Marc Jacobi, based in Westport, CT is a seasoned sailor and seasoned blogger, here discusses the RS Aero.
THE TIME HAS COME
For years, singlehanded sailing has been dominated by one or two classes. Unfortunately, the newest of them is now over 45 years old. Since those boats were introduced, tremendous advances have been made in boat building materials, design and construction. Until now, no class has capitalized upon these advances to offer a truly game-changing option, a boat that is:
The RS Aero nails all these criteria, and is built by a stable company with a long history of producing quality boats supported by strong class structures.
LIGHT WEIGHT MAKES EVERYTHING POSSIBLE
Utilizing modern construction techniques and materials (including carbon fiber in the rig and key areas of the hull and blades), the Aero has an all-up weight of 85 pounds—the same as an Opti! Light weight is the Aero’s defining characteristic. Lighter is safer. Lighter is faster. Lighter is simpler. And remarkably, lighter is more durable as well!
Quality sailboat construction has changed radically since the 70s. Freed from convention, the Aero’s designer and builder were able to choose the best techniques for their speedster. Epoxy resin was chosen over polyester because epoxies allow virtually zero water absorption, thereby maintaining their low weight and strength over a longer period. Polyurethane foam coring resists breakdown and makes the hull stiffer. Woven (not chop mat) e-glass (with carbon fiber in key areas like the deck) increases strength and longevity with dramatically lighter weight. All this means better integrity, durability, speed and enjoyment.
RS compiles precise construction components for the Aero hull that are ultimately assembled by an aerospace contractor skilled in composite manufacturing. Using vacuum-bagged epoxy resin, woven e-glass, carbon fiber, and PU foam, this contractor has already assembled over 1600 hulls that are light, stiff and remarkably consistent boat-to-boat. Strict class rules prevent owners from making expensive alterations that might make older boats obsolete.
Safety manifests in many ways. Is a boat easy to handle? How likely is the boom to hit one’s head? Can one quickly lower or raise the sail when needed? Anyone who has struggled to wrestle a conventional single hander onto the roof of a car or pull it up the beach will find the Aero a revelation. At less than half the weight, it is far less likely to cause injury when moving around on land. On the water, the Aero’s open transom allows waves and water to simply flow out the back, and provides an easy access point after capsizing. The higher boom is less likely to hit one’s head, and if it happens, the lightweight carbon spar has less force than a conventional (heavy) aluminum one. Mid-boom sheeting makes tacking and gybing a breeze—no more worrying about catching the mainsheet on the transom while gybing!Finally, the Aero’s sail has a halyard, which provides important safety advantages vs. an old-style sleeved sail. Need to tow the boat for some reason? Drop the halyard and away you go. Big squall coming? Drop the halyard and wait it out. Launching and rigging are easier too. One doesn’t have that option with most singlehanded classes.
No stupid rope tricks are required to rig and sail an Aero. Downhaul and outhaul are led to both sides of the deck for easy access, while control lines dead-end at molded fittings for easy rigging and de-rigging. The rudder swings fully vertical to facilitate launching and retrieval. A thoughtfully designed pouch keeps the halyard tail out of the way. Handy markings on the spars (even the daggerboard!) help one reproduce desired settings.
Affordability can be measured in several ways beyond initial cost. Does gear break easily? Does one have to buy a new boat every few years to stay competitive? How often does one have to replace sails?Old fashioned aluminum masts are extruded from molds that wear down a little with every use, meaning no two sections are quite the same—some are thinner, some are thicker. Aluminum also fatigues over time, leading to failures at the most inopportune (and dangerous) of times.The Aero’s two-piece carbon fiber mast has been designed to be strong and of course, light. Built by one of the World’s leading carbon mast manufacturers, it is also remarkably consistent compared to aluminum.Each of the Aero’s three different sails has been carefully designed to interact properly with its respective carbon-fiber bottom section, reducing the need for extreme levels of downhaul and vang tension to achieve optimum sail shape. All rigs incorporate two, full-length top battens that reduce sail flutter when luffing. Modern radial cut design, modern sailcloth and reduced shaping loads all increase sail life.Anyone who has sailed the predominant singlehander has encountered its poor excuse for a cockpit bailer. The RS Aero’s open transom obviates the need for this inefficient, failure-prone item. Finally, anyone who has experienced the frustration of blades warping, chipping, or delaminating in other classes will be stunned by the Aero’s carbon-reinforced daggerboard and rudder. Beautiful, fair shapes that don’t hum, right from the factory!
A wide open cockpit with ergonomically designed side decks (even a drink holder!) makes for easy hiking and carefree times afloat. The Aero’s chined hull is not only fast, it provides surprising weight bearing capacity. A chined boat’s wetted surface isn’t as affected by increased weight compared to a conventional, saucer-shaped hull. This, and the three rig options, means the RS Aero is uniquely able to accommodate a wide variety of sailors, whether racing or day sailing. Junior can take the boat out in the morning, Mom mid-day and Dad in the evening. Or do as several families have and get each of them their own boat!
FAST AND FUN
Look at bleeding-edge Around the World monohulls and one thing is a constant: chined hulls. The RS Aero shares this design characteristic with her globetrotting sisters and is faster, more powerful, and more stable than older designs as a result. Add in the boat’s exceptionally light weight, modern underwater foils and efficient carbon rig, and you have a boat that is quicker than just about any single-sail, non-trapeze monohull. The fastest recorded speed of an Aero so far is 23.8 knots!If you’re used to lumbering around in a boat that weights 2+ times more, the Aero’s acceleration will astound you. The generously sized blades offer complete control and enhanced maneuverability, while the ergonomically designed side decks make it the ideal platform for racing or blasting around on a windy day.
With the easy removal of one fitting, Aeros can be stacked up to 5 high for storage or transport. This opens up several options, including enclosed trailer transport. A 6x12 v-nose trailer can hold 4 or 5 Aeros; a 8.5x20 v-nose can easily swallow 10. WITHOUT the need for expensive racking. OR lots of lines to tie everything down. AND boats are stored/transported out of the elements.Imagine one pickup truck towing 10 boats to Florida in Jaunary and having them in pristine shape after the 1000 mile journey. For clubs or individuals with restricted space and/or transporting options, this stackability is a game-changer!
THE TIME HAS COME
The world has changed a lot since the 1970s. Today’s technology allows us to do things people couldn’t even imagine back in the old days. Why sail around on the sea-going equivalent of a dial-up phone when you can enjoy the speed, strength and simplicity of the modern age on an RS Aero? A boat that is durable, safe and roomy, yet fast and adjustable enough to challenge the experienced sailor. Welcome to the modern age. Welcome to the RS Aero!
WHO IS RS?
RS, Europe’s largest dinghy manufacturer, is a global brand with representation in 40 countries. RS is continually gaining recognition in North America with distributors and dealers covering most areas of the country. This means quality of care during the entire purchasing experience with RS is second to none.Each RS class has its own dedicated Association and website with events, news and a forum for the community activity and that all-important sailing banter! These communities act as news and info for events, boat development, rigging and set up tips, second-hand sales and a place to ask questions on the forum. From here, active countries have their own class associations running regional events. Larger, RS-only events hold a strong place in RS history and continue to this day to be one of the reasons RS is loved by so many.
All-carbon rig vs. inconsistent aluminum
Epoxy/glass/carbon vs. polyester resin/glass construction
Perfect, carbon-reinforced blades vs. GRP Modern sail design w/2 full-length battens vs. compromise
Stackable (up to 5 high) vs. not-stackable
High boom vs. head-conker
Mid-traveler vs. rear corner-catcher
Halyard vs. sleeved sail
Open transom vs. breakable, weak bailer
Stable builder vs. Laser Performance
Fledgling class (1000 in first year tho) vs. established
$7500 vs. $6500
For more from Marc, head over to his blog here.