Class 40 – Still Early Days?

The Class 40 is a great idea. A cheaper entry point into short handed offshore sailing for those who can’t commit to a full Open 60 program and all the costs and risks that come with it.

While the class continues to grow, it hasn’t really managed to capture the imagination of many outside the class. In the Artemis Transat race, held earlier this year, the Class 40 boats started alongside the larger open 60s, but were dwarfed, not just in size, but by media coverage.

Last week, it was announced that the winner of the the 2008 Class 40 Championship is Peter Harding and Miranda Merron’s 40 Degrees. This follows on from there first season with their boat in 2007 when they finished second overall at the end of the Class 40 worlds.

Having this year taken part in all six races in the official Class 40 programme this year, including two transatlantic races, the Artemis Transat and the Quebec-St Malo as well as produced a string of consistent results, 40 Degrees came out on top of the championship table for 2008. This was one of the objectives set at the beginning of the year, and the Owen-Clarke designed 40 has done them proud. The British boat has finished in the top seven in all six races.

40 Degrees is followed by Courrier de l’Odet, which won the Quebec-Saint Malo Transat with Halvard Mabire and his crew, then by Telecom Italia, Giovanni Soldini’s boat winner of the The Artemis Transat and Grand Prix Petit Navire in Douarnenez.

The 2008 championship races were:
– Grand Prix Petit Navire
– the solo Artemis Transat
– Marblehead – Halifax
– Quebec – St Malo,
– 1000 Milles Brittany Ferries
– the Morbihan Mondial

Each of the races was weighted with a different co-efficient. At the end of the season the tally shows 40 Degrees winning by 13 over Courrier de l’Odet and 39 ahead of Soldini.

With four nations represented in the top five and of the 36 boats competing this year, 10 coming from either England, Italy, Germany, Spain or Belgium, indicates how international the class has already become even at the end of only its third season. The Class continues to grow rapidly with 100 new people signing up to the Class Association each year. In addition there are now ten boats in North America and the the first Class 40’s have arrived in Australasia.

We’ll continue to watch this class, but even with lower budgets than the IMOCA 60 class it needs to step up a gear or two to attract sponsors.