It’s been a hectic few weeks in the rapidly growing RS21 Class.
The end of August saw the first One Design activity in Scotland at the Largs Regatta Festival, albeit only two boats, but with SailingFast on the case, we know it won’t be long before there’s more.
A quick trip to Dubai to setup some brand new RS21’s and then it was off to the New York Yacht Club for their Resolute Cup.
First off, you might ask, what is the Resolute Cup? For the Europeans reading this, it feels a lot like the Sailing Champions League, or more accurately, a national sailing league such as the British Keelboat League or the Polska Liga Zeglarska in that it sees representatives from 23 clubs fighting it out, not just for honour but also a coveted place at the New York Yacht Club Invitational.
The similarities do end there though. Rather than the short hectic 15 minute races of League racing, the races are a more normal 40 minutes but there’s a twist. For 2022, RS Sailing were invited to bring the RS21 to the event but with so many teams, the club also used their fleet of 2006 Sonars.
This added a very intriguing dynamic to the event as there would be two days of qualifying races with 12 races scheduled for each club, six in Sonars and six in RS21’s. The top 6 from te two groups would qualify for the finals held over the last two days with racing exclusively in RS21’s.
Having two highly contrasting boats to compete in, the older, slower, symmetrical rigged Sonar and the lighter, faster, more responsive, asymmetrical rigged RS21, meant that it was true, all round, sailing skills that were being put to the test.
Yes, there were specialists in each class, Eastern Yacht Club, San Diego Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Yacht Club all scored well in the Sonars while Lakewood Yacht Club, who to be fair do own 12 RS21’s counted three firsts from five races in the RS21. Eastern Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club were the only other clubs to win more than one race in the RS21’s with Austen, San Francisco (who own six RS21’s) and Larchmont Yacht Clubs all took a race win each in the ten races that were held.
The racing itself was incredibly intense throughout qualifying and tactics, both in terms of how to get round the course and sail the boat played a huge part. In preparation for the event and to help sailors get up to speed as quickly as possible, RS Sailing arranged for a Zoom call to go through the systems and controls to help sailors jump on board and get out of the blocks running. This lead to many, many questions on the dock each morning and after racing, “where would you have the jib cars?”, “how much halyard tension?”, where would you plane crew weight and how much heel?” The list goes on but by far the most asked question was “is wing on wing the fastest way to sail downwind?”
In a true test of skill, there is no clear cut answer on this. Most of the racing on day one was around 12-16 knots and it was interesting to watch the difference between those sailing angles and those going wing on wing. It was, of course, those who knew when to transition from one to the other who made big gains. This kept the racing very close throughout and I can’t recall a single race in qualifying where the same boat lead around every mark, indeed often there was a different team leading at each mark and frequently gains and losses were made on the final run with boats crossing the line bow to bow.
General feedback from the sailors on the dock was very positive. An easy boat to sail with well laid out controls but tweaky and challenging to make the marginal gains. When asked the question “how was your day?” Too frequently the response was “frustrating, lost 2/3 places at the finish but loved the sailing”
When only the top six will qualify, there’s no settling for mid fleet results.
Once qualifying concluded, the top 12 would spend two days racing in the RS21 to decide which club would win the Resolute Cup.
A gentle breeze greated the teams on the course but it was to be a challenging day as first the breeze went hard right and forced the first race to be abandoned and then slowly started to fade but luckily the race committee managed to shorten the course at the leeward gate to save the third race.
The teams waited patiently to see what would happen with the wind with many enjoying the fact the RS21 has a built in E-Propulsion electric engine so they weren’t reliant on tows to stick close by to the Signal Boat.
Their patience was rewarded as the breeze filled in enough to get a fourth race in on the opening days of the finals.
Corinthian Yacht Club had done a good job of getting to grips with the RS21 in lighter winds than they had raced in so far and held the lead overnight ahead of San Diego Yacht Club.
With more light breeze on the final day of racing there were big opportunities to gain the ranking, as well as lose….
Despite some massive shifts and another race needing to be abandoned, it was Corinthian Yacht Club who showed just how it’s done. With solid sailing and good tactics, they dug their way through the fleet, taking places one at a time, to win both of the final races and secure a convincing win.
I may have waffled on a bit but if I had to be concise, could I sum up the Resolute Cup?
Happy sailors and some of the tightest racing I’ve ever seen, it may be an over used cliché but honestly, it was hard to keep up with who had been ahead of whom at all the marks. Watching skilled amateur sailors from all over the US get to grips with the boat was just a pleasure to watch.