Cascais, we have lift off! Marseille approaches

The Soto 40 fleet made an enthralling European debut at the Cascais Trophy regatta, the first event of the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit.

Of the five Soto 40’s representing four different nations which competed in the testing series of eight windward-leeward races contested in winds which averaged over 20 knots, four different boats won races. The racing proved very tight, rewarding smooth and accomplished crew work in the strong breezes and there was no team with an obvious edge in boat speed.

“Looking back at Cascais perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the Soto 40’s debut was seeing four different boats winning races, and the boat which was second overall was a Portuguese crew who only saw a Soto 40 for the first time when they stepped on board a few days before racing started.”, comments Nacho Postigo, Audi MedCup Circuit Technical Director, who served as tactician on Patagonia. “For sure the top boats were simply the crews who sailed the best and put together the best regatta, and I have to say that as tactician we were sailing the oldest boat in this fleet, hull number 2, and we never at any stage did feel we were at any disadvantage. Iberdrola won because they sailed the best. But the truth is that any of us could have won more races if we had not made mistakes. I am sure that the one design concept immediately proves it works and it will be interesting to see what happens at the next regattas, where there should be a greater mix of wind strengths."

"The other stand out feature that we have had feedback from all around the world about – people watching the live TV feed – is that the boats look fast and fun. We can certainly confirm that from on board. Downwind we were usually doing between 17 and 20 knots, and they were very controllable.”, says Postigo. “For Marseille we are looking at a mix of weather, we will hopefully see the Mistral again there, but it would be usual to see some sea breeze conditions as well in mid June. In Cascais we had a good number of potential owners out on the water, taking the guest spot during races and the feedback was tremendous. And we have plenty of owners and owners representatives lined up for future regattas.”, he adds.

Opportunities for potential owners

There are still opportunities for potential owners to test sail the Soto 40 at Audi MedCup Circuit regattas. In terms of costs Nacho Postigo can provide a detailed budget breakdown for the fixed and running costs for a potential Audi MedCup Circuit campaign, ranging from running a used boat with an entirely amateur crew through to an almost fully professional programme. It should be noted at this stage that none of the current teams consist of all paid professionals.

A guide price for a new boat delivered to Valencia is currently (depending on instruments) around 339.000€ + VAT. The current resale value of a three year old boat is around 235.000 €. The sail programme is strictly limited to one race set, one main, two genoas, two spinnakers. After the boat has done 30 races you can build two additional sails.

Five Soto 40’s are expected to compete in France at the Marseille Trophy.


Norberto Alvarez Vitale (ARG), Soto 40 Class president and owner-skipper of Patagonia (ARG): “The boats where flying as you probably all watched on Audi MedCup TV, downwind we were doing 16 to 22 knots non stop. The wind was 20 to 22 knots all the time over all five days. The media seemed to fall in love with the boat, and also the concept of the class. The sailors and guests on board also loved it especially when they got on to the downwind leg...For sure there is a lot of line to pull with an A2 or A4 kite, but adding a pedestal on this boat, would have added approximately 45.000 dollars by the time is installed with all things needed. That is something we did not want to do, since it would only scare people away at the time of buying a boat because of price. Tacking is definitely not a problem at 25 knot winds, since in Chile the fleet of 8 Sotos there do that all the time. Having said that, it does require good coordination by the crew. Upwind the boats were doing 7.8 knots solid, at a TWA of 34/35 degrees.”

Kevin Sproul (GBR), Tactician, Ngoni (GBR): “The boat is brilliant, just great and very full-on in Cascais. As first timers at an Audi MedCup Circuit it was fantastically well organized and clearly the circuit gets a big following and lots of PR. We were really pleased to win the race we did win and to be fair it was really the first time everything clicked the way it should. We got the start we wanted and went the way we needed to and were quick downwind. We knew it would be tough and so you get a lot of satisfaction from doing well when you do. One of the great things for the future of the class, for sure, is that it is not a class that owners can simply throw money at and expect to do well, everything is well limited and that has to be good for the future.”

Agustin Zulueta (ESP), project manager, Iberdrola (ESP): “We believe the Soto 40 is the perfect class for the Audi MedCup Circuit. We've sailed in strong winds and the boat performed without any problem, reaching a speed range difficult to get in a boat this size, 40 feet. It's quite an easy boat to sail and since they are all the same the crew really has to work at its best to get the best performance. It's easy to handle for the performance it can deliver; in the first race in Cascais we reached 22 knots speed! Boat owners thinking about joining the European fleet will really enjoy it, we really expect it to grow and become bigger than the fleet in South America.”

James Boyd (GBR), editor-publisher The Daily Sail, media guest on Ngoni in Cascais: “The Soto 40 performs like a sportsboat. Downwind in 20 knots, as I experienced on Ngoni, is a thrill, with green water occasionally coming over the bow. I suspect we weren't that much slower than the TP 52’s.”