Soto 40

2010 September 7

One-design racer

Istarted sending for boat brochures when I was in high school: "Send me all your brochures on boats between 20 and 60 feet." One night my Mom said there was a call for me and it turned out to be the local Cheoy Lee dealer tracking me down as a sales lead. I explained I was just a kid interested in boat design. He sent me a huge pile of Cheoy Lee information that I treasured. I like boat brochures. The one for this new Soto 40 proclaims "I like the way you move!" That had me worried, but I was refreshed to find the rest of the brochure packed with factual and interesting information. That is not always the case: "Spacious galley. Symbol of dignified social standing." I won't even tell you where that came from. The Soto 40 brochure is probably close to the best I have seen.

The designer of this South American one-design class is Javier Soto Acebal and the builder is M Boats of Argentina. The designer's actual drawings are beautifully crafted and show a real love for the work. The promo "renderings" are so-so but they are adequate in showing 3D details. The most unusual of these is the winglet that extends the length of the boat at the sheer. According to the designer, "The distinctive winglets on the topsides are designed to reduce the pernicious effect of flare on the leeward heeled waterlines." I don't like those pernicious effects at all. So, what he is saying, I think, is that the winglets give you the hiking power without the drag of a fatter boat in the topsides. The D/L of the 40 is 67.75, and that's about the same as the boat in the next review, the RC 44. The biggest difference in these two designs is beam max. The Soto 40 was not designed to fit into a shipping container. So it has 12 feet, 5 inches of beam and an L/B of 3.28. Draft is 8 feet, 6 inches with a hollow steel keel fin and a lead beavertail bulb. The hull's sectional shape aft shows soft bilges in stark contrast to the tight bilge radius of the RC44, but in some pics I think I can see a short chine line just above the bilge turn aft.

The Soto 40 is pretty much all cockpit but there are some berths below, a minimal galley with a one burner stove-"Ah, Dinty Moore again"-and a very minimal nav station. The head is huge. In fact it's the forward third of the boat and also doubles as the fo'c'sle for sail stowage.

You have one option in this huge cockpit: carbon wheels or carbon tiller. Either way there is enough room in this cockpit for a full race crew while minimizing the chances you will get an elbow in the mouth during a mark rounding. The mainsheet traveler is very wide and aft of the wheels. Running backstays lead to winches aft of the wheels. Foot braces and under-deck lead controls exit to low consoles exactly where you would need them if you were tiller steering. Spinnaker sheets are led to the forward primaries just aft of the companionway. Jib tracks are athwartships for a maximum range of sheeting angle options. There is a round hatch in the foredeck. The mainsheet goes forward and is then led aft under the deck to recessed winches port and starboard.

As you might expect, the rig of the Soto 40 is big, with an SA/D of 33.68. The double-spreader carbon fiber rig has 20 degrees of sweep to the spreaders. The short sprit is integral with the hull and there are both masthead- and hounds-hoisted asymmetrical chutes. The fat-head main on the sailplan is drawn with a dead straight leech line.

I think back to days racing on quarter-tonners, half-tonners, J/24s, Olson 30s, Santa Cruz 27s, etc. The cockpits were too small for efficient crew work. That will not be a problem on the Soto 40. You can round the mark and get the chute up easily, leaving plenty of room for handling the sheet and guy. I think this is the biggest cockpit I have ever seen on a 40-footer. I'd love to try it.

A 40 was entered in this year's Chicago-Mackinac race, which as I write this has yet to be raced, but it will be interesting to see how it does. Congrats to Mr. Soto Acebal for the beautiful design work. There is now worldwide interest in this class and the boat gives every sign of being a huge success.

LOA 45'; LOD 40'4" LWL 39'4"; Beam 12'4"; Draft 8'6"; Displacement 9,259 lbs.; Ballast 4,806 lbs.; Sail area 930 sq. ft.; SA/D 33.68; D/L 67.75; L/B 3.28; Auxiliary Volvo Penta 30-hp; Fuel 13 gals.

Longitude Yachts - M Boats, 7 Campbell Street, Yarraville, VIC 3013, Australia, 61 404-896-820,

OBE: $330,000
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