INVESTIGATION available in the last Bretagne Sailing Valley® News – Newsletter #6 – Summer 2021
When the first Jumbo and Pogo 40s were built just more than 15 years ago, who would have imagined that the numbers assigned to the new Class40s would be reaching 170? That the class would be looking at 70 places in the next Route du Rhum (there were 25 for their first participation in 2006)? That Ian Lipinski and Adrien Hardy, winners of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2019 aboard Crédit Mutuel, would finish two days ahead of the last placed Imoca?
They were originally designed for a dual race and cruise programme, to be accessible to amateurs, the Class40s have continued to become more radical since then. “The evolution is comparable to that of the production Minis. No one cruises aboard anymore, it’s pure racing”, analyzes Erwan Tymen, the technical manager of the Structures yard, which is launching the Pogo 40 S4 this year to the Verdier design.
The first revolution probably dates from 2011 with the appearance of the first Mach 40 to the Manuard design. It was a build worthy of a prototype from JPS Production, a larger hull, a cockpit which was very protected in line with a clear increase in performance when reaching and downwind. The Mach40 has seen several variations and won everything. That was until the Route du Rhum 2018. Yoann Richomme’s victory in Pointe-à-Pitre certainly found a sailor operating at a level above the rest, but also the Lift40 from Marc Lombard, a precursor for the scows now flooding the market.
The Max40 (Raison), Mach 40.4 (Manuard), Lift40.2 (Lombard), Clak40 (VPLP built at Multiplast), Pogo S4 (Verdier) … all now sport these characteristic bow shapes: lots of volume in the bow and a nose as sharp as dictated by what the rule requires. “Personally, I don’t find them beautiful, but performance wise, it is not debatable. The scow hulls generate less induced drag heeling and they are stiffer”, comments Guillaume Verdier. Five of his Pogo 40 S4 have already been sold, the first to be launched at the end of June for Jean Galfione.
At JPS in La Trinité-sur-mer, they are not sitting on their hands, as three new boats have already been released and five firm orders have to be fulfilled by the end of 2021. Not surprisingly Nicolas Groleau, owner of the yard says: “We knew that the improved performance of the scows would lead to the renewal of the fleet. We’ve organized ourselves around this and we’re fortunate to have two designers [David Raison and Sam Manuard], so two sets of moulds “
And more pro!
Since Crédit Mutuel’s victory in the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre all the races on the calendar have been won by scows: the CIC Normandy Channel Race which finished on June 4 with the victory of Axel Tréhin and Frédéric Denis (Project Rescue Ocean) after a terrific finish which was no exception to the rule. “Winning in Class40 starts to have a very high sporting value. The professionalization of projects clearly lifts the general level”, says Frédéric Duthil, boss of Technique Voile. The sailmaker from La Trinité is making a real breakthrough this year in the class doing sails for six boats, “It is no doubt thanks to our performance in the Figaro Beneteau 3 whose issues are quite similar to the Class40”, says Duthil.
While the Class40’s rule remains restrictive in terms of hull materials (epoxy glass) and appendages (no foils), it does little to control the sails and on-board electronics. In the end, the budgets become quite high. By including construction depreciation, the budget of which ranges from 410,000 to 650,000 euros excluding tax, operating budgets exceed 500,000 euros per year (including depreciation of the boat) for those at the top end who are targeting performance. “The power, the degree of finish, the complexity of the build and the number of composite parts have exploded on the Class40”, explains Erwan Tymen, adding: “An essential variable of the final price of the new boat lies in the depreciation of the moulds. Each yard makes a guess on the number of units sold.”
The increase in budgets does not seem to put off skippers and partners since around 25 new boats will come on stream between the Route du Rhum 2018 and the next one in 2022! A boom that benefits the Breton ecosystem: 80% of these new units are designed and built by tandems of architects / builders based in Brittany, proof of local know-how in this area. And the future looks promising, according to Nicolas Groleau, who is already predicting “a new architectural step change” for the post-Rhum period.
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Picture © Jean-Marie Liot / #CICNCR2021