For too many years, pilothouse sailing yachts had a clunky look, with an oversized salon projecting well above the deck, seemingly attached as an afterthought to the otherwise clean lines of a capable ocean-going vessel. However, when Bruce Farr and his renowned crew of designers, naval architects and engineers produced Design #373, the Farr 50 Pilot House, in 1997, they raised the bar for this particular design. They also heightened expectations for owners, who prized excellent performance under sail, offshore reliability across a wide range of weather and sea conditions, and accommodations that blended home-style amenities and carefully planned spaces.
Only 25 of the 50PH models were built, and they were constructed to a very high standard, by BSI Marine in Lysekil, Sweden, and sold through Boat Sales International UK. For that reason, they were and continue to be sought after in global brokerage listings. The enduring appeal of the 50PH shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Farr’s designs have long dominated offshore sailing in pure racing and competitive cruising arenas alike, ranging from the Volvo Ocean Race to the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC).
The Farr 50 is a classic, all-oceans cruiser that’s stable and fast (daily runs are about 200 nautical miles, or 8 knots), and ready to explore the world. The sheerline is gracefully sprung forward. The foredeck is well crowned, and the pilothouse is low and swept back. Above the waterline, the stem has a modest rake, but it transitions quickly below the waterline, where sharp sections forward widen gradually, until the beam is stretched to 15 feet 5 inches amidships. That beam creates a good deal of internal volume. Farther aft, the running bottom transitions to longer, flatter sections that terminate at the reversed transom. A fin keel with full-chord wings has 13,200 pounds of ballast and a draft to 7 feet 6 inches. There’s also a single high-aspect rudder. Displacement is 37,400 pounds.
The most striking features of the boat are the salon and pilothouse, which is equipped with safety glass windows for spectacular views. A raised wraparound settee for up to six passengers is served by a large table for dining.
The boat also has very comfortable accommodations, including a large master stateroom aft, equipped with a queen-sized island berth, settee, hanging wardrobe and ensuite head with separate shower. Access is through a portside passageway. In some boats, there are two private cabins forward, served by a single head. Originally, the designers envisioned a single guest stateroom forward with an ensuite head, plus a small day head to starboard at the bottom of the forward companionway stairs.
The Farr 50 is no longer in production, but Bruce Farr and Associates continues to pen custom pilothouse designs ranging from 80 to 142 feet, and production models that include the 56PH and 63PH from BSI Marine in Sweden. — John Wooldridge
This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue.