Delighted Sam Manuard's teaming with Archambault for a competitive Series option. Given Manuard's past success with Protos and current success in Classe 40, with Archambault's excellent build quality, the boat will be a success. But let's not forget two builders who will give SKA and Pogo a run: Maree Haute's D2 and Pixis' Nacira 650. Both are very competitive: the top three Series boats in the 2013 Transat were Nacira 650s. Also, not a few Argos and RG650s are being built; such a healthy class for designers - more than for Protos, with the poor EU economy and uncertainty about the scow design holding back new builds.
On a separate topic, I saw a Le Grand Pavois Tweet about a boat we both love: the RM 890. The one belonging to François Gabart, the ultimate seal of approval!
Speaking of Archambault, I did bow on the A40RC "Respite" for the 2014 Vineyard Race, a 238 mile circuit of Long Island Sound. Alas, our IRC certificate expired, so we raced PHRF against two J/120s and a Shock 40 (also an interesting boat). Fortunately, during the race, we were head-to-head against 4 J/122s, 3 J/44s, and a Beneteau 44.7 - i.e., the IRC class we should have raced in - allowing comparison between boats of similar rating.
The race was straight line out and straight line back, with exactly one tack and one jibe. Started in 5-7 knots, increasing gradually to 8-12 knots, then fluctuating overnight. Up to 16-20 knots the second day, diminishing in the evening, at the finished.
Conditions favored the J/122s - tight jib / Code Zero / A sail reaching, with some upwind. No pole-back, VMG running, which would have favored the A40RC. Peeled early from the light #1 to the Code Zero, slowly pulling away from the J/122s and J/44s. The Code Zero was our secret weapon and the boat was very stiff and quick with that sail.
As the wind veered, we peeled to the A2, increasing our lead over the IRC boats. In PHRF, we led the Shock 40 until late the first evening, and never saw the J/120s after the start. At the turning mark, around 6 AM, we saw the Shock 40 round 30 minutes ahead - not a happy sight for them. A J/44, a J/122 and the Beneteau 44.7 passed us at night, as a tactical error put us in foul current for a bit.
Returning, we flew the Zero until Plum Island, then peeled to the H #1 when the wind came on the nose, forcing us to beat for several hours in 14-16 knots. The J/122s closed on us, with one more eventually getting by near the end. The A40RC relished the conditions and with more intense focus we could have held them.
Doing bow, I drove only briefly, during the night, due to many headsail changes. It was easy to hold course and hit speed targets with the Zero up. The foredeck was a snap. Although this A40RC has a fixed IRC sprit, it uses a pole for PHRF, adding some complexity. On the last mile to the finish, setting the S2 proved a bit tricky, with two sets of spin sheets, a set of guys, a tack line, foreguy, and topping lift, all running spaghetti-like on the bow. But all went well, even in the dark. :)
Ultimately, I found the A40RC to be a very fast, very stiff and very comfortable boat. We sailed with 8 and there was plenty of room to accommodate everyone and all the gear. The saloon was a bit crowded - packed with sails - which made getting to the head challenging. Food preparation in the galley worked surprisingly well - we had hot meals and beverages the entire race. It helped that the weather was not extreme, but clearly if it works as a racing galley it would work for cruising.
All in all, I like the A40RC. Everything worked as it should on a race boat, and it's clearly competitive. We won our division quite handily over the Shock 40, but we also did very well against the IRC boats.
Next up: J/70 racing this weekend, then some Etchells and Laser racing in October.
Hi Pelicano, that is a so rich comment about so many interesting things that I decided not to publish it has a comment on the Archambault mini (as it was originally) but as a new post ( and a very nice one). Thanks for the contribution :-)