With decades of experience behind us in the field of performance sailing, we are well placed to serve your one design needs, be it a new one design or managing your race program from haul & store, to customized coaching. The race-boats we offer are built with the best technology and engineering available and use the most environmentally considerate systems in a controlled environment to produce consistently high results. To this philosophy we add the partnerships of the best associates in the business to source our components, rigging and materials.
It is no surprise that as the first “sport boats,” small keel boats like the Melges 24 and Ultimate 20, hit the market in the 1990s, Bennett had an eye toward reinventing the spot in sailing held by the even smaller, established centerboarders including the Lightening and Scow classes. As the idea grew, he envisioned, and drew, a skiff-like hull with sensually curved side tanks, a thin lifting keel and powerful asymmetrical spinnaker easily hoisted and doused in a below-decks spinnaker launcher.
The Viper 640 was born in 1996, for two to three people to comfortably hike as the boat steadily planed along with just enough aid from the keel to take the edge off the skipper’s nerves in any serious breeze. Champions from the world’s top performance dinghy classes immediately felt the nuances of a quality design. Big boat and dinghy sailors from slower classes were pushed and inspired by the exhilarating rides. But the American market wasn’t yet ready for this breakthrough boat. Established smaller classes held onto membership and the larger sport boats continued to grow.
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Within this new world order of sailing lies sporty little keelboats that trace their lineage back to the early planing dinghies of the 20th century. Easy to hoist and jibe asymmetrical kites, self-tacking jibs and carbon rigs have enticed more than a generation of sailors around the world to jump head long into this new breed of craft.
It was no surprise to Bennett that more than 10 years after he built the first Viper, that the design fit perfectly into this new-world-order. While working on other projects with his family in New Zealand, the class organically grew to become one of the hottest small keelboats in North America and it is still growing. The flexibility to sail with a smaller crew, smaller boat, and more exciting platform, has drawn sailors from every demographic, families and professionals, all learning to appreciate Bennett’s refined design that has more history attached to it’s design than any of its contemporaries. Bennett is considered by many to have, more than anyone else, ushered in the exciting new world of small keelboat sailing and racing.
The latest design within this rapidly growing genre is Bennett’s VX keelboat, a speedy “dinghy” that fits neatly in a gap left between a handful of complicated and expensive performance small boats. In the rush-to-market, and riding this wave of enthusiasm in recent years, manufacturers have created classes with a large following and participation that ranges around the world. Yet there is a unique quality that the VX has, a more direct line to the history of this sailing revolution, that has presented something few other boats have: a smooth and precise feeling in the helmsperson’s hand throughout all conditions that whispers the secrets to performance that today’s top sailors know so well.