Monday, September 23, 2013

Fast 42

SA Navy Entry "MTU Fascination of Power" under Chapman's Peak in Hout Bay.
Skipper was John Martin, Admirals Regatta about 2006.
Photograph by Brenton Geach.

Fast 42s have had a prominent place in the South African Racing circuit, both offshore and around the cans. In many ways they are quite remarkable boats - fast, nice to look at, and very well laid out for serious sailing...

Regrettably I don't have much technical data for these boats - but their principle dimensions show:
LOA: 41' 4" 
Beam: 12' 7"
Displacement: 6600 kilograms
Max Draft: 7' 10"
Ballast: 2400 kilograms

Designer Simonis-Voogd - they have done loads of work in SA and reside here quite a lot. Their stable is well known - including the famous "Broomstick", "Nicorette" and many others.

That's a pretty light boat at 42'. Note the ballast ratio is 36% - thanks to a very deep keel bulb. They are high-aspect boats in every sense - keel, rudder and huge rig. Yet they are as sensitive as dinghies as long as they keep moving. 

From the outside - the impression is thoroughbred racer. The sleek lines, neat cabin top, dual wheels, large racing cockpit, wide traveller etc all look the business, and one might be forgiven for expecting a bare-bones racing interior.

In fact its quite the opposite! The interior is functional quite plush, simple and well laid out. From inside you might forget you were in a racing boat. Nice galley, saloon, chart table, decent cabins, and even hot shower. This is a boat for the Cape-Rio! My friend James who owned one of these called it "Enigma" - I never asked him why... 

Well laid out and spacious cockpit. Not exactly sheltered but great for sailing!
Double-handing is easy, but single-handing is a bit tricky because the helmsman can't reach the traveller or mainsheet from behind the wheel, unless autopilot is engaged.

Fitting, quality and layout do vary somewhat from model to model. The very early ones were built by Robertson and Caine in Cape Town, before production rights were taken over by Fast Yachts in Durban, where the majority were subsequently built. I am aware of some controversy over one or two builds, but the majority are quite sound. Skebanga, in Hout Bay, was one of the the last off the line as I remember, and she is particularly well put together and in great condition.

How do they sail? These aren't called Fast boats for nothing. They move impressively well as long as there is some reasonable wind, say 10 kts plus. For some reason I don't really fathom they do seem a bit sluggish in lighter winds, but as the pressure picks up they really cook - on all points of sail. I had the pleasure of skippering one of these in a club race one Sunday - it was the first time I'd sailed one, and the expected crew didn't pitch. We went out double-handed and completely new to the boat. I must say it was setup as a sailing school boat and was amazingly easy to handle. Roller-reefed jib, main in a stack-pack, batcars on the mast, a simple autopilot, and nice engine controls - it was an absolute pleasure. I was very impressed with the setup of that boat - being so easy to handle made it possible to simply enjoy the sail, think about tactics and still push it quite hard. With just the two of us, we were able to tack fast and effectively in 15 knots or so, and no troubles to speak of. Only I wasn't used to helming on a wheel for racing round the cans, don't know if I'll ever get that worked out properly, I still like a tiller! But it is fantastic for long-distance sailing...

Can't imagine what this poor bloke on the bow was up to. 
Perhaps the heads were blocked...

One Wednesday evening the wind was too strong for racing in our bay - 35 kts +. We were just settled in the club bar when the hooligans went out - James and Rian - sorry chaps - the names just slipped out! - plus a few unsuspecting crew who should have known better. They fought their way up to Chappies, complete with wild katabatic twisters and plenty of spray, and then turned around. Next thing the bag went up! Crikey - the boat zig-zagged on its ear for about 30s before regaining some sort of composure, and then shot off towards the club at about 20 knots. As luck would have it, I had a camcorder with a decent zoom on hand - will see if I can dig it up soon and place it on youtube. What a spectacle. That's the kind of boat a Fast-42 is - wild as the wind and still quite manageable, but also a civilised boat when the occasion demands!

All in all - they are best suited for offshore racing. Certainly not what I would chose as a cruiser, but a good choice for Cape-Rio or Governors Cup! You can have a load of fun with one of these.