We reported last month on the first Soto 40 racer to hit North American shores. With a low cost of admissions, serious performance, and excellent build quality and support reported, could this be the next 40-foot class to make it big? Only time will tell, but here’s a first US sail report (with a nice video right here) from crewmember ‘1sailor’:
Conditions were a bit cold, and breeze of 14-22 but at least the offshore breeze provided flat water for a great first sail. Everything on the boat worked GREAT – that is to say *every* system. Jim Stone [Speedboat rigger -ed] was on hand from newport to get the rig situated, some on-water adjustments after an initial "stretch" and we spent about 4 hours sailing. As with any boat, you leave with questions but they’re "little stuff" not "oh shit" stuff.
At dinner we talked through some "to-do" items, and the list was short. J-Hood and the boys have been busy, I’d imagine a lot more work has gone in than any of us have seen– but the boat is much more ‘there’ than I’d have guessed after a first day sail.
Sails looked great and went up and down without any drama. Maybe we’ll re-evaluate batten stiffness as time goes on but the thing set up easily. We plugged in the J4 and without effort the boat was going 7.2 upwind. Once everyone was fully hiked, Tom Gieseler experimented with adding more twist than I’m used to for flat-water sailing, speed jumped to 7.6’s uphill and steering got a lot easier. For the short time I drove, I found it really easy. Also, it was easy and obvious to tell when we were ‘going’ and when we weren’t– just laying into the jib a tiny bit harder would immediately yield a 3/10ths gain on the speedo. This is a really fun boat to drive.
Downhill it really lit up. Long Tim will surely put some video up here soon, and you will see what I mean. Two minor broaches in puffs over 20 knots– maybe too many crew aboard (and to leeward), lots of ‘chiefs’, crew tasks only ‘loosely designated’ and obviously no practice– it’s just gonna happen. The boat recovered quickly, and once that kite fills the boat just unloads and accelerates out from under your feet- stand firmly or fall down. This will be a wet boat, but the deep cockpit makes it pretty comfortable in any position, standing /sitting / grinding etc.
Most of our spinnaker work happened in the lower wind range of the day, saw mostly 14-15 knots on the speedo but wasn’t watching closely and larger numbers were reported by others…
In all, the boat is truly impressive, as is the prescence of the builder to assure everything is good and that Ted Etheridge (owner) is happy. The crew itself is a very happy group, and it will be fun for us to work into our positions, and learn to optimize our boat handling, long after the builders / riggers / helpers are gone.
Huge wide deck and cockpit– lots of room to perform your task without fighting for space. The downside may be is the lack of volume below decks– it’s small, and does not pretend to be anything other than a place to sleep between on-deck watches.
The thing is easily driven and motors at 8 knots, around 2200 RPM, with zero vibration on-deck, quiet. Deliveries will be awesome.
On-site, in addition to the regular (?) Drumbeat crew:
Tom Gieseler and Mark Pinney– on loan from Windquest team
Javier Mendez and non-english speaking assistant: from the Builder in Argentina
Martin – west coast Soto 40 rep
Tim Long – Aussie Soto rep.
What a rocket sled this thing is. I love it