4 years ago, Class40 lined up for its first major offshore race, the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale. Even then, Class40s made up the biggest fleet in the race (25 boats, 1/3 of the entries). In the ranks were numerous newcomers to the world of offshore racing, international skippers, young and old… an enthusiastic and eclectic crowd. …And today?
The theme has not changed: Class40 is a major player. With 44 boats entered, the Class40 fleet represents more than half of the fleet of the 9th edition of the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale.
Competitors range from 25 to 60 years old, and they include a cabinet-maker, a surgeon, a company director, a journalist, a naval architect, a doctor, a retiree, and professional sailors… and they will all be lining up on their Class40s at the start of the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale.
« Class40 has always been an open class which brings together entirely different people with the same desire: offshore racing», commented Jacques Fournier, Class40 President.
Pioneers and rookies
Faithful Class40 sailors, including some of its pioneers, will be in St Malo this time, such as François Angoulvant (Fermiers de Loué – Sarthe), Damien Grimont (Monbana), Yvan Noblet (Appart City)… But each year, the Class welcomes newcomers such as German sailor Jorg Riechers (Mare.de), 25 year-old Louis Burton who is the youngest competitor (BG Yachting/Bureau des mers), and the Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman (40 Degrees), to name but a few.
Pure Corinthians and hardened professionals side by side
Class40 is the only class where Corinthian sailors can compete in a major offshore event, for example Gilbert Cholet (Chimirec-EVTV) who is retired and a skilled Breton sailor, Dutchman Hubert Swets (AK9 Fuji), surgeon-sailor Bertrand Guillonneau (Ville de Douarnenez) and faithful Class40 sailor Marc Behaghel (Tekka).
Racing side by side with them are professional skippers, including Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), Nicolas Troussel (Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne), Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque)…
« For me, Class40 is the only boat I can race in the Route du Rhum! The class is active, the boats are a manageable size, and the welcome has been very warm.
I have always dreamt of doing the Route du Rhum, but my professional life meant that I never had the time to devote to it. I retired in July, I chartered a Pogo40… and here I am! » explained Gilbert Chollet, who at the age of 60 is the oldest competitor in the Class40 fleet in this race.
« I have been thinking of doing the Route du Rhum for a long time, but the turning point came in 2006 with the arrival of Class40. The boats are powerful and fast… and if I find some sponsors, I would like to continue racing on the circuit, and perhaps even be on the start line of the Global Ocean Race in 2014! », said Bertrand Guillonneau (Ville de Douarnenez).
It is also the only truly international fleet: German, English, Belgian, Spanish, Finnish, Italian, New Zealand, Norwegian, Dutch and Swiss sailors make up the ranks.
Rocket ships and « Vintage 40s »
The performance of boats has improved over the past 4 years, but at a sensible pace, meaning that first generation Class40s are still competitive. Marc Lepesqueux (Marie Toit-Caen la mer) and François Angoulvant (Fermiers de Loué-Sarthe), who raced in the Route du Rhum in 2006, are once again lining up on the same boats they raced 4 years ago.
It is fitting that in this historic transatlantic between Saint Malo and Pointe à Pitre, there are three skippers from Guadeloupe (Willy Bissainte (Tradition Guadeloupe), Jimmy Dreux (Voiles 44 Région Guadeloupe) and Philippe Fiston (Territoires Attitude)), all of whom will be racing Class40s in the 9th edition of the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale.
2006-2010 has been about continuity. Class40, which was created to make offshore racing accessible to all competent sailors, is still very much on track.
Class40 from one Route du Rhum to the next: one third of the fleet in 2006; over half the fleet in 2010… predictions for 2014?
Photo credit: P. Garenne/GPO
Key facts and figures about Class40
2004: Creation of the association and drafting of the Class Rules. The aim: to enable competent amateur sailors to participate in offshore races.
2005: Official presentation of the Class40 Association and Rules at the Paris Boat Show.
2006: 54 members and 25 Class40s in the Route du Rhum, making up 1/3 of the fleet. Class40 makes its grand entry in to the world of offshore racing, via the fantastic means of the Route du Rhum!
2007: 129 members and 30 Class40s in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Dominic Vittet and François Angoulvant work hard on the Rules to optimise them and clarify a few of them.
2008: 124 members and 80 Class40s. The Class becomes international: 1/3 of members are non-French (Germany, England, Italy, Spain, Norway, USA). 11 Class40s race in the Artemis Transat. The race calendar fills out, and in particular there are dedicated events: Marblehead-Halifax, the 1000 Milles Brittany Ferries.
2009: 128 members and 92 Class40s. 2009 marks a turning point for Class40: the Solidaire du Chocolat, the first ever transatlantic race exclusively for Class40s, which firmly places the Class and its sailors on the map of offshore racing. From a human, media and sporting perspective, this event solidly establishes Class40 as a class in its own right.
2010: 102 members and 102 Class40s. 2010 is the second time that Class40s will compete in the Route du Rhum, and despite the economic crisis which has hit sponsorship budgets hard, there will be 44 Class40s on the start line of this legendary transatlantic race. New prototypes are appearing, especially in light of the Global Ocean Race, a round the world race in 2011-2012.
Designers of Class40s
Jim Antrim – Axel de Beaufort – Luc Bouvet – Réjean Desgagné – Farr Yacht Design – Groupe Finot – O. Gouard / Y. Pascal – Humphreys Design – Marc Lombard – François Lucas – Sam Manuard – Julien Marin – Owen Clarke Design – Olivier Philippot – Jérome Renous – Rogers Yacht Design – Pierre Rolland – Jacques Valer – Guillaume Verdier – Joubert/Nivelt – Sito Aviles.
Builders of Class40s
Cap Carros – CMI Bangkok – Composite creations – Cookson Boats – Ecole supérieure du bois – Forcier/D’Amiro – FR Nautisme – Geronimo Naval Design – Jaz Marine – JPK – Jumbo Composites – Lion-Yacht Construction – MC-TEC – Sabrosa Compétition 72 – Sailing Concept – Sea Ventures – Structures – Archambault – Berkeley Marine Center – Bert Mauri – Cantieri Naval d’Este – FS Composite – Ocean Tec – et des constructions amateurs.
Types of Class40s
Akilaria – Akilaria Racing – Akilaria Mk II – Akilaria RC 2 – Archambault 40 – Axion 40 – Bleu 40 – BM 40 – CC40 – DF40 – Este 40 – Express 40 – FS 40 – Jaz 40 – Jaz 40 Mk II – JPK – Jumbo – Ker40 – Kiwi 40 Farr Cookson – LC 40 – LNM40 – Nacira 40 – ORCA – Pogo 40 – Pogo 40 S – Pogo 40 S2 – Rogers Class40 – Sabrosa 40 – Tomahawk 40 – Tyker 40 evolution