World’s coolest yachts: Cal40

Yachting World

We ask top sailors and marine industry gurus to choose the coolest and most innovative yachts of our times. Stan Honey nominates the Cal40

The Cal40 has iconic status in the United States and was a game-changer in the 1960s as a true racer/cruiser. Designed by Bill Lapworth, it has a radical flat-bottomed hull and separate rudder and keel, and was famed for its downwind surfing performance.

“The Cal40 revolutionised yacht design,” says Honey. “All ocean racers that came after had the fin keel and spade rudder that the Cal40 proved in the mid-1960s, dominating the sport including the Transpac, Bermuda Race, SORC etc. The Cal40 remains competitive in racing and an easy-to-sail, well-mannered cruising boat, perfect for a couple.

A Cal40 surfing into the finish of the Transpac. Photo: Betsy Senescu/Ultimate Sailing

“One aspect of owning a Cal40 is that everywhere you go folks come by the boat and tell stories about how they used to race on a Cal40 and that they love the boat. They have friends and admirers everywhere. It’s like driving a 1965 Mustang, everybody has fond memories. The Cal40 changed the design of offshore sailboats, like the ’65 Mustang changed the design of cars, forever.”

Make sure you check out our full list of Coolest Yachts.

Cal40 stats rating

Top speed: 22 knots
LOA: 11.99m/39.3ft
Launched: 1963
Berths: 6
Price: $30,000-$80,000
Adrenalin factor: 70%

Stan Honey

Stan Honey is one of the world’s most accomplished navigators, having won the Trophée Jules Verne and Volvo Ocean Race, and set 24-hour, transpacific and transatlantic records. He’s navigated on Playstation, Groupama 3, Comanche, and the J Class Hanuman. He and his wife, Sally, also cruised and raced their Cal40 Illusion for 30 years.


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