Snake Bytes
  Viper Class News
July 9, 2015
Rock hopping at Garda.  Photo courtesy of Lucillo Carloni.

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


 2015 Viper 640 Class Membership 




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Upcoming Events                                                       

Atlantic City Race Week
August 8-9 
Farley State Marina
Atlantic City, NJ




West Coast

Kits Invitational Regatta
July 11-12
Kitsilano Yacht Club
Vancouver, BC

Fiesta Cup
Santa Barbara Yacht Club
July 18-19
Santa Barbara, CA


Viper Pacific Coast Championship
August 15-16
Eugene Yacht Club
Eugene, OR

United Kingdom
Parkstone Regatta
July 18-19
Parkstone Yacht Club
Poole, Dorset

Taittinger Regatta
July 24-26
Royal Solent Yacht Club
Lymington, Sportsboat Class
Yarmouth, Isle of Wight


By Dr. Jim Sears

One of the big reasons I chose to buy a Viper over four years ago is that I love to do the "weekend travel regatta" thing. Having spent a lot of time doing the Lightning regatta circuit in the mid-west, I was looking for a boat on the west coast that I could travel with easily. In the 20-foot sportboat category, the Viper has got to be one of the easiest boats to breakdown, tow behind most any vehicle, and set up in a new location... ALL BY YOURSELF!

With regatta season in full swing, I thought it would be good to start a forum thread to compile any good travel tips that any of you wanted to share for any new owners. Of course, for long trips, everything gets broken down, padded and stored securely (mast,
Viper 640 Class President Dr. Jim Sears
keel, etc), but when It's just an hour jaunt down to San Diego or up to Santa Barbara, a few time-saving techniques can cut your set up time in half!

My routine usually starts with quickly loosening the rig and then dropping it. All halyards and shrouds get secured to the base of the mast and then I give the bundle a quick wrap with some plastic wrap that I got at a packaging store. I then slip an old jib bag over the whole thing for the trip. I keep the wrap and the bag all ready for action in my travel gear bag to make the process quick, easy and reproducible. All gear and sails get thrown in the boat, on goes the cover and you're on the road.

Jim Sears' modified top cover
One of mods I made to the factory cover was to tackle the problem of it billowing up around the keel which hampered my view backwards. I had my local sailmaker sew on 3 strap-eyes to each side of the cover, starting next to the keel and working back toward the stern (see pic). The strap-eyes are approximately above where the hiking straps are and I use a single line on each side, threaded through each strap-eye with small clips which I fasten to the hiking strap pad-eyes on the cockpit floor. The lines lead to the rear of the boat and get cinched tightly to keep the cover nice and flat. I originally tried bungees, but that didn't do the trick. It's a quick system to clip and unclip as everything stays with the cover. I'm sure many of you will have more tips, so feel free to share!

~ Jimbo



Tom Loutrel (Charleston, SC), sailing with John Bowden and Carson
CHOPPY SEAS - right gate, right turn.
Turowski, won the 2015 Viper 640 Atlantic Coast Championship over the weekend of June 27-28. Sailing their Viper CHOPPY SEAS, Loutrel and crew were able to beat by a single point Danny Pletsch (Greenwich, CT) sailing BLACKOUT PROPOSAL with Megan Pletsch and Nick an
d Meredith Ewenson aboard. Both boats won two of the five races sailed with neither having scores lower thanfourth. In third place sailing CELERITAS, was Malcolm Gefter (Palm Beach, FL), a mere three points off the pace. Sailing with Malcolm were Jeremy Wilmot and Jonny Goldsberry. In his words said with a grin on his face, Malcolm commented, "Old farts like me require great studs like Wilmot and Goldsberry to be competitive. I just turn the boat when they say to!" Ah, youth!

Viper ACC Championship Presentation: Gabriele Pedone, Carson Turowski, EFG's Kenia Naves Rocha, Tom Loutrel, John Bowden, and Viper Class Administrator Buttons Padin.

Comments on the GYA Challenge Cup Regatta by Governor Tim Carter

A couple of weeks ago (June 19-21), Brad Boston, Evan Hoffman and I traveled to Gulfport, MS, to help promote the class in the upcoming GYA selection process and participate in their annual GYA Club Offshore Challenge Cup. I was unaware at how big a deal this event is and how serious 16 different clubs brought their "A" game to this regatta. The sailing culture seemed very fraternal with strong rivalries amongst all the competing clubs. I sailed with Rives Allen and Carolina Andrada representing the St Andrews Bay YC in Panama City, FL; great folks and new friends. Rives is a junior instructor there and Carolina will be starting Johns Hopkins in the fall.

Each club fielded a boat in 4 different PHRF level groups, A, B, C and D. The Vipers (3 of us) were placed in the B division, along with the Melges 24's, and
T-storms...GYA Style!
J-35's. In the Gulf Region, the M24's only owe us 3 sec/mile which is quite a bit different that the Cali numbers, so we were hoping for either a light air event or a "dogs off the chains" type weekend. We got neither, 8-10 mostly with some occasional pressure. We saw 1 ¾ mile beats with two laps or they would throw in a final 1 ¾ mile beat to weather for the finish. So waterline ruled the weekend.

The GPYC Committee did an admirable job with the conditions at hand. I found the weather to be interesting, and it seemed to be "953," with 95deg air temps, 95% humidity, and 95deg water. I know the water was not THAT hot, but it was a hell of a lot hotter than I am used to living on the Alaskan Current and the 72 degree water temps we have mid-summer in southern California.

Friday started off fun with us beating the other two Vipes in the 1st race while we watched thunder clouds and rain squalls with lightning heading our way.
GYA Challenge Cup 2015 B
Bushwackers anyone????
Almost all the fleet drooped sails and put out anchors. We seemed to have left the Viper anchor ashore to make room for the needed "fluids." So we hopped into a raft lineup of 6 boats behind the 65' R/C boat. That seemed safe enough.

The boat was perfect to relax in and made a great swim platform to get out of the heat.

Hello, Timbo.
Hello, Timbo!
Saturday started much the same way as Friday ended with some rigging challenges, so we decided to sail in, re-rig and get back out for the next race. While ashore, I was introduced to a local libation called a "Bushwhacker." I am not sure what is all in the thing, but I think rum, Kahlua, cinnamon, SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM and a floater of 151. Needless to say, they hit the spot. (editor's note: sounds like what we in the northease call a Mudslide. In any case...lethal!)

Saturday sort of fogs into Sunday with great parties at the club, great seafood in the evenings, and a trip to the local Casino on Saturday night. I even pulled a one armed bandit...once!

The Vipers did not win the event on the water, but we made a FINE showing in the party competition and made some new converts. They are a perfect boat for the area and the existing culture, the fraternal inter-club competition is very refreshing and very different from the usual fare out here on the Left Coast. I know I am looking forward to the prospect of a strong active Viper region and future Championship regattas.

~ Timbo

See GYA selection process update below.

Noroton Yacht Club

Racing Overview

Noroton Yacht Club (Darien, CT) was the host to the 2015 Viper 640 New England Championship with racing scheduled for June 13-14. Sixteen Vipers were in attendance and sailed four challenging races on Saturday. Leading the pack after the first day was BLACKOUT PROPOSAL being sailed by LYC's Danny Pletsch, Cardwell Potts, and Clay Bischoff. Their Day 1 line score was an impressive 3-1-1-1 for five points. Following in second were Peter and Rachel Beardsley in GHOST PANDA with local Noroton sailor Luke Raymond helming. Their Saturday performance was 1-4-2-2 for nine points. In third was WILD HOGS, Peter Bauer's Viper being sailed this season by Buttons Padin. This weekend Andy Kaplan was at the helm with Ryan Zupon in the bow. HOGS had a 2-2-5-3 Saturday for 12 point. It was not lost on these three crews that all were from the Larchmont Yacht Club Viper fleet.

New Englands 2015
Danny Pletsch (front left) and Cardwell Potts (front right) with other Larchmont YC members celebrating their winning the 2015 Viper New England Championshiop


Color Commentary by Cole Constantineau

In typical summer Long Island Sound conditions, The 2015 New England Championships at Noroton YC may not go down as Viper #39's greatest regatta on the score sheet, but the 5 hour drive through rush hour traffic from Marblehead was totally worth it.

Awaiting us at the club was a parking lot full of Vipers and a nice reunion with our fellow Marblehead sailor, Fletcher. He pointed us to the keg-erator and inspired us to do a little night rigging with him. Walking around the Noroton yard with beer in hand, I was taken aback by the sheer number of Sonars at the club, but I was also really excited to see 4-5 Vipers nestled in amongst them. Eleni and I managed to get the mast up on our boat before the onslaught of mosquitoes chased us away.



Reported by Governor Justin Scott

So there we were, having dinner in a quaint Italian town, and a regatta broke out... Riva Del Garda: The Ora, Vino Rosso, The Falmouth Four, Ted the Marsupial and the first Viper European Championships

Twenty three Vipers and K6s descended on the utterly charming town of Riva Del Garda for the Euro Cup hosted by the Italian yacht club, Fraglia Vela Riva between June 22 and 26.

This event without a shadow of doubt enters the bucket list of international Viper events that every Viper owner should try and do at least once in their lifetime. The sailing is "magnificent." It is sailing that simply does not exist anywhere else in the world. Typically the lake is calm in the morning but, by midday, the high plains to the north of Garda have heated up and convection starts to suck the cool air up the lake between the high mountains that plunge in vertical cliffs to the lake shore. This convection breeze is called the Ora by the locals. It is so reliable in June that you can almost set your watch to it. At 1230 the Ora starts blowing at 18 to 25 knots out of the South and at 1255 pm, the Race committee sounds the warning signal. We had 5 days of racing in incredible champagne conditions! The lake is over 600 feet deep providing a perfectly spaced mild wave pattern, so that surfing downwind in fresh water spray, hurtling through stunning scenery, provides some of the best sleigh rides that can be had any place anytime in a Viper. The sides of the lake are so vertical that the wind perfectly follows the contours of lake leaving no wind shadows. Upwind we were tacking within half a boat length of the cliffs in closely-fought tacking duels seeking the final veer off the headland.

The sailing on its own is simply awesome. But Garda is about so much more than the sailing.


Local sailor who operated the crane and made everyone's  life easier, Dan Tucker, Kelly Beaver, Tony Chapman, and Justin Scott.

June 26-28, 2015
Sponsored by Alamitos Bay and Long Beach Yacht Clubs

Color commentary by Brandon Folkman

From June 28 to the 30th, I had the privilege of racing in the always competitive Viper 640 fleet at the largest regatta on the West Coast, Long Beach Race Week. As always the event, co-hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, delivered. With 14 Vipers, great breeze and, of course the always enjoyable Mount Gay Rum after-parties, the weekend was a blast.

For me the event basically started the weekend before, when my dad, Mark Folkman, and I
En Garde! Dueling Vipers - Photos: Bronny Daniels
raced our Viper #130 in a King Harbor Yacht Club Regatta from King Harbor in Redondo Beach, CA down to Cabrillo Beach YC in San Pedro. We sailed double handed in PHRF, hiking for 5 miles upwind in 12-15 knots of breeze to Palos Verdes Point with all of the old heavy PHRF boats rolling right by us (not fun). However, we had our revenge soon after we turned the corner and rocketed downwind at a pretty consistent 12 knots right by every boat that passed us and ended up correcting to second overall (very fun!). Because Long
Geoff Fargo: More halyard tension, please.
Beach was only a few more miles, and the breeze was still up we ended up continuing down to Long Beach completing the delivery for Long Beach Race Week, 25 miles in total. After a short week of work and wishing I was sailing instead, we were ready to start the regatta.

Friday originally seemed like a typical Long Beach day with breezy conditions; however we soon realized that our expectations would be exceeded. Breezy turned nuclear by the time our start came around, and we were able to get in two, three lap races. The upwinds were challenging, as everyone was way overpowered and hiking as hard as they possibly could to keep the boat moving forward. We were often questioning why we do this "sailing thing" voluntarily, yet by the time we got to the top mark and started hitting consistent 13's and 14's on the knot meter, it was all totally worth it (our personal highlight of the day was hitting 16 knots with the kite up in the harbor on the way in). After the two races on Friday, it was clear that the local Kevin Taugher's "Hot Mess" out of ABYC would be the boat to beat. Taugher's upwind speed in the breeze was phenomenal and it always seemed as though he was the flattest boat on the course.

LBRW 2015 winners: Kevin Taugher, Chuck Tripp, Mike Pentecost

Comments from Rondar Raceboats' Dan Tucker

The Viper has been making a strong showing in the Gulf region of the USA, as the Gulf Yachting Association prepares to choose between the Viper and the VX One on Saturday September 5, less than 60 days from now. One boat will be selected as equipment for the GYA Capdevielle racing series, the GYA inter-club one-design season-long regatta series. In the 100-year history of the event, only 2 classes have been used, and there are approximately 600 Flying Scots in the region, the boat currently used. It's a big opportunity for the Viper
640 Class.

Viper owners Johnny & Lauren Ballatine, along with Viper owners and Rondar Raceboats reps Deb and Craig Wilusz have been working tirelessly with Dan Tucker from Rondar on demos, promotions, regattas and outreach to the 32 GYA clubs that will vote on the selection. We think we may have a slim lead in votes at the moment, and continue working hard to win the region for the Viper.

But we could certainly use your help! Do you know anyone at any of the following yacht clubs? If so, please reach out to them, and contact Dan from Rondar. The message that we're presenting to the clubs is resonating, but we still need to reach out to these clubs in particular. We've created a microsite which explains why we think the Viper is the right choice for the GYA, and a Facebook page. If you can help spread the word to any sailors in the GYA, it would be tremendously helpful!

Apalachee Bay YC, Crawford FL
Buccaneer YC, Mobile AL
Cypremort YC, New Iberia LA
Grande Maumelle Sailing Club, Roland AR
Jackson YC, Ridgeland MS
Lake Arthur YC, Lake Arthur LA
Lake Forest YC, Dauphine AL
Mobile YC, Mobile AL
Navy Yacht Club of Pensacola, Pensacola FL
Pelican YC, Baton Rouge LA
Point YC, Josephine AL
St Petersburg YC, St Petersburg FL
Singing River YC, Pascagoula MS

Please help if you can, so that the Class can celebrate a big growth opportunity on Labor Day weekend!


Santa Barbara Yacht Club
July 18-19

Comments from Jeff Grange: 


Fiesta Cup is in a few weeks and our attendance numbers are looking pretty pathetic.  Please let me know anything I can help you out with to make it happen!  The RC is professional and competent, the venue is beautiful and the onshore festivities will be second to none!  Here's a link to the website and my write up from May.


This regatta also coincides with the Santa Cruz 27 Nationals, but their regatta is longer, so it's a separate NOR.  First race isn't until 1pm each day (we wait for wind!) so if you want to minimize nights away, it's an easy drive up from LA or LB Saturday morning and still be rigged and ready for the first race.  New Order Brewing Co. has donated the kegs and Fess Parker Winery is supplying copious amounts of vino.  The band at the Saturday night Luau party, Jason Campbell and The Drive, I can promise you is one of the best bands you will see this year.  Lastly, I have an agreement with the RC to send the Vipers in first on Sunday so that you guys can all get out of the water before the J/70s and SC27s take too much time at the hoists.


Looking forward to showing you all some Santa Barbara hospitality!




August 8-9

Save The Date: Atlantic City Race Week will take place August 8-9 at the Farley State Marina in Atlantic City, NJ.

Atlantic City Race Week is a cool regatta sailing just of the coast of Atlantic City. Great little getaway with the night life of the casinos. Centrally located for vipers from VA to NY. Sign up today!

Registration is now live on Yacht Scoring. Click Here to sign up! 



There has been a change of scheduling. The OA originally planned to sail 3 days (Fri.-Sun.). After hearing from a few folks, they have decided that the PCC this year will ONLY BE SAILED 2 DAYS, ON SATURDAY AUG 15TH - SUNDAY AUG 16TH. This relieves everyone of taking an additional day off of work for travel, etc. and still allows the weekend for what will be a fantastic regatta. This move has already allowed us to get at least one more confirmed boat on the water.

NOR PCC which is being sailed as part of the Eugene Yacht Club (EYC) Harvest Day Regatta, can be found  HERE.

Online registration will be available in about 2 weeks

The PNW plans to have 6 boats there, we only have 7. Hoping the SoCal and AZ crowds make the trip and join us. You wont be disappointed with the venue. Again, there is free tent camping on the Club grounds, RV camping in the Club parking lot (no hookups), or Richardson State Park next door with full camping hookups etc. The Club grounds are fairly plush for camping. In addition, there are several hotels in the general vicinity with the "Snake Pit" being the Holiday Inn in Springfield

As usual, feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, excuses, so we can do whatever we need to make sure you don't miss out on what will be another great Viper event!

Garrett Johns

American Yacht Club, Rye, NY
October 10-11
Information and NoR

Larchmont Yacht Club, Larchmont, NY
October 14-18

Practice Racing October 14
Championship Racing October 15-18
Mark your calendars. More information to come.


Commentary from Class Admin Buttons Padin


When I started racing Vipers five years ago, I found sitting in the middle a tad tiring upwind as there is nothing much to hold onto while you're hiking. Thankfully my friend Chad Corning told me about the concept of a hiking line for the middle person. I immediately found a length of about ½' line and tied it from the port lifting padeye to the starboard one with enough slack to let me lean out and even put a wrap around my hand. Saved my back and legs.


Last year I went to the Marblehead NOOD to sail with Governor Kay VanValkenburgh on his Viper. He had already installed a hiking line, but it was single-ended and attached to one of the padeyes for the retrieval line. I tried it but found a problem with it (vs. what Chad had shown me). Simply, when leaning out in the beginning of a roll tack you're fine from a support perspective; however, when you are now on the low side and want to kip up to the high side, the centerline hiking line does not provide anywhere near the amount of upward leverage as the double-ended option.


This discussion came up during the Sunday postponement at the New England Champs and some sailors asked me to share this perspective. So done!


One final note: my hiking line is bright green, the only bright green line on the boat. That makes it very easy to find and grab going through maneuvers.


Hike hard and hike comfortably.  BTW, seven months of spin classes under my belt haven't hurt my hiking either!  BP



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.