Monday, July 25, 2016

RS Aeros and Sunfish and Lasers - Can't We All Just Get Along?

I think I may have blogged myself into a logical cul-de-sac, a dead end, a place with no way forward.

Back in 2007 I wrote a post entitled Ten Reasons Why Sunfish Are Better Than Lasers.

I highlighted important benefits of the Sunfish such as how laid-back Sunfish sailors are (see picture) and that handy little cubby-hole behind the cockpit in a Sunfish where you can store your lunch, a few beers, your pipe and tobacco, and a cushion (see picture.) I am not kidding about the pipe. I used to race against a Sunfish sailor who smoked a pipe while racing. You could always smell the delightful aroma of his tobacco wafting on the breeze as he closed in on you from astern.

Then earlier this year I wrote a post listing 7 Reasons why the Laser is Better than the RS Aero.

This time I focused on the fitness advantages you get from lifting the heavy Laser hull on to the car roof rack, the clever way Bruce Kirby designed the shape of the Laser transom to maximize the chances of catching the mainsheet during a gybe (what fun!) and the many benefits that Laser sailors enjoy from being knocked on the head by that low boom occasionally. (And other advantages illustrated by the photos above.)

So... if Sunfish are better than Lasers... and Lasers are better than RS Aeros... then it follows that Sunfish are better than RS Aeros.


Did I really mean to say that?

But then one of my Sunfish sailing friends came to the rescue and posted this video on YouTube that demonstrated conclusively, once and for all that RS Aeros are absolutely better than Sunfish.

Links to this video got posted all over the Interwebs - although every time someone posted a link to the Sunfish Listserve (sic) Facebook group it kept getting deleted.  I can't imagine who would do such a thing. Woodman Spare That Tree!

Anyway, all was well with the world, until this weekend the same Sunfish sailing "friend" (who was doing race committee duty) posted this video from Saturday's racing at my home club, Massapoag YC.


A Sunfish beating an RS Aero?

How is that even possible?

But the camera does not lie.

And who is that pathetic RS Aero sailor?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ask the Tillerman #273 - Can You Suggest a Good Single-hander for SUER?

Readers, I need your help.

I received this question via email this week from a lady Laser sailor we will call SUER. She wants suggestions for a single-handed boat to replace her Laser...

I'm 70, and I can't get around my Laser in the allotted time anymore. Getting to the other side of the boat when tacking, in some wind, is difficult on a knee that doesn't bend well. Also just general flexibility is not as good as ten years ago. So where I sit is important. Changing of my weight can't depend on my springing up and shifting to the other side.  
I'm a lake sailor.  
I love to go fast, heel and bring water in the boat.  
The Sunfish is a lovely boat, but it doesn't have enough deck space for lots of heeling and hiking out. 
Any suggestions for an easy rigging replacement boat? Just to explain what I mean by "easy rigging."  I rig my Laser at start of summer, it stays on a mooring. I step the mast once from the dock. It stays up. I wrap the sail around the mast after a sail, bungie it and leave it. 
It must be a single hander, but a little less frisky than a Laser would be prudent.

I really don't know what to suggest for SUER.

My immediate reaction of course, given my current obsession with the RS Aero, was to suggest the RS Aero. But I don't think it would be right for her. If anything it's more "frisky" or "twitchy" than a Laser. I like that. It forces me to have quicker reactions and to be more agile - which are good things until the day when my body decides they aren't any more.

But perhaps an RS Aero with a 5 rig (the smallest rig) might suit SUER? I received another email this week from a sailor who is quite a bit older than SUER who said that sailing his RS Aero 5 was like being in heaven.

Or how about a small catamaran like a Hobie Wave? Catamarans tack much more slowly than dinghies. That can be frustrating, but for someone who needs a bit of time to cross the boat it might be a benefit.

But what do I know?

Can you help SUER?

Please leave all suggestions in the comments.

RS Aero Speed Tests at the Newport Regatta Aero Clinic

Video editing by Gary Werden.

Music by Antonio Vivaldi.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Screensaver - RS Aeros at the Gorge in 2015

I have been using this photo as the screensaver on my computer for almost a year now.

It was taken at the RS North Americans at Cascade Locks in the Columbia River Gorge last year. Actually I think this particular shot may have been taken during the clinic run by International RS Aero Class Manager, Peter Barton, on the day before the NAs.

That's me in #1516.

This picture has it all. Lots of RS Aeros. Sunny day. Good breeze. Spectacular scenery.

Is this heaven? No, it's Oregon.

There were 21 RS Aeros sailing in the 2015 NAs. Still the largest fleet of RS Aeros at any regatta in North America so far.

That record will surely be smashed in 26 days when the RS Aero 2016 US Nationals will be held at the same location.

Looking forward to seeing again all the friends I made at the 2015 NAs, and meeting for the first time more RS Aero sailors from all over the USA (and the UK.)

Maybe I will also get a new screensaver?

Maps on Monday - Where are the RS Aeros in North America?

The RS Aero Class Association website has a map showing the locations of every place in the world where one or more RS Aeros have been delivered. Above is the section of the map for North America. Each "pin" on the map represents a location - some of which may have many RS Aeros.

Given the obvious difficulties of gathering data from every RS Sailing dealer in the world on the location of their sales I suspect the map may not be 100% accurate and up-to-date but it does give a pretty good impression of where the RS Aeros are.

At the RS Aero Atlantic Coast Championship in Newport earlier this month we had RS Aero owners from UT, CO, NC and FL not to mention from more nearby states such as NY, CT, MA and RI.

By the way that RS Aero Class Association website has all sorts of useful information about RS Aeros including a calendar of upcoming regattas, reports and results from past regattas, a forum, lots of photos and videos, class rules etc. etc.

Friday, July 15, 2016

They told me Aeros were fast

Video taken during the Wednesday night pursuit race at Massapoag YC this week.

I think I am right in saying that the RS Aero 7 started three and a half minutes after the Sunfish.

Sunfish hull weight - 120 lbs
RS Aero hull weight - 66 lbs

Thanks to Mark (the Sunfish sailor) for the video and for being a good sport by posting it on YouTube.

Comment in RS Aero Class Facebook group from Peter Barton - RS Aero International Class Manager.
The Aero with light weight and low drag will accelerate onto the plane much quicker and then plane faster than similar heavier boats, the difference in speed can then be dramatic - and this vid is on a run, not a reach. The Sunfish looks nice but the Aero is from a new era.

Comment in RS Aero Class North America Facebook group from Ash Beatty who placed in the top ten in the Sunfish World Championships in 1996 and 2001.
Sunfish sailors, especially the big guys, it's time to get an Aero. I've sailed Sunfish since 1972. I was lucky enough to have a fair amount of success. Now at 6'3" and 215 lbs, I have no chance in a Sunfish anymore. but in my Aero 9, I'm again competitive. The boat is way faster, way more comfortable, and at the end of the day, you are smiling regardless of the breeze. In light air, there is no more curling up in the cockpit and watching light weights sail away. This short video should be all the convincing you need. Go sail an Aero soon!!

I sailed a Sunfish too when I lived in New Jersey. I had a fair amount of fun but not as much success as Ash Beatty. I have even written blog posts about such topics as Why a Sunfish is Better than a Laser. So I hope my many Sunfish sailing friends won't think I am putting down the Sunfish. But I also hope that some of them will follow Ash's advice and and at least try the RS Aero.

And by the way if you want to keep up to date with what is happening in RS Aero world, then check out those two Facebook groups.

RS Aero Class North America Facebook group
RS Aero Class Facebook group