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

America's Cup: Five Challengers sign-on for 35th Match by Richard Gladwell/,

AWT Quatro Desert Showdown at Punta San Carlos by American Windsurfing Tour,

America's Cup: Rod Davis - Time for a change after ten years with team *Feature by Richard Gladwell/,

Maxi yacht rendezvous this September in Sardinia by International Maxi Association,

America's Cup: Team NZ wish Davis well with new team *Feature by Richard Gladwell,,

Fisher's View: Sailing perfection at Hamilton Island- Day 3
Roble and Wilson still number one match racers in the U.S.
2014 Formula Kite World Championship Day 1
IFDS World Championship - Day 1 images by Jude Robertson
Volvo Ocean Race: Forget the f-word - Team SCA profiled
52 Super Series - Fleet grows, 2015 dates revealed
420 and 470 Junior Europeans - Teams from 9 nations on the podium
IFDS Worlds - Former president presented with ISAF awards medal
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Improvements aplenty in Byte CII fleets
America's Cup: New Zealand loses top coach to Artemis Racing
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 CEO Knut Frostad talks (Part I) *Feature
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race Day 9 - Swish on record pace
2014 CORK Olympic Classes Regatta - Day 3
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Day 2
2014 IFDS World Championship: Opening Ceremony images
Opera House Cup - Images by Ingrid Abery
Teams descend upon Cowes for inaugural J/111 World Championships
Hamilton Island Race Week: Everywhere there's smiley people
IFDS World Championships - US Paralympic hopefuls ready for racing
Sopot Match Race - Poland's Tour debut deemed a triumph
Vineyard Race celebrates 80th running of the East Coast classic   
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games: Young sailors begin racing on Lake Jinniu   
AWT Quatro Desert Showdown - Victory for Morgan Noireaux   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Day 8: Test of endurance   
Bart's Bash: Over 2300 entered from 588 yacht clubs - Join here   
Halifax ready to welcome the world at 2014 IFDS World Championships   
RC44 World Championship title to Bronenosec + Video   
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week: Day 2 Images by Crosbie Lorimer   
IFDS Worlds - Gary Jobson to attend opening ceremonies   
Melges 32 U.S. National Championship - Dalton DeVos crowned champion   
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games trailer   
2014 Chicago Grand Slam - Canfield wins   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Varuna takes overall lead   
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week; Crosbie Lorimer Day 1 Images   
Fisher's View: Hamilton Island Race Week - Day 1 - Stayin' Alive   
CORK Olympic Classes Regatta 2014 - Day one   
Youth Olympics: practice over, athletes welcomed, time for YOG sailing   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Record for Artemis-Team Endeavour   
2014 Melges 32 U.S. National Championship - Day 2   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland: Artemis sets fourth course record   

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