Latest Evolutions and Revolutions
in the Class40
David Raison won a double victory in the Mini Transat and the Transat Jaques Vabre 2019. His two creations, the Mini n° 865, Team BFR-Marée Haute with François Jambou and the Class40 n° 158 Crédit Mutuel, with Ian Lipinski and Adrien Hardy crossed the Atlantic proving once again that round noses are the future.
The winner of the last Mini Transat La Boulangère, n° 865 under the colours of Flexirub. In Mini, victory is not synonymous with economic success, but the spirit of conviviality, competitiveness and progress are the driving forces behind the Class.
In creating the Mini Transat, Bob Salmon’s objective of returning to the adventure with little means on 6.50 meter yachts proved true in the first edition, in 1977, but in 1979, an American Express ballasted prototype, in Norton Smith, won the race. It paved the way for experimentation with innovative architectural solutions. In 2010, the engineer David Raison designed the Magnum 747 with a wide and full bow.
From its first tests in 2010, David Raison's Magnum showed a clear superiority over the classic Mini design. However, we will have to wait until 2017 to see the first round noses in the Class.
David’s victory in the Transgascogne and the 2011 Mini confirms the prognosis, but surprisingly enough, not a new scow bow on the horizon for 2013, while Italian Giancarlo Pedote renames the 747 Prysmian and takes eight victories between 2012 and 2014 and wins the overall Mini rankings for 2013 and 2014.
Prysmian, ex Magnum 747, acquired by the company SEAir, became in 2017 the first modern monohull to fly on foils.
Launched in 2014, David Raison’s new Maximum865, under the colors of Cultisol, then Flexirub Cherche Sponsor, then Griffon, scored 14 victories between 2016 and 2017. However, for the 2017 season, out of the thirty or so protos that are racing, there are still no new plans from David. Named in 2018 Offshoresailing.fr, then BFR Marée Haute, then BFR Marée Haute Jaune, and finally Team BFR-Marée Haute, he has just beaten the new round-nosed Mini launched recently, totaling 25 victories since its launch.
As much as the Mini’s rule is open, the Class40 rule is restrictive. Indeed, it was created in 2004 by Patrice Carpentier, racer, author and journalist, to bring together on an ocean-going yacht all those who want to race on a small budget, amateurs, and racers in need of big sponsors. The length of the hull is limited to 12.19 meters, the beam to 4.50 meters, the draft to 3 meters. The removable bowsprit must not exceed 2 meters and the average freeboard must be at least 1.08 meters. The minimum displacement is 4.5 tonnes, two 750 liter ballasts are possible, the keel is fixed, no daggerboards or foils, no sophisticated rigging, and exotic materials, carbon, Kevlar or others are forbidden. The air draft of the mainsail is a maximum of 19 meters, and the surface area of the two sails, solent and mainsail, is limited to 115 square meters. Finally, a measure, which was intended to prevent the design of a scow, taken at 20 centimeters from the bow, limits the width of the hull to 45 centimeters.
In 2006, twenty-five Class40 boats are at the start of the Route du Rhum, representing a third of the fleet in Saint-Malo. Since then, the Class remains the most numerous in the majority of the major ocean races in which it participates. This success is due to the vigilance of those in charge of the measurement, who always choose the least expensive solution. Thanks to this rigor, a Class40 ready to race costs the price of a pair of foil on a 60-foot IMOCA boat.
So recently, a few architects have been sharing the orders, such as Marc Lombard, Finot-Conq, Sam Manuard, Owen Clarke, or Guillaume Verdier, the most internationally renowned firms, such as Farr Yacht Design, Botin Partners or Jason Ker have tried their hand at it. The two most important series, with their successive versions, are those of Akilaria, from the Marc Lombard firm, with Eric Levet, and the Pogo series developed by Pascal Conq, a partner in the Finot Group.
The standard Akilaria 40C from Marc Lombard's firm has had glory days from the very first models. Some of them have since even sailed around the world, either racing or cruising.
The Pogo 40 series, dear to Pascal Conq, its creator, has enabled many amateur and semi-professional racers to race the great ocean racing classics.
If the Class is international, comprising a dozen nations, communication on the results are most often blurred by the arrivals of the big classes, the Ultim and IMOCA, which benefit from the first news and large media outlets. Also, the arrival of Crédit Mutuel, the first round-nosed Class40 from an architect whose first creation it is, has made its mark and attracted all the attention, especially as its Mini had just arrived at the head of the Transat. However, 160 yachts have been registered since 2006. At the time, Marc Lombard’s Akilaria was offered in cruising and racing versions, like the first Pogo 40s. Gradually, the silhouettes and hulls have evolved, and the architects have tried to optimize the possibilities offered by the rule.
The trend in recent years has been towards tighter lines, creating a thicker bow and pushing back the beam as far as possible. When heeled over, the boat has less wetted surface area and retains its full length. The example of Sam Manuard’s Corum n° 155, a Mach 40.3, launched in 2018 is well representative of this evolution.
Sam Manuard's Mach 40.3s are still formidable and two of them were on the podium in the last Transat Jacques Vabre. Corum won his first race in 2018, the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race, with Nicolas Troussel, Ian Lipinski and Aymeric Belloir.
The first to attempt a solution adapted to the rule to create a hull close to the scow is that of Eric Levet for the Marc Lombard firm, which, as of 2016, is working in this direction. Carac, n° 150, a Lift 40, launched in 2017, has a full-hull forward, with a vertical side that goes around the boat. The hull is resolutely flat-bottomed, with very open U-shaped sections and a resolutely sharp chine. There is no longer any transition between the planking and the hull, the chine creates a clear break. The bow is raised, it is no longer the length of the waterline at rest that counts, but the ability of the hull to do some planning, and climbing the waves instead of crashing into them.
Carac is the first of the Lift 40 series from Marc Lombard. The drawing of the chine on the rear half is actually higher. The angle of attack of the bow is the beginning of a revolution in Class 40 hull design.
The arrival in the Class40 circuit of David Raison, by Ian Lipinski (14 victories on his Mini between 2016 and 2017), and the Crédit Mutuel, n° 158, overturns all previous solutions, and goes beyond preconceived ideas.
The aft half of the boat is at the maximum of the authorized beam, and the front is as wide as possible, within the limit of the famous 20 centimeters from the bow. As on the Lift 40, the hull is surrounded by a vertical ribbon; the hull, with its soft shapes, comes to rest under the chine. The bow is very elusive, and buoyancy begins well beyond frame one. The goal is clear, the sailboat must glide permanently, and raise the nose! In order to improve upwind performance, the keel sail is forward in relation to the ballast bulb, and to ensure greater stiffness of the hull, and to provide volume in case of overturning, the roof is extended to the first couple.
The late launch of the latest version of Sam Manuard’s Mach 40, the Mach 40.4 n° 159, Banque du Léman, for the Transat Jacques Vavre did not allow Simon Koster and Valentin Gautier to reach the podium.
Sam Manuard didn't hesitate to move back the mast step, the centre of buoyancy and the keel sail. The silhouette is hyper powerful. In reality, with the breeze, the masthead bends and the lift operates, raising the bow to better surf the waves.
Manuard took up David Raison’s ideas, but rounded the chine, with a rounder hull and tauter lines in general. The chine, quite high, is kept on the rear third. The waterline is a little longer than on Crédit Mutuel, but the will to ride the waves is the same, even if the boat pushes a little more water than its competitor.
The two Mach 40.3s that accompany Crédit Mutuel on the podium show that the scow solution is no guarantee of victory, but a new wind is now blowing on the Class.
The sections of the three Class40s highlight their differences. A sailboat cut to size for Carac, a shoe box on a taut hull for Crédit Mutuel and full curves for Banque du Léman.
In redesigning the hulls of these three Class40s, I couldn’t help but wonder if she would be the next find to make them go faster. I propose to continue along the path opened up by David, and to work on power, by moving back the ballast and rigging as we do on the IMOCA boats, and to create a plate effect at the bottom of the sail, on the deck and roof, as on the latest America’s Cup catamarans, and the AC75s.
The ballast placed behind the fin helps the hull’s ability to lift in front of the obstacle. The roof cap, in addition to its action of reverberation of the mainsail, effectively protects the cockpit from spray. An epontille takes up the efforts from the mainsheet rail.
This class is definitely destined for a great future!
Overall length: 14.19 m (46.55′)
Hull’s length: 12.19 m (40′)
Beam: 4.50 m (14.75′)
Draught: 3.00 m (9.85′)
Air draught: 19 m (62.33′)
Solent and Mainsail: 115 m² (1,237.85 sq. ft.)
Displacement: 4.5 t
Ballast: 2 × 750 liters