New Class Rules effective 1/1/22 - Viper 640 International Class Association

2022 Class Rules – plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose  (The more things change, the more they stay the same!)

In an electronic vote that closed on December 31st, the Viper 640 International Class Association members passed 21 amendments to the Class Rules with an average vote in favor of 89%.  The rule amendments came into effect on January 1, 2022.

What has changed as a result of 21 amendments?

The answer is “Not Much.”

Many of the amendments were part of an effort to overhaul the existing rules to make them clear, simple, and easy to use. We hope the new lay out helps owners understand the rules and spend even more time sailing.

Plus c’est la meme chose

The Viper emphasis on simplicity, fun, one design, easy to sail, and affordable remains unchanged. The fundamental concept of racing the boat as supplied by the builder with a few specified changes remains unchanged.  The rules remain closed class rules (where if the rule does not specifically say that you may – then you shall not.)  The introduction to the first set of Class Rules in 2004 remains as valid today as it did then, so we include them in the preamble to the 2022 rules. Eighteen years later, much remains the same.

Plus ca change

The Viper also adheres to a philosophy of remaining contemporary, and relevant.  From time to time, we will embrace new ideas that make the boat fun, easier, or safer to sail.

Here is a summary of the 5 more significant changes that affect Viper sailors and owners:

  1. The Class has tightened up the definitions of the categories of equipment that may be replaced on the boat. There are essentially four categories of equipment on the Viper 640

1)  Equipment that must be identical to equipment as supplied by the builder.  Example: The boom.   All equipment falls within this category unless the rules specify otherwise.

2) Equipment that must conform with specifications within the rules. Example: the sails.

3) Equipment that shall be “equivalent” to equipment supplied with the boat by the builder.  In the 2022 rules, we have added a precise definition of “equivalent” in  Rule 13.4

“Equipment or fittings may be deemed “Equivalent” if the equipment or fitting is similar in cost, close in form and identical in function to the equipment or fitting it replaces and conveys no performance or boat handling advantage to the boat.

Example :  Hiking Straps.

4) The “Anything Goes” category, where you can install or carry on the boat whatever you like.  There are only 3 items of equipment in the class rules that fit this category: The tiller extension, the main halyard cleat, and the paddle.

Unless a piece of equipment is specifically listed in the class rules, then it must be category 1, identical to the equipment supplied on a new boat by the builder.

  • The Class now requires that Vipers carry a working VHF radio. Most boats already did. A new floating portable VHF can be purchased for as little as $51
  • The 2022 Class Rules introduce and allow a continuous Gnav line. Under new Rule 6.4 (e), this will allow owners to splice together the ends of the Gnav control line such that the helm/crew never runs out of gnav adjustment no matter which side of the boat they are sitting on.
  • The Class has legitimized the widespread existing practice of changing or removing the top batten in the jib for light air conditions. The Class owners have prohibited changing any battens in the mainsail.
  • With an important proviso, new foils supplied by the builder will not be allowed to be faired. The important proviso is that the Class Association will inspect and measure the new keels coming out of new, high precision cad/cam foil molds to confirm that they provide Race Ready foils.

Looking to 2022/2023

The Technical Committee welcomes any feedback on the January 2022 rules.  The effectiveness and enjoyment of our class depends on owner and crew feedback.

We also welcome any questions that you have on the Class Rules. We can respond either with a formal Technical Interpretation or a less formal, published Q and A. The TC is here to help.

During 2022 the TC will likely be looking at:

  • Ways of simplifying sail acquisition rules.
  • Providing owners with better measurement points to tune masts and help owners stay within mast safety limits.

We welcome any other suggested topics you might have.


Tyler Moore (TC Chair), Rod Beurteaux, Tim Carter, Steve Chapman, Cole Constantineau, Justin Scott, Van Sheppard, Travis Yates, Paul Young