Sailing on the Solent just got faster

James Boyd Photography /
We look at the FAST40+ class
The long-awaited debut of the FAST 40+ class took place at the recent RORC Easter Challenge, marking, in our humble opinion, one of the most significant steps forward in performance, handicap, inshore keelboat racing to have taken place in the UK since the heyday of the IOR Ton classes back in the 1980s. Why? The FAST 40+ ticks the right boxs. Firstly the boats are (in monohull terms at least) ‘fast’: To give some indication – the ‘fastest’ boat in the last Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup two years ago was the Irish team’s modified Ker 40, Catapult (since bought by Anthony O’Leary and now his latest Antix). At the Easter Challenge Antix was lowest rated FAST40+ with an IRC TCC of 1.215, whereas the fastest boats were hitting the 1.270 upper limit of the FAST 40+ rule. Its class rule comprises a basic box that includes a permitted rating range based under IRC. Pleasingly, there are other components of the rule preventing the unwelcome and ridiculous practice, seen in some other classes, where owners spend money to slow their boats down to optimise their rating. But the best aspects of the FAST40+ class are that, thanks to the efforts of Class President Rob Greenhalgh and early adopters such as Sir Keith Mills, Stewart Whitehead, Michael Bartholomew and Anthony O’Leary, etc it has caused a ground swell and succeeded in attracting owners. As a result there were ten FAST 40+s competing over Easter and four more examples are to join the circuit over the course of this season. Also, because five of the 11 crew on board can be professionals, this should help generally raise the level of the keelboat racing in the UK to a degree we have not seen since the era of the One Tonners. Thanks to the FAST40+, UK-based pro