Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Review of a Review of a Boat

The best review so far of the RS Aero was published on Scuttlebutt a couple of weeks ago. Check out Singlehanded Sailing: The Next Level by George Yioulos of West Coast Sailing.

George is a dealer for both RS Sailing and LaserPerformance and, although I have never met him, I gather he is very well respected by his customers as someone who will give them some straight talk about any boat he is offering. Check out his dealership website at

He really gets into the details of the features of the RS Aero and how it sails - which is, after all, what we all want to know.

I was wondering about upwind performance in waves and George has the answer…
The boat does not wobble fore and aft as it goes over waves; it feels crisp and connected to the water. With that, if you sit too far back, the transom drags. You need to be at or near the front of the cockpit to get the boat to rotate around your body mass and track over waves.

I was wondering about how easy it is to do capsize recoveries and entries from the water, and George has the answer…
I capsized twice during gybes and found the boat very easy to right. You have to remember when you are in the water next to the boat that you weigh twice as much as it does. I reached in, pulled on the hiking strap, and pulled myself in. The prototype boats didn’t have grab rails, which will make it even easier to recover. The boat is fairly stable throughout the process, I don’t have concerns here.

George does not shy away from criticizing certain aspects of the design that are less than ideal in his view. For example he points out that the outhaul and cunningham are difficult to adjust under load on the prototype boats (apparently being fixed in the production version.)

But all in all it's a very positive review.

Inevitably George is obliged to compare the RS Aero with the Laser. Is it faster than a Laser? Is it going to replace the Laser? Is it the long-awaited "that boat" the one that takes the single-handed market by storm like the Laser did 40 years ago? George's conclusion is probably the wisest thing written yet on this topic.
It’s not a Laser, and I don’t think RS wants it to be. After sailing it and reflecting on my experiences, I’m not sure any sailor would want it to be either.

Exactly. I don't want a boat that's like a Laser. I don't actually want a boat that's "better" than the Laser necessarily. I want a boat that's different from a Laser, that will give me a different sailing experience. If it's more fun on some points of sail that's great. If it's more challenging in some ways that's great too. I don't sail a Laser because it's lacking in challenge; I sail a Laser because it challenges me physically and always leaves me something new to learn and demands techniques that can always be improved.

I'm hoping the RS Aero will do the same.

And I expect to be sailing Lasers for many years too.


Chris Williams said...

"Could the Aero be that boat all over again, like the Laser that really started it all? I’ll cut to the conclusion to save you time: No, it’s not. It’s more."

Tillerman said...

Right Chris. He said that too. And went on to say, "After a day on the water it’s more an extension of the sailor themselves than any other non-trapezing boat I’ve sailed. Those who placed pre-orders are not going to be disappointed."

I'm excited to try one. What about you Chris?

Chris Williams said...

Most certainly! I raced lasers extensively in the 80's and am looking to get back into dinghy sailing. The Aero looks just the ticket: light, simple, quick, and challenging... but still practical and affordable. It should be fun to race in our local PY fleet. Not sure if/when I'll get to try it out, though. I'll be very interested to hear YOUR report when you get a crack at one!

Tillerman said...

I checked yesterday and I understand our local dealer should be getting one to demo in July. George's report was so professional and comprehensive though that it's hard to think I'll be able to add very much of value to others.

Interesting that the Aero could be getting you back into dinghy sailing, Chris. Supports my gut feel that exciting new boats can attract new people into dinghy sailing, bring people back into dinghy sailing and/or keep people dinghy sailing who might otherwise leave the sport. It's not just a zero sum game where one boat's sales are always at the expense of another boat's sales.

That's why the "Is this the Laser killer" debate annoys me so much (even though I may have been at least partly responsible for starting it.) In my case it's not going to stop me from Laser sailing too. It's only going to add to my pleasure from the sport by having a second boat to enjoy.

Reviewer of Reviews of Reviews of Boats said...

Is it OK if I write a review of your Review of a Review of a Boat on my Reviews of Reviews of Reviews of Boats blog?

Chris Williams said...

Whoa, this is getting way too meta. ☺

But you're right, T-Man: the prospect of jumping into another Laser isn't enough to draw me back in, especially considering how the class has diminished round here since I was last active. I'm looking for something new.

Sandy Goodall said...

Like you, Tiller, I found George's review very satisfying. I have a "9" on order, and am looking forward to a test sail in Carnac on the west coast of France, sometime in July. My boat is scheduled for production at the end of July :-)

Tillerman said...

Will be interested to hear what you think after your demo Sandy.

Joe Rousé said...

Wait a second, I know George. I asked him for a quote for 4 Lasers and 4 Picos. He put on his sales guy hat and tried to convince me that we should switch to RS boats....RS Teras, Fevas and Aeros. Hmm, maybe we should just get kite-boards.

Anonymous said...

yes! But once you get one, you will also need a shorter one for high winds, and a wider one for light winds, same for the kites, and then a surfboard for the waves, and then you will need a van to carry it all

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