Words from the Prez / Int'l Board Near-term Priorities

Words from the Prez       
As you will read later, the Viper 640 Class Association's new International Constitution stipulates three Regional Presidents and an International Board Chairman. At the 2017 AGM,  Steve Chapman was elected President for North America, Graeme Monkhouse for Australasia, and Ian Chapman for Europe. The three will rotate comments in the monthly Words from the Prez column. Int'l Chair Justin Scott also shared comments that are highlighted below.

Three Regional Presidents - Graeme Monkhouse (Aus.), Steve Chapman (NA), Ian Nicholson (Eur.)
New Viper Regional Presidents (L to R): Graeme Monkhouse (Aus), Steve Chapman (NA), Ian Nicholson (Eur)

Here's Steve Chapman to start it off:
Thank you and I'm honored. It's usually tough to find the right words first time out, but this is easy. Thanks for trusting me to take on the leadership of the Viper 640 Class Association in North America at this very exciting juncture; it's an honor to be your President.
Returning from Bermuda was really tough - it's not the snow and cold of a Canadian winter pushing through the door - it's coming off the high of great camaraderie, new friendships, the adrenaline of competition, the Dark & Stormys...
For those of you who didn't make the trek to Bermuda, or who haven't been to one of our major Viper regattas, I have some words of advice: make the effort to go. It really is about the fantastic experience of participating, both the sailing and the social scene. For those of us who make-up the mid-fleet or the tail end - it is an amazing learning experience. The Viper fleet is full of friendly, helpful sailors who work hard to help everyone get to the start line and have a good time. It was really nice to see so many families accompanying competitors to Bermuda, too.

We're growing as a class - hull 270 will come out of the molds soon. As we soon join World Sailing as a fully recognized class, expect more boats in the fleet in more countries. This will open the door for some exciting international regattas in the future. It will also bring more sailors into the fleet here in North America. Just remember that growth in our fleet will still depend on you - being enthusiastic, taking friends and club members out for a sail, and having fun events at the clubs where you sail. Let's continue to have fun racing Vipers and more will join us!

Expect the benefits of a regionally-focused North American Executive Committee this coming year. We have 4 new Regional VP's on the NA EC to better represent you in your area: Peter Beardsley (Northeast), Travis Yates (Southeast and Gulf), Geoff Fargo (West Coast), and Darren Gilbert (Great Lakes). 

I am already looking forward to a great season in 2017 and look to see you in your area regattas and at regional, national and international events, too.

Steve Chapman
President, North American Region

Int'l Board Near-term Priorities

Justin Scott
Snake Bytes asked Justin Scott, the newly elected Chairman of the International Board, to share the near-term priorities of the International Board. Justin's comments are as follows:

The regional class presidents and their respective executive committees will continue to manage the day to day affairs of the Class in their regions. This was deliberately designed as a decentralized organization. We believe that classes thrive locally before they can thrive internationally and that successful class management has to be close to the members.
One role of the International Board is simply to provide a forum for the three Class Presidents to talk to each other and build global bonds between Viper sailors around the world. The second important role is to provide our members with one set of Class Rules worldwide that preserves our simple, fun, strict one design ethos (via the International Technical Committee). Thirdly, the board enables the Class and the three Class Presidents to coordinate on international matters , international regattas, and speak with one voice in discussions with our builder, sailmakers or sailing regulatory bodies.
The priorities that we have identified over the next twelve months include:
1. Reorganize the Class Rules to a new World Sailing compliant format.
2. Seize the opportunity as a World Sailing International Class to support a sustained push to grow outside of the United States.
3. Discuss the timing and location of our next World Championship.
Bermuda was a great deal of fun. We had 7 of our 8 member international board and our Class Administrator competing. It was a very auspicious launch for the international class.

Read full Chairman's comments HERE.

Steve Chapman said it in his preceding letter: if you weren't able to make it to the Aspen Viper 640 International Championship sponsored by EFG in Bermuda, you missed one heck of a Viper experience. Many of you followed the Championship on Facebook and the Class website. Zeke Horowitz, Ian Coleman, and Brendan Healey won the Championship handily; Justin Scott, Rob Crane, and Trevor Burd were second (Justin top Masters skipper); and Geoff Fargo, Jeff Grange, and Spencer Steffen took home third place and the top Corinthian trophy. 

You've also likely heard that the winds on Days 2 and 4 were excessively high leading  PRO Hank Stuart to cancel racing both days. In the end, the International Championship, sailed in conjunction with the North American Championship, consisted of six pretty exciting race over two days. As they say, that's sailboat racing!

Winners: Zeke Horowitz, Ian Coleman, Brendan Healey (seated).

Finishing second were Trevor Burd, Justin Scott (also Masters winner), and Rob Crane.

Steve Chapman with Corinthian Winners: Geoff Fargo, Spencer Shefflin, and Jeff Grange. Note how team Boomslang was sporting their red Bermuda shorts!

Anyone who has helped run a major regatta appreciates the value of their sponsors. In Bermuda, the racing, social, and logistical program (OK, programme) put together by Somers Kempe and Doug de Couto would have been impossible without the contributions of the two host clubs (Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club), title sponsor  Aspen RE, presenting sponsor EFG International, host sponsor the Bermuda Tourism Authority, shipping sponsors Bermuda Container Line, Bermuda International Shipping Ltd., Somers Isles Shipping Ltd., and Bermuda Forwarders and supporting sponsors Goslings, Gubinelli Wine, Oleander Cycles, Newstead Belmont Hills, and Island Construction.

For the full regatta report click HERE. (Daily recaps still posted on
Also, visit the event Facebook page HERE.

When the VCA submitted an application for membership to World Sailing, the timing of the application's approval vote (a week before the scheduled November NAs in Bermuda) meant the Vipers could hold an International but not World Championship
(only for accredited WS member classes). In any case, it was deemed necessary to create a new perpetual trophy for the Class's International and subsequent World Championships. NA Executive Committee member Fletcher Boland set out to have such a trophy that "would stand out in any yacht club's trophy case!"  Check...
Picking-up on a thought from Peter Beardsley that a snake wrapped around a globe would be "cool," Fletcher worked with a Boston area sculptor to create a work of art...and one that certainly stands out.
When Fletcher arrived in Bermuda with the trophy in-hand, Customs let Fletcher through...but not the trophy. Something about "paperwork."  Somers Kempe jumped on the case and the trophy was unveiled at the closing ceremony at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club the last day of the regatta.
Fletcher deserves eve ryone's thanks for getting this trophy completed on time and, yes, a duplicate "World" Championship front plaque was made at the same time.

When two of four racing days were lost in Bermuda due to high winds, there was a combination of understanding/acceptance and disappointment throughout the fleet. While nobody challenged the RC's decision, and the sight of boats sailing "on the edge" inside the harbor gave credence to the situation, it was still an unfortunate turn of events. To that end, the Viper Class Governor Tim Carter has been tasked with creating a small committee to formulate a point-of-view regarding maximum wind conditions  for racing a Viper. This document is being designed to assist RC go/no-go decisions. These will be "guidelines" that RCs will use when evaluating sea state, strengths of puffs, number of safety boats, etc. Look for more on this initiative in a few months.

A longer-term view on Viper Regattas
But going back to Steve Chapman's comment about "participation." An important factor in the continued health and growth of the Viper 640 Class is its underlying ethos of being a community of excellent sailors racing fast boats...while enjoying an international group of friends ashore (and on the water). Of the 41 boats in the regatta, everyone knew that there would be only one crew at the top of the podiun, but the other 40 teams made the effort to participate because they wanted to be part of the experience. They knew the racing would be highly competitive, everyone would pick-up a new tip or two to raise their game a level, and the camaraderie would be unmatched. To paraphrase recent Class President Jim Sears, the"garage band of sailing" ethos of the Viper 640 Class is what keeps us all coming back.

The take-away, make your plans now to attend the 2017 NA's next October in Ft. Walton Beach, FL...or the Sarasota Winter Circuit...or Bacardi Miami Sailing Week sponsored by EFG...or Long Beach Race Week. At each of these events, and dozens more regionally and locally, you'll see how much fun it is to get the band together again!

As stipulated by the Class Constitution, the AGM was held during the Championship in Bermuda on November 17. At that meeting, the results of two sets of ballots were presented:

Class Rules Vote
Rules Changes - All four proposed changes to the Class Rules were passed by a combination of online and in-person votes as was the proposed Viper 640 International Constitution. For a recap of the updated Class Rules click HERE

It should be noted that Rondar Raceboats will be 
the single-source provider for the new, vertical rudder gudgeon bracket (see pix of new vs. current bracket) and a modified tiller as a retrofit package for approximately $150 plus shipping. The vertical rudder bracket and tiller will be available for shipping in March and become Class legal 3/31/17.

Note: the gudgeon hole is 10mm in diameter so anyone using the old 8mm pintles will have to upgrade them, too.

Class Officers Vote
Reflecting the adoption of the new International Constitution at the AGM, an international slate of Class officers was elected. Of note, each of three international Regions (North America, Australasia, and Europe) now has its own Regional President and supplemental officers. In North America, there are now Regional Vice Presidents. The new slate of officers to serve two-year terms (2017-2018) are as follows:
North American Region
President - Steve Chapman
Secretary - John Leyand
Treasurer - Tony Chapman
Northeast VP - Peter Beardsley
Southeast VP - Travis Yates
West Coast VP - Geoff Fargo
Great Lakes VP - Darren Gilbert
Australasia Region
President - Graeme Monkhouse
VP - Mark Griffin
Secretary - John Park
Tech Comm. Rep - Rod Beurteaux
European Region
President - Ian Nicholson
Secretary - David Pittman
International Board
International Board Chair - Justin Scott
Int'l Governor and Treasurer - Tony Chapman
Tech Comm. Chair - Dave Nickerson
Int'l Governor - Tim Carter
Int'l Governor - Kay VanValkenburgh

At their annual conference in Croatia during mid-November, World
Sailing's Equipment Committee (their Technical Committee per se) recommended approval of the Viper 640 as a World Sailing member class...conditioned on clarification of a few points in the proposed Viper 640 International Class Rules. The issue, as presented at the AGM, is the language in the Viper 640 Rules regarding prohibition of paying any sailor to race a Viper. Our Tech Committee is currently working with WS to resolve this largely semantics issue and it should be resolved in the near future.
With that conditional approval in mind, the Viper 640 Class Association voted unanimously to ratify its WS membership pending resolution of the no-pay issue. Once our Tech and their Equipment Committees resolve this issue, a formal VCA press release will be distributed announcing our becoming an officially sanctioned World Sailing class.
For more information on the Viper WS application process and the benefits of becoming a WS class, click HERE

While many Viper sailors from around the world are just catching their breath after traveling to/from Bermuda, it's time for us all to start looking ahead to upcoming Viper regattas. 

A key to the recent Viper's Winter Circuit has been the Sarasota Sailing Squadron's winter series. Travis Yates does an amazing job running three weekend events and the sailing has been spectacular in the past. This is a must-do... ESPECIALLY FOR GYA CLUBS/MEMBERS looking to become more competitive in the Viper for their future Capdevielle events. There are boats available for charter so there is not excuse NOT to go to Sarasota!

Mark your calendars for the following key events:
7-8 - Sarasota Winter Series #2
4-5 - Sarasota Winter Series #3
5-6 - EFG Winter Cup - Info coming soon
7 - Miami Scorch
8-11 - EFG Viper Pan-American Champs - part of Bacardi Miami Sailing Week
Here's a little inside baseball regarding Viper Class dues. The Class has been maintaining its primary member database in Constant Contact. It is through CC that Snake Bytes is distributed. A separate PayPal system also is in place, used to collect annual dues, sail button royalties, and other fees as appropriate.
The challenge has been that PayPal can't interface with Constant Contact so it's been like "herding cats" to get everyone's dues paid. When we instituted the auto renewal option in late 2016, we thought we had it licked. Little did we understand that PayPal auto renewals are done on the anniversary of the previous dues payment (could have been in November, for example) and so we're left with many members' dues not hitting our books until well after the January target.
Now that Bermuda is behind us, Class Treasurer Tony Chapman and Class Admin Buttons Padin will be converting the database to a service named Wild Apricot that, in addition to keeping our database records and distributing Snake Bytes, will be able to import data from PayPal so we can send out dues invoices in early January. If you are currently set-up for auto renewals in PayPal you will need to reestablish that payment authorization when you receive your 2017 Class Dues invoice.

Questions, thoughts, comments? Send them to Viper 640 Class Administrator Ed "Buttons" Padin at
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