by Richard Crockett
Recently Alex Schon and a few of his mates competed in the Viper 640 Worlds in Australia, finishing 17th in a fleet of 25 boats. Their best two races were a 5th and an 8th overall.
The reason he was there with Greg Plunkett, Bo Szalek and Gavin Davies is that he and Plunkett intend to start a class in this country.
“It is our (Greg Plunkett and myself) intention is to hopefully start a new one design class in South Africa. We spent a while looking for a boat that is a true one design, is easy and fun to sail, has a good international following and is not beyond being affordable. The Viper 640 retails at around half the cost of a J70 or Melges 20. We will be able to fit 4 boats into a 40 foot container and in order to get the ball rolling we will import the first shipment at cost. This works out to around R 400 000-00, which includes a complete boat with North Sails, a road trailer and VAT” said Schon.
The class is owner driven (as opposed to manufacturer driven) and no pros are allowed. This in effect has had a great affect on the class, as this has built great camaraderie within the class
The Viper 640 is built by Rondar Boats in the UK – and is a World Sailing Class.
It is described as a High Performance One-Design Sports Boat which is FUN, FAST, EASY AND AFFORDABLE.
It combines the stiffness of an open keelboat with the acceleration and planning abilities of a dinghy. The Viper is a joy to sail with a precise and exhilarating feel on the helm, a comfortable open cockpit for 3 people, strict one-design class rules and ease of launching at any tide.
The Viper makes high performance sailing available to everyone. The open transom bails water instantly, irrespective of conditions. A comfortable cockpit design with no protruding hardware, no sharp edges and everything placed for efficiency. The Viper is light enough to be towed behind a compact car and simple enough to be rigged and sailed in under a half hour. The boat can be launched from a crane hoist, ramp or slipway.
You will find it a revelation, providing enjoyment for all, combining terrific sailing feel, astonishing performance, minimal maintenance and sail costs, simple crew requirements. It’s the sailing feel that has already attracted enthusiastic sailors to the Viper 640.
Despite the high-tech, high-performance nature of the boat, many boats regularly sails with family members as crew. There is no spinnaker pole to handle and control line loads are low, many boats are competitive with crew members as young as nine. Every boat in the US Marblehead fleet last year raced with women on board, either as skipper or crew. If you have a teenage sailor in your family that you want to keep interested in the sport, give them a trial sail in a Viper!
Some points worth noting are:
• 2-4 crew, typically 3
• 500-600-pound competitive crew weight range means more members can sail
• Self-righting. passes ISO 12217 and British Recreational Craft Directive self-righting tests
• Strong, international, owner-run Class Association, with a professional manager
• Builder, Rondar Raceboats, celebrating its 50th anniversary
About Rondar Raceboats
Rondar Boats has been manufacturing a range of quality sailing dinghies and keelboats for over 50 years. Always at the forefront of technical development, Rondar has invested in accurate moulding systems to ensure the highest quality workmanship and performance. Our factory premises are continually being adapted to optimise production systems. Foam sandwich and vacuum moulding techniques ensure that our products are strong, yet as light as possible
Some Random Quotes
“Our unanimous choice as Performance One-Design Winner”. Sailing World Magazine
“It’s not a dinghy. I don’t think you can call it a keelboat. It’s something in between. Upwind, the boat’s fine bow slices through the water. Downwind, it gets up and planes”. 48 North Magazine
“I really love my Viper, it’s the easiest boat that I’ve ever sailed and much faster than all the boats around me”. Viper Owner Australia