Back in the first few months after the RS Aero was launched last year, before any of us in the US had even seen an RS Aero in real life, it seemed like all the videos of the RS Aero posted online were of the boat reaching. We never saw it sailing upwind or downwind. Just lots of videos of the RS Aero doing wild planing reaches. In fact it got to be such a joke that certain cynical people on a well known sailing forum started to question whether the boat could sail upwind at all - or to claim that it must be a real pig to sail upwind.
As it turned out the RS Aero is a delight to sail upwind. But there is no doubt that reaching makes for more spectacular videos. And the RS Aero certainly planes very easily and it is a lot of fun to blast back and forth on planing reaches.
So without any apology here is another video of an Aero on a reach. It's that same sailor, Matt Thursfield, who was in Friday's video. This time he is at Aberdovey in west Wales. It says it's May but it looks frigging cold. Matt takes both hands off the sheet and tiller at one point to adjust his woolly ski hat!
It is what it is. RS Aero sailors love reaching. You would too if you owned an RS Aero.
Not surprisingly, people are designing challenges and race courses to appeal to RS Aero sailors' love of reaching. One of these is the International Speed Freaks Challenge. It sounds as if Peter Barton (the class manager) and Michael O'Brien of the Seattle RS Aero fleet came up with the idea independently back in early May.
As Peter explained it...
All you need is a simple GPS like a Velocitec Speedpuck or Garmin Foretrex 401. Maybe an iPhone app or a bike GPS would work in a waterproof case (can anyone recommend the best app?).
All you need to do is get out in some breeze in your RS Aero, record a fully cranking Max Speed. When you get ashore take a selfie of the Max Speed (in Knots) reading with a cheesy grin. Post the photo here, together with a brief summary of the conditions and your adventure. Simple!Reaching Nirvana!
You can follow the reports of the speed freaks on Michael's blog Aeronautic or on the class forum. The current world record holder is Sean Grealish with a top instantaneous speed of 16.2 knots.
On the Friday of the lift-off clinic at the RS Aero North Americans in the Gorge we all took turns reaching across the river and back with a SpeedPuck to see who could record the fastest time averaged over 10 seconds. Not surprisingly Sean beat us all with a speed of 14.4 knots.
Modesty prevents me from naming the slowest sailor in the speed freaks challenge at the Gorge. But I am going to be doing a lot of practice at reaching before next year's RS Aero North Americans. So watch out!
Another tip of the hat to RS Aeros' sailors love of reaching was the design of the course that we sailed on the first day of the RS Aero North Americans.
The Z course had two gybe marks and three reaches.
After the racing was over the powers-that-be asked for our feedback on how the regatta was run and whether there was anything we would improve.
"More gybe marks."
"Shorter course with reaches that aren't so broad."
"Shorter two lap course with four gybe marks and six reaches."
It's all about the reaching!