Two new Class 40s take this burgeoning class into its third generation



Last week there was a Class 40 gathering at Hamble Yacht Services as British- and Irish-based boats came to be measured in advance of this winter’s big two-handed transatlantic races, La Solidaire du Chocolat and the Transat Jacques Vabre.

Among them were two new 40s, clearly showing the way things are developing in this exciting class. Above is 40 Degrees, the new boat for owner Peter Harding, who races with and under the tutelage of Miranda Merron.

The other is Cinnamon Girl, which belongs to Irish sailor Cian McCarthy, a gifted and single-minded amateur who shone in the Mini class and prior to that was Conrad Humphreys’s right hand man when he won the Global Challenge round the world race.

These two new Class 40s were designed by the Owen Clarke Design Group and share the same hull design, appendages and rig, but they were built from different moulds – 40 Degrees in Cape Town and Cinnamon Girl in Plymouth – and the cockpit layouts and sail plans are different.

The new boats are slightly wider than the last generation of Owen Clarke Class 40s. They feature the aggressive chine that has become standard in open class solo yachts and they should be more powerful when reaching. Miranda Merron tells me that 40 Degrees feels very different to sail than the predecessor, an earlier OCDG design.

The impression when compared with the last generation of Class 40s is somehow of a considerably bigger and more robust boat. You look now at 40 Degrees and see a yacht that you could well imagine being raced round the world – as indeed she might be, given that she has been built with an extra watertight bulkhead amidships to meet the Category 0 standards demanded by round the world races.

The class continues to grow and over 80 have been built to date. The class association is very active and there are a good range of events, from the world championships to transatlantic events and now two round the world races specifically aimed at them – of which more later.

Attractively, it is also one of the very few oceangoing short-handed classes in which amateurs can sail with and pit themselves against top professionals, such as Giovanni Soldini, and where aspiring careerists can make their mark, like Germany’s new star Boris Hermann.

Hermann sailed a blinder in his Class 40 Beluga Racer in the Artemis Transat last year and took part the Portimao Global Ocean Race and I hear those efforts may have gained him sponsorship for an IMOCA 60.

As the IMOCA 60s get ever more expensive, this is the class that is increasingly drawing attention. But they too are multiplying in cost. A top level Class 40 now costs the thick end of ?400,000. As Cian McCarthy point out: “That’s at the top end of what you can afford in amateur racing.”