Les Class40 sur la normandy channel race

No post-Rhum hangover for Class40

After the Ultims the Mini 6.50s and the Figaros, Tip & Shaft continues its tour of the key classes by focusing on Class40 which continues to enjoy a great dynamic, with more than ten new boats expected to launch during the coming months.

With 30 new boats built between the 2018 and 2022 editions of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe,  Class40 experienced a very strong growth period largely due to the arrival of the scows (rounded bows). These now clearly dominate as evidenced by the 2022 Rhum classification  which saw them take the top ten places. The first conventional bowed boat was Kito de Pavant’s which finished 11th. Traditionally the post-Rhum years are synonymous with a bit of downturn for architects and yards. But this time that momentum is unchecked as since the Pogo S4 (Verdier design) for  the German Lennart Burke which was launched just before the Route du Rhum, thirteen other new 40-footers are expected in 2023 (compared to two in 2019)!

There are four other Pogos, the first three are for Briton Joe Lacey, surgeon Bertrand Guillonneau and Stéphane Bodin (who participated in the last Transquadra and Cap Martinique). There are four Mach 40.5 (Sam Manuard design) for Alexandre Le Gallais, Pierre-Louis Attwell, a Le Havre project for Cédric Château and Jérémie Mion, and Estelle Greck. There are two Lift V2s by Marc Lombard Yacht Design for Edgard Vincens and Fabien Delahaye from Bordeaux, also an Owen Clarke design for the American Michael Hennessy and two Gianluca Guelfi designs (sisterships to Ambrogio Beccaria’s boat which was second on the Rhum), the first one for Andrea Fornaro, the second will be available for the Transat Jacques Vabre.

“Usually, the projects are focused around the Route du Rhum and then there is a little slack period after but it seems the momentum carries on. New projects are starting this year and boats are getting ready to be launched,” confirms the president of the class, Halvard Mabire, who will give up that role at the next general assembly in March. “We realize that the class has become sufficiently appealing to no longer be totally dependent on the Route du Rhum. The progam now is so strong we are seeing more and more come in from other classes.”

” It is a very good entry point into ocean racing”


A certain number of these skippers came from the Figaro class last year attracted by the lure of the Rhum, but not only that showcase race, as Corentin Douguet, third in the solo transatlantic race explains. “I have found it great, we sail a lot, the level is high – and it will still go up -, you still get into the technology side of things with the boats and it’s still a fairly achievable project to run with budgets that are still under control. It is a very good entry point into ocean racing.”The budgets in question? “Compared to the Figaro it’s probably double, whereas if you want to do Imoca, it’s times ten”, responds another former Figaro sailor, Fabien Delahaye, who will announce his project very soon with a partner. An annual operating budget is from 200 to 400,000 euros whereas the price of the boats, on the other hand, have considerably increased to be between 700,000 and 800,000 euros.

The winner of the Solitaire du Figaro 2021, Pierre Quiroga, who is looking for partners for a four-year project up to the Route du Rhum 2026, with a Gianluca Guelfi design in his sights, talks of “an overall budget of 1.8 million”, which according to him remains much lower than that of an Ocean Fifty project, which he has also watched closely. At the same time he is one of the applicants to take over the helm of the future Viabilis (formerly Leyton) in 2023. That the selection of the skipper is underway. “Class40 seems to me the most relevant in terms of cost/return on investment, but also from a sports perspective there is a fairly comprehensive circuit which allows you to participate in major races. But to get good media exposure in this class you have to win, so the idea is really to come up with a winning project.”

“Good used boats
are very rare”


Because of the time schedule to build and responding to other requests, Quiroga is giving himself until the beginning of March to find partners and get going on the Class40 circuit. Fabien Delahaye therefore – who will start the season on a chartered boat before getting his his Lift V2 for the Transat Jacques Vabre. There is also Achille Nebout who bought Paprec Arkéa, winner of the Rhum, and Erwan Le Draoulec, who will also unveil his project soon.Among the other newcomers – for some, it’s a return -, Class40’s Vanessa Boulaire notes Germans and English people we’ve never seen in the class – , like Joe Lacey, Lennart Burke, Alister Richardson (who now has the former Banque du Léman and will sail with Brian Thompson).  Nicolas Jossier has the Mach 40.5 of Luke Berry (who is going to an Ocean Fifty) to relaunch the Channel project, Evidence Nautique (he will race the Jacques Vabre with Alexis Loison), Estelle Greck, after having raced in the Globe40, will soon formalize her project. And so will Quentin Le Nabour, from IRC racing, who has the partner and the budget for four years, but as yet not the boat.

“The super good Class40s all went before the Rhum, it’s hard to find one. I studied the possibility of building one, but it’s not the same budget and as I don’t have a big background in Class40 , I prefer the chance to practice sooner rather than later. We give it a few more weeks otherwise we will look for a charter.”  That solution not necessarily very economic compared to a purchase, insofar as a recent Class40 charters out for around 150,000 euros a year – by comparison, Redman, Antoine Carpentier’s boat is for sale at 680,000 euros with two sets of sails included.

“Fewer renewals than usual”


Some projects have switched to other classes (Yoann Richomme, Luke Berry) or indeed stopped after the Rhum 2022 – Corentin Douguet, Antoine Carpentier (whom we will see again in 2023 on “the other people’s boats”, like the said the first), the Swiss Valentin Gautier and Simon Koster (who wishes to continue). Vanessa Boulaire, class secretary, notes, however, “there are fewer renewals than usual: in general, it’s about 50% of the fleet that changes, here it’s a little less, there are more projects that continue.” Including those of Aurélien Ducroz, William Mathelin-Moreaux, Axel Tréhin, Alberto Bona, Amélie Grassi, Ian Lipinski, who is awaiting his new Crédit Mutuel for the 2024 season, Emmanuel Le Roch, Ambrogio Beccaria, Xavier Macaire, Matthieu Perraut, Keni Piperol , Antoine Magré, Jules Bonnier, Pierre-Louis Attwell, Nicolas d’Estais…And so all in all there is a substantial platform for the races on a calendar which opens on February 20 with the Rorc Caribbean 600 and will end with the Transat Jacques Vabre, with around fifty boats on the line. Will this dynamic continue in the longer term? Towards 2024, we can’t really see that far ahead today, notes Nicolas Groleau, boss of the JPS yardwhich builds the Mach 40s and the Max 40s (David Raison design). “We are not the only ones wondering what will happen next. On this last cycle, between the new scows and a clear post-Covid effect, we had already signed boats very early, I’m not sure it will be the same.”

And Tanguy Leglatin, who trains a dozen skippers in Lorient, warns: We have to remain vigilant and reasonable about the increasing budgets. Until now, the class had a good quality:price ratio, it has to remain the case, do we really need to go even faster?”

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot 

Tip & Shaft est le média
expert de la voile de compétition

Course au large

Tip & Shaft décrypte la voile de compétition chaque vendredi, par email :

  • Des articles de fond et des enquêtes exclusives
  • Des interviews en profondeur
  • La rubrique Mercato : l’actu business de la semaine
  • Les résultats complets des courses
  • Des liens vers les meilleurs articles de la presse française et étrangère
* champs obligatoires

🇬🇧 Want to join the international version? Click here 🇬🇧