and then there was one

Local Knowledge

The Gulf Yachting Association Selects the Viper 640 as its new Capdevielle Series boat. Huh, what’s that mean to those of us not in the Land of the South? Simply, the 30+ clubs that make up the GYA, as a forward-looking yachting association, have decided that 50 years sailing against each other in venerable yet traditional Flying Scots in this day of the world wide interweb is enough. For the past two years, the GYA has sifted through all the boats available in search of the silver bullet: a boat that is competitive enough to be sailed in the GYA’s prestigious interclub Capdevielle Series, high performance, sailable by women and juniors, trailer friendly, easy to set-up, has a strong class and class association, and is fun to sail. And, add to that list affordable with a good used-boat market.

After doing their due diligence, early this year the GYA selection committee narrowed down the field to just two boats: the Viper 640 and the VX One. Both planing sport boats with a lot of get-up and go. Both able to provide top-notch sailors tremendous interclub competition. Both, as it turns out, designed by Brian Bennett. Bennett Marine is no longer associated with the Viper 640 but owns the VX One.

Both boats’ respective teams put on their team shirts and went to the Biloxi Yacht Club to present their wares to the GYA General Meeting in March ’15. After all the schmoozing was done, the Viper and VX folks moved their demo boats around the GYA clubs during the summer providing demos sails and opportunities to get up close and personal with the boats, the builders, and the respective classes. Each member club was able to cast a single vote for one boat or the other. In a very close balloting on September 5, the GYA voted to go with the Viper 640. While this didn’t happen without a few bruised egos, the decision was based on what member clubs’ respective assessment committees believed would be the better boat for the GYA, its various sailing constituents, and…ultimately…able to get more people on the water sailing.

The Viper Class Association is starting to work with GYA clubs on an implementation and roll-out program; look for more and more Vipers to be racing along the Gulf Coast at a club near you. And, BTW, the 2017 Viper 640 NAs are scheduled to be raced at Ft. Walton (FL) Yacht Club. Add to that the Sarasota Sailing Squadron’s winter Viper circuit, the EFG Winter Cup in Miami, and the Viper’s continued major presence at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week and it looks like the South is rising again!