Snake Bytes - October 2020 - Viper 640 International Class Association


Lots of Viper updates…


 Snake Bytes
October 19, 2020


Steve Chapman, North American Region President

It’s autumn. Here in the north the leaves are falling, there is a chill in the air, and our sailing club has started its “Frostbite” series. Summer came and went quickly this year without a lot of sailing. The pandemic continues to have an impact on how and where we sail, and probably will continue to do so well into 2021. However, lots of positive things are happening in the Viper world!

It was great to see 13 Vipers at the American Yacht Club’s High Performance Regatta last weekend and the Canadian Great Lakes Vipers getting together at the Royal Hamilton YC. Careful COVID protocols and respectful adherence resulted in successful events.

Despite the impact of the COVID pandemic, Rondar are busily working on a number of upgrades to the Viper. The process started with the keel, as the Class is keen to have a high degree of accuracy in new production keels. The existing keel mould had a level of expansion and contraction resulting in variations in the keel during the production cycle, so a more controllable process was sought. The first step was to capture the shape of the existing keel in CAD software, and to fine tune that within the measurement shape, so that a new keel mould can be machined out of a solid billet of aluminum. With metal molds, the new keels can be manufactured to much higher tolerances and will eliminate any future need for fairing.

With a new consistently sized keel, Rondar will take the opportunity to redo the hull at the keel exit, with a view to creating a smooth hull to keel joint, and eliminating the gutter in the lower cassette. With many lessons learned since the introduction of the wedge keel, the new 2021 Viper will be the most “ready-to-race” version yet. The first boat is expected to be finished in January shortly after the new keel mould is received from the machine shop.

Rondar have reworked their shipping procedures, so all new boats now sail on a Roll-on Roll-off ship to Norfolk, Virginia as soon as they are built (no waiting to fill a container), and Tyler Moore at Rondar Parts USA will be handling all the arrival, logistics and handover arrangements.

When it comes to thinking about your boat for next year, the pandemic is still affecting the global supply chain, and a lot of flights that used to happen, no longer do so, so some goods have to ship via sea freight, which creates much longer lead times, particularly with getting items like mast tubes from New Zealand, so lead times are governed by these items. With a lot of global interest in the  2021 World Championship happening in Noroton, CT, now is definitely a good time to think about new boats for next year and to open the conversation with Rondar if you want delivery in April 2021..

The COVID pandemic is still playing havoc with the supply chain, particularly with getting mast tubes from New Zealand, so lead times are still long. With the 2021 World Championship happening next September in Noroton, CT, now is the time to open the conversation with Tyler if you want delivery of a new Viper in April 2021.

Finally, it is with great sadness that we saw Geoff Ewenson pass away so suddenly this week. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Mary and the families. We have lost a giant in the sailing community.



Graeme Monkhouse, Oceanasia Region President

Strange Times…With our season just starting we have good traction in the West Australian Viper fleet.  Last weekend Albany had four Vipers racing and five in Perth.  This weekend we will have 6 Vipers at Sail Freo  – a two day 8 race Regatta.

We have also sold two Vipers and SoPYC has started using a Viper for advanced sail training on a trial basis with the intention of buying/leasing a couple for ongoing training.  Royal Perth also has nominated the Viper as the preferred Sportsboat class and they are organising a couple of exhibition races to encourage their members to buy and race a Viper.

With zero cases of community transmission in Western Australia, everything is operating in a “covid free bubble.” We have had a hard WA border for about six months which has been politically popular and, accordingly, the WA Government is currently saying the hard border will remain until mid-2021.  Sales of “toys” are at all time highs (boats, 4wd’s, caravans, holiday houses, etc). Local tourism is booming – noone can leave WA without doing a 2 week hotel quarantine at their own expense on return.  West Australians are re-discovering WA and loving it. So the Viper fleet continues to thrive in WA.



It is with great sadness that we learned that we lost our friend Geoff Ewenson to a massive heart attack the morning of October 14 at the very young age of 50. Since joining the Viper Class 5+ years ago, Geoff and his wife Mary have been two of the sparkplugs that have helped the Viper Class remain vibrant, active, and fun. Together, Geoff and Mary started the now-booming Viper fleet in Annapolis. Together they loved going to Miami for the Bacardi Cup and the Sarasota Winter Series,  they traveled to all the major regattas, won a bunch of them, and were on the podium for almost all they entered, including a second place finish at the 2019 Worlds in Long Beach, and a third place finish at the 2018 North Americans in Kingston. READ FULL ARTICLE



Planning is going forward on the three major Viper regattas scheduled to be sailed on Long Island Sound in October 2021. NoRs have just been posted on and online registration is now open for each on YachtScoring.

2021 Women’s International Championship
October 2-3, Noroton Yacht Club – HERE

2021 North American Championship
October 4-5, Stamford Yacht Club – HERE

2021 World Championship
October 7-10, Noroton Yacht Club – HERE

Those that have sailed on the Sound during the fall know they can expect to be sailing in some exceptional Viper conditions. On top of that, the Race Management leadership for the three events has been finalized with Sandy Grosvenor (Annapolis, MD) serving as PRO for both the Women’s International and the NAs, and Hank Stuart (Rochester, NY) as PRO for the Worlds with Noroton’s Glenn Morrison serving as DRO for the Worlds.As noted in Words from a Prez, if the idea of getting a new Viper for the 2021 Worlds has crossed your mind, now is the time to place you order.

To order a new Viper for delivery in 2021 contact either:

Tyler Moore – – 757-897-2127 or
Dan Tucker – – 781.799.8132

Assuming we are able to get back to the status quo by late spring, the Clubs on Long Island Sound will have a full summer of 2021 racing on tap for teams who want to practice for the Worlds—there will be clinics, tuning sessions, and an appropriate amount of racing. So, start putting your teams together early and make some plans.



If you missed the September letter to Owners, you will need to order your permanent bow numbers now. To read the September letter for all the background, click HERE. To go directly to the order form, click HERE.




American Yacht Club
October 10-11, 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for the NYC tristate area, for our country, and for the many people and families that have been personally affected by the pandemic. Viper sailing has been collateral damage to some extent compared to our usual turnouts with some folks away and others unwilling to sail with non-quaranteams. So, it was nice to end the season on a high note this weekend with the return of the Vipers to the High Performance Regatta f/k/a the HPDO. AYC “hosted” by providing RC and trophies, but none of it would have been possible without the 13 Vipers who decided to compete and the Larchmont Yacht Club flag officers that allowed visiting teams to launch from LYC (non-AYC members were not allowed at AYC).

The conditions ended up being close to perfect both days, with something for everyone. Saturday’s scary forecast did not materialize at the higher end of the range, so we had 12-14 knots from the SW with gusts to 17-18 (most of which subsidized after Race 3). Six races on courses with legs that were no more than 0.7 – 0.8 nm were perfect and allowed for extremely close racing and a chance to get back to the dock at LYC by 1500 for hot dogs, cookies, and keg beer on the back porch of the LYC Junior Clubhouse, along with a debrief from the three teams that were tied for first after Day 1.  READ MORE


October 3-4, 2020

2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Viperers, with travel limited and restrictions on social contacts outside the household, have missed what was supposed to be an event-packed season of one-design racing ending in the North Americans on Long Island Sound.

As of mid-September, there had been no one-design racing on the Great Lakes since 2019, though boats had been sailing PHRF in Sarnia, Ottawa, and Hamilton.

Out of some threads of text messages, the fleet decided to try and throw an event on short notice before the season was completely done. The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club on Burlington Bay proved to be excited about hosting, and able to provide boats and RC—so the regatta came together for October 3 – 4. Five boats raced with a higher proportion of family teams than usual—the Molimard brothers came from Montreal, Van Sheppard came with his sons Alex and Luke from Nepean, the Rowlinsons were there from RHYC with Charlotte Panneton, and the fleet was rounded out by Adrian Laman, also from RHYC, and Brian Johansen from Sarnia. Read More



If you want new sails, you should reach out to your favorite sailmaker to make that happen – those guys have had a very challenging year and they’d appreciate the support if you’re able to swing it. To find a Class Approved Sailmaker, click HERE.



Many Vipers find that one-design racing is not always available. Rather than let their Viper sit on the hard all the time, they have sailed in PHRF regattas racing on a handicap basis. Class Governor Peter Beardsley had his first taste of Viper PHRF this summer and shared the following:

For some one-design sailors, PHRF may be as ugly an acronym as COVID, and, in Summer 2020, the terms were synonymous for Viper sailors. Rachel and I relocated to Shelter Island, NY, where, other than local stalwart Rich Prieto on Viper 124, there was no one-design sailing in Vipers. We still wanted to sail our Viper and, with two thirds of a quaranteam in place, opted for as much PHRF racing as our schedule would allow. We managed close to 20 days in the boat as a result.

The competition varied wildly. On Wednesday nights, it was a group of well-sailed J/109s, a J/100, Henderson 30, J/105 and C&C 35 out of Sag Harbor where the Viper was the second slowest boat on handicap. On weekends in Peconic Bay, there would be J/100s and J/105s all the way down to J/22s in the same division, with a bunch of J/80s mixed in. For holiday events out of Shelter Island YC, some of the same crowd plus a J/88, J/70s, and J/92s. Often the courses were government mark races, sometimes windward leeward, and sometimes pursuit-style. Here are some lessons learned about PHRF racing in a Viper:

1.      If the pin is very favored, try hard to win it. Vipers are lighter and more maneuverable than the competition and can sail down speed toward the pin when everyone else is trying to come with a head of steam. Vipers can accelerate faster than bigger boats, and most panicked big boat bowmen will eventually waive the driver off for fear of cutting the down speed Viper in half. Eventually the fleet learns to leave you alone at the pin when it is favored by 20 degrees or more. At that point, if you’re able to tack and cross the fleet, do so quickly before the bad air comes – it’s a narrow window of opportunity if you’re sailing against faster competition with larger sail plans. If you can’t tack and cross, just wait for your opportunity to develop or a chance to duck cleanly if you want to get onto port.



Questions or comments? 

Have a something to share? Have a question or comment? How about a great Viper photo? Contact Viper 640 Class Administrator Ed “Buttons” Padin at

Ed Padin: Viper 640 Class Administrator, Office: 914-834-8286  Address: 18 Normandy Lane, New Rochelle, NY 10804
Viper 640 Class Association Website:   
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