Formula 40 reborn?


 
We look at Volvo's new Yves Loday-Mitch Booth conceived 40ft one design catamaran class
In the mid-1980s with costs spiralling out of control in the Class One offshore multihulls - at that point 85ft long behemoths - some bright sparks in France came up with the concept of Formula 40, a multihull built to a box rule - trimaran or catamaran, with 90sqm upwind sail area, 180sqm downwind and a minimum weight of 1,800kg. The race program was originally conceived along the lines of the Figaro class, with a mixture of singlehanded and fully crewed events, inshore and offshore. Some of the top names competed - Loick Peyron, Philippe Poupon, Yves Parlier, Michel Desjoyeaux, Roland Jourdain and the two time champion of the class Jean le Cam with his series of Biscuits Cantreau tris. From outside of France campaigns were launched by Alan Wynne-Thomas and US Tornado silver medallist Randy Smyth, the 1986 championship winner and ultimately Jo Richards and Stephen Fein fielding their Full Pelt trimaran. Sadly costs spiralled out of control, were not checked and with the French economy on the decline the class lasted three years before blowing itself apart, most boats ending up on the Swiss lakes. This was followed by the even shorter-lived ProSail catamaran circuit in the US. Yesterday's announcement of the Volvo Extreme 40 is something which multihull sailors have been waiting more than a decade for... Yes, the class has clearly been born from the minds of Tornado sailors - it is one design catamaran, much like a Tornado scaled to X2 (in fact the original name for the boat was the Tornado 40) - but the boat is state of the art in terms of catamaran design and build and the one design aspect will achieve what the Formula 40 singularly failed to do in curbing cost escalation. Herbert Dercksen, Chief Executive of the class aside

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