Soto 40 to replace GP42 fleet

Audi MedCup B-boat to go one design in 2011

Friday September 24th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Italy

Starting from the 2011 season the new Soto 40 (S40) will replaced the GP42 on the Audi MedCup Circuit. At least eight of these one design grand prix racers are confirmed as entrants next season including three South American teams, two Spanish teams and one French team.

The Soto 40 has experienced an impressive growth curve since it was purpose designed by Javier Soto Acebal to meet the demand for an exciting, fast and technically advanced 40 footer. The new boat fits the brief for a grand prix boat which can be built and campaigned to a tightly controlled, reasonable budget in order to ensure that success can be achieved on the strength of sailing talent and skills, not simply by the crew with the biggest budget.

The 12.3 metres (40ft) one design has a 3.75m beam, draws 2.6m and displaces 4,200kgs. It is built in Argentina by M Boats and by the start of the 2011 season at 20 boats will have been built.

The boat has a 1.43 metres bowsprit to set large asymmetric spinnakers. Input into the deck layout was given by leading Audi MedCup 52 Series sailors and has resulted in a very clean deck area. The choice was made to forego the use of pedestal winches in order to save weight, keep the cockpit clear and to increase crew activity. An open stern and pronounced wing style deck overhangs to increase crew righting moment are immediately identifiable characteristic, along with a tall all-carbon rig setting a powerful square top mainsail.

Being to a strict one design rule ensures costs are tightly controlled. Only the choice of sailmaker and the electronics packages are open to choice. The sail inventory is limited. The S40 allows for the choice of either a tiller or wheel steering option.

One design requires the boats to be identical in design and construction to very tight tolerances. No alterations or modifications are permitted making the boats very closely matched. The sail package crew weight limit of 700 kgs, plus one guest, is likely to be imposed for the 2011 Circuit. The decision not to use carbon in the hull and deck lay up loses between one and two tenths of a knot upwind, according to the designer and builder, but the costs savings are of the order of €200,000. And with One Design eliminating any design evolution, resale values remain high and demand for used boats also remains high.

One Design fits tightly to the Audi MedCup Circuit ethos of easily understood, exciting accessible grand prix racing: first across the finish line wins.

The first S40 was launched in 2008. Presently ten boats are competing regularly in South American championships.

At least three South American owners have already committed to join the Audi MedCup Circuit in 2011. Audi MedCup have confirmed they have committed to five new boats of which three are already allocated to teams from Spain and France. While eight teams are expected to be on the start line of the first regatta of 2011, it is anticipated that more will join the Circuit as their new boats are completed and delivered. An advantage of One Design is that optimising and tuning up time is minimal, the boat can be raced to top level ‘off the shelf.’ There will also still be economic charter opportunities for teams who wish to reach an agreement to charter an existing boat from South America to sail on the 2011 Circuit.

Javier Soto Acebal commented: “This is a very exciting advance for the Soto 40 taking our design on to the world stage. I am totally happy about this and very proud of the team that have worked together to get us here. My biggest desire is to see the very even, open level of competition which we are seeing now in South America spread to the Audi MedCup Circuit. Each sailor that is racing a Soto 40 when he comes back to the dock has become a better sailor.”

Norberto Alvarez Vitale, owner Soto 40 hull number 2 Patagonia and who is also the Class Manager said: “The initial idea was to forget about rating systems, forget about IMS, design us a boat which is fun. We want to have fun in light winds, we want to have fun in strong winds we want to surf.

“The other thing that we had very clear is to bring costs down. For that it had to be one design. In order to be competitive from the very beginning with the boat it has to be a one design. There has to be no development to the boat.

“In our case that has turned out we raced in Rio two weeks ago and we had a great Chilean boat which won even after he had only got the boat one month ago. All these factors make it fun, make owners want to come to our class and really enjoy racing which is what it is all about. For us it is about the owners and the crew. For us it has been more than what we imagined. We started out with two boats, match racing, and now we have 20 in a year by this December. If that happened in South America where the economy is the way it is I can’t imagine what will happen in Europe once the boat lands in these waters.”

Nacho Postigo Technical Director of the Audi MedCup said:  "It is a big change to a philosophy for the Audi MedCup. It was a big step forward two years ago to a box rule for the smaller boat class and now we are moving to a one design class. One of the most important reasons is cost, cost of buying the boat, running the boat and resale value. When you exclude development from the equation apart it is also important that when you resell the boat it is still competitive and it has not become outdated. So the value remains.

“For a newcomer he will have the same tool, the same weapon as all the other boats around. In fact it is more about the sailing skills of the team, not about choosing a designer and how you run the project.”

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