A sailing hot rod put on the map by sailors inspired at iconic Maddie’s Sail Loft

Designed by Brian Bennett and first built in 1996 by Viper Boats, the Viper 640 combines the planning performance of a dinghy with the stability of a keelboat.  The result was a small planning fiberglass keelboat with carbon fiber spars.  In 2005 Rondar Raceboats, in Wiltshire, UK became the designated sole builder of Viper 640s.  More than 300 have been built.  The Viper 640 Class Association was relaunched in 2004 in Marblehead when a small group met at the upstairs bar in Maddie’s Sail Loft to consider the possibilities for the Viper going forward.  Since then, the class has grown to represent some 300 owners and over 100 crew.  In 2017, class members applied for and in 2018 were subsequently granted international certification by World Sailing.  The Marblehead Fleet hosted he Viper 640 North American Championships in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2012.  Road warriors as well, fleet members attend travel events regularly such as the North Americans and World in Bermuda, Long Beach, and Kingston, Ontario.  

The Viper 640 is a two-to-four person, one-design, high performance sports boat.  It has a fractionable sloop rig, a plumb stem, an open transom, a transom-hung rudder, and a lifting fin dagger-board style keel with weighted bulb.  The keel is retained in the down position with two bolts while sailing. The boat displaces 750 lbs. and is equipped with an asymmetrical spinnaker of 425 sq. ft. for downwind sailing.  The draft is 4.49 ft with the daggerboard extended and 1.83 ft. with it retracted.  The design has a PHRF racing average handicap of 99, a hull speed of 5.85 knots, and can go over 20 knots. 

The design is simple, clean, comfortable, light enough to be towed behind a compact car, and simple enough to be rigged and sailed in under a half hour.  The open transom bails water instantly.  The fine entry, long narrow bow, and pronounced flare in the midsection results in unusually low drag.  The bulb keel and wide flared beam at the cockpit provides superior stability and enables a more powerful sail plan.  The Viper incomparable in light air or chop, and will start planning before any similar class does.  The wide cockpit, stability, and carbon mast make the Viper fast and secure in strong wind, and the hull shape means that the Viper does not go ‘bow down’ planning downwind at high speeds.  

The Marblehead Fleet hosts a stop on the Northeast Regional Circuit during NOOD/Marblehead Race Week.  The fleet actively seeks to grow in both boat owners and crew.  Marblehead Viper sailors invites anyone interested to come sail with them on the hottest boat in Marblehead Harbor.  Weekly Saturday racing takes place from Memorial Day (this year from July 18 on) through the end of September and are organized by the Marblehead Racing Association.  The fleet includes: Back in Business, Dragon Lady II, Grendel, Jokers & Clowns, lo.qi, Meow!, Patched Up, Perplexed, Pork Chop, and Vellamo.

What do you think of this hot rod? To see Fletcher Boland’s Back in Business, click below. To see all Viper 640s, simply type Viper 640s in the Harbor Directory search bar.