Class 40 Racing Coming to the U.S.

Race organizer 11th Hour Racing is bringing grand prix Class 40 racing to U.S. shores this spring as part of its new Atlantic Cup regatta. The event, which is set to begin May 7, will include Pro-Am racing in New York Harbor, a double-handed distance race from New York to Newport, Rhode Island, and a series of fully crewed inshore buoy races in Newport. Highlighting the grand prix nature of the regatta, which is being sponsored by Thomson Reuters, will be $15,000 in prize money.

At a recent press conference, race director Hugh Piggin said three U.S. competitors have already signed on for the event: Transat Jacques Vabre veteran Joe Harris; four-time Bermuda 1-2 veteran Michael Hennessy; and East Coat pro Ben Poucher.

Piggin said afterward, he hopes as many is six U.S. boats will be able take part, and that race organizers are encouraging Class 40 competitors from the recently completed Route du Rhum transatlantic solo race to get involved as well.

Class 40 monohulls bridge the gap between the 21-footers that take part in events like the Mini Transat 6.50 solo transatlantic race and the Open 50s and 60s that take part in events like the Barcelona World Race and the Vendee Globe. The 40-footers are designed to a box rule and are very popular in Europe. Forty-four Class 40s took part in the 2010 Route du Rhum.

“I have seen the explosive growth of the Class 40 to over 100 boats, and I’m really looking forward to bringing the excitement of the class to the United States,” said Harris, who has a brand-new boat under construction.

Hennessy, who has been involved in Class 40 racing since 2006, agreed saying the event will serve as an excellent showcase for the boats. “It’s clear (11th Hour Racing) has put together something very special, and we are really excited to be a part of it.”

In addition to featuring Class 40 racing, the Atlantic Cup will place a premium on environmental awareness, teaming up with the group Sailors for the Sea to ensure it is a “Clean Regatta,” producing minimal waste. For more on the Atlantic Cup, click here.

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