick to recognize the importance of the increasing level of technology in the design world. Computer aided design and drafting functions were quickly adopted and adapted to the job of finding faster solutions to design problems.
The giant production boat builders, Beneteau and Jeanneau in France, recognized Bruce's talents and in 1988 forged a long-term relationship with Farr Yacht Design. To date, Beneteau has launched over 3400 cruising boats to Bruce's designs, including their premier range from 40 to 64 feet in length.
Since the early 90s, Farr-designed boats have consistently dominated IMS events, in a system of scientifically assessed handicaps where pure design excellence prevails.
Bruce has made significant contributions to the yachting world and has served on many committees, including the International Technical Committee of the Offshore Racing Council for many years. His services to yachting were recognized in 1990 when he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. Among his other awards is the Science and Technology Silver Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand which recognized his significant contributions to yacht design.