They are historic Class40 builders dating back to when they launched the Pogo 40S (a Finot-Conq design) in 2005, the year the class was born. Since then Structures have continued to be a key player in the 40-footer fleet. One year later, at the start of the 2006 Route du Rhum, eleven boats lined up, including the first two finishers, skippered by Phil Sharp and Gildas Morvan.
After the Pogo 40S, the Pogo 40S2 was launched in 2010 and the S3 three years later. The first of the S4s, a scow shape, was launched in the summer of 2021 for Jean Galfione. On the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021, this Verdier design that is noted for its very efficient hull and for a strong downwind VMG performance was impressive, and saw Cédric Chateau and Jérémie Mion finish on the third step of the Transat Jacques Vabre podium.
And then another year later, 2022, five boats were at the start of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, an edition which proves to be a much more difficult race than previous ones, and which highlighted some weaknesses at the front of the boat. “This Route du Rhum was very violent for the scows. We are not the only ones to have realized that the structural constraints of these new forms of hull were widely underestimated,” explains Tanguy Bouroullec, co-director – with his brother Paul – of the Combrit Sainte-Marine yard which was founded by their father, Christian. “Everything that had been established before, in terms of sampling and the spacing between the bulkheads, found its limits.”
“The Route du Rhum was a real crash test, with eight days upwind, four depressions, including two with more than 35 knots of wind in 5 to 6 meter waves”, confirms Xavier Macaire, the skipper of Groupe SNEF, first of the five Pogo S4s to finish in Pointe-à-Pitre (sixth overall) – himself a victim of structural problems that forced him to repair at sea and throttle back. When debriefing his first season, Macaire, the former top Figaro sailor, underlined the qualities of a boat which “has an impressive ability to surf, it’s incredible to see how easily we reach speeds of 20 knots but are so stable reaching and downwind”, but noted “a lack of grip upwind“.
And so it was a valuable debrief for the yard which consequently set to work on a V2 of the Pogo 40 S4, an updated boat structurally reinforced and optimized with a new keel. “To allow the boat to gain more versatility and perform at all speeds, we decided to move the center of lateral resistance forward for a better balance upwind and to use a new keel profile. With more surface and a smoother entry, it should improve the course upwind, without penalizing the other speeds”, details Tanguy Bouroullec.
Such developments are offered to the skippers of the seven boats already launched. That is the case for Xavier Macaire, who is currently working with his team in the Finistère yard to install the reinforcing kit supplied by the builders, comprising a bulkhead and reinforcing elements. The former Figaro sailor will also have the new keel. “For the following boats, built from the same mould, it is planned to reinforce the bottom of the hull, to add an additional bulkhead, and, consequently, to modify the geometry of these structural reinforcements. This incorporates a third of the boat on the front part”, continues Tanguy Bouroullec, who guarantees that these new Class40s will come out with a minimum weight to the rule of 4,580 kg.
After the eighth Pogo S4 expected in mid-June for Bertrand Guillonneau, the first V2 boat will be launched in September to be raced by the duo Stéphane Bodin/Alexandre Ozon in the Transat Jacques Vabre. The tenth will follow in 2024, commissioned by Vincent Riou. “This V2 will allow skippers to have a stronger and more optimized boat for the next seasons,” adds the former mini racer Bouroullec. “We hope to fulfil the orders for the next boats swiftly then slots are still available for n° 11 and 12 , for deliveries in January and April 2024”.
Photo: Claire Sellier