It is 4321 nautical miles from The Solent to Grenada in the West Indies. This December there will be a fantastic party on Grenada to celebrate the finish of the first ever Spice Race-a race for Class 40s and IRC cruising yachts that are looking for a new challenge.
The Spice Race is the brainchild of British businessman, Tony Lawson, who started his first business in Grenada in the late 1960s, at age 19. To this a day he retains strong connections with the “Spice Island,” as Grenada is known for good reason; cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves are very much part of the island’s economy.
“The ethos of the Class 40 is fantastic,” commented Lawson. “A true offshore race boat that can still be used for cruising and round the cans racing. The Class rules keep the boats uncomplicated and robust, so there is less chance of gear failure and sailing them is relatively straightforward.”
We should not let the opening afforded by the Class 40 pass us by. It’s true that the Open 60s are very dominant at the moment, they get a lot of the offshore sailing press. I am not saying that The Spice Race will make the Class 40 more dominant than the 60s, but it might just help to raise the profile of the class and in a way narrow the gap a little.
“Competition will be strong especially among the Class 40’s who are now really finding their way. Entry fees will be kept as low as possible. This is a ‘not for profit event’ and we are looking at race sponsorship to assist us here. Individual yachts will be allowed sponsors as well.” For details: www.spicerace.com
According to Spice Race organizers, the Class 40 is a rapidly-growing race class in Europe, where there are 69 boats racing or under construction.
“It’s a fast, easy-to-sail boat, available with a full cruising interior or as a minimalist racer, with a fixed keel, twin rudders, water ballast, open cockpit, carbon rig and retractable carbon pole for asymmetrical kites. Class rules don’t allow canting keels or exotic materials in construction, which serves to keeps the cost down and make the boats less complicated to sail providing plenty of bang for the buck.”