A rate of knots – What is the fastest racing yacht relative to its price?

Offshore yacht racing is on an upwards curve with multiple ocean racing classes seeing perhaps the biggest boom ever seen.

IMOCA saw arguably its most successful Vendée Globe ever, the Classe Mini’s topflight event, the Mini Transat is oversubscribed by almost 40 boats, and Class40 has exploded with new builds being announced seemingly each week. An expected 50 Class40 teams will line up in this year’s Transat Jacques Vabre in November beating all records for the race by quite some way!

Recent results across Class40 are proving how competitive the landscape is with each skipper pushing their boats harder and faster than ever before.

The recent finish at the Les Sables – Horta race saw first and second place separate by a mere 3 minutes and 14 seconds after 2,540 miles of non-stop racing. Perhaps more impressively, we saw the 40ft monohull 24-hour distance record absolutely smashed by two-time Mini Transat winner Ian Lipinksi and his co-skipper Ambrogio Beccaria onboard the Class40 Crédit Mutuel with 428.82 nautical miles covered at an average speed of 17.9 knots. A record previously held by Lipinski in the same boat!

While the top speeds and 24-hour distance records for classes such as IMOCA and Ultim remain at the top of the leader board, we’re seeing the constant development and innovation of Class40 begin to close this gap.

The somewhat more accessible price point in the build of a new Class40 is perhaps one of the main reasons that we are set to see over 170 certified Class40s on the water by the end of 2021. Compare this to the 35 certified IMOCA60s and 8 Ultim Trimarans then it’s clear to see how healthy the future of our class is!

This got us thinking… with most manufacturing sports (Formula One and Sailing being the two prime examples) it is usually the case of higher budgets equal higher lap or course times. But what is the most effective pound-for-pound, or “per knot” challenger on the water?

To make this judgement, we’ve looked at boats able to collectively compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre, Route du Rhum, and a certified around the world race (The Race Around, Vendée Globe, or the Ultim RTW).

The results? Well, see below…

Unsurprisingly, the estimated €15,000,000 construction of the MACIF Trimaran glides through the water at rapid pace, but at almost €500,000 per knot it’s speed that comes with a price tag. Likewise, Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss, at an estimated construction cost of €6,000,000 has produced some incredible feats over recent years.

Yet it’s Lipinski’s Class40 heroics in the most recent Les Sables – Horta (despite finishing the race in third) that showcase just how quick and financially sustainable the overall 40-foot class is with an estimated total build of €700,000 and a cost per-knot of just shy of €40,000 over 24 hours.

Now that’s bang for your buck!


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Class40 The Race Around.png
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