News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery : European Class 40 to take on Rolex Sydney Hobart

European Class 40 to take on Rolex Sydney Hobart

'Rod Skellet’s Krakatoa II, Photo: Ace Marine'   

Over the last couple of years, Europe’s offshore sailors have discovered a new, inexpensive route to thrilling, high speed sailing. They have discovered Class 40 racing.

In the last three years the class has taken off. This year more than 60 new Class 40 yachts have been sold in Europe.

The class comes from France. Class 40 yachts are designed to be sailed single handed, and with their wide beams, twin rudders and water ballast, they are intended as a stepping stone between Mini-Transats and Open 60’s.

But whereas these other classes have lots of carbon, canting masts and keels and every other hi-tech go-fast imaginable, and are expensive as a result, the Class 40 concept was built around the demands of sailors for an affordable fast, fun boat.

The only carbon is in the spars. The rest of the boat is solid fibreglass. The keel is fixed, the amount of water ballast limited. What is unlimited, though, is the downwind sail area. You can fly the biggest spinnaker you dare.

In the last three years the class has taken off. This year more than 60 new Class 40 yachts have been sold in Europe. Several big companies now produce production Class 40 boats, including the French giant Finot, which sells a cruising and a racing version, the Pogo 40.

It’s a Pogo 40, Krakatoa II, that Sydney yachty Rod Skellet will take to Hobart.

'She’s just the most enjoyable boat to sail,' Skellet says. 'In anything more than 45 degrees apparent wind (reaching) there is so much horsepower. She can sit on 12, 13 knots all day, no deceleration, and she has no bad habits. You can literally sail at 18 or 19 knots with one hand on the tiller and the other holding a coffee.'

Sounds great for the sort of thrills and spills racing a Frenchman might adore but a Rolex Sydney Hobart is a different beast altogether. Sure, everyone dreams of a 628 nautical mile downwind sleigh ride, but no-one holds their breath.

'In the right conditions we could get to Hobart in among the 47 footers in three days. I would be wrapped but realistically we have to expect at least some upwind work,' Skellet concedes.

This time of year those southerlies just roll through and woe betide anyone caught in the current off NSW or clawing their way across Bass Strait. Forget the glamour of La Rochelle and the Cote d’Azur, this is down and dirty Aussie sailing to test both boat and crew. It is, after all, what makes the Rolex Sydney Hobart one of the toughest ocean races in the world.

Skellet has beefed up the boat, made her stronger, and put four reef points in the mainsail so that he can get it down to the size of a storm sail.

'These boats are wickedly fast downwind but there is a lot to learn to get them fast upwind. Because of the water ballast and the twin rudders she should be nice to steer up-wind. We really only need three guys on deck to trim her. But we haven’t had those sort of conditions yet so we will have to see how it goes,' he says.

Class 40 boats simply do not rate under the IRC rule. 'There is nothing you can do to rate well,' Skellet says, so his race will be all about getting across the line faster than the bigger boats. 'In an 82 boat fleet a top 50 finish would be satisfactory, but we could finish as high as 30 if the gods smile on us.'

Presumably Rod Skellet is thankful he will be finding all this out in 2007. Last year the gods were in a decidedly unsmiley mood. The 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart was a 628 nautical mile bash to windward for almost everyone. Spinnakers stayed bagged the whole way for all but the smallest in the fleet.

It was won by Love & War, a quintessentially 70’s IOR boat from an era when racing yachts, with their sculptured tumblehome and discreet transoms, were the exact opposite of the wedge shaped, utilitarian Class 40 philosophy. Beautiful to look at, great upwind, but cumbersome and slow downwind.

The modern IRC grand prix racer is a lot more fun, and a lot better behaved than its IOR forebears, and Krakatoa II is, after all, the first Class 40 yacht to reach Australia. Still, Rod Skellet is sure that in the future more Australian sailors will develop a European taste for exhilarating speed at a price they can afford.

by Jim Gale


Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

8:48 AM Mon 24 Dec 2007 GMT

Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on

Related News Stories:

18 Jun 2013  Sail the Northwest Passage on your iPad
17 Jun 2012  IRC National Championship - Ballistic conditions on Day 2 + Video
28 Mar 2012  Solo Offshore Racing - Truant wins first race
19 Jun 2011  Audi Melges 32 Sailing Series overall
08 Apr 2011  Audi Sydney to Newcastle images by Andrea Francolini
06 Apr 2011  RORC Easter Challenge ­- A golden opportunity for sailors
26 Feb 2011  RORC Caribbean 600 coming of age
14 Nov 2010  OPA Offshore Racing Series 2010 - Versus to broadcast series
15 Oct 2009  Rolex Middle Sea warm up Race
21 Jun 2009  Spain's Calima - Javier Pujol winner of the Giraglia Race

News - USA and the World

Soling North American Championship concludes on Lake Erie by Canadian International Soling Association,

Starboard Hatteras Wave Jam day 5 by American Windsurfing Tour,

470 Men and Women Worlds - Champions decided in Santander by International 470 Class Association,

ISAF Sailing Worlds - Caleb Paine through to Finn medal race + video
ISAF Worlds - 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17 Rio 2016 spots taken
ISAF Sailing Worlds - 470 Women's medal race images by Thom Touw
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: Scott all set to lift Finn world title
ISAF Sailing Worlds - 470 Men's medal race images by Thom Touw
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Aussies and Austrians claim 470 gold
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: 470 awards images by
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - 470 medal race images by Jesus Renedo
Annapolis-to-Newport Race - 'What to Expect' Seminar to take place
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - No racing on penultimate day
Belcher takes record fifth 470 World Championship
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander - Day 8 video highlights
2014 Great Lakes Team Racing Championship about to set off
2014 Etchells North American Championship - Day 1
2014 U.S. Multihull Championship - Day 1
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Repechage top four determined in final flight
J/24 World Championship - 35th anniversary preview
470 Men and Women Worlds - Santander medal race line-up confirmed
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Day 8 images by
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Quantum Racing stumbles in coastal race
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Americans ready for 470 medal races   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: Action ramps up with end zone in sight   
Big Boat Series - It's not the size, it's the length   
ISAF Sailing World Championships Santander - Double French RS:X gold   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Day 8 images by Sailing Energy   
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Finn leaders emerge from shifty Santander breeze   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - RS:X winner images by Barbara Sanchez   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Rio 2016 470 spots awarded   
52 Super Series 2015 - Outlook looks hot for the 52 Super Series   
Starboard Hatteras Wave Jam - Another early start on day 4   
ISAF Sailing World - First entry leaves sailor's reputation in tatters   
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Four go through to quarter finals   
470 Men and Women Worlds - Champs take over leaderboard   
ISAF Sailing World Champ - Buckingham finishes with career-best result   
America's Cup: Oracle's Larry Ellison to step down as CEO   
Classic Yacht Regatta - Sonny takes top classic prize   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Buckingham finishes with career best   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Rio 2016 RS:X spots claimed   
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Leaderboards shaping up in Santander + Video   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Giles Scott continues to extend lead   

For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News  

Switch Default Region to:

Social Media





New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World






Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text


Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery


Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery





Privacy Policy



Cookie Policy



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT