Class40 on a roll

With two new races on the calendarseveral new designs in the water and a growing number of contenders to join the circuit, Class40 continues to be buoyed by favourable winds at the start of the 2024 season. Tip & Shaft takes stock.

While the euphoria that swept through Class40 between 2019 and 2022 – with around thirty new boats – has died down somewhat, its appeal has not lost any steam since the last Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, as its president, Cédric de Kervenoaël, points out: “This dynamism is reflected in particular in the thirty or so boats that will be crossing the Atlantic over the coming weeks. He is referring to the 13 crews setting off on Sunday on the Niji 40, the new transatlantic race between Belle-Ile-en-Mer and Marie Galante (see our article) and the 13 solo sailors entered on The Transat CIC (starting on 28 April from Lorient).

“It’s quite encouraging to see that on two events so close in time, with very different characteristics, we’ve managed to bring together an interesting fleet for each of them, both in terms of numbers and from a sporting point of view,” adds the president of the class. And he is delighted with the 2024 calendar, which is “extremely complete, offering a virtuous Atlantic triangle, with no cargo return: after these two outward transatlantic races, the Atlantic Cup will take place along the American coast (May 25-June 7), followed by the Québec-Saint-Malo (start on June 30) as the return transatlantic race.

A new race will also be entering the calendar: the Med Max, between Port-Camargue and Saïdia, in Morocco (also open to the Ocean Fifty, starting on 29 September), which, as with the Niji 40 and The Transat CIC, overlaps with the CIC Normandy Channel Race (starting on 15 September). The organiser of the CIC Normandy Channel Race, Manfred Ramspacher, is not fazed by this, as he is expecting “around thirty boats, with virtually the entire top end of the field”, adding: “It’s a very good thing that an event is developing in the Mediterranean, something that Class40 has been lacking.”


Eight new Class40s


As for the fleet, eight new Class40s are expected this year. Some have already been launched, such as the new Guelfi Dékuple designed by William Mathelin Moreaux, christened this week in Larmor-Plage. Also recently launched are the Evo 40 Scowling Dragon (skippered by the American Michael Hennessy), a new Owen Clarke Design design, and Vincent Riou’s Pierreval-Fondation Good Planète, the latter having taken the Pogo S4 and come up with an innovative concept with a single rudder and a keel incorporating a trimmer. An innovation he recently said“It’s a small flap that makes the keel profile asymmetricalI think there’s a way of improving performance.”

Another awaited Class40 is Ian Lipinski’s new Crédit Mutuel, which will be presented ahead of the start of The Transat CIC and will make its debut in the CIC Normandy Channel Race – the skipper is so far sailing 158, the first scow to be launched in summer 2019. One of the aims of this evolution of the Max 40 is to “erase the deficit that the previous boat may have downwind in medium winds and on reaching,” explains her designer David Raison. “As a result, the boat has taken on more shoulders at the front and the lines have been tightened up to enable her to perform better in the trade winds”.

Among the other optimisations, David Raison cites “a larger roof, a much more sheltered and safer cockpit, a system of lifting rudders and a huge amount of work on the boat’s structure, carried out with Gurit Engineering, to gain in weight and reliability, resulting in a fairly innovative structural mesh.


A Mach 40.6, a Lift V3…
and an Agité 40!


Sam Manuard has also sought to optimise the hull of his Mach 40.5 to give birth to the Mach 40.6, whose first born, skippered by Quentin Le Nabour (Bleu Blanc Planète Location), will line up on The Transat CIC. “The boat has a little more shoulder room up front and is a little tighter overall. We’ve made a lot of progress on reaching, from 60 to 110 degrees off the wind, as well as on the ability to start planning under spinnaker a little earlier”, explains the architect. A second Mach 40.6, for the American Greg Leonard, will be launched in the spring, before two others in 2025.

Finally, a Lift V3 designed by Lombard will complete the fleet in December, that of Corentin Douguet who, after his Route du Rhum in 2022 on a Lift V2, wanted to go even further: “We’ve tried to retain the strong points of the V2, the powerful upwind and reaching characteristics, while optimising comfort and passage through the sea, downwind in particularWe’ve also greatly improved the ergonomics inside the cockpit, with a fairly panoramic view.” A second Lift V3 will be launched for Frédéric Denis at the end of April 2025.

Cédric de Kervenoaël also announces that Michel Desjoyeaux is also working on the construction of a new Class40, the Agité 40. Contacted by Tip & Shaft, the two-time winner of the Vendée Globe confirms: It all started with an idea from Alexandre Le Gallais, who already owns two Class40s [the 115 and the 190, editor’s note], who wanted us to build a first boat, on which we’ll both be sailing in 2025, the aim being to produce several of them.

Designed by CT Mer Forte, the company he founded in 2009 with Denis Juhel and which was bought by the Spanish group CT Engineering at the end of 2020, and built in Port-la-Forêt by Mer Agitée, this new design is expected to be ready by the end of the year. The aim is for it to be capable of sailing around the world“, according to Michel Desjoyeaux, who adds: “We’re looking to emphasise solidityWe’re also working on the ergonomics and on a closable cockpit – she’ll have a removable cap for inshore races – to enable the sailor to be more efficient.”


Fewer places on
the Route du Rhum 2026?


Finally, on the second-hand market, a number of boats are still looking for takers, with Cédric de Kervenoaël pointing out that some scows are sometimes a little overpriced, at around €650,000, whereas a new boat, excluding sails and electronics, fetches around the same priceThis surge in prices is due to the fact that, in recent months, boatyards have been unable to deliver new boats quickly.”

The approach of the Route du Rhum 2026 should help to speed up the pace of transactions and attract new contenders – this year, the former mini sailors Louis Mayaud (Belco) and Matteo Sericano (Lucente), and the former Figaro racer Yannig Livory (Interaction) are among those arriving.

“But places will be hard to come by,” warns the class president, “especially as the Class40 quota for the Route du Rhum is likely to be reduced from 55 to 40We’re in the middle of discussions with the organiser, OC Sport Pen Duick, who would like to set up a qualification system, with a significant advantage given to participants in The Transat CIC [organised by OC Sport Pen Duick, editor’s note]. This doesn’t seem to be to everyone’s liking: “The racers have had firm but constructive discussions this week with Joseph Bizard (general manager of OC Sport Pen Duick), and we have agreed to finalise our discussions quickly as the situation is very worrying.

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot / Niji40

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