Friday, October 27, 2017


On the Middle sea race I was particularly interested on the Pogo 50 performance (photo above). The boat was well crewed and always faster than a Class 40 that was also racing. My interest has to do with confirming one more time (or not) that this type of hull is not the best option on the med in what regards performance and to look at the comparative behavior with IRC based cruiser racers.

XP 44
To make an evaluation, the conditions on this race were very interesting since we had strong upwind winds, where the Pogo type of hull would be penalized and even more time sailing downwind with strong winds, where the Pogo would have an advantage. We had also very light winds at the beginning, so not a complete picture but a comprehensive one.

The Pogo 50 (Eros) has done a great race and among the production cruiser racers it was the 4th to arrive, after Caro, the 65ft, Music, a Swan 53 and a Xp44 (XP-Act). Behind, on another group at some distance, an Elan 350!!!(Rosaton), a J122 (Anita), a M37 (Herbe V), a Salona 41 (Rossko), a Swan 44 (Triple Lindy) a Sunfast 3600 (Bora Fast), another JPK 1080 (Sunrise) and an IMX 45 all going fast too.

Elan 350
Let’s look at the different weather conditions on the race and see how the Pogo 50 behaved compared to the boats it was fighting with at the end of the race and also with the two that finished ahead, the Swan 53 and the XP44.

At the beginning of the race, from Malta to the passage of Messina strait, upwind and with very light winds, the first to clear the strait was the Xp44(XP-Act) followed by the Swan 57  then the First 45 (Elusive 2), a Nautatec 40 and the JPK 10.80. Of course, in so light conditions tactical routing is very important but the point here is that traditional shaped IRC cruiser racer (smaller) were faster than the Pogo 50, but not much and that the JPK 1080 passed the strait at a considerable distance, behind the Pogo 50.

JPK 1080
After the strait they continued upwind, tacking till the end of Sicily’s North coast, but now with strong winds and waves of considerable size (4m). The first to turn around Sicily was the Swan 57 with the XP44 on its tails, then the First 45, the JPK 45, the Nautatec 40 and then the Pogo 50.

 The Pogo lost a lot to all these boats, not only in speed but in VMG due to a lower pointing ability not compensated by speed.

At this point the Pogo was very far away from the Fisrt 45 (that sailed ahead) and had been overtaken by the little JPK 1080 that went away. Note that upwind with light winds the Pogo 50 is not disadvantaged but with strong wind, normally, it is. That has not to do really with the wind but with the waves that normally appear with the wind. Without waves the Pogo, because it is very light and has a small wet surface, it is not significantly disadvantaged, but with waves the boat is enveloped by the wave and has therefore a much bigger wave drag than the narrower boats and that slows it down.
Swan 53

When we look at a Pogo polar speed we can see a very good upwind performance all the way from weak to strong winds, but that, of course, is in flat water.

After turning around Sicily, going South and till the finish in Malta, it was all downwind, the bigger distance on the race course constituted by two downwind legs, in two different directions, first to Panteleria and then to Malta.

Passing Pantelleria the Pogo had already overtaken the Nautatec 40, had come close to the JPK 1080 and was diminishing the distance to the First 45 and a bit to the Swan 53 and the Xp44. From all those boats the Pogo 50 was now the fastest but the difference in speed, even for the little JPK 1080, was far from what most would have expected, including me.
First 45

After passing Lampedusa, the Swan 53 and the XP 44 still maintained a big advance. Then passed the JPK 1080 that had been fighting side by side with the Pogo for a considerable time and resisting!!!

I took some measurements of the speeds of the three boats at the same time on three different points on the last downwind leg and that can give an idea of the difference in speed on those conditions:  Pogo 50 - 9.8/10.4/10.3, First 45 - 9/9.6/9.4 and the JPK 1080 - 9.3/9.8/9.5

The Swan 53 and the Xp44, even if they had seen their advance slightly diminished, still arrived well ahead of the Pogo 50 that very near Malta had finally managed to catch the JPK 1080 and the First 45. The three boats passed the line almost at the same time.

 Notice that the Pogo had started 40 minutes after the JPK and 20 after the First 45 so it made the race in less time (and arrived ahead). 

But it is not the race that I am more interested in but on the performance analysis and in what regards that the JPK 1080 passed the Messina strait way after the Pogo so, regarding medium/strong wind, upwind and downwind, if we consider the starting point the Messina strait, then the JPK 1080 was faster!!! Till Messina strait was all very light winds and luck and strategic routing took a big importance in what regards performance. After that it was all about boat and crew performance.

You can play back the router and take a look at the performance of the different boats.

Jeanneau Sunfast 3600
Once more we can see that the much generalized idea that the Pogo is faster than more traditional designed performance boats of the same size, following the IRC development trend, is not true. It is faster or slower depending on the conditions and points of sail. No doubt it would be faster on a Transat, on the med, on average it is slower, but always depending on the conditions. Its strong and weak points are just different.

But being slower does not mean that with a solo skipper it is not easier to sail downwind and therefore able to go much faster, specially with a not very good skipper (and that includes me LOL). Fact is that on this race where there is a duo racing classification, I have seen a lot of Class 40 being beaten by traditional IRC performance cruisers (and the class 40 is a racing boat).

It has happened this year where the victory went to a J122, (stellar racing team) that made a stellar race. They were not only the ones in the category to have managed to finish the race as they have done it fast (they were turning around Lampedusa when the Pogo 50 was turning around Malta and they had stopped for repairs).

The Class 40 that was their major opponent on the duo class (Green Challenge) was always 2nd till the moment that the J122 had to stop in Filicudi island for repairs. The J122 was recovering fast when the class 40 was forced to retire on the North coast of Sicily.

Green Challenge BM class 40
Taking about retired boats, they were almost 50% of all participants, including the only multihull, a small racing catamaran that was making a great race on the light stuff but that on the strong upwind conditions had to retire not far from Filicudi.

And regarding boats that have impressed me, among performance cruisers, well, no doubt the JPK 1080 but also the Elan 350 (Rosatom) that has made a truly incredible race, the XP44 that is a favorite of mine and one of the best performance cruisers around and the Swan 53.

Salona 41
There was a Swan 42 making an even more impressive performance, faster than the XP44 and the Swan 53, till the moment it had problems and had to retire, at the middle of Sicily's North coast. Very good also the performance of the First 45, the Salona 41 and the one of the J122, all great performance cruisers.

And by the way, congratulations to the Russian Bogatyr crew (JPK 1080) that won the race on compensated time. More and more Russians sailing on the med and now winning races!!! Welcome to the top racing scene where the more, the better.

Some more information about the JPK 1080:


  1. Another fun read Paolo, thanks for this. For readers that might not be aware, the boats beat up past Messina to Stromboli, the northernmost point of the racecourse, then bore off WSW to leave Favignana to port (assuming their boat was still in one piece).

  2. Good read as always. What is it that the makes the JPK that fast, in addition the crew?

    1. What makes this boat truly a great design is its polyvalence: The boat was designed with the Transaquadra (Transat duo or solo) in mind and it had won it but is also good in inshore regatas with a crew and great in offshore races, specially if they are muscled ones.

      I would say that even if the JPK1010 had won practically everything this is the best design of Jacques Valer, better than the JPK1010 specially offshore.

      It has just the right compromise between upwind and downwind sailing, a hull with a relatively big form stability and a big B/D ratio, a powerful boat with fine entries and a good light wind potential.

      It is light and strong, very well built using vacuum infusion and with the boat structure being part of the hull.

      To top its great racing potential for many different races (including the Sydney Hobart where it has done very well) it has a very nice and functional cruising interior. Very difficult to make better, at least for a while.

      Not only the design is great as the rigging (different for short crew or crewed racing) is perfect. That has to do with the owner of the shipyard to be a great sailor and as polyvalent as the boat, from solo and duo transats, to inshore regattas to offshore ones (including the Sydney Hobart) he had done it all and won many.

      You can see him here racing the JPK1080 on a Transquadra, one that he won:

  3. Am i right that elan 350 lost by 4 hours to 1080 and most of that happened when going upwind ?

    1. Roasatom the Elan 350 made a fantastic race and was 4th on compensated. They lost to the JPK 1080 (Bogatyr) 3 hours and 42 minutes out of 88 hours of racing (for Bogatyr).

      Yes they lost some distance upwind but it was on the light winds (also upwind) that they lost more (look at the distances when the Elan is going out of the Messina Strait). On that part of the race with such weak winds luck can have a bigger role but I have no doubt that the JPK 1080 is much faster on the lighter stuff than the Elan.

      I found surprising the Elan not having lost more on the strong upwind winds. The biggest problem of that boat in what regards performance is the somewhat low B/D ratio. The boat is built like that to be cheaper. Few things make a light boat more expensive than a big B/D (like on the JPK) because that implies a much bigger hull structure and hull reinforcement.

      But what I found truly amazing is that the Elan actually was faster than the JPK 1080, faster than the First 45 and faster than a lot of bigger boats on the downwind leg. Not bad at all for a "cheap" boat :-)

  4. Hi Paulo,
    Your analysis assumes that all crews raced their boats to the max of their capacity. However, in the conditions we had this was certainly not the case, at least for us racing on the Pogo50. Many of the crews and boats were tired after rounding Sicily , having spent 15-20hrs beating hard upwind in high seas. In our case, we were certainly tired but the improvement of the conditions made all of us recover and put a smile on our face after rounding Sicily. However, we deliberately decided to sail conservatively because
    - most importantly, there was no way we could improve our ranking (3rd in our catergory in corrected time) The 2nd boat was too far away to beat them, and we simply had to finish the race in order to be on the podium
    - our boat is a charter boat and we have to keep costs down without risking too much to destroy something. Our laminate sails were already quite tired after 2 charter seasons and the beating we suffered along the north coast of Sicily.
    Therefore, after Sicily and till Lampedusa, we sailed with 2 reefs on the main and the small a-spi (A5) wereas Bogatyr was next to us sailing full sail (chapeau to this great crew by the way!). After Lampedusa, we had almost till the strait of Malta 2 reefs and sometimes 3 reefs on the main and the small jib. Our strategy paid and the Pogo50 finished 3rd with absolutely no damage!
    The RMSR 2017 was not a good example for drawing conclusions regarding max performance, at least as far as the Pogo50 was concerned because we simply slowed down the boat after rounding Sicily.

    1. Hi Michalis,

      I have been following the performance of different types of hulls on main races according to weather and sea conditions and what I wrote regarding the Pogo 12.50 is not particular of that specific model but of that type of hull and that analysis is consistent not only with the results of this race but many races.

      Maybe the most interesting case was a Class 40 with a full racing crew that raced extensively in Australia and that had made several Sydney-Hobart till they gave up racing with that type of boat there:

      On the 2009 edition they were beaten for about 9 hours by a X41 and a First 40; beaten by a Sydney 38 (8 hours faster) and the 2nd First 40 arrived just 8 minutes after the Pogo Class 40.

      On the 2010 edition the same Pogo class 40 was beaten by 4 hours and a half by the X41, beaten by a Sayer 12, a First 40 arrived only 6 minutes later and a Sydney 38 arrived 57 minutes later.

      As you know a Pogo Class 40, even if it shares the same hull with the Pogo 12.50, is a very different beast, with water ballast and a taller rig, a considerably faster boat, a pure racing boat.

      The boats I was comparing it with on the Sydney Hobart are not pure race boats like the Pogo Class 40 but cruiser racers. if I were comparing it with pure racers, with the same length and other type of hull, like for instance the Ker 40, the differences would be much bigger.

      If you look at past editions of the Middle Sea Race and compare the performance of faster class 40 (faster than the Pogo 12.50) you will see that you can observe the same kind of performance, meaning having a disappointing performance as racers, being beaten by cruiser racers like the J120 or the Neo 400.

    2. Paulo, correct me if I am wrong, but the class40s that raced in the 2009 and 2010 RMSR were first generation class40s (built around ~2006) and they were really not fast upwind or in very light winds. The situation since ~2014 has changed in the class40 with the introduction of boats like Pogo40S2 (Pogo12.50 has same hull as Pogo40S2 , not Pogo40) and even more impressively by the Mach1,2,3, designed by Sam Manuard. Pogo12.50 is better upwind than the Pogo40 even though is a cruising boat. Besides the modern Class40s are doing excellent in upwind thanks to the their more voluminous bows. Check the results of the recent Fastsnet editions regarding real time performance of Class40s vs other boats of similar size

    3. Yes you are right regarding light winds but out of that the Pogo Class 40, water ballast, much bigger rig, lighter is much faster than the Pogo 12.50 and the Sydney-Hobart is not a race with light winds and certainly it was not on those years.

      It is not also an upwind race but a race with all type of condition. Here you can see that Sydney 38 that beat the Pogo by many hours and have an idea of the conditions (strong downwind wind too):

      You can also look at the results on past Middle sea races and see that it confirms my analysis.

      But let me say that this does not mean by any means that I don't like the Pogo 12.50 or that the Pogo is not a great fast cruising boat. The Pogo advantage is that it is much easier to sail fast downwind than all those cruiser racers that come ahead on the Sydney hobart even being able to do that on autopilot. That makes it very adapted to downwind solo races were that easiness is a speed advantage.

      That makes it also a great performance cruiser, specially if not too much upwind sailing with waves is on the program, since normally cruising boats are sailed by short crews, many times a couple.

      The same easiness that makes this type of boat a great solo racer makes it also a fast cruising boat with speed exploitable by a couple.