For those new to the story, the RS Aero has 3 rigs, with sails of approximately 5, 7 and 9 square meters.
RS Sailing recommend them for people of different body weights.
Many RS Aero owners are buying the boat with more than one rig. Some sailors may use a 7 or 9 rig most of the time but also have a rig one step down for heavier wind conditions. Or, like me, they may have a 7 rig for most conditions but also have a 9 rig for those lighter wind days.
Of course, other things being equal, the boat with a larger rig should be faster. But is a 9 rig with a heavy sailor much faster than a 7 rig with a lighter sailor? In heavier winds can a sailor in a 5 rig beat a sailor in a 7 rig who is overpowered?
We have been trying to work out how we are going to race the Aeros at our lake. What we have discovered so far is…
1. Lasers and Aeros seem to be quite comparable in speed and we are having close competitive racing by starting Lasers and Aeros together.
2. The 5 rig is indeed an excellent option for a sailor who finds the 7 rig too much to handle on a very windy day.
3. The first day we raced 9 and 7 rigs together the three boats finished a 30 minute race within a second of each other.
The Seattle RS Aero fleet have also been trying to work out how to race the different Aero rigs together. Here is what Seattle Aero sailor Michael O'Brien wrote in a comment to my post Three Flavors of RS Aero.
When we have a regatta with 10-20 boats per rig size ... no problem. Race in per-rig fleets.
But for now, while building fleets, I favor scratch racing where you can use any rig in any race. It is simpler and works surprisingly well. As you say, the 7 and 9 have differences in speed, but when sailor weight is factored in -- it is often the sailor weight that is the bigger factor. Rig size gives the heavier and lighter sailor the chance to extend their range both up and down.Our experience seemed to support the same conclusion.
But it seem we may have been wrong.
On Sunday the winds were very light. Maybe 5 knots at best but often much less than that and sometimes only 0-1. The water was flat (of course). There was a light drizzle at times.
In these conditions the RS Aero 9 blew the Lasers and the RS Aero 7 away.
I am the heaviest Aero sailor in our fleet. I was sailing the Aero 9.
Upwind it was easy for me to establish a lead on the rest of the fleet. Although, in the first race one Laser sailor did stay within a few boat lengths of me on the first beat.
Downwind I don't think the Aero 9 had much of an advantage, if any. I was passed on one run by a Laser and the Aero 7 also closed the gap on me. I suspect I don't really know how to sail the Aero properly downwind in light airs yet. Or maybe I am just too fat.
I won both races by a considerable margin. And it was all due to distance gained upwind.
After the two official races, we asked the race committee to give us a start for a "race" back to the club. It was a reach all the way. The Aero 9 pulled out in front of the Lasers and Aero 7 immediately after the start, and just kept extending its lead.
In these conditions, it seems the RS Aero 9 is way too fast for fair scratch racing with Lasers and smaller Aero rigs.
But it did feel good!
I love my RS Aero 9!
Further research is indicated.