Thursday, November 05, 2015

Should I Buy a Laser or an RS Aero?

Should I buy a Laser or an RS Aero?

That's the question I have heard a lot this year. And I see someone just posed it on Sailing Anarchy.

Typically it is asked by someone who did some dinghy racing in the past - or maybe some surfing or windsurfing or kite surfing - and now they want a singlehanded dinghy.

They are attracted by all the buzz about the RS Aero and can see that it is an exciting boat to sail.

They know that the Laser is a much older design - not to mention that all the stuff they read about the Laser designer suing the Laser class and the Laser manufacturer doesn't exactly boost their confidence in the long term future of the class - but they do see that there are local Laser fleets and local Laser regattas and so they are confident that if they buy a Laser they will have some other people to race with.

Basically they are trying to choose between this...

and this.

These folk are trying to reconcile the obvious attractions of the RS Aero as a boat, with a wish to have some other people to race with.

What they are really looking for is this...

Of course the picture above is real. It does exist. It was taken at the 2015 RS Aero North Americans at the Columbia River Gorge in July.

But it is also true that, unless you live in Seattle, the fleets of RS Aeros racing at various venues around North America this year haven't been as big as this... yet.

So to you people in North America asking yourselves the RS Aero vs Laser question, basically you have 4 choices...

1. Buy a Laser and race it with your local fleet.

2. Buy an RS Aero and just enjoy blasting around on your own in it, preferably somewhere with high winds and surf. I know a number of sailors who are very happy doing this.

3. Buy an RS Aero and be part of a rapidly growing racing scene. Help create the solution you really crave. If there isn't a fleet of RS Aeros near you, persuade a few friends to buy some RS Aeros and start your own fleet. Host a regatta at your sailing club and persuade other RS Aero sailors to come to it. Travel to other RS Aero regattas including the major ones. Race your Aero in handicap races and pursuit races and in any event which will have you.

4. Do all of the above. Buy a Laser and an RS Aero.

Michael O'Brien of the AeroNautic blog
 collecting his new Laser and new RS Aero 

All in all, I think option 4 is the best choice.

You can never have too many boats.

He who dies with the most toys, 


George A said...

This was the same situation in the 70s when Moths were dying out and the Laser was the new but thin on the ground up and comer. If you bought a Laser you basically were on your own. Sounds hard to imagine, doesn't it? One way to get a better price and at the same time build a local fleet so that you'll have someone to race against is to organize a multi-boat purchase. At Brigantine we did that with Lasers. We group bought 5 boats and the dealer in Delaware gave us a sub-$1000 price per boat. I bet a similar deal could be worked out with an Aero dealer today.

Tillerman said...

Really? If you bought a Laser in that first year to two, you were on your own? That makes me feel a lot better. I was lucky enough to persuade two friends to buy an RS Aero with me so I have always had some other people to sail with.

I was actually pondering the same question over the last couple of days. I have a friend in NJ who is contemplating putting together a fleet of RS Aeros for a special project with junior sailors that he has in mind. I hope he would get a fleet purchase discount if he decides to go ahead with that plan. And, in fact, RS Sailing in the UK are advertising substantial discounts for club fleet deals of 3-4 or 5+ boats.

However, I don't think we are going to see anyone offering new RS Aeros for under $1000!

George A said...

No, not for sub-grand prices but he won't get squat if he doesn't ask. Hell, you get at least 10% off wine if you buy by the case...

Tillerman said...

I think a fleet purchase is definitely the way to go George.

I don't think I would have bought an RS Aero if I thought it would be the only one in southern New England and I wouldn't have anyone to race with. Which is why I included "option 3" on the list. That's basically what my friends and I did this year and it has worked out very well. And it was easier than I thought it would be to make it happen.

SoxSail said...

So, is the Aero really more fun? I don't think I had quite gotten that out of your previous posts.

Related, which is easier to rig... a) when stored on a dolley b) when stored upside down on a rack (mast out)

Tillerman said...

A question often asked SoxSail and probably worth a whole post to itself.

Fun is very subjective. I find the Laser and the RS Aero are both fun. How much fun depends a lot on the weather conditions, the wave conditions, the locale, the company, whether or not I am racing, whether or not I am winning... Strangely enough I think I actually enjoy having both a Laser and an RS Aero more than I would enjoy having either one by itself. Variety is the spice of life, don't they say.

But I think most people would say they enjoy sailing an RS Aero more than a Laser. More comfortable hiking position, higher boom, planes at lower wind speeds, accelerates better, more responsive, no catching the sheet round the transom etc. etc. AlthoughI was so used to the Laser (30 years +) that what a lot of people would call annoyances with the Laser I just felt were a normal part of sailing.

The RS Aero is somewhat easier to rig than the Laser, especially if you are one of those people who struggles with doing the whole "tossing the caber" thing to get a Laser mast (with sail) into the mast step on a windy day. I don't find that a problem myself.

The lightness of the RS Aero does make it easier to handle on the shore - lifting on and off trailer or roof rack, pulling it on a dolly up a steep beach etc.

Anonymous said...

Just by a cheap second hand laser and get out on the water, if your friend's want to get together and buy a fleet of discounted aero's? Join in!

Tillerman said...

That works too Steve.

1. Buy a boat you will enjoy sailing.
2. Sail it by yourself if that's what turns you on.
3. Sail your boat with others if that's what turns you on.
4. You are not making a lifelong decision. If you decide you don't like the boat after a few months, then sell it and buy a different boat.
5. The correct number of boats to own is n+1, where n is the number of boats currently owned.

Anonymous said...

I bought a Laser when they first came out in the UK (over 40 years ago), and very quickly there were 6 of them in my sailing club because there was very little choice. Now I'm buying an Aero, and it is very different as there are so many singlehanders to choose from. It is a great boat, but so is the Laser...& half a dozen other boats.

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