Monday, August 03, 2015

Magic Carpet Ride - Why are RS Aeros Always Reaching in Videos?

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 reaches."

"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!


Tweezerman said...


This post forced me to write two posts in one day (almost unheard of!).

For my 2 cents in this conversation I added a post about my D course for planing singlehanders to Earwigoagin.

As I said, I think this is a topic worth exploring more. Be interesting what comments you will get.

Tillerman said...

That's another good option Tweezerman for planing single handers. We use something very similar to that in the Newport frostbite fleet and call it an H course.

There's some good advice in Tweezerman's post about how to set the correct angle for reaches for planing boats. My experience is that too often the reaches set by RCs are too broad, either from lack of understanding of the ideal angles - or perhaps more often due to space constraints.

Gordon S said...

Hobie Cats can be "a delight to sail upwind" but then you have to tack them. ;-) Which gets to the weather mark first -- Laser or Aero?

Tillerman said...

Well said Gordon - cats are bitches to tack.

As for Laser vs Aero - the PYs say the Aero 9 and 7 are faster than a Laser but we are finding that Aeros 7s and Lasers are pretty comparable.

Unknown said...

Comment 1: I suspect, but have not proven, that the Aero is shown on a reach because it heels too much upwind in a strong breeze. That's why I have spent the last few years studying and building anti-heeling hydrofoils. Going out on a trapeze on an Aero looks chancy to me.
Comment 2: Tillerman, remember I predicted that the Aero would be a game changer? Now we are redefining race courses just for it! I expect lots of other forms of game changing.
Comment 3. With the emphasis on reaches, the boat is even more appealing to kids. I am not surprised you got a few teenagers at the first North Americans.

Unknown said...

Comment 4: It is not clear to me how a cat can be a bitch, unless there is something about animal genetics which I do not understand.

Tillerman said...

1. Aeros sail flat upwind in strong breeze in the hands of a competent sailor and with the rig properly tuned for the wind conditions.

2. Going out on a trapeze on an Aero is very chancy because it doesn't have a trapeze.

3. The RS Aero is a great singlehanded racing boat for youth sailors who want to try something new. I think the 3 teenagers at the Gorge had between them sailed RS Fevas, 29ers, and Lasers and done kite-surfing before - and probably other boats they didn't even mention to me.

Unknown said...

This blog is surely not a proper forum for an extended discussion, but it seems to me that proper tuning going up wind involves de-powering the sail (reducing camber), which not only lowers the heeling force, but the driving force. If you could maintain the driving force and lower the effective heeling force, there should be a net gain in speed.

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