P40 class racing in the Solent. In 2023,16 boats raced often enough to be scored for the season.

P40 class racing in the Solent. In 2023,16 boats raced often enough to be scored for the season.

The P40 class is on a mission to revitalise fully crewed racing


12/05/2024 - 07:00

The P40 class is on a mission to revitalise fully crewed offshore and inshore racing in fortysomething-footers and boost participation…

The first year in which the concept of the P40 class has been taken forward was 2023 and we produced a structure which included inshore and offshore components - with separate prizes, subscriptions from members in order to manage the class and the formation of a committee to oversee and coordinate the development.

Using questionnaires and direct approaches we have tried to discover the general hopes and aspirations of this new class. It became clear that there was a split between those who wanted to race inshore and those who preferred offshore; some did both but certainly not the majority. We therefore devised a programme to attempt to include everyone, with “best of” series for both inshore and offshore as well as an overall winner. We have found and developed relationships with some great sponsors and their help has been fundamental for the growth of the class for which we are most grateful.

Inshore keelboat handicap racing in the Solent - and elsewhere - has steadily been dwindling in numbers for some years. The formation of the P40 class is a serious initiative to reverse this trend. For many years it has been difficult to match up crews and owners and the cry of ‘I can’t race because I can’t get a crew’ is frequently heard. Equally a lot of young people are desperate to learn about and gain experience sailing on bigger boats but cannot get a ride. The P40 is ideal because with a crew of 9-11 there is scope to take relative novices and give them experience. We have approached this problem in various ways. Most useful has been to engage with the main yacht club academies, the Royal Thames, the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Royal Ocean Racing Club (Griffin project) and we plan to develop these links in 2024.

With nine to 11 crew, there is scope to take novice sailors on board and give them experience

Our programme for 2024 was the result of voting by the members; the most popular being adopted. The positive social side of the class was exposed in the voting. Some of the events that emerged as most popular may not have had a history of the best racing, but definitely had the best parties. Our goal is not just to increase membership but also participation and it was obvious that this was an important driver.

The highlight of the season must have been the Rolex Fastnet Race where, despite very rugged conditions, especially in the first 24 hours, Dawn Treader came 12th overall and 3rd in Class 1B. Also in this class Darkwood was 8th and Rogan Josh 12th. This was a huge class of 81, 35 of which retired.

We repeated our autumn regatta hosted by the Royal Thames and the Royal Yacht Squadron, the latter being our National Championships. The season was rounded off by an excellent end of season dinner at the Royal Thames in London. We were treated to a fascinating talk covering the rescues during the Rolex Fastnet and followed this with a very successful charity auction which raised a substantial sum for the RNLI.

Now to some results and statistics for the season. Sixteen members entered enough races to be scored for the season. Inshore series winner was the Swan 45 Luna, with Dawn Treader 2nd and Michael Blair’s Cobra 3rd. The offshore winner and also overall winner of the combined series was Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader. Richard Powell’s First 40 Rogan Josh was 2nd and Michael O’Donnell’s J121 Darkwood was 3rd. The crew of Dawn Treader had a triumphant 2023 season all round as they were also the winner of Class 1 in the RORC overall Season’s Points.

The 2024 programme is already published (Seahorse February 2024) and on www.P40Class.com. We will have class racing in Cowes Week, with a perpetual challenge trophy awarded by the Royal Thames, and we look forward to a growing fleet with excellent racing and camaraderie. All this would be impossible without our sponsors, North Sails, Mermaid Gin, HYS, The Vital Spark and LV Yachting to which we owe our thanks.

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