By Steve Wilson – ex 29er European Champion, Race Coach & RS Sales Team
The move from the Optimist to a 29er may be your next step, but what if that step is in fact a leap and you don’t quite land it as smoothly as you had hoped? Perhaps it makes sense to rest your feet on a platform halfway across the canyon you are trying to bridge, a platform which can teach you the majority of the new skills you will need to make sure you don’t slip when you land. A step on this platform will likely mean your feet make it to the flat section of the step rather than the rugged edge waiting to knock you back.
Generally speaking, Optimist sailors weigh up to 50kgs. The optimum weight for a 29er is 120kgs, so there is already a 20kg weight gap to make up. Couple this with the different skill set required in a 2-person skiff which is 739 points quicker on the 2020 RYA PY numbers and the 29er can feel like you are trying to tame a wild bull. This is where the RS Feva can be that platform to learn the skills needed to prepare for the 29er, in terms of speed it almost exactly halves the gap between the Opi and 29er and is competitive with a crew weight from 100-120kgs.
This International, World Sailing Class offers you a great platform to hone these new skills. A chance to learn how to sail with another person in the boat, one who may be steering it rather than you. As a new crew it can take a lot of trust to not be the captain anymore, but as the crew you can be the navigator……you get to tell the helm where to go! A whole new game of implementing your strategy in tactical situations is about to start. You will also get to learn about stayed rigs, the effect that rake and rig tension have on the way a boat performs. Upwind, you’ll have the “slot” to consider and downwind you’ll have the asymmetric spinnaker pulling you along whilst the apparent wind blows in your face. All the time this is going on, you’re not only having a great time but reducing the size of the leap into the 29er.
Coming from the Opi, you will be familiar with racing in large fleets, this is something that will continue when you join the RS Feva class. With 200 entries from a range of countries at the 2019 World Championships, the class truly is international.
All in all, the RS Feva is a boat which is likely to be the right size for you, its going to teach you a variety of new skills and it is certainly going to give you the challenge of tough international racing, take a look at the names across the RYA’s Olympic Squads and you will see the benefit a year or two in this class can give. All you have to do now is lift up your foot and step onto the platform.
Find out more about the RS Feva by clicking here.