Friday, April 29, 2016

7 Reasons Why the Laser is Better than the RS Aero

Once people hear that I, a long-time Laser sailor, bought an RS Aero last year they usually want to know what the differences are between the two boats. So here are 7 of the reasons why I think the Laser is better than the Aero.

1. Recognition
Anybody who sees me with my RS Aero usually comes over and starts ogling my boat and drooling on it and babbling about how cool it looks and acting like a little kid in a toy store two weeks before Xmas, and generally being really annoying. "What is this?" they eventually ask in spite of the fact that it says RS Aero quite clearly on the hull. Duh!

What is this?

Whereas when I take my Laser to the local boat ramp, everybody recognizes it as a familiar and much-loved boat, which is why they usually come on over and ask, "Is that a Sunfish?"

Is that a Sunfish?

2. Weight
The total weight of a Laser is about 170 lbs so you can get a great workout doing things like hauling it up the beach after four hours of hard sailing, or helping little weak people to lift their Lasers on to the roof racks of their super-high giant SUVs.

Manly man training to lift a Laser on to a roof rack

Whereas the RS Aero only weighs about 75 lbs so it practically runs up the beach by itself and you can lift it on a roof rack with your little finger so it provides absolutely no fitness benefits whatsoever.

3. Mainsheet Fun
The Laser has been cleverly designed with the sheet running to a traveler at the rear of the boat and nice square corners at the rear end of the hull which will conveniently catch the sheet if it trails in the water when you are gybing and give you a surprise by quickly capsizing the boat and throwing you in the water. Ha ha ha!

Ha ha ha!

Whereas the designer of the RS Aero, for reasons I just don't understand, designed it with a center sheeting system so you get none of the above-mentioned surprise capsize fun that you get with a Laser. Boring!

4. Bathtub Fun
Similarly the brilliant man who designed the Laser gave it an ingenious tiny autobailer that carefully and slowly drains the water out of the cockpit. So if you are lucky enough to stuff the bow of a Laser into a wave you will fill the cockpit with water and you will be able to enjoy a nice refreshing soak in a cockpit full of water for about ten minutes while the bailer gently empties the cockpit. It's even better than that really because all that water in your cockpit slows the boat down so you can have an even more relaxing time soaking in the tub as you wave to all your buddies sailing past you.

Manly man soaking in tub

Whereas the designer of the RS Aero foolishly designed the RS Aero with an open transom that drains the water out of the cockpit so fast that it's all gone before you can get a chance to enjoy it. Boring again!

5. Head-banging Fun
One of the most exciting things about sailing a Laser is that the boom is so nice and low that you have to duck down really low to avoid getting conked on the head by the boom every time you tack or gybe. I even had an instructor once who used to tell us to "kiss the cleat" every time we tacked. This is an excellent exercise for keeping you agile and flexible as you get older.

Of course sometimes you don't get quite low enough and you get a sharp knock on the head from the boom to remind you to try harder next time. And then after racing you can compare the bruises and bumps on your head with your fellow Laser sailors and boast about them over a few beers.

Whereas... yes you guessed it, the RS Aero has completely done away with this feature of the Laser. The boom is so high you could practically stand up during gybes! What fun is that?  If you don't have any injuries what are you going to boast about?

6. Tossing the Caber
One of the best things about the Laser is that it has a sleeved sail. To rig the boat you just slip the mast into the sleeve and then lift the rig into the air like one of those Scottish blokes tossing the caber and pop the mast into the mast step. This is so much fun to do and great exercise especially when it's blowing 30 knots. It is always gratifying to show off your "tossing the caber" skills to the newbie Laser sailors who haven't mastered the art yet.  And if you are really lucky, some gorgeous little lady Laser sailor will ask a manly man like you for help in tossing her caber.

Manly man in kilt
stepping a Laser mast

Whereas the RS Aero has a bit of string called a halyard to pull up the sail. What a crazy idea! Anyone can do that. Even gorgeous little ladies.

7. The Wisdom of Crowds

Lasers have been around since 1971! Over 200,000 Lasers have been sold! Where I live in Rhode Island we regularly get 40-50 people out sailing Lasers in our local frostbite fleet all winter long!

So if you like bumping gunwales with the same 40-50 guys you have been bumping gunwales with for the last 45 years - and who doesn't? - then the Laser is the boat for you.

Whereas if you buy a new RS Aero you will have all the hassle of trying to persuade your friends to buy RS Aeros and come sailing with you. And then you will have to persuade some sailing club to host your RS Aero fleet. And then you will have to persuade regatta organizers to let RS Aeros come to their regattas.  Who needs all that botheration?

And then, at those RS Aero regattas, you might end up racing people like former surfers and windsurfers and kiteboard sailors and even recovering keelboat sailors  - people who have never even owned a Laser in their lives! Can you believe such people actually exist? Do you really want to associate with them? Oh the humanity!

I think I'll go for a sail in my Laser now.

Update: April 4 2019. There is still a Laser in my garage but I haven't sailed it for several years. Owning an RS Aero has that effect on people. In honor of my move from the Laser to an RS Aero I have also started a new blog - Aerobian. Please check it out.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Very British Problems - How I Failed to Meet a Very Famous Sailing Blogger

Hello, my name is Tillerman and I suffer from Very British Problems.

For those of you who are not Very British, or who have been living under a rock for the last few years or both, Very British Problems is one of those modern media phenomena that started a few years ago as a Twitter feed and which then quickly spawned a book, a TV series, a clothing line and god knows what else.

Very British Problems is all about what makes us British people different from normal people like Americans and Australians - such as our extreme modesty, our amazingly polite manners, our obsession with the weather, and especially our awkwardness in dealing with pretty much every kind of social interaction. All the things that make normal people love us so much.

One of my Very British Problems is not having a clue how to react when I see a Very Famous Person in a public place.

Assuming I recognize who it is (which 87% of the time I don't) what am I supposed to do?

Very Famous Person 
I saw in Logan Airport in 2014 
but I had no idea of
what his name was 
or what his latest record was called

Am I supposed to (Option A) rush up to them and give them a big hug and say how much I liked their latest movie, song, book, political rant or whatever is appropriate for the field in which they are Very Famous? Doesn't this happen to them something like 500 times a day and aren't they totally annoyed when you are the 501st person to do that to them today and they are forced to mutter something along the lines of, "So pleased you liked it." Wouldn't they rather you just left them alone?

Or (Option B) is it more appropriate to just make eye contact and give a little nod of the head and a smile to indicate you know who they are and know better than to annoy them by rushing up and making gushing comments about their latest piece of work?

One of the first times I came across this issue was when I almost literally ran into Prince Charles. He was lucky enough to be spending a couple of years studying at the same university as me and we crossed paths when he was coming out of a local bookshop and I was going in.

There are probably special rules for how to great Very Famous Royal People which makes things even more complicated. And in any case if you are going to adopt option A above, what are you supposed to tell a Very Famous Royal Person you like about their latest work? Especially this one who actually did even less work than other Very Famous Royal Persons because he was just a student like me?

"I like that nice suit you're wearing, Your Royal Highness - but why don't you dress in jeans and a raggy old sweater like the rest of us?"  I don't think so.

Or perhaps, "Hi Charlie - I'm a big fan of the whole royal family thing - how are the corgis - say hi to your Mum for me." That doesn't seem entirely appropriate either.

So I just pretended I didn't recognize him.

Probably just as well really.

And then there was the time I was quietly having breakfast on the restaurant terrace at the Bitter End Yacht Club a few years ago and Richard Branson came zooming up in a big swanky speedboat (he owns a couple of the nearby islands and stuff) and he walked right past me into the restaurant.

What was I supposed to say?

"Hi Sir Richard - sorry about your house burning down. Hope you had good insurance!"

"Hi Dicky - love this whole space thing you're doing - how do I sign up to go to Mars?"

My mind was a total blank.

So I decided to be Very British and opted for a subtle version of option B. The briefest of eye contacts. (I think he probably recognized me too. Probably reads my blog.) And a very slight smile that clearly indicated, "I know who you are but I choose not to invade your privacy because I understand what a bore it is being very famous and insanely rich."

I think he appreciated my Very British solution to the dilemma.

So last December when Tillerwoman and I were standing in the immigration line at Beef Island airport on Tortola and I spotted a Very Famous Sailing Blogger and her family a few places ahead of us in the line, I had no idea how to react.

Immigration line
Not actually the one at Beef Island

As well as all the usual Very British Problems associated with approaching Very Famous People in public, there were two other complications to the situation.

Number 1 - and most significant - is that we were standing in a line - a queue as we Very British People call it. And we Very British People have a whole huge set of Very British Problems about the etiquette of queues. Most important of all is the commandment that THOU SHALT NOT JUMP THE QUEUE. As a Very British Person I was almost certainly physically incapable of stepping out of the line and going to chat with a person several places ahead of us in the line. I would be feeling that everyone else in the queue would be deeply offended because they would think I was "jumping the queue" and that is something that Very British People never do.

Number 2 - was that I am also a sailing blogger - but nothing like as famous as the Very Famous Sailing Blogger.  I know who she is but does she have a clue who I am? Does she read my blog? Has she ever left a comment on my blog? My mind is a blank. The answer to these questions is very important. Depending on the answer it will make a difference to my opening remarks.

Do I introduce myself as an anonymous fan, or rush up to her and shout, "Hi! I'm TILLERMAN!!!" which would be about the stupidest thing to do with several dozen strangers watching us and listening to me if the Very Famous Sailing Blogger had no idea who the hell I was.

While I am pondering these issues, the Very Famous Sailing Blogger reaches the front of the queue and starts what looks like a very complicated conversation with the Immigration Officer presumably about the immigration status of her and her mother and her three beautiful little daughters. So I figure I will wait until we are both through Immigration and then sidle up to her in the baggage hall and start a quiet conversation with an opening gambit along the lines of, "Hi, aren't you Brittany from Windtraveler?" and compliment her on the good behavior of her three little girls because they really were being amazingly good. I think even a Very British Person could manage that.

But before I get the chance to make my move, BVI Immigration escorted the Very Famous Sailing Blogger and her mother and her three beautiful little daughters off to one of those rooms that they have in every Immigration Department in every airport in the world which you always hope you never see the insides of because who knows what they do to you in there?

And I never saw her again.

And that is how this Very British Person failed to meet a Very Famous Sailing Blogger.

PS If you ever see me in real life, please feel free to rush up to me and give me a big hug (especially if you are female) and tell me how much you love my latest blog post (even if you can't remember the title or what it's about.) I won't mind. Really.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reasons to go to 2017 Laser Masters Worlds - #2 Pie Floaters

Doesn't that look delicious?

It does indeed.

But what is it, Tillerman?

That, my friend is a "pie floater."

According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong) the pie floater is an Australian dish particularly common in Adelaide. It commonly consists of a traditional Australian-style meat pie, usually sitting, but sometimes submerged (sometimes upside down) in a bowl of thick pea soup. It is usually garnished with tomato sauce.

Apparently Anthony Bourdain, Billy Connolly and Joe Cocker are high profile fans of the pie floater.

Well, Joe Cocker was a big fan of pie floaters before he died a couple of years ago. As far as I know nobody ever conclusively proved a connection between Mr. Cocker's death and his consumption of pie floaters.

The pie floater in the photo at the top of this post is from Vili's Café in Adelaide, Australia. (How did you guess?)

And when I go to the 2017 Laser Masters Worlds in Adelaide I am definitely going to Vili's Café to enjoy a pie floater.

Can you believe it? Some of the Anonymous commenters on my blog have been casting doubts on my assertion that the 2017 Laser Masters Worlds will be in Adelaide.

How dare they?

Do I question your faith?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Fork in the Road

A fork in the road.

This is not photoshopped - even though I know it looks like it could be.

I really did pass this on the way to the Archipelago Rally in Westport, MA last year.

Did I ever tell you how I (almost) won the Archipelago Rally?

Reasons to go to 2017 Laser Masters Worlds - #1 Diving with Great White Sharks

I was thinking of writing a series of posts on Reasons I Should Go To The 2017 Laser Masters Worlds In Adelaide, Australia.

Thanks to a comment on yesterday's post by Barubi, here is #1 in the series.

Apparently just across the bay in Port Lincoln, you can go diving with great white sharks. I mean, who doesn't have diving with great white sharks on their bucket list?

Can't you just see me doing this?

Tillerwoman was born in Australia but surprisingly for a "right dinkum sheila" she says there is no way she is going to go diving with great white sharks while I am sailing.

Maybe this would be more her style?

Anyway, if any other Laser Masters sailors (or their wives, husbands, domestic partners, trolly dollies, boat boys or whatever) are thinking along the same lines, you can book up for your shark dives at Adventure Bay Charters.

Go for it!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Laser Radial Masters Worlds 2016 - Nuevo Vallarta, Mexcio

I think I sailed in six Laser Masters World Championships from 2000 to 2010 - in Mexico, UK, USA, Spain (twice) and Australia.

I have been telling myself the last few years that, in spite of having had some amazing sailing experiences at those events, I've got it out of my system, that I have no desire to go to any more Masters Worlds.

I even compare it to running marathons. Glad I did that three times. Don't feel the need to do any more.

This video almost makes me want to change my mind, to actually do some more Laser Masters Worlds.

Is it the enthusiasm of the sailors?

Is it those gorgeous sailing conditions?

Or perhaps it's the band?

And I hear that next year the Masters Worlds will be in Australia.

Tillerwoman always likes an excuse to visit the land of her birth.

Maybe I will do it for her?

I don't know what's come over me.

Perhaps I should consider training for one more marathon too?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Alison Young GBR - 2016 Women's Laser Radial World Champion

Congratulations to Alison Young of the British Sailing Team on winning the 2016 Women's Laser Radial World Championship in Mexico this week agains some tough competition.

Going into the final race, Paige Railey of the USA was leading by four points. Alison won the race and Paige finished sixth giving Alison the gold medal by one point!

Full results are here.

I think we will have to have a British patriotic song to celebrate the occasion. So turn up the volume, open all the windows, and treat your neigbours to Rule Britannia from the Last Night of the Proms in 2009. What could be more British than this?

PS I don't think that mezzo-soprano dressed up as Lord Nelson is Alison Young.

This is Alison Young.

For more on Alison's background and sailing achievements, check out Proud to be English.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Test Drives for Sailors - Absolutely Essential or Waste of Time?

How do you go about buying a sailing dinghy when it's a design you have never sailed before?

Are you prepared to make a decision on what other people say, what you have read, watching videos of it, seeing other people sail it?

Is it good enough for you to know that it's a popular boat in the area where you live and that you will have plenty of other people to race with?

Or do you absolutely have to sail it first yourself to make sure you really like it?

Looking back on the sailing boats I have bought over the years. I realize I am very much in the camp of people who would answer with a very definite YES to the last question. I want to "kick the tires" and go for a "test drive" first before I buy.

Kicking the tires

But is that always easy to do?

Do you have a friend who will let you try out their boat? What if it's a singlehander? Does your friend trust you enough to let you blast around for an hour or so in their shiny new boat that set them back more than a few thousand bucks?

Can you walk into your local dinghy shop and ask the dealer to let you sail one of the boats in the showroom? Is he or she set up to let you do that?

I have been lucky. I have owned three classes of sailing dinghies - Laser, Sunfish and RS Aero (not counting the Optimists I bought for my kids) and I did have the chance to take a Laser, a Sunfish and an RS Aero for a test sail before I bought each one.

My first sail in a Laser was at Minorca Sailing. My wife and I went there on a two week holiday in 1981. First of all we learned to sail in a two person boat, and then I started taking out some of the singlehanders there. It must have been almost the last day of the holiday when I took a Laser out for the first time. I was hooked immediately. I went home and bought one, the first of four new Lasers which I have bought. And I still am a Laser sailor.

Some young dude trying a Laser at Minorca Sailing
(Not me)

When we moved from England to New Jersey in 1989 I discovered that the most popular singlehander in the North Jersey lakes area where we lived was a strange little boat called a Sunfish. The man across the road from us owned one and he encouraged me to take his Sunfish out for a sail one day. I must admit I wasn't impressed at first. It didn't seem to point very well. It didn't plane as well as a Laser. But it was good enough and it was what everybody else in our lake and the other nearby lakes was racing, so I bought one. No regrets. Had some amazing experiences on the Sunfish racing circuit including some memorable world championships in the Caribbean and South America.

The Sunfish IS comfy!
(Not me)

And then there is the RS Aero.

RS Aero in Barcelona
(Not me)

In many ways this was a tougher decision than it was to buy my first Laser or my first Sunfish. Back in 2014 and early 2015 when I was trying to decide whether or not to buy an RS Aero, there weren't any local established fleets. By buying when I did I would be one of the first RS Aero owners in New England, indeed in the country, so I didn't want to buy a boat that was just "good enough" as I felt about the Sunfish. It had to be a boat that offered a significantly better sailing experience than my current boat (a Laser) AND it had to be attractive enough that I could see a good probability that it would eventually take off and there would be local fleets to race with.

And so it was back to where it all started - Minorca Sailing. In the fall of 2014 Tillerwoman and I went on our (almost) annual vacation to Minorca Sailing and I had a chance to try out the RS Aero they had there. I wrote about the experience at....

RS Aero - First Impressions
RS Aero - Impressions in Light Winds
RS Aero - Impressions in Stronger Winds
RS Aero - Capsize Recovery

I gave the RS Aero a good workout in different wind strengths, with 7 and 9 rigs, and I made sure I could do capsize recoveries. In the end I decided that I would go ahead and buy an RS Aero if my two friends back home decided to do the same after their demo sails. But I probably wasn't crazy enough about it to buy it if I was going to be the only sailor in New England with an RS Aero. (I felt much the same about the RS 100 after trying one in Menorca a few years earlier.)

RS Aero at Minorca Sailing
(Not me)

And the rest is history. The three of us took delivery of RS Aeros in May of 2015. We raced RS Aeros all summer at our home club. We hosted a couple of RS Aero regattas at the club. Two of us sailed in the first RS Aero North Americans in the Columbia River Gorge. One sailed in the RS Aerocup in Barcelona.

RS Aeros at the Gorge
(Is me)

And now at the start of a new season we have lots of plans and ideas for growing RS Aero activity in New England and holding bigger regattas and going back to the Gorge again... and did I hear a rumor about an RS Aero regatta on Lake Garda in September?

Sailing on Lake Garda
(Not RS Aeros)

Buying an RS Aero has turned out to be an excellent decision for me.

But the whole process has got me thinking.

Does everybody need a test sail before buying a new class of sailing dinghy?

Is a quick 20 minute demo sail enough for some people to make a decision?

Or do some people need to sail the boat several times in different conditions before laying down their money?

I was surprised to discover from talking to a number of experienced sales professionals in the sailing industry that some of them are skeptical about the value of "demo sails."

Some of these pros (not all by any means) seem to feel that demo sails can be a big waste of time. They say that demo sails are often exploited by people who have no intention of buying the boat but just want to try out a new boat or have a ride around the harbor on a summer afternoon.

I have heard talk of charging for demo sails or of asking people to put down a deposit on a boat first.

I am not sure how to reconcile these opinions of the professionals with my own feeling that I need to sail a boat before I buy it. Is getting as many people as possible to try out a cool new boat a good sales strategy, or not?

What do you think?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Top 5 Technical Tips For Racing Success

Never mind all that stuff about weather forecasts and strategy and tactics and fitness and mental attitude and boat-handling...

All that stuff is really hard.

Here are five simple technical tips for racing success from Peter Bentley, the Technical Projects Manager for the British Sailing Team.

Everyone can do these things...

What do you think?

Do you do these five things?

If you don't, which one do you think would most improve your racing performance?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Racing the RS Aero Against Lasers - Marc Jacobi

On Monday I published a guest post by Marc Jacobi about his first impressions of sailing the RS Aero. The next day he raced the RS Aero with the Laser frostbite fleet at Cedar Point YC in Westport CT. Here is his account of that day....

Can you spot the RS Aero?

Race day!

38 Standard and Radial Lasers vs. 1 RS Aero 7 in 12-3 knots. NW breeze with big phases, holes and puffs; mostly WL courses, except one double-Harry Anderson (look it up). I was hobbled by a top batten that was too tight, making run-to-run gybes pretty much impossible in the light air and thus limiting tactical options downwind.

Since the rest of the fleet was racing "for real," I started at the unfavored boat end of the line in all but one race, tacking immediately to stay out of the way. Rarely was this the right way to go, but the Aero's quick acceleration and option of high or low modes meant I rarely rounded the weather mark out of the top 3.

The Lasers seemed to go by-the-lee better than the Aero, which accelerated faster in puffs and favored less windward heel. The Aero seemed a bit more sticky in traffic but generally held its own on the runs.

The committee set pretty broad first reaches on the one double Harry Anderson course, but the second reaches were on the beam and really showed off the Aero's light weight, excellent blades and superb acceleration. The poor Lasers didn't have a chance and I pulled out to a commanding lead, despite hitting very light winds on the final beat to the finish.

Between races I let a few people try out the boat for a few minutes. Everyone enjoyed the boat's light responsiveness and comfy hiking position.

On yeah: in my second time in the boat, starting at the unfavored end, racing against the 2012 US Laser Olympic rep and other fast locals, my on-the-water scoreline was 2-1-1-1-1-1.

Statement made!

Thanks to Marc for letting me share those two reviews of the RS Aero which he originally posted on Facebook. I hope they are useful to others who may be considering purchasing an RS Aero.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Windy RS Aero Antics - Big Sunday - Barcelona

OK. We had enough words about RS Aero sailing in yesterday's post.

Here is some video for a change.

This movie was taken from the Barcelona RS Aerocup last year. Racing was cancelled on Sunday, the final day of the regatta, due to the waves in the narrow marina entrance and steadily worsening conditions.

A few boats made it out for a play and the movie tells the story.

David Lynall GBR 1009
Hilde van Susante-Geerling NED 1175 (5 rig)
Per Christian Bordal NOR 1205
TeamRolfeJnr, Ben Rolfe GBR 1581
Peter Barton GBR 1175 (7 rig)
Antony Lynall GBR 1007

Thanks to SBG Films for the video.

Monday, April 11, 2016

RS Aero - First Impressions - Marc Jacobi

Marc Jacobi sailing some boat that is not an RS Aero

Here is a "guest post" from Marc Jacobi, a New England Laser sailor who has recently bought an RS Aero.

Actually it's slightly misleading for me to call this a guest post. More accurately, here is Marc's account of his first trial sail in an RS Aero last November, which I cut and pasted from Marc's Facebook page (with his permission.)

It's also slightly misleading for me to say Marc is a Laser sailor. Marc isn't just any old Laser sailor. Marc is an awesome Laser sailor.  He is a former Olympic campaigner who qualified to sail in every US Laser Olympic Trials in the good old days when the US actually held Olympic trials in the US.

More recently Marc's achievements include...
2015 Laser District 7 Champion
2015 Laser District 10 Champion
2015 Laser World Master Championship - 4th Place
2013 Laser North American Master Champion
2012 Laser US National Master Champion

I could go on, but you get the picture...

Went out for a practice sail in the RS Aero today in 5-10 knots and relatively flat water. Also sailing were two Lasers, one helmed by a very good local Laser sailor. Some observations:

Upwind I could foot or point at will, pulling away in either mode. In the lulls I could ease the vang, stay high and just VMG the hell out of them. In puffs it was hike hard, vang on, smidge downhaul, ease sheet and just accelerate away (or stay up and climb 3-5 degrees higher). The good Laser guy was sailing with the new radial-cut full sail and working very hard, sailing lower but not pulling forward. He mentioned that there was no way he was going to start above me in tomorrow's actual races...

Running it was closer, as my technique was still adjusting. The Aero has a higher aspect ratio main that takes some getting used to, plus the boat is so much lighter. In the puffs I just accelerated away though. Overall, running I would call it about even or Aero slightly ahead. Impressive, considering this was my first time in the Aero and one of the two guys I was trialing against is *very* fast downwind and also a former Olympic campaigner.

Reaching it wasn't close--the Aero blew them away. I was able to sail lower than the two Lasers and stay planing, which allowed me to head up in a lull approaching the leeward mark while they had to sail lower and slower on the final approach. After less than 2 minutes I'd pulled out a 4 BL advantage after starting 1 BL astern and passing them to leeward.

Other observations: - the boat and rig are SO LIGHT pulling around on the dolly! - the blades are nice and quiet (no humming) - the boat accelerates (and decelerates) beautifully - it's more difficult to roll-tack because the hiking strap isn't as high off the deck (making it harder to really fly over to the other side with confidence) - the boom is quite high making it easy to get around without fear of getting conked in the head. - the mid-boom sheeting makes for effortless gybes and roundings - slow-speed sailing is challenging because the boat just stops when hit by waves. I found it easy to get into irons or knocked onto the other tack when maneuvering at low, pre-start-like speeds. - the halyard tail came off the mid-mast mushroom and slapped against the sail going upwind. Minor niggle. - it's really nice not having to step the mast every time, and dropping the sail with the halyard is a breeze at day's end.

The vang on the boat I'm sailing seems to be missing one of the cascade portions so it's quite hard to pull the last bit on. The side-deck-led downhaul and outhaul were a bit fiddly, the shock cord wasn't really doing it's job on the downhaul tail and the outhaul wasn't easing out well when bearing off to a run (McLube-ing the hell out of everything might help).

Overall, the boat was enjoyable, light and quite responsive. Imagine less-skilled sailors might have a bit of a learning curve getting used to such a light boat, but it rewards the effort. Great fun!

Do you think he liked the RS Aero?

By the way, Marc, as well as being an excellent sailor, is always very friendly and helpful and willing to pass on his sailing knowledge to those of us further down the fleet. We are lucky indeed to have him in the RS Aero Class.

Coming soon... another "guest post" from Marc about his attempt to race the RS Aero against Lasers.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

RS Aero News Roundup March 2016

There is so much going on in RS Aero world that I am having to be more and more selective in choosing a few items to include in my monthly reports. Apologies to the sailors at all the regattas and events I haven't covered below, but you have to do something really newsworthy or spectacular or photogenic to make the cut these days.

1. New RS Aero World Speed Record

Is totally smashing the RS Aero world speed record newsworthy enough?

I included a video about this in my February news round-up but I didn't know then the full details of the new record. At Northampton SC in the UK with the club anemometer peaking at 37  knots, Anthony 'Chunky' York obliterated the old record with an amazing 23.9 knots (27.5 mph.)

Who can beat that?

2. Estonian RS Aero Sailors Looking Forward to End of Winter

The caption for this photo was in Estonian. But have no fear - thanks to Facebook, here is the English translation.
Let's take one last winter and we have been waiting since long eyes Tallinn Maritime Trade Fair (18-20. March), Where you can get from the rs sailing centre with boats (Rs Aero, Rs grain, Rs quest). Bye Sea Fair Rs sailing centre area!
OK. I don't understand it either, but it's a nice shirt.

3. RS Aeros are Manufactured in Boston

Tillerman - why have you posted this photo of a very boring building? Please let's have more photos of that Estonian lady in her RS Aero T-shirt - CabinFeverWisconsin.

Sorry CabinFeverWisconsin but didn't your Mummy and Daddy tell you where baby RS Aeros come from?

I did know that RS Sailing contracted out the manufacture of RS Aeros (and all their other boats I believe) and that the factory that builds the RS Aeros is somewhere in the East Midlands of England.  A couple of weeks ago,  jeffers revealed on Dinghy Anarchy that the builder is Mtag Composites Ltd who are based near Boston, Lincolnshire in England.

Although I don't necessarily believe everything I read on Sailing Anarchy, this sounds plausible. Mtag Composites do list RS Sailing as one of their clients on their website and report that they do build the RS Venture. Check out their website. They build a lot of other cool stuff there as well as boats.

4. Demos. Demos. Demos.

In the northern hemisphere everyone is planning RS Aero demo days to help RS Sailing sell a gazillion RS Aeros and earn oodles of overtime pay for those hard-working guys building RS Aeros in Boston.

There was a demo day at Daytona Beach in Florida on March 12.

The Seattle fleet had a demo day on April 3.

The sailors at my old stomping ground, Rutland Sailing Club are having a "Taster Weekend" this weekend.

Mmm. Sounds yummy. With hors d'ouevres I assume?

Of course those balmy Brits have demo days four times a week and twice on Wednesdays.

And the Boston fleet (that's Boston USA) is planning an RS Aero Taster Weekend for Memorial Day weekend. Unless someone can come up with a better name. Any suggestions?

5. Aussies and Batman and Dented Head

Ron Fergusson, the current Australian RS Aero speed record holder has been racing at Portarlington Sailing Club.

One of the first European settlers at Portarlington according to Wikipedia (which is never wrong) was  Batman...

No. Really. You can look it up

And, of course, Portarlingon is also famous for Indented Head.

I couldn't make this stuff up.

And apparently, according to Ron Fergusson's GPS, they also have very unusual race courses for RS Aeros.

Tillerman- have you been drinking? You seem to have forgotten my plea for more pictures from Estonia - CabinFeverWisconsin.


Never let it be said that I don't listen to feedback from my readers. Here is another nice photo of RS Aero T-shirts.

But let's get back to RS Aero sailing

6. Antigua

Al Buzz Keck went to Nonsuch Bay in Antigua and it looks like he had a lot of fun blasting around there.

7. Easter in England

And some other crazy Brits went racing at Keyhaven on Easter weekend.


I think I'll take a nap now.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

More on the CRACUNS

Some people - including Tillerwoman - thought I was making up that story I posted yesterday about the drone that would work underwater and in the air.

Not at all. It's real.

The CRACUNS wakes!

Friday, April 01, 2016

KILLERDRONE! Flying Chainsaw

The Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System was all very well.

But I think this flying chainsaw drone would be a lot more useful.

I do need to trim some dead branches of trees on my property and this looks like the perfect solution.

What could possibly go wrong?

CRACUNS - The Perfect Drone for Sailing Clubs

There has been some discussion at our sailing club about using an aerial drone to make videos of the racing. It sounds like an excellent idea but some of the more pessimistic members have pointed out that if you lose control of the drone it will crash into the lake and never been seen again.

At last, there is an answer to this problem.

The CRACUNS (pronounced krakens.)

CRACUNS stands for Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System.

CRACUNS is a drone that is designed to work in the air and underwater.  So it can lurk and move around underwater for a while until the operator decides to give it the command to rise from the water and up into the air where it can perform whatever mission you desire, such as making a video of the Flying Scot start or taking out the chairman of the protest committee.


I can't wait to see the looks on the faces of the sailors in the Sunfish fleet when a CRACUNS rises from the water in front of their fleet just after the start of a race!