top of page

The Q7 'Falcon Study' : Latest News

Welcome to the latest news and updates about the Q7 Falcon Study. Scroll down to see where we are in the design and build process. We've also shared some insights in to some of the decisions we've made about the project so far.  Hope you find it interesting and feel free to use the contact us link to share feedback, make suggestions or ask questions.  Peter, Q7 Yacht Designs.

Change is good... right?

An ongoing source of discussion and debate within the team has been what to retain and what to change as we re-imagine a new 'Q7' commission for 2026.  First and foremost 'Falcon' was designed to win races so our starting point was to think about what the original designers may have done differently if they had access to the technologies, materials and systems we have today. Some decisions are easy - who wouldn't want self-tailing winches? Others are more nuanced - should the helm be Tiller or Wheel?  We also wanted to make the new Q7 as usable as possible because we love sailing, as much and as often as we can (see the Q7 Falcon Blog Updates). While these objectives are often in conflict with each other we think they actually fit nicely with the original goals of the Universal Rule 'Q Class' that encouraged fast and safe designs but also specified a minimum level of accommodation in an attempt to ensure that boats had the potential for a life beyond racing.

Our goal with the Falcon study is to honor the history and heritage of ‘Falcon’ - not to produce a replica or a reproduction. We're working to build the best 'Q7' possible with the best craftsmanship, materials and technologies we have
available to us today. The risk, of course, is that while each tweak or change may appear incremental when considered in isolation, in aggregate they may represent a fundamental shift. It would be easy for the sum of a series of small changes to result in losing the connection to Falcon's heritage and legacy that we want to honor. Our solution was to create some guiding principles to help our decisions. 

Guiding Principle 1 :
The Universal Rule of Measurement.

Falcon is a racing sailboat. Designed under the Universal Rule of Measurement she represented the pinnacle of design and manufacturing excellence at that time. Our starting point was to work within the same rules that governed Q Class racing in 1926. The aim was to provide a relatively objective 'true north' for our decisions with similar constraints and trade offs to those faced by the Starling Burgess and his team in 1926. 

Guiding Principle 2 :
Re-Imagined, not Replicated

The next guiding
principle has proved more challenging as it's totally subjective and somewhat contradictory - to ensure that the 2026 commission honors the essence of 'Falcon' while having her own distinct identity, re-imagining what the designers may have done if they had access to today's materials, systems and technologies.

Guiding Principle 3 :
Every Detail Matters.

We know 'Falcon' is beautiful and she represents a class of racing sailboats that has delighted some of the worlds most renowned sailors, including America's Cup legends Dennis Connor and Bruno Troublé who both chose classic Q Class sailboats to personally own and race. Our goal is to produce a beautiful sailboat that the 'Falcon Study' team are proud of, that will inspire and delight generations of sailors for another 100 years. To do this will require the best of the amazing team that has come together, with no compromises.

Every detail matters.


We've outlined some of the key decisions made to date and hope you agree we're on the right track.

Progress to date...

Hull lines - The essence of Falcon, her looks and her sailing characteristics are her hull lines. As obvious as that sounds we had a lot of discussion around tweaks and changes we could make to potentially improve comfort or performance : A few inches on the beam?, a few inches on the freeboard?, maybe a few inches on the deck height? Ultimately we decided that the original hull lines should be retained as closely as possible to the original  ensuring a clear connection to the history, heritage and sailing characteristics that make 'Falcon' what she is. RETAINED

Full keel - the Universal Rule was proposed in response to designs that had become light and fast but also fragile and expensive as they were increasingly being purpose built for racing, sometimes even a single season or a specific race. In common with many racing boats of her era, Falcon has a full keel providing strength, a large rudder surface and relatively shallow draft. A full keel also facilitated full height accommodation below the coach roof which was seen as a way to encourage a life after racing. We saw retaining a full keel as central to the essence, character and sailing characteristics of the original 'Falcon' and therefore an important part of any modern re-imagination. RETAINED

Thrusters - 
On smaller modern boats Bow and Stern thrusters may be considered an expensive option. Falcon was originally designed without an engine but that's not practical in today's world of crowded marinas and narrow slips. When Falcon was restored John routed the prop shaft off-center which is very efficient in terms of hydrodynamics however it does introduce some interesting challenges. The combination of off center prop and full keel means that engaging reverse produces a blast of thrust against the keel resulting in pretty dramatic prop walk - great if you want to move the stern to port but not so good for anything else!  Thrusters are a must!
Re-Imagined

Wooden hull construction - It could be argued that Burgess would have used GRP or Carbon if it had been available. However, wood is still being used today and modern constructions methods, like those used by Spirit Yachts, result in a strong, light hulls that have the added benefit of offering a sustainable alternative to more modern materials. We want the 'Falcon Study' to look as beautiful on the inside as she does on the outside, an opportunity for Spirit Yachts craftsmen and women to showcase their work. RETAINED

Interior layout - We want to honor the legacy and heritage of Falcon but we also wanted the new  Q7 commission to have her own, distinct identity while acting as a showcase for the skills of the craftsmen and women that will make her. This led us to take a clean-sheet approach to the interior. More to come as we develop some exciting concepts to maximize the use of the available space.
Re-Imagined

Propulsion - 
As noted below, we've opted for an electric motor given battery weight is not an issue and we're passionate sailors so 'cruising' range is secondary. Re-Imagined

Auto-Pilot - Needless to say the only auto-pilot option on the original Falcon was the helmsman. While this option adds some weight it was an easy decision to enable short or single-handed sailing.  
Re-Imagined


RiggingMore to come but to get the most out of the hull and to facilitate short (or single) handed sailing we'll be going state of the art with carbon mast, boom and rigging paired with a mast-jack. 
Re-Imagined

Winches -
Falcon has six winches, four of which are the originals paired with cleats, two were updated when suitable self-tailing winches became available from a rather famous source... Needless to say, the opportunity to update to the convenience of powered winches (and safety of self-tailing winches) is a huge benefit and an easy decision. Re-Imagined 

 

Timber to start the new Q7 commission

5/23/24
Production has Started!

A great WhatsApp message from Julian @ Spirit Yachts confirmed the timber is in and they're ready to start production of the new Q7's Ring Frames. Spirit Yachts are proud of their commitment to sustainability and sustainable production under their three pillars of 'people, planet, purpose'. 

Check out Spirit Yachts approach to sustainability on their website @ www.spirityachts.com/sustainability

4/26/24
It's all in the framing

Although the build hasn't officially started we're getting close and it's great to see the Spirit team sharing my enthusiasm with their first 'trial frame'  to aid with timber sizing. I'd encourage anyone interested to visit Spirit Yachts web site  and read about their commitment to sustainability and sustainably sourced timber which is one of the benefits or using this natural material for boat building (along with weight and strength). 

451da86f-30f7-43ce-a7a9-fbec4971f003.JPG

4/4/24
Q7 In The News
and Congratulations to Spirit 
Yachts!

Classic Boat Magazine ran a press release on the Falcon Study today hot of the heals of Spirit Yachts award for their C72 in the 2024 Classic Boat Magazine "Spirit of Tradition" Category. Congratulations to the Spirit Team!

 

Classic Boat Magazine reported "Falcon Study by Spirit Yachts: New Q Class Yacht Planned"  

Peter Silvester commented: “The ‘Falcon Study’ is a unique partnership of world-class industry leaders set up to honour the history and legacy of Falcon and to celebrate her centenary with a new commission launching in 2026. The ‘Falcon Study’ will re-imagine Falcon’s original design using the best systems, materials, and craftsmanship available today.”

Click here to see full article on the Classic Boats Magazine Website

2-SPIRIT-44E-LANGDON-70-1500x1920-LR.jpeg

That's the Spirit!

Hardly a surprise if you've read other parts of the website but we're so pleased to officially welcome the craftsmen and women at Spirit Yachts to the Falcon Study that we thought it worth another mention!

Spirit Yachts have earned a reputation for building custom wooden power and sailing yachts of exquisite quality and we're honored that they have agreed to join us to realize our dream.  

Working with Dykstra Naval Architects and Spirit Yachts is an amazing opportunity and will help to ensure our vision is realized in time to celebrate 'Falcon's centenary in 2026.

Clean, Quiet, Powerful

We decided early in the project that we wanted electric power in the new Q7 commission - it's clean, quiet, powerful and doesn't smell. Fortunately the market for electric marine propulsion is evolving quickly with more choices than ever. Weight and efficiency were key for us so we were delighted when one of the longest established manufacturers of electric motors for boating came out on top.

The Elco EP-20 has equivalent power to a 20Hp Diesel engine and weighs in at only 72 lbs. It's a 48 volt system with integrated controls and App based monitoring which ticks all the boxes we need. We're going to take a modular approach to batteries - 2x 7KwH units as standard expandable to 4x if we need more range in the future.

Elco Electric Motor EP-20
Elco Company Logo

EP-20 10KwH Electric Inboard by Elco Motor Yachts

To Furl or Not To Furl

For context, I'm a firm believer that the easier something is to use, the more it gets used, so at Q7 Yacht Designs, 'the furling debate' isn't about the quest for optimal racing performance, it's an acceptance that we want to be able to sail as much as we can - crewed for a race, short handed with friends, or even single handed for a peaceful solo sail.

 

Fortunately the head sail is easier to resolve as 'Ubi Maior' introduced an innovative furling solution that allows the use of traditional, hank-on sails while retaining the ability to easily furl - sails down for 'beauty mode' or sails furled for 'convenience'!  The debate was around a traditional vs furling main sail?

 

When I ask around, the world seems clearly split in to two equally passionate camps : 'racers' who say "never!" (well they would, they always have a crew handy to manage the sails) and the 'cruisers' who say "always!".  At Q7 we say "What if you want to do both?"...

In-mast furling was counted out early due to the complexity, weight (up-high) and impact on sail shape. However, in-boom has come a long way and should surely be an option?  

 

As someone who skippered a Beneteau '54 over 1,500 miles back from La Paz Mexico to San Diego (a.k.a. 'The Baja Bash') using <20 hours of engine - largely on a close-haul, typically against 30-35 Knot headwinds and 6-10 foot seas - I know the convenience (and safety) that a furling main can offer. Having said that, it DOES change boom profile and it DOES compromise sail shape.

On balance we decided to stay traditional and focus on how we assist lowering the main as safely and easily as possible without compromising the clean look or introducing more lines than we need. The key driver for his decision ended up being practicality - with a low boom and raked mast, obtaining a 90 degree angle, important for in-boom furling, would risk safety in the cockpit.

Ubi Maior Jiber headsail furling system

"JB JIBER is a structural jib or genoa furler that works without the usual aluminum extruded foils. The rod forestay is linked to the drum and swivel, and rotates to transmit the torque and furl the sail. The sail can be hoisted up and down, while the halyard tension can be adjusted at any time. The shuttle locks in position and unlocks automatically, guaranteeing faster, safer sailing and better boat handling"

Courtesy of Ubi Maior. Check out the 'JB Jiber' at www.ubimaioritalia.com

Transferring power

The list of things I don't like about Falcon is short but key amongst them is having to start the diesel engine. Falcon had no engine when she was launched but there is evidence of one being installed from pictures of her 'on the hard' as early as 1956. Initially, an aperture was cut in to the rudder. Later, when she was restored in 2007, John Anderson chose the starboard exit position she has today - much more efficient but 'challenging' to reverse (unless your goal is a tight turn stern-to-port!).

'No engine' would raise some eyebrows in today's world of tight slips and narrow fairways but was considered normal in the hey day of 1920's Q Class racing. Our solution for 2026 is a state of the art 10Kw electric drive with a jet-thruster in the bow for added maneuverability when docking. As Spirit Yachts modern manufacturing process will result in significant weight savings vs the original, adding batteries along the keel line shouldn't present any issues. Our goal is to retain the original displacement of ~21,000 lbs - with >50% in the form of lead ballast. More on the selected partner later in the study.

Propeller and shaft position require compromises. Placed within a rudder aperture (circa. 1950's) improves maneuverability but forces an inefficient shaft drive angle. Exiting to the side (as she is today) provides efficient drive but makes maneuvering a challenge.

Screenshot 2024-01-13 at 1.33.39 PM.png

Holding The Line(s)

One of the early discussions with Dykstra was what to change and what to retain from the original Falcon design. Our goal is NOT to build a replica or a reproduction but it IS to pay tribute to the original and to retain the essence of what makes 'Falcon', 'Falcon'. The obvious starting point was the lines plans.

 

A practical advantage of the original Q Class boats with their full keel is usability in terms of internal volume and accommodation, despite having a characteristically narrow beam. In fact, including a requirement for basic accommodation was part of a deliberate drive to make the class more popular and to give the boats a life after racing. 

While tempting to 'upgrade' the hull with a modern fin-keel or 'stretch' the beam a few inches for more interior volume we felt that Falcon's full keel and resulting hull profile were at the essence of both her looks, sailing characteristics and performance. They had to stay!  

 

The resulting decision was to stay true to the exact hull lines of the original 'Falcon' and search for a manufacturing partner that had the skills and knowledge that would be required to build the hull, cockpit and coach house in the original, timeless material - wood.

In The Beginning...

'Falcon' was commissioned from the renowned yacht designer Starling Burgess of Burgess, Swasey & Paine to be manufactured as Hull #962 of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. in Bristol, Rhode Island. 

Thanks to the generosity of the respective estates and the work of the MIT Hart Nautical Museum that holds the collection, we have a wealth of information including access to the original line drawings, plans, and specifications.

 

All of the images on this page are shared courtesy of the MIT Museum.

All images courtesy of the MIT Museum

For more information or to get in touch
contact us

bottom of page