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Viper 640 ready to expand Down Under

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World on 2 Feb 2008
The Viper 640 won the prestigious Sailing World magazine Performance Boat of the Year award in 1997. Event Media

New Zealander, Brian Bennett designed the Viper 640 back in 1996 (in the US) and it won the prestigious Sailing World magazine Performance boat of the year award in 1997.

The class struggled in the early years, but is now having a massive resurgence, with boats built by Rondar in the UK, and Bennett reports that some great things are happening. 'This is thanks to solid support from sailors like Dave Curtis, Justin Scott (Class President) and Paul Young from Rondar, who have believed in the boat as the best three person sportboat on the world market', he says.

SailingAnarchy.com has also been hailing its virtues, and we have much to thank them for as the Viper class is now building 17 new boats at the Rondar plant to go along with the half dozen sold last year.

The Viper is well placed amidst the new breed of sportboats such as the SB3 and Melges 20. The Viper has huge advantages over these boats as it is longer, lighter, and faster than all.

Boats can also be stacked as much as three high for travelling to regattas. These points along with the sharper pricing ($30K US Vs. $45-50K US) make the option much more attractive to the sportboat set.

Bennett is off to the St Petersburg, Florida early this month for a Viper regatta, then on to Wiltshire, UK (the Rondar Factory) to assist in building.

There are a number of high profile regattas in the US this year including the North American Championships where it is hoped to see as many as 40 boats on the line.

“All boats are built by Rondar at present. If we continue to grow at this pace we may be looking for a US builder,” Bennett told Sail-World.

“As you know, hard to come to terms with how a boat like this (being strict one design) would fare in the NZ market. It would probably be priced somewhere in the vicinity of $38,000 NZD. While this is probably at the upper end of the market it is still less dollars and more performance than the Laser SB3 and Melges 20,” he adds.

“Having built the most recent Flying Fifteen I can honestly say that the Viper is a good deal at those dollars.”

“Our focus is to get over 100 boats delivered in the US this summer, and continue to build the class infrastructure. We are open to discounted fleet orders, which would be the only way to establish the class in other countries.

Bennett is the sales contact for Australasia. He can be reached by email on whitefriars@xtra.co.nz or mobile +64 27 241 8195, or view the Viper on the class website www.Viper640.org


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