Snake Bytes 
  Viper Class News
December 1, 2015
Viper Colors - 2015 NAs
Photo: John O'Sullivan

The Viper Class is a true grass roots Class that is driven by it's members and volunteers that are fellow Viper owners and sailors. It's time to renew your membership for 2015. You can do so here:

 2016 Viper 640 Class Membership 




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Words from the Prez - Planning Ahead
Viper 640 Class Experiment in Florida - Testing Jib Fabrics for Longer Life
Words from the Prez - Planning Ahead
Although we fortunate Viper sailors in southern California have a full winter's sailing ahead of us, for most U.S. and European Viper sailors, their boats are getting put away for the winter in anticipation of next season. That's great, but consider this: next season really isn't that far away. NOW is the time to start planning for 2016.
Jim Sears at the helm of AMERICA II
I look at planning from four perspectives-the regatta schedule, crew enlistment, logistics, and boat maintenance. Boat maintenance will be addressed later in this newsletter so I'll focus on schedule and crew. Here are some thoughts:
Schedule: The majority of the major regional and national Viper regattas are already posted on the Class website (; and, while not all regatta documents are available,many dates and venues are. I'd encourage every Viper owner to set a target for themselves to sail one national level regatta (NAs, Bacardi, etc.), their regional championship (Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes/Canadian, East/West Australia), and four "local travel" regattas-those not hosted by your own club but are within a 2 hour drive. Look at the calendar, identify your family or work commitments and make a plan. If you're not sure which ones to attend, ask your regional Viper representative.
Crew: Once you've set your travel schedule for next year, you had better make sure you have crew to race with you. If you're lucky enough to have a steady're way ahead of the game. However, if your regular crew isn't able to make all your away dates, now is the time to confirm which regattas they can sail, lock them in, and start filling-in the gaps with other crew you know and trust. If you still have holes in your crew roster, contact the chair of the events and they should be able to help by enlisting a local sailor to race with you.
Logistics: Finally, the most tedious parts of scheduling are the logistics: how to get the boat there, where will you stay, creating a housing/food/rum budget for the regatta, etc. This is clearly an imprecise science but something we all need to fine-tune going forward...especially if we're looking to be part of the 2016 North Americans in Bermuda next November (more on that later, too.)
The most successful sailors, regardless of what they are sailing, are those that anticipate on the water...and off. Start anticipating what you'd like your 2016 Viper racing season to look like and starting turning that dream into a reality.
Sail fast,

It's only a matter of days until the 2015-2016 Viper Florida winter series kicks off with the first of three weekends of racing at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron Winter Circuit. There is still time to register for the December event...not to mention the January and February ones. Then, after Sarasota, deliver your Viper to the US Sailing Center in Miami for the EFG Winter Cup (the final qualifier for the EFG Pan-American Championship) followed by the fun-filled Miami Scorch and the actual EFG Pan-American Championship Regatta (sailed as part of Bacardi Miami Sailing Week sponsored by EFG). Here are the dates and links to regatta information:
Sarasota Winter Circuit - 27 boats already registered
December 12-13, 2015
January 9-10, 2016
February 6-7, 2016
EFG Winter Cup - Miami - March 5-6, 2016
Miami Scorch - March 7, 2015  (information coming soon)
EFG Pan-American Championship - Miami - March 10-12, 2016 - 10 already registered


2016 ASBA Australian Championship
January 5-8, 2016
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron

The 2016 ASBA National Title regatta returns to RQYS at Manly, Brisbane in January 2016.  Dates are scheduled to best allow some travelling time to get there and home from anywhere in the country.
Now is the time to book some leave, book some accommodation (motel on site), and secure the leave pass.


Sperry Charleston Race Week - Time to register!
2016 Viper 640 Atlantic Coast Championship
April 14-17, 2016
Charleston Harbor Marina

Great sailing, great parties, great town to visit. The country's No. 1 regatta for keelboats will be turning 21 in 2016, and you know what that means. It's all legal now. Well, actually, only the legal things are legal, but that won't keep us from planning our best regatta yet for the 2016 Viper 640 Atlantic Coast Championship.

Come enjoy superb competition across 18 different classes with courses set by the best race officials in the business and shoreside hospitality that is second to none. Note: Entries received before December 31, 2015 save $50 on their entry fee.

NoR and online registration link HERE
2016 Viper NAs are in Bermuda a year from now racing Nov. 16-19 with a warm-up event Nov. 13-14. If you fly in Friday night or Saturday morning, you can make a week's vacation and get in 6 days of sailing. The regatta ends Saturday night so you can fly back on Sunday. The first 30 paid entries from the mainland get $1,000 off shipping-roll on/roll off shipping on your own trailer, leaving from Port Elizabeth, NJ. If you have a double trailer kit and sign up today to get the discount, it'll be $1,500 round trip per boat. It's as good a deal as you could hope for plus it's Bermuda. Meals and rum will be covered when you get there, and the regatta committee is working on discounting lodging and housing with members.
33 boats are already registered, so if you think you might attend, you should really start working on logistics and sign up today (and pay) to lock in your spot and the discounted shipping. Odds are good that we'll be able to ship after HPDO and you can ship the boat from Bermuda straight to Florida to do the winter circuit (same cost as returning to NY).
Regatta factoid: Viper sailor Somers Kempe will be the commodore of Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in 2016, so the red carpet should be fully rolled out and vacuumed each night.

NoR and online registration HERE 
Logistics information on the Viper forums HERE 

Possible New Jib Fabrics for Longer Life

The Backstory
Many owners would like to see Viper jibs last longer. Our Class rules allow only one new jib purchase each year. In some areas and programs, current jib longevity is acceptable, but in warmer climates with more sailing days or for high participation teams, there are concerns about the performance lifespan of a Viper jib. Reflecting this challenge, a 2015 Class Rule proposal was to allow a fourth sail (choice up to the owner) to be purchased if someone sailed a high number of full day regattas. That proposal did not pass (40% for, 60% against). The question remains: is there a solution that would provide extended peak performance lives for Viper jibs within the existing jib purchase limits? Perhaps Aramid fiber sail cloth could be  allowed and/or different minimum fabric weights?
The Process
The Viper Class Executive and Technical Committees, within their roles, have approved a Viper jib sail cloth/material test starting in Florida at the Sarasota Viper Winter Series and continuing through Bacardi Miami Sailing Week. This is a test to see if potential changes to the fibers used in jibs or the minimum cloth weight can result in a longer competitive life. A huge thanks goes to North One-Design and Doyle-Boston for contributing the sails, organization, and analysis to make this possible.
The Details
If you are interested in using one of the test jibs and assisting in the experiment, please contact Zeke Horowitz at North or Brad Boston at Doyle They need your help and input to learn as much as possible.  Note: you can participate in this sail test regardless of whose sails you currently use or have used in the past.

As you put an extra log on the fire these next few months and dream about getting back on your Viper in the spring (if not sooner), you should be making a list of things that need to be replaced, repaired, or upgraded. Making that list will give you the perfect excuse to go to your local marine supply shop and start next season early. Here are some things to put on your list:

Halyards: They fray and wear out. How are yours? Do they need to be end-for-ended to move stress spots? Or does one or more demand replacement now? (Note, get different colored halyards to minimize confusion at the pointy end of the boat)
  • Sheets: These are the lines that get the most wear and tear. How have they held up? Maybe it's time you went to continuous spin and jib sheets? How is the splice in your split-end mainsheet holding up? Consider rinsing everything one last time with fresh water.
  • Standing rigging: have your shrouds begun to show rust marks around the end swages? Maybe it's time to replace them.
  • Jib and sprit cam cleats: the springs in these cleats fatigue after time. Add to your list replacement springs for these cleats and frequently test each cleat's performance (snap). When in question, replace the spring.
  • Spinnaker turning blocks: check the lines holding the aft sheet blocks to the rail. Has the line frayed? Are the knots holding? How about the washers? While there, look at the furthest aft block in the spinnaker retrieving system. That's the one that takes max loads when retrieving the chute and they have been known to breakdown...which is neither fast nor fun. Seeing any chafe or wear, replace it with either a newer or larger bullet block.
  • Trailer wheel bearings: Here's an important safety tip! There's nothing like driving all night to a regatta only to have your trailer's wheel bearings go bad. You're in the middle of east nowhere, you find a repair shop open, but you have to wait forever for them to get the parts. Put two sets of trailer wheel bearings on your shopping list and stow them in your gear box...just in case.
  • Mast head flies: Not everyone uses one, but if you do, you know you'll bust at least one during the season. Have a back-up so that if you do ding yours during while launching or something, you can tip the boat over and simply replace the damaged one with your spare.
Keep working your way through your boat from bow to stern and back again. Those of us who were in the Navy had the Preventative Maintenance System drilled into our heads. Think of all the parts (shock cord, hiking straps, paddle, etc.) and figure out NOW what will need to be replaced before your next race. And...have fun doing it.

Do you have a regatta coming up?
If so, send to Buttons Padin the following: Name of the event, location (host club), dates, a brief description of the event (promoting why someone should participate), and links to the NoR and online registration. Buttons will post on the website's Events listing and include in future newsletters.

Got Great Viper Pix or Video?
If you do, we can use them on the Viper website or in future editions of Snake Bytes. Share your great images and video by sending the files to Buttons Padin at .

Did you have a regatta? 
If so, send a recap of the event and a link to results to Buttons Padin and he'll post online and may include in a future newsletter.

Database Clean-up

If you wish to be taken off the Viper 640 Class Association's database, please send an e-mail to Buttons Padin at and simply put UNSUBSCRIBE on the subject line. If you're getting multiple copies of Snake Bytes, shoot Buttons a note and say MULTIPLE COPIES.