Viper 640 Videos, January 17, 2009

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I went to the Viper 640 demo sail at the Austin Yacht Club yesterday. Winston took me out in a chase boat to take some video, and with a small skiff and a 30 hp motor we had a hard time keeping up with the Viper. Good thing the wind was light or we wouldn't have been able to!

The Viper 640 is fast, I knew that right away, chasing it in the skiff, but I wondered how it sailed? I soon found out, when Brian took Bob and I out and let us take the helm. This 21 foot sport boat is a joy to sail, so responsive and so stable, at the same time. It is so well designed it is not just fun, but it's easy to sail!

From the almost neutral helm to the jib sheet cleats at just the right angle, everything on the boat seemed to be perfectly done. Everything in the right place, no "pokey" things to make you hurt, comfortable seating, and FAST. I've never sailed a boat that had put it all together so well.

The asymetrical spinnaker is so nice, one person can launch it and extend the bowsprit at the same time, and dousing it is also a one man operation.

Fast. Lot's of boats are fast, but the Viper goes fast so easily. No fighting to get on a plane, it's just there, seemingly on it's own. The wind was 10 to 15 mph, although I don't think it was ever up to 15 when I sailed, and the Viper planed easily and often with the spinnaker up.

Carbon fiber mast, and I think the bowsprit, but the stays looked normal. A daggerboard/keel with a 220 pound bulb at the bottom is part of the stability I'm sure. I'll have more on the Viper 640, soon I hope.

Brian Bennett, the designer of the Viper 640, took many people out for test drives. That's him in the 2nd video explaining some of the boat, very nice fellow.


  • Length Overall 6.40 m 21' 1"
  • Length Waterline 19' 1'
  • Beam 8' 2"
  • Displacement- 340 kilo 749lbs
  • Ballast Lifting Bulb Keel. 123 kilo 271lbs (including 220 lb bulb)
  • Draft 4' 6" with keel down. 1' 10' with keel up. (keel is bolted down while sailing per class rules)
  • Sail Area Main/Jib 252 sq ft
  • Spinnaker 425 sq ft
  • Mast Carbon
  • Handicap PHRF 111 US Sailing Portsmouth Yardstick 70.4
  • Designer Brian Bennett, Kiwi Yacht Design
  • Builder Rondar Race Boats
  • Crew 3 or 2. Typical competitive crew is three people and a weight of 500 to 580lbs

    Designer's Remarks

    "The Viper 640 is a 2 to 4 person, high-performance sports boat. The open transom bails water instantly, even in extreme conditions. The Viper is simple, clean, and effective, with no protruding hardware and everything placed for efficiency. The Viper is light enough to be towed behind a compact car and simple enough to be rigged and sailed in under a half hour. The boat can be launched from a hoist or ramp. The 640 is strict one-design with no changes permitted to the factory supplied boat. The only option is sails, strictly controlled through class rules, which encourages the development of tuning techniques with the help of the best sailors and sailmakers."

    Designer: Brian Bennett

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    These videos were taken with the Panasonic PV-GS320 and the PV-GS35

  • Dialup? version, 14 MB
    Click to see video
    Broadband version, 62 MB
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    On the boat video
    Dialup? version, 14 MB
    Click to see video

    Broadband version, 77 MB
    Click to see video