Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Laser and an RS Aero in Newport

The New England winters can drive you crazy.

There have been the record-breaking cold temperatures in February and the record-breaking total snowfall this winter. Not to mention the small matter of the sea freezing over.

And there has been the little matter that it's now a year since two of my friends and I put down deposits on RS Aeros and my friends hadn't even seen an Aero yet, much less had the chance to try one. I was the lucky one having sailed the Aero on several days during my vacation at Minorca Sailing last October.

So, we were all getting cabin fever and Aero deprivation fever, until one of my friends, the sailor formerly known as Email Dude, had the crazy idea of persuading our local RS Sailing dealer to lend us a demo RS Aero for a few weeks so that we can all test it out and we can show it off to other sailors who we think will be interested in it too. In March! In New England! Was he mad?

So, we jumped in the car and drove over to Bridgeport CT to see Scott Hardy at the Boat Locker who was very friendly and helpful, and over lunch Email Dude persuaded Scott what a great idea it would be for him to lend us his demo RS Aero, so Email Dude went back a few days later and brought back the Aero to our area. 

So, then we had to sail it.

Lake Whippersnapper in Massachusetts where Email Dude often sails was (and is) still covered in about 2 feet of ice.

Bristol Harbor in Rhode Island, where we often sail was also frozen over. Did I mention it has been a terrible winter?

No Tuesday night sailing in Bristol this week!

So, on the first suitable day we went to Newport.

On Friday of the week before last, and the following Monday, we took our boats to Newport and I sailed my Laser while Email Dude checked out the Aero.

Email Dude dodging the snow to launch the Aero

What a blast! On a Friday afternoon and a Monday morning we had Brenton Cove and Newport Harbor and even the Eastern Passage south of the Pell Bridge, totally to ourselves.

It was eerie.

There are always other boats at Newport.

It's the frigging yachting capital of the world, for Pete's sake.

I have never ever sailed in Newport when there haven't been any other boats on the water.

Where is everyone?

I guess it was about 10-12 knots on the Friday and somewhat less than that on the Monday. We tested the Aero out against the Laser on all points of sail and various wind strengths. And sometimes the Aero was faster and sometimes the Laser was faster but it really didn't prove much because Email Dude was clearly still learning the very different skills need to sail an Aero. But it was fun.

After the session on Monday, I borrowed the Aero for a few minutes and tested out my capsize recovery skills which had been something of an issue in Minorca. Having watched a lot of videos about how to re-enter the boat from the water after a capsize, I was ready to try again. Unfortunately I only proved that it's hard for an overweight, unfit, geriatric sailor to re-enter the boat over the gunwale like he does in a Laser.

Me attempting to enter the boat over the windward side and totally failing

Me righting the boat again after my spectacular fail

Me getting used to the idea that re-entry over the transom is a lot easier

Maybe later this year I will meet up with that clever Peter Barton chappie who has been running all the RS Aero clinics in the UK and he can teach me what I am doing wrong?

Today, we were going to run a demo day to show off the Aero to some other sailors in Duxbury.

But it was snowing and there was no wind.

So we called it off.

Such is life in New England in the spring!


George A said...

Dry suits?

Tillerman said...

Yes George.

George A said...

My hat's off to you. When the water's that cold I find it a bit awkward--too cold to comfortably sail (in my book) but too warm to ice boat. Perfect time to head indoors and go figure skating.

Tillerman said...

It was surprisingly enjoyable, actually, George. Especially, Friday, the windier day. I hadn't sailed since December, and not in this country since early November. After such a long time with no sailing it felt so good to get back in the boat and remind myself why I like Laser sailing so much. Coming back in from the Eastern Passage past the fort on a close planing reach with spray hitting me in the face, I even made the odd whoop or two. Isn't it great to be young and alive?

Baydog said...

What a perfect ambassador for the Aero you are!

Unknown said...

Did the Aero plane at lower wind speeds than the Laser?

Tillerman said...

Yes Jay. The Email Dude did report that on Friday he was planing in the Aero some times when I wasn't planing in my Laser.

Unknown said...

Thanks. Conforms to theory.

R1 said...


Have you seen this report of Aero versus D-Zero by the esteemed Steve Cockerill?

Hope this link works

Tillerman said...

Yes thanks R1, I did see that. It looks like both the RS Aero and the D-Zero are selling well in the UK and if I still lived there it might be tough to choose between them. But as far as I know there is no source in the US for the D-Zero yet.

Anonymous said...

I went to Minorca Sailing and sailed the Aero against the Laser in some races. In light wind, even on handicap, the Aero 9 was easily the faster boat. But as the wind increases the advantage deminishes. I've been sailing Lasers since they first came out and now will buy an Aero as, for me, the light wind advantage and the improvements in the layout, carbon mast, better sail, mean it is time to change.

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