Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Sailing the RS Aero in Bristol - and Plans for the Summer

The ice has gone from the bays, the snow has almost disappeared and it almost feels as if spring has finally arrived in Rhode Island.

I described in A Laser and an RS Aero in Newport how my friend persuaded our local dealer to lend us a demo RS Aero and how he sailed it on a couple of days in Newport while I tagged along in my Laser.

The picture from that post (above) created a small stir in the RS Sailing social media community with comments like, "Epic levels of commitment. We salute you!" Well, it did until some over-achiever from Norway upped the stakes by posting this picture (below) with a caption about "getting ready for Easter sailing" and a claim that he was part of the "most northerly Aero class."

If I ever get the chance to race this Norwegian guy in an Aero, I'm going to CRUSH him!

Anyway, we have taken the Aero out three more times in Bristol Harbor since then. By "we" I mean the three of us who agreed over a dinner and (more than a few beers) to put down deposits on RS Aeros a year ago just after it was launched in the UK. As I had had the chance to sail the Aero in Europe last year I have been letting my two friends have first dibs on sailing the Aero here in New England, but on Monday this week I thought they had had enough time in the boat and monopolized it myself. As I blasted upwind from the beach in a juicy south-easterly I couldn't resist shouting out to anyone close enough to hear me (i.e. nobody) - "I want one!" - meaning that the boat is still as good as I remembered it from Minorca and I still want to buy one. Thankfully my two friends feel the same way so we are looking forward to taking delivery of our three Aeros in a few weeks.

We all plan to keep our Lasers and continue to race them too. At least initially we will race our Aeros with the Sunfish and Lasers at Lake Whippersnapper on Saturday afternoons, and also in the regatta there at the end of May. Several other sailors at that club have expressed interest in trying out the Aero so we hope we can build a larger fleet there. And we will race our Lasers in Duxbury on Sundays and whatever other Laser regattas around New England we feel like doing. And one of my friends, maybe even both of them, are planning to go to the Laser Masters Worlds in Canada this year too.

I should really write a whole separate post about the pros and cons of owning just a Laser, or a Laser and another class of dinghy, and I probably will.

And I should really write a whole separate post about why I am buying a new class of dinghy that hardly anybody in the US is sailing yet, and I probably will.

Where was I? Where am I ? Oh yes. Sailing the RS Aero.

My friends and I don't really know how to sail the RS Aero properly yet. There is no published tuning guide. Every time we sail it we come back with more questions. Why is the Laser faster than the Aero in those conditions on that point of sail? Should we be sheeting at a different angle? Do we need more vang? Was the outhaul too loose or too tight? Should we be heeling more - or less? Etc. Etc. Etc.

But we are gradually figuring it out. And that's part of the fun.

What we really need is a clinic where someone who has figured it out already can teach is in one day what it will take us months to work out by ourselves.

And, as luck would have it, there is going to be a one day clinic in the US in July, run by the RS Aero Class Manager, Peter Barton from the UK. It will be on the Friday before the RS Aero US Nationals at the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. It's too good an opportunity to miss. So I have told the powers-that-be that I am going to the clinic and will be sailing the Nationals too. And if that Norwegian shows his face I am going to CRUSH him.

Sailing the Gorge has been on my bucket list for some time.

I thought one day I would sail there in my Laser.

But instead I have committed to sail in a national championship at the Gorge (a notoriously windy and wavy venue) in a boat I don't even own yet and which I have, as of today, no idea how to sail properly.

Am I crazy?

Thanks to George Yioulos at West Coast Sailing and Scott Hardy at Boat Locker for their generous support and encouragement to me to sail the Gorge.


Michael O'Brien said...

Are you crazy? Yes, certifiable. But the crazy shall inherit the earth.

I'm in exactly the same boat, so to speak. Ordered an Aero, waiting, waiting, waiting. Boat stuck in Oakland with the strike delays. Hopefully coming over the next week.

Also going to North Americans at the Gorge with little to no idea how to sail this new boat.

It is going to be fantastic.

Michael O'Brien

Mal Kiely [Lancelots Pram] said...

Great video - holy carp! :O

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