At last we have a video review of an RS Aero by an independent expert, Matthew Sheahan, the Racing and Technical Editor of Yachting World, who took the RS Aero out for a test sail and made this video.
OK we get it. This boat is light. Every review and video so far seems to make a big deal about how light the hull is and how light the boat when fully rigged is - 48 kilos according to Matthew (or about 105 lbs.) And in this video Matthew demonstrates how this means he can carry the rigged boat on its side down the beach, just as we saw in an earlier RS Sailing video. Well yeah, I can lift 105 lbs and stagger a few steps with it too. But I don't think I'm going to use that as the normal launching technique for my brand new shiny $7,000 RS Aero (when I get one.) I'm going to use a launching dolly just like I do with my Laser. And what else did he say? "This boat all-up weighs less than most people's launching trolleys." What? I don't know what you use to launch boats in the UK these days but my Seitech Laser dolly weighs around 30-35lbs I think, nowhere near 105 lbs.
So yes we get it. The boat is light. I understand that means it's going to be a lot easier to handle on the land and it's going to feel a lot different from the Laser on the water. So I'm hoping future reviewers will focus more on exactly how that light weight does impact sailing performance and technique.
And we also get that this boat is a blast on a reach. All the previous videos of the RS Aero seem to have concentrated on showing it on planing reaches. It looks like a hell of a lot of fun doing that. Matthew even comments that it feels a lot like windsurfing. Most windsurfers I see seem to spend as much times as they can reaching backwards and forwards. But I don't want a boat that is only fun on reaches. I want a racing boat that is fun upwind and downwind too.
It's trickier upwind, Matthew says. "You really have to concentrate when driving upwind because there's no momentum in the boat to help you." I wonder what that lack of momentum would mean for beating in a typical Narragansett Bay chop. It can be a challenge to keep a Laser going well upwind in choppy waves. Will the RS Aero be even more tricky? And there's no sign of the "planing upwind" that that Irish guy mentioned in a video a few days ago. But it clearly takes off like a rocket if you bear off a few degrees. I wonder if you would actually make better VMG to windward in some conditions by sailing a few degrees off the wind?
How easy is it to capsize? How easy is it to do a capsize recovery? One thing I will certainly want to do (if they let me) when I have my RS Aero demo is to test out its capsizability and its recoverability. Am I going to spend even more time in the water than I do with my Laser? Does it tend to turtle? Can I easily reach the daggerboard to do a recovery when I am in the water? How easy is it get back into the boat after a capsize? Does the cockpit have any water in it after a capsize and, if so, how fast does it drain?
Matthew does capsize the boat in the video but I am not quite sure what I am seeing. Did he deliberately capsize it at the start of that sequence (2:50) or did the boat roll over on top of him while he was trying to get in it? We don't see the actual capsize recovery so we can't assess how easy it is. And then he appears to be in the water again on the rig side of the boat. What happened?
Apparently Matthew's full report will be in the June issue of Yachting World. I might just have to go and buy it and hope it answers some of my questions.