Sailing a Viper Four Up – Where do all the feet and fannies go??? - Viper 640 International Class Association

By Danny Pletsch

Weight considerations

The same overall weight rule applies when sailing with a crew of four as it does with a crew of three. Try and stay below 600 lbs. total, otherwise you really start to give up speed downwind, but upwind doesn’t hurt as bad being heavy.


Where to put everyone and what do they do?

As far as placement, the forward person going upwind is always in front of the shroud until it gets windy enough that all 4 crew are hiking. Once that happens, the forward person moves behind the shroud so they can have a proper hiking strap to hike off.


Tacking with eight feet moving all at once

The only other weight placement situation that is imperative when sailing with four is the timing of crossing the boat in tacks. The way we have done it is all 4 people help with the roll in the tack. Because of space, we all cannot cross at the same time because of all the feet moving and arms flying trying to trim the jib properly. Whichever of the two forward crew is trimming the jib crosses the boat first in the tack so they can get to the rail and trim properly. The helm and the crew sitting next to the skipper cross at the same time as the jib trimmer. The forward person not trimming the jib crosses last, following by about two steps.

Who does what in the pointy end?

As far as rolls on the boat during spinnaker sets:

Helm trims main all the time and is the only line he or she touches other than the vang when needed.

The person sitting next to the skipper (3rd person from forward) usually is pulling up and down the spinnaker because they have the best angle from pulling from the blocks or cleat on the mast.

The second from the bow usually gets to grab the spin sheet and get the spin filled before passing back to the person that pulls the spin up.

The forward person, usually sitting in front of the shroud, is in charge of pulling the pole out.


The forward two people really can do either of the jobs of trimming jib, pole in and out, uncleating the spin halyard, and all the control lines that are at the mast. Those two people simply need to “own” those jobs and split them up between the themselves.