Written by Jack Fenwick, RS21 Class Manager
It’s been a few weeks since I started working for RS Sailing and six years since I joined the RYA before that. Not believing in taking time off between roles, I had 14 hours between jobs before diving straight into the new position and kicked off with a World Match Race Tour Academy Training weekend at Queen Mary Sailing Club in West London on day three of the new job.
Unsurprisingly, there have been two questions that I have been asked a lot in the short time I have been with the world’s largest small sailboat brand: “So, what are you doing now?” and “are you glad you made the change?”
In all honesty, the answer to the first question changes day by day. When I joined the RYA 6 years ago, there were clearly defined activities with targets and existing programmes that I could develop, whereas the RS21 is still a relatively new boat. Add a global pandemic into the mix for RS21 class activity; I have been handed a blank sheet of paper. At first, it was pretty daunting, but the answer to the second question makes it quite exciting.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the RYA. We established the British Keelboat League from an idea to a multi-event series across the UK; we grew the British Keelboat Academy to twice its size, getting double applicants as places and created some seriously great training videos during a national lockdown. We successfully re-established Women’s Match Racing after a six-year gap, to the extent that we had more women at the most recent open event than men! It was a lot of hard work, long days and late nights, but seeing more people on the water has always meant a lot to me.
My experience at RS has been refreshingly different. So far, although I am still trying to figure out who everyone is, whenever I have asked for help or if something is achievable, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and swift. I guess the part that I wasn’t expecting is that everyone I have met at RS is passionate about the sport and its future and wellbeing. It is not all about the bottom line and selling boats but seeing smiling happy people on the water.
Lots of planning is underway for exciting RS21 events and activities over the next couple of years. I am looking forward to working with all of the owners, clubs and organisations and mainly seeing people with big grins on their faces. I was lucky enough to compete in the recent UK RS21 Match Race Finals, and I can tell you, sending it down the final run of our last race with the kite up in 30 knots of breeze, the smile is still there.
So, am I glad I made the change?
You’re damn right I am.