James Boyd Photography / www.thedailysail.com

Class40 ten years in

With 130 boats built, we took in the latest designs in this week's Normandy Channel Race

Friday April 19th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

From the simple premise of it being a yacht capable of racing offshore at a price making it attainable for average mortals, the Class40 has become one of the most successful boats of its size of all time. While just over 150 Farr40s have been built since it was first launched in 1996, since the first Pogo and Jumbo 40s hit the water in France a decade ago, hull numbers this year are set to exceed 130. And it should be remembered that the Class40 is a box rule boat, not a one design.

And it is still going strong. Traditionally the Route du Rhum is the big event for the class. At the height of the recession in 2010, the French singlehanded transatlantic race had forty four Class40s on the start line (of which an impressive 40 finished) and given the number of new boats in build at present, it appears that this number could be eclipsed for next year’s running of the race. Even in this week’s Normandy Channel Race there have been twenty Class40s racing.

Often in box rule classes, single designers become prevalent, but in the Class40 a number of new faces have appeared over the last years.

New to the Class40, this year are Botin & Partners. Marcellino Botin, the Emirates Team NZ designer has penning a boat for his 2010 and 2012 Class 40 World Championship winning brother, Gonzalo. The new boat has been built by Longitud Cero in Castellon (north of Valencia) and will compete in this autumn’s Transat Jacques Vabre, as well as the Route du Rhum. Her first major outing will be the Rolex Fastnet Race this August, with a crew including former TP52 boat captain and Barcelona World Race competitor Antonio Piris and MedCup founder and navigator, Nacho Postigo.

As you can see from the photos (here and here), the boat features a powerful hull shape with a substantial chine, and a ‘chamfer’ (cut-off gunnel) running from the bow back to mid-ships. As is the modern trend, the cockpit appears to be small, positioned slightly further aft than other designs, while the raised mainsheet track defines the aft end of the working area of the cockpit. There are twin companionways with a central pit area between and twin transom-hung rudders (although these don’t appear to kick-up).

Following on from their experience with Richard Tolkien's ORCA, Humphries Yacht Design has a new model nearing competition at Ocean Tec in Slovenia and due for launch next month. This is for an Austrian owner, the boat to be skippered by Andreas Hanakamp. More about this here.

Meanwhile Jason Ker has drawn the 40 One Design, being marketed by Tony Lawson’s Team Concise and currently in build at McConaghys in China. The first example is due to arrive in the UK at the end of July, but probably too late to enter the Rolex Fastnet Race. Her first event will be the recently announced Class40 Worlds, being held in Plymouth immediately after the Fastnet Race, before Team Concise’s Ned Collier Wakefield and Artemis Offshore Academy scholarship winner Sam Goodchild take her in the Transat Jacques Vabre. More about the 40 One Design here.

For the record as much as anything it should be pointed that one of the earliest Class40 designs was a plywood-built chined Julien Marin design, confusingly called the ‘Ker 40’ (definitely not the same as the IRC boat). Since then and to avoid confusion, this has been modified to become the ‘Tyker 40’. The latest examples bearing this name have been designed by Guillaume Verdier (of IMOCA 60 and Emirates Team New Zealand fame). The latest example, the Tyker 40 Evo3 Norma Concept le Pal, was launched recently for Paralympic Sonar helm Bruno Jourdren, who has been competing in the Normandy Channel Race, with 2010 Route du Rhum winner Thomas Ruyant also on board.

With the new boats, Verdier says he worked a lot on the CFD for the hull. “The bow is fuller and I really wanted to make a boat with more all round performance, not a pure reaching machine. So I tried to keep the philosophy of low wetted area and I changed the ballast configuration as well, so we have three ballast tanks each side.”

The boat, while powerful, doesn’t have the extreme chine or slabs sides of many of the other new designs.

The latest Tyker, like many of the new Class40s, features twin kick-up rudders, but uniquely the design of the keel and rig is such that their position can be moved fore and aft. Following the debacle over the Mach40’s adjustable forestay, this is something Class40 has come down on like a ton of bricks, ruling that the position of the keel can only be moved once per year.

Like the new Botin boat, she has a partially articulating bowsprit, as well as a twin companionway, central pit configuration. However her cockpit is otherwise much more IMOCA 60-like, deep and there are kick-up rudders, PRB-style where the cockpit sole tapers off pretty much to hull level around the kick-up mechanism, although on the 40 there is a bulge between for the mandatory transom-mounted escape hatch. Also in line with IMOCA 60s increasing their protection in the cockpit, the Tyker’s angular cockpit dodger also extends out laterally each side from the aft part of the cabin top with a window in the panel enabling a view forwards.

Verdier also has another new Class 40 – a one-off, not a Tyker - called Fantastica, in build in Italy for a campaign involving Stefano Raspadori and top Italian Figaro and America’s Cup sailor, Pietro d’Ali.

According to Verdier the price of the Tyker 40 is around 350,000 Euros from the yard plus another 50,000 Euros for sails and electronics.

While Jorg Riechers gave us a guided tour to his Mach 40 mare, winner of this week’s Normandy Channel Race, a newer version of the Mach 40 was also competing in Sebastien Rogues’ recently launched GDF Suez. This obviously also features a very powerful slab sided hull and a fully rotating Mini-style bowsprit as mare. While almost all Class40 bowsprits can be canted, bringing the tack of the downwind sails up to weather if required, on the Mach 40s it can rotate back within the perimeter of the deck and there are articulating jockey poles that flip out from half-way back down the foredeck to improve the sheeting of the bowsprit.

While there are genres of Class40s, still a great degree of customisation goes on between boats of the same ‘type’. For example while mare has transom-hung kick up rudders, on GDF Suez they are transom-hung but fixed. But perhaps a bigger change between the two is that GDF has reverted to the more traditional arrangement of a single companionway with the pit area divided either side of it. The feeling is that the singlehanded companionway on this size of boat makes it easier to lug sails between down below and on deck.

Also while mare and Aloys Claquin’s Jack in Box, the first two Mach 40s, both featured rigs with in-line spreaders which could be raked by up to 8 degrees, since this has been prohibited by the class, GDF Suez has a conventional carbon rig with swept back spreaders, which in turn will have meant a rejigging off the structure down below and a repositioning of the chainplates.

A nice little gizmo fitted on GDF Suez and popping up on a few boats now is an alternative to a jammer... This involves a line being locked within a movable outer cover. If anyone knows anything more about these, please tell us what you know at the bottom of this page...

In part 2 of this we look at the Farr-designed Kiwi 40 and the latest Akilaria RC3

Phesheya Racing - Akilaria RC1

Rogers - Swish (52) and Red


JPK 40 - Obportus 3 (60) and Kogane (91)

Akilaria Mk2 - Phoenix Europe - Carac (65 proto version), Geodis (81), Momentum Ocean Racing (93, ex-Concise 2), Jasmine Flyer (112, ex Cessna Citation)

Pogo 40S2 - Groupe Picoty (85), Campagne de France (101), Mr Bricolage (109), Partouche (113)

Tyker 40 - Earwen

Kiwi 40 - Pascall Atkey & Son of Cowes (102) and Made in Normandie (107)

Akilaria RC3




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