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Vintage Searunner 25 Trimaran, Piver 25 Trimaran (& Searunner 31 Trimaran)

What’s it like being steeped in the knowledge of older designs such as the Searunner 25 trimaran, Piver 25 trimaran, or even the larger cruising Searunner 31 trimaran? See for yourself ;-)

This post comes to us on behalf of sailor and trimaran enthusiast Fred Goldfarb. As you’ll see, Fred is a veritable goldmine of information when it comes to 20th century trimarans, especially those now considered vintage. I can only say, “Thanks Fred!” for sharing a little bit of your story, along with these great photos, from decades ago. — Small Tri Guy

The Searunner 25 and Searunner 31 Trimarans
by Fred Goldfarb

I was 20 when I “discovered” boats & sailing, which has for better or worse affected the rest of my life immensely. I’ve studied engineering and small craft design, worked in naval architecture (large ships) and small craft (did a short stint with Cherubini yachts, some survey work, worked on all kinds of sailboats including wood,wood/glass, ferrocement, glass, building/repairing boats, taught sailing with the Offshore Sailing School, taught sailing, seamanship & navigtion with the Coast Guard Auxilliary, delivered boats from New England to Miami (including the Intracoastal Waterway), sailed on the East & West Coasts, some lakes/rivers, up with the Toronto Multihull Cruising Club, plus owned a folding sailing Kayak (a Klepper, my first boat), some dinks, the Brown 25 and 31, etc. While up in Victoria, Bill Kristofferson showed me and my buddy his first Kismet 24, with 6′ or so standing headroom – that was around 23 years ago.

I’m very familiar with older multihull designers such as Norm Cross (who I had the pleasure of meeting once on a 32’er of his design), Jim Brown, Ed Horstman (with whom I had an ongoing correspondence and met his better half once while on a business trip to California), plus many others. I have a personal boating library of design, construction, navigation, how to sail, sailing/cruising stories, etc., going back in some cases to the 1970’s. At last count there were between 400 and 500 items, including some boat plans (the original Trekka plans from Laurent Giles, a Roberts 24 somewhere).

I’m one of those whose life was changed by boats & sailing, and have an almost obsessive and savant – like interest & knowledge about a ton of stuff relating to the subject area. For example, my “sailing instructor”, whom I met 3 years after actually learning to sail, was famous single handed sailor Jean LaCombe, who was one of 5 participating in the first OSTAR (Observer Single Handed Transatlantic Race) along with Blondie Hassler, Valentine Howells, Sir Francis Chitchester, etc. Jean sailed a production 21′ glass Golif. When I met him he had been across the “pond” no less than 5 times singlehanded, and he showed me stuff I hadn’t yet learned, like sailing without a rudder, etc.

We became somewhat friendly after that. I have his book “A Moi Atlantique” about his first transat voyage in the 18′ wooden boat he designed and built, “El Hippocampe”, though since it’s in French I’ve yet to get it translated and actually read it! (I love passing on that info and knowledge to others).

Years ago I worked in naval architecture long ago, and was in a joint mechanical engineering/small craft design program between the college & Westlawn School of Yacht Design (the name back then). I’ve a long standing interest in good design, interesting design, how designers (and builders) solve problems, and have felt since I can remember that if a designer can do a good job with a smaller boat it says fare more than his designing a larger boat with vastly more room.

I guess I’m more interested personally in boats with some cruising accommodations though daysailers have and always will be more affordable, probably get more use, and are just as much fun when you get down to it. I once saw the original Transatlantic Val trimaran that looked like big version of the Tremolino 23 tri, etc. My best friend had a Piver 25 stretched to 27′ about the same time as I had the Searunner 25. I also know a fellow with a Newick Wing Val (formerly “Peggy”) which is one of the very few made in foam core glass. It was in a transatlantic race originally, and while not competitive today, still can get up to the high teen’s in speed under the right conditions.

A guy in my neighborhood has a small glass cabin tri in his garage, and in the 15 years I’ve lived in my town I’ve yet to see anything done with it. I tried talking with him about it once, even offering to buy it cheap to get it off his hands, but he wasn’t interested. Can’t understand why. I’m not sure of the make, but it’s probably a production tri from the late 1960’s to early 70’s from the looks of it. Like a glass Piver 25 maybe.

First, here are a couple of photos of my old friend Steve’s Piver tri, about a 25′ — stretched to 26′ or 27′ according to Steve …

Piver Trimaran

Piver designed 27 (stretched 25) “2XS”, owned by Steve Steinberg.

Piver Trimaran

Piver designed 27 (stretched 25) “2XS”, owned by Steve Steinberg.

Small Tri Guy Note: I found the following webpage while surfing the net one day. It features scanned images from Arthur Piver’s original trimarans catalog.

I first discovered Jim Brown’s Searunner 25 trimaran pretty early on, since I was interested in multihulls from the age of 20 (or 1968). Getting the Trimaraner mag helped. So did seeing some multihulls around NY. Symonds Sailing helped, as they were exclusively a multihull sailboat dealer.

This design attracted me because I got and read everything I could get my hands on re: boats & multihulls, including catalogs. Brown’s were very complete; plus he had a fantastic ability to convey excitement and to “market” his ideas. Specifically, I was interested in lots of designs, but very, very few were around.

The Newport, RI multihull sailboat show had a few boats, including Steve Callahan’s modifed Cross 28 Tri and others. Not many were for sale locally either and when I saw an ad for one I called. The local multi broker, Denis Blaise (school teacher & multihull sailboat broker) showed me the boat. It was in pretty good shape, sailed very well, and I went for it. The center cockpit is a great place to sail and handle lines from, though it really chops up the interior. It was great for daysails, overnighting, etc.

I bought this Searunner instead of building one myself. Although, over the years I had it, I worked on the cockpit, fixed bulkheads, literally made new A-frame structures (including cutting threads in stainless steel rods for bolting the A-frames on), and after the original and overbuilt mast broke at the spreaders (it was fiberglassed over the wood and the rot wasn’t apparent), I designed and built a new, lighter mast. That counts I think.

My Brown 25 was a very cool boat. Not much room below, a single berth w/head under forward, single berth aft with a seat, small galley/nav areas ahead of the berth, cockpit to seat 2 or 4 people max, and I loved going out on am ama while steering with a long tiller extension, and watch my own boat sail while sailing it!

The longest cruise I took my Searunner 25 on lasted 3 weeks. It was taken with a very “game” girlfriend at the time. We did a 3 week cruise from City Island, up the Connecticut river to Hamburg Cove & Essex (the next day), went to Stonington, CT, then off to Block Island, anchored in close to shore in Great Salt Pond where we spent 4 days, partially due to needing some rigging wire to replace some that was unraveling, then back to Stonington, back to the lower Ct. River, sailed a few days on an O’Day 25 to Coecles Harbor (Long Island), then back on Flying Cloud to City Island.

Brown Searunner 25 Trimaran “Flying Cloud”

Getting ready for the season at City Island, NY. Jay Rothbaum on ladder duty, Steve Steinberg in the cockpit, and your’s truly, Fred Goldfarb, supervising from the stern.

On the way back we spent a night up in Branford, CT. tied to a gas dock while a hurricane went through. I still recall seeing people in foulies in dinks going to retie sails and boats breaking loose! We had a tarp used as a boom tent, which really helped. That trip we did have the outboard hanging off the stern. The only problem wasn’t with the boat, but the simple fact that even the cockpit was kinda small to even try making some kind of double berth.

My Searunner 25 performed great under most conditions. Speed was greater than equivalent sized monohulls, (though perhaps a better measure would have been equal displacement, since most 25?er had better interiors). If a gust hit, you sped up, sometimes fast enough to make you lose your balance, like flooring the pedal on a sports car. It tacked just fine, was very maneuverable, though you need to be watchful of your sail trim, if you needed fall off quickly for example.

Brown Searunner 25 Trimaran

Launching the Brown Searunner 25 “Flying Cloud” at City Island. Note the “solid” trampolines between the hulls.

While crossing Block Island Sound in 4? to 6? waves, it would look like you’d get washed off by a wave, when the bows would rise so fast that while changing jibs my knees were left a few inches off the deck as the bow dropped off the wave top! In stronger winds you reefed appropriately and made sure to keep the boat moving, or you’ll stop very quickly if you’re going to windward. In the years I had the boat I rarely used the outboard, and mostly never even had it aboard.

Finally, here are photos of my Searunner 31, “Moonraker” with my wife Ilene, some friends …

Jim Brown designed Searunner 31 “Moonraker”,

Jim Brown designed Searunner 31 “Moonraker”, on her mooring in Oyster Bay, NY. She was donated to the US Olympic Committee who put her up for sale. The local multihull yacht broker I bought my Searunner 25 from had called me about this great boat I just “had to see”. My new fiancé and I went to look at the boat and after thoroughly inspecting it and having it surveyed decided to buy it.

Brown Searunner 31 Trimaran Sail

Moonraker’s mainsail with the manta ray Searunner logo and the vessel size (31), plus her sail number for local Long Island Multihull Association (since defunct) racing.

Brown Searunner Trimaran Cockpit

The skipper, Fred Goldfarb, at the tiller of Moonraker in Long Island Sound. Note the mainsheet traveler at the aft end of the “sterncastle”, or aft cabin.

Ilene sailng Moonraker around Oyster Bay in the fall.

Sailing Our Searunner 31 Trimaran with Friends

Ilene and friends of ours sailing Moonraker in Long Island Sound.


  1. Thanks for sharing Fred. One of my fav sailing pics is the cutter rigged SR 25 on the back cover of ‘Searunner Construction’. Looks effortless sailing.

    Best wishes,
    greg (building a 25′ ply tri with one cabin :-)

  2. Hi Greg!

    Cutter rigs look great when both foresails are set, though it means more sheets to handle when tacking. The rig is easy to set on a Searunner, though you do need to watch your mainsail when the running back stays are set. I can tell you that both my Searunners handled very well, just make sure you have enough centerboard down and understand that if you fall off without easiing your mainsail at the very least you may not fall off much if at all. My 25 wouldn’t fall off if the mainsail weren’t let out. If you let the mains’l out while starting to fall off, the boat could almost do a 90 degree turn. It didn’t really of course, but it turned so fast you might be surprised at the speed.

    If you’re thinking of building or buying one, buying get’s you sailing much faster. I’d advise to have a professional survey done on any you might considering buying however, as there are many ways problems can creep into a 10 year or older boat made of glass over ply construction. Check for screws that may penetrate the decks too. We had deck rot due to a self tapping screw a previous owner of our 31’er had used to mount the overhead light in the dressing area forward. The damage required half the fore cabin top to be replaced.

    Hope all your sailing is fun, fast, and safe!


  3. Hello Fred-
    It’s good to see your story and pictures. I had a Searunner (hull #301), built in Los Altos CA in 1979. I sailed it a lot in Mexico until I trailered it up to Port Townsend, WA in 1989, where I stripped the whole boat and glassed it (the Guegeon Brothers told everyone in the late 1970’s to not bother with fiberglass if they used WEST brand epoxy). Then I sailed it a lot up here. I slightly modified the cockpit to hold my 6’3″ frame (horizontally) when we converted it to a double bed for the night. I loved sleeping out that way (still can’t find a trimaran under 30′ with a double bed). Mine was cutter rigged, which had two problems: lots of lines in the cockpit (we called it the spaghetti syndrome) and that darn “compression post” right in the middle of the forward companionway. But in a big blow she’s sail sweetly under the staysail and reefed main. When I sold her in 1996, I took the new owner out in a 45 knot gale, and he was shocked at how well she sailed. We even had tea! I’ve moved on to bigger boats (have a 40′ catamaran now) but I often miss that 25 Searunner. She was so fun to sail, inexpensive, nice looking, easy to pull out of the water and trailer (I pulled mine up from Mexico behind an F100 with a 304 V8). The only two real limitations were water and motor. I always wanted to equip it with a small water maker. And I hated the way the outboard would cavitate in any waves (up here I still mostly sailed but there are times when there really is no wind).
    Why did you get rid of your 31? That seemed like one of the best all around designs to me. Too bad so many have gone by the wayside now (as Jim Brown told me “We never expected those things to last so long!”). What do you sail now?
    Thanks again and happy sailing!

  4. I am living in venezuela, I am a vet that wants to sail home. I have sailed tris, had a piver mach 1 30 ft and traveled thru the bahamas with just a 5 hp seagull, My plan is to sail home but I will proable have to make the boat have been looking at hydrofoils, can they handle the caribean with a single hand on board, I woild love the flighttt or would it be better to make a 25 footer tri. from caracas to jamaica to caymans around cuba to miami the sea in march is almost all at my stern what do you think thanks tony

  5. HI John & Tony,

    Just saw your respective posts.


    Sounds like you had more fun with your 25 than I did with mine! Mine had no compression post for the mast. Instead, there was a small cuddy, an extension aft from the forward cabin top over the forward cockpit, maybe 2′ or so long. The mast was stepped right where the main bulkhead at the forward end of the cockpit was (the cuddy part extended aft of this bulkhead). I added two supports at the aft end of the cuddytop, from the cuddy top to the edge of the cockpit seats. Without them the cuddy top would flex a little. The forward cabin was okay for 1 to sleep in, though getting in to use the porta potti was a bit of nuisance of course.

    As for Moonraker, our old 31’er. We had a new motor installed a few years after the old one conked out. The deck repair was done by a professional, due to lack of time on my part (full time job, etc.). We were saving to buy a house and decided to part with the boat a year or two after the deck repair. We donated it to an organization doing anthropological marine research. Last we heard it was maybe around Belize. The only concern with having a wooden boat (even one sheathed in fiberglass), is that maintenance can really become a major part of owning such a boat. Moonraker was built in the 1970’s on Long Island, and as I noted in my article, not every owner (we were the 4th we think to own Moonraker) took good care of her (that self tapping sheet metal screw for example). Had I the time, I’d have wanted to redo some things anyway, as I did for my 25′, for example, designing & building a new mast when the old one broke at the spreaders one day while sailing near City Island, NY.


    In college I did a simple hydrofoil design for a 25′ center cockpit trimaran (the Brown 25 Searunner in fact). The design was meant to act as a stabilzing foil more than lifting the main hull off the water, and to add lift to both the ama as well as help prevent leeway, due to the shape of the foils. I’ve wanted to see some cruising examples of foilers for many years, but alas, there have been very, very few around. I think they are not as practical for most multihullers as conventional designs, and maybe they “scare” people off. The oddness (compared to conventional tris) plus possible higher costs may also be factors preventing commercial builders of foilers. On the other hand, if you’re building a tri, you might consider building your own foils. The Amateur Yacht Research Society had/has some material on it, plus there’s online web pages on hydrofoils that will have some design information. I think there may be one or more commerically available books on sailing hydrofoils & their design too.

    As for handling the Caribbean…

    The 31′ Williwaw went trans-Pacific eyars ago, and other large foilers have gone transocean. I think the main concern will be a general one – is the boat & crew able to cross oceans intelligently & safely. The Searunner 25 has gone from California to Hawaii. I don’t recall, but it wouldn’t surprise me if other 25’er have gone across oceans, etc. and their skippers just haven’t publicized it much, if at all. I’d think the Searunner 25 would be a perfect small tri to cruise the Caribbean, go to Bermuda in, etc., as long as you are a sailor who can do such trips safely. Pick your season/weather to make it a better trip (no hurricanes, please).

    I think you’re route seems reasonable, not having reviewed weather & current data for the areas you’ll be in, but see if you can visit Cuba too, since it’s big, along your route, is not unfriendly to yachts visiting (you may have to look into US regulations and if desired figure out how to do it but not annoy US officialdom, probably easy to do today).

    I’d try a self built self steering rig to, since it’s: 1) much cheaper than buying a commerical one; 2) lighter in weight (important when hanging on the stern of a 25′ tri); 3) easier for you to change/fix since you’ll have built it, should it need revising for better operation (remember, a tri can accelerate qiuckly, making a windvane steerer possibly mess up). I’d also have a solar recharged, battery operated tiller self steering set up for other times, maybe running dead downwind or very broad reaching. If one breaks, you’ll have the other. Either way you’ll get more needed rest on a small boat that will move around lots more than a larger one.


  6. Fred,

    I remember the 25. You had just purchased it when I was working for Dick Janda and were members of TSCA.

    Talk about finding a skeleton out of the closet. It sounds like you have fulfilled your sailing dreams. I remember one night we got kicked out a restaurant in the villiage because we had spent so much time there looking at boat plans.

    Nice to see an old friend,
    John B.

  7. Hello Everyone,

    In the early 1970’s I built, possibly the first on the East Coast, a Brown 31. Sailed her with my family, four of us, down the coast and back. We landed on Cape Cod in 1974 where we now live.

    Later, in about 1998, I purchased a 37 in Ontario and eventually brought her off shore to St. Augustine, FL. I sailed her around the Keys and numerous islands of The Bahamas until 2003. Due to financial issues I was forced to sell her. Both Searunners, for numerous reasons, have been by far the most wonderful sailors imaginable. If anyone would like information regarding these Brown designs, please contact me.

    On another note…I am, at 72, searching diligently for a Brown 31 or…34. I’m looking forward to another coast wise sail here on the Atlantic side. If you have or know of anyone who has a Searunner for sale or anyone who might be interested in selling, please contact me. It will be most appreciated.


  8. A warm and joyous ‘fair winds’ to all you Searunner sailors and enthusiasts. I’m looking forward to hearing from you re: information and leads to a 31 for sale.

    Again, many thanks…Stefs

  9. Gosh, it’s so good, and memory inspiring, to hear all these Searunner 25 tales! I bought my 25 plans from Jim when he lived just up the road from Santa Cruz in 1970, I think. Began building at an old abandoned oil pumping station/mushroom farm not 3 miles from his place which was up a creek and thru the woods. One of his sons, around 12 or so at the time, had just gotten back from winning a model sailing meet w/a searunner 25 model! I later saw him, all grown up, in Port Salerno, FL building his proa. Like father, like son! My 25 was awesome. on a cruise down from Santa Cruz to Baja, I encountered Santa Ana winds said later to be blowing @ 90mph off Morro Bay and had to turn and run offwind and offshore during the night. I couldn’t point high enough in that weather to get past Morro rock; and just as well, considering how tight the entrance is there. I never had nor needed a motor. Wonderful boat. I now have an old 33′ Irwin and STILL wish I had my Searunner. Y’all have a good one; glad I found this site.

  10. Hi John, Stefan, & Mike!

    Just saw all of your posts and finally got around to a reply.

    John: WOW! I remember Dick Janda very well. He told me once built a Piver 25, had trouble with the stern, asked Piver himself about it, and was told “Just put it together”. He didn’t think Piver was a great engineer so much as a relatively “ok” designer, but was a fantastic media person. Not surprising considering Piver’s background. PS: I’m on LinkedIn. If you find me, contact me (my profile say’s something about having worked at SNAME a few years back). Or ask Joe (the SmallTrimaranGuy himself) for my email – tell him it’s okay. I’m on Long Island these days.

    Stefan: Since 2008 I’ve seen a few 31’s listed for sale, including Jim Brown’s own Scrimshaw (which I’ve seen sailing up in Maine near the Woodenboat School on Eggemoggin Reach). One was larger (okay, not a 31), which was a 34 made of fiberglass, not wood/ply sheathed in ‘glass. One 31 was up at the Toronto Multihull Cruising Club (which had a few Searunners of various sizes). I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find one. Go to Jim Brown’s Outrig.org website for history, stories (including one I wrote about sailing up the East River at night without a motor in my old 31’ Moonraker). You might also contact Jim or John Marples regarding 31’s & 34’s for sale. Personally, if I were in such a market right now I’d try & find a 34 made of glass, or better yet, foam core glass. Otherwise maybe a ‘glass 31. I love wood, but the upkeep keeps many sailors owning wooden boats of any kind on shore more than they want. You can always fix up a ‘glass boat, rebuild stuff, add stuff, make a new mast, etc., but the idea, especially at 72 would be to sail more, maintain less. There are too few days and way too much sailing yet to be done!

    Mike: One of the very few times I needed a motor was going up the Connecticut river into Hamburg cove with my 25. That and the next day crossing the river to Essex, which was in a wind coming down the river so strong we were being blown downwind and worked hard to reach the dock. Under sail it might have worked okay, but space was tight, with no room for error, and frankly I didn’t want to crash into the dock a breakneck speed, which the 25 could certainly do any time a gust hit!. Up in Maine I’ve see Searunners a few times, a CC Marples 34 or 37’er, and even what I think was a Brown Proa, maybe 28’ or so long, screaming out of Rockland or Camden Harbor heading across to Vinylhaven so fast it was heading back by the time the schooner I was on was just approaching the entrance to Merchants Row!

    Gotta say that while my wife want me to think about a monohull right now, I could easily get hypnotized by a solid wing 31 or better yet 34 again, especially in glass, or foam core glass. I loved that old 25’er but man, I’m married a long time like a decent double berth for all sorts of reasons! PS: I’m now 63 and still feel like I did when I had that 25, at least when it comes to multihulls!


  11. i am looking for a sailboat big enough to live on and long distance cruise on , on a small buget. like to have some input. marvin

  12. Hi,

    First of all I would like to say a big hello from Europe.
    I found a Searunner 25 for sale.
    Can I reasonnable think that I can sleep on board with my wife and my 2 kids 7 and 5 years old ?



  13. Hi Andre,
    I don’t see why you couldn’t sleep on a SeaRunner 25 trimaran with your wife and 2 children.

  14. Hi,

    The man who sales the boat says they are 2 one beds so not two double beds.
    One at the front and one at the back.

  15. How can 4 people sleep in the boat please ?



  16. I mean berth not bed sorry for my english
    The boat was build 1982.
    They are some bubels on one hull.
    Seller says it is osmosis.
    Hard to repair ?
    Price is euro 4000 with 10 HP engine and euros 2000 without engine.
    I have a 4 HP engine so might buy it without engine.
    I like that experimental and aerospace design :)




  17. Hello Everybody,

    Would be great if somebody could tell me if a 4 people family can sleep in a Searunner 25 ? 2 adults and 2 childrens (7 and 5 years) ?




  18. Hello Andre
    I have a Searunner 25 and would say they could fit if the weather was nice and you used the cockpit as a berth. I had a 31 A-frame a few years ago and this is a much better boat for that size family. if you have 4 people there is not room for stuff on a 25, like food, drinks, books, toys, clothes, The 31 at only 6′ longer the inside is twice as big as the 25. I will move back up to a 31 when it is time to head down the coast.
    Good luck!
    Dan in Seattle WA USA

  19. Hi Dan

    Thank you for your feedback. I might go for a more conventional boat. I found one sailboat for $ 2000 with 5 berth.8 meters a little work on it but ok.Also cheaper mooring than a multihull.




  20. Not sure if you’ll be seeing this now Andre, but a monohull to carry your family comfortably will be easier to find for probably less money than a good multihull. If you do prefer a multihull you’ll need to look at trimarans in the 31′ +/- size or larger, or catamarans from around 26′ (like the British Heavenly Twins cruising design) or larger, though they will be more expensive. My only concern with a Searunner 31 (or 34 perhaps) is that for living aboard the center cockpit really does cut up the accommodation, though it gives you greater privacy for anyone sleeping forward from those aft. Designs from other designers like Cross or Horstman might work well in similar sizes, and there are boats (tris and cats) from some Australian designers that are good cruisers, like a modified 36’er built by the owners who then were cruising the Pacific ocean for 3 years with three children (oldest was 13 when I met them), home schooling the kids aboard, and had plenty of room for their family. Any boat you’ll be living aboard will be easier to care for since it’ll be your home and you’ll know when anything needs repair immediately. Hope this helps if you’re still looking.

  21. Hi Fred, Thank you very much for your advise. Funny because I bought in June a Hurley Felicity 20 for cheap money (better with the crisis) and no mooring costs because it is in a free channel in the Netherlands (hope this situation will last). 4 sleeps a little tight inside but ok, one double and 2 single. I put my 4 HP Mariner on it (Dropped it in the channel before) and we will try it the first time this summer. I need to build a mast support as I need to lay the mast to be able to pass the bridges on that channel. Thanks for your advises and have a nice day.

  22. Dear all present and past 25 Searunner owners. I am currently looking at buying a much loved but in need of some serious TLC Searunner 25. I’m wondering if anyone has pictures of their cabins so that I can get some inspiration for maintenance ideas. It is a sound boat externally but internally could do with more than a little lick of paint.

  23. i had a Searunner 25 on the Hudson River in the early 80s. Loved it. Once, I sailed it down the River to NYC, around Manhattan (motor) and all the way to Port Jefferson. This was may longest trip. I now own a Searunner 31 and love every inch if it. Yes there is rot here and there but always easy to fix.

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