The Melbourne Osaka Double Handed Yacht covers 5,500 Nautical Miles or 10, 200 Kilometers for those who prefer metric. It started back in 1987, is held every four years and was initially set up to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Osaka. Well at least that was the excuse we sailors used back then. This race runs straight up and down the globe from Melbourne Australia to Osaka Japan and is about the same length as the Cape Town Wellington leg (just a little shorter) of the Portimao Global Ocean Race yet now where near as cold. Being such a long and short handed race when I decided to join this Ocean racing event I began to ask, “so what kind of boat do we need?” The baots came many and fast but one boat kept cropping up repeatedly. The Open 40 or Class 40.
The Open 40 is no stranger to long distance ocean races and has been skippered by such greats as Michel Kleinjans in the Portimao Global ocean Race as well as first time long distance racers like Bermudian Alan Paris who managed to find himself in the history books as the first ever Bermudian sailor to round the globe alone. Both sailors, professional and novice, had one thing in common, they both came home on an Open 40 ocean racing yacht.
It can be argued that these ope 40 boats are too wide in the beam to be serious upwind racers, that they are only any use across or downwind. Fair enough, if we compare these Open 40 yachts to their slimmer counterparts out there every weekend at inshore club events this would be true but this must not be seen as a detractor. When it comes to long distance, short handed, off shore ocean racing these magnificent ocean racing yachts with their wide beams, tall rigs and water ballast are very hard to beat. Right now I am terribly bias and in love with Class 40. I would even hazard to say that if I had an unlimited budget the only boat I would buy in preference to an Open 40 would be an Open 50.
Of course I do not have an unlimited budget and as this end of ocean yacht racing still seems to be sadly lacking in sponsorship support I am pretty sure most of us out there in the next Melbourne Osaka yacht race will be self funded. As such the newer breed of Class 40 boat may well suit us better than the Open 40. The Class 40 is essentially the same design as the Open 40 however restrictions have been placed on exotic materials and keels. The restrictions are intended to and does it seem support private racers and smaller sponsor groups getting into Ocean racing. I for one think it is a good idea and applaud the rule. I am seriously weighing up my wallet to see if I have what it takes to build a new Class 40 and take her out in the next Melbourne Osaka race.
To give some idea of the manufactured quality and built in safety slash speed aspects of these boats I have managed to scrape together enough photos to build a video for one Open 40 and one Class 40 under construction. When you watch these videos you will clearly see the safety measures of forard and aft crash zones being built in as well as the allowance for baffles to hold 750 litres per side of water ballast.
I do trust you enjoy the Videos and are as awed as I by just how much effort goes into making these boat fast and safe. I will herein thank Owen Clarke who designed the Class 40 seen here and Alan Paris owner of BT Velocity together with Jon Sayer who built the Open 40 seen in this Video. Without such men designing, building and sailing these yachts we would never know just how good they are.