Ker goes Class40

The British designer using 'neural networks' in design and linking up with Team Concise and McConaghy China
The Class40 is entering a new phase this year with a deluge of new boats being launched. One of the most interesting is from Jason Ker, representing the British designer’s first foray into shorthanded offshore race boats. Ker’s 40 One Design project is being bankrolled by Team Concise’s Tony Lawson, who has been involved in the class almost from the outset. Last year Lawson came close to throwing in the towel with Class40 due to the debacle over the Sam Manuard-designed Mach 40 being allowed an adjustable forestay. Lawson felt this was strongly indicative of the escalating costs in the class and plain wrong. As Ned Collier Wakefield, Lawson’s skipper and project manager for the 40 One Design, observes, the first Concise they owned, an Akilaria 1, cost them 159,000 Euros, while their current Akilaria RC2 cost around 275,000 Euros, but the price tag for latest generation boats like the Mach 40 or the new Verdier or VPLP designs is around 450,000 (less sails and electronics) – a significant leap in six years. These kinds of price hike are making it increasingly hard for private owners to remain competitive in the class. Thankfully adjustable forestays are now outlawed. While Joerg Riechers’ Mach 40 won the Solidaire du Chocolat last year's, it was generally agreed in the class that this was more due to the German skipper simply sailing smarter. In turn Lawson is back in the class and on a trip to see McConaghy in China over another project, started contemplating his own Class40 one design. Collier Wakefield says they liked Jason Ker’s IRC designs and British designer already works closely with McConaghy in China, where the Ker 40 and 46 are built. The philosophy of the 40 One Design is for it to be competitive with the latest generation Class40s, but at