Wednesday, October 29, 2014

RS Aero - First Impressions

After my adventure in the Laser Radial on my first Tuesday morning at Minorca Sailing, I had my first sail in an RS Aero in the afternoon, using the 7 rig in about 10-14 knots. Below are my random first impressions of the boat on that day, a lot of it quoted from an email I wrote to a couple of friends back home immediately after the experience…

The RS Aero felt initially a little unfamiliar but I soon got the hang of it and it wasn't long before it felt like a boat I had been sailing for years. As expected it was a lot of fun on reaches. I tried various reaching angles and it seemed to be easy to get planing on all of them. I can imagine that some recreational sailors will buy an RS Aero just for the pleasure of reaching back and forth as many kite sailors and windsurfers seem to do. At least to my inexperienced eye that's what a lot of them seem to be doing most of the time. 
Upwind it was a delight how the narrow bow sliced through the chop. At least in these winds, the gunwales were deflecting all the spray away from my face and body on both reaches and beats. I didn't seem to be able to apply enough cunningham to depower the sail for upwind sailing but it was easy to apply enough vang to achieve the desired effect. The hiking position was very comfortable. Oh god. I'm starting to value "comfort" as a desirable feature in a single-handed dinghy. I must be getting old.   
Tacks and gybes were no problem. Tacking from close-hauled to close-hauled was straightforward. Another sailor here who took out an Aero earlier in the day reported that it was hard to tack from reach to reach (without getting it going fast on a close-hauled course first) because the boat lacked sufficient momentum to get through the tack. I didn't try that personally. 
I had heard that it felt "uncomfortable" when sailing downwind. My experience was that it's not exactly uncomfortable, just a bit of an unfamiliar position. I found a position that I think I could maintain indefinitely which locked me into the boat and enabled me to balance it easily.
Actually they had to drag me off the water today because some other sailor wanted to try the boat, otherwise I would have been out even longer than the 1 hour 40 minutes or so that I was.  
I was very comfortable in the 7 rig in these winds. Felt more like a Laser Radial than a Full Rig in terms of how much effort was required. Suspect I will want a 9 rig in lighter winds and hope to get a chance to test that out soon.

More reports to come on two more test sails with the 9 and 7 rigs in different wind conditions, a capsize recovery evaluation, what I heard about the Aero from other sailors and instructors, and some of my own comments on various aspects of the hardware and boat design.

Watch this space.


R1 said...

Looking at the images you have posted of the RS Aero and the new "MkII" Laser sail, I see similarities. Any truth in that?

It's a shame you had those gents-in-suits-with-the-champagne launching and recovering the Aero for you, robbing you of the chance to single-handedly carry it up the beach. Would have been enough to make Tillerwoman and other beach-babes swoon, I've no doubt.

Consider this space "watched".

Tillerman said...

I guess the MkII Laser sail and the Aero sails have some similarities. They are both Dacron, both have a radial cut, and both have long windows. On the other hand, the RS Aero sail has a much fatter head, a full length batten at the top, and is raised with a halyard.

I am sure the folks at Minorca Sailing would have been quite happy for me to attempt carrying the boat around balanced on one pinkie finger if I had asked them. But I was quite happy to accept as a given all the advantages of having a lighter boat on the land and for launching and recovery. I think those plusses with be even more important for kids and smaller women than they are for a manly man like me ;-)

Unknown said...

"More reports to come on two more test sails with the 9 and 7 rigs"

Drip, drip, drip .... ;-)

Tillerman said...

Quite right Michael. But I don't think I was the one who started the practice of "drip-feeding" information about the RS Aero.

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