The Class40, a stable and fair box rule that groups together 12.18m-long offshore racing monohulls, is enjoying an unprecedented upturn. Boasting new boats, new racers and new partners, the Class could feature no fewer than 57 representatives at the next Route du Rhum this November.
A race dedicated exclusively to the Class40, the ninth edition of the Normandy Channel Race this May will be a testament to the fleet’s excellent state of health with numerous French and international skippers in the starting blocks to flesh out the line-up to nearly 30 craft in 2018. Combining uniformity, performance, internationalisation and the mixing of the sexes, the Normandy Channel Race 2018 is shaping up to be a brilliant opus, with a close-contact battle royal right the way down the coasts of England, Ireland and Normandy, where anything and everything can happen.
A race tailor-made for the Class40
“With 57 boats in the Rhum and between 25 and perhaps 30 in the Normandy Channel Race, the Class40 is in dazzling form”, enthuses Manfred Ramspacher, creator and organiser of the Norman event since 2011. “Just weeks away now from the start of the 9th edition of the great Norman classic, we’re continuing to receive requests, both from overseas and from rather swanky skippers from the bigger boat classes who are attracted to the 40-foot format. We’ll publish the definitive list of entries in mid-April. All this enthusiasm augurs well for an exceptional year of sport. From one edition to the next, the competition in the Normandy Channel Race is increasingly keen, with tighter and tighter finishes. Indeed, last year, it was extremely difficult to predict the podium. This glorious uncertainty on a sporting front, added to a course that continues to inspire competitors, makes this event an absolute must. The Class40 needs races like the Normandy Channel Race, which showcase both the racers and the boats. We offer a double-handed format, which is ideal for maximising the potential of these boats, and a course, setting out from and finishing in Caen, which constantly reshuffles the cards according to the effects of the coast and the currents, breaking with the monotony and at times the inevitability of the long oceanic passages. New or old boats, pro or enlightened amateur racers, it really is anyone’s game in the Normandy Channel Race.”
An increasingly sophisticated line-up
A driving force of the Class40 for a number of years, Norman sailor Louis Duc (Carac) has now stepped things up a gear with a new, latest generation boat. It bears witness to the steady increase in power of the class, respectful of the principles and the spirit of this high-performance category of boat and its reasonable budget.
“The Class40 has long been made up of production boats, but there have always been a few prototypes. The measurement prohibits carbon, canting keels and anything that might encourage a hike in budgets. We compensate for that through an attention to detail in the build process akin to that of the Imocas for example. We also observe a certain mixing of the sexes in the racer profiles, with a significant increase in the number of professionals. In this way, the line-ups are increasingly sophisticated at the major races, which call for a significant budget, like the Transat Jacques Vabre or Route du Rhum. What’s thrilling about this class now is that at a race start like the Route du Rhum or the Normandy Channel Race, it’s impossible to determine a likely winner in advance from among 8 or 12 protagonists. Of the 50 boats in the Rhum, there will be no fewer than 10 potential winners who come from the Figaro and even the Imoca class. The same is true for the Normandy Channel Race! The very nature of top-level racing means that we push the boats very hard and everyone makes very fast progress as a result. However, we mustn’t forget that the Class always plays host to a significant amount of amateurs too, who breathe new life into the older boats. In this way, the lifespan of these boats is extended, without affecting the overall uniformity of the fleet’s competitiveness.”
Olivier Cardin (Région Normandie), a newcomer to the fleet (5th in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017), signs off:
“The Class40 is seeing a great wave of new projects, with new racers and new boats. The boats are transferred with ease from one racer to the next. There’s a lot going on in the Class40. The new boats go faster on certain points of tack, but in a Normandy Channel Race, the course smooths out the differences a bit in terms of performance.”
by Denis van den Brink