The most recent addition to the RS range, the RS Toura brings space, durability and versatility to any sailing program. And although it hasn’t been around long, the RS Toura is already making a big impact. We met with two different programs to learn how they use the RS Toura and how one boat can help accomplish the same mission, just in drastically different ways.
Based in Berkely, California, the Cal Sailing Club (CSC) is one of the oldest community sailing centers on the West Coast. While the actual origin date is unknown, and is subject to some folklore, it is estimated to have begun in the early 1920s. By the mid 60’s, it had become well known enough that it was included in the UC Berkely yearbooks. And even though over fifty years have passed, the program still holds true to its original mission, to make the sport of sailing more accessible and teach anyone who wishes to learn. We spoke with Peter Kuhn, CSC’s Treasurer, to learn more about the program and how the RS Toura helps them achieve that mission.
Number one on their list, longevity; “when we were looking to expand our fleet it was really important to find a boat that is both durable and fun. Our boats need to stand up to ten to a hundred times as much use as a privately owned boat.” The rotomolded design of the RS Toura means that it is a great, durable option. Aside from durability, one of the main features that led CSC to purchase the RS Toura was its size. “The Toura is a great size for our program; we are able to fit a large number of full-sized adults, as well as an instructor,” Peter says. “Given that we do very little instruction in a classroom setting, it was very important for us to have a boat that can serve as our classroom.” The RS Toura’s size however, does not limit its handling capabilities; with increased sail area compared to other, similar boats, the RS Toura is quick and easy to power up. For Peter and CSC the boat serves as a great stepping stone for sailors looking to advance, with options to simplify, “It has more sail than the Quest so it’s a quicker boat, plus it has the trapeze and gennaker so it can handle more advanced sailors, but it can also be reefed for more beginner sailors.”
The versatility of the boat means that it is perfect for a wide range of programs as well. Over 2,000 miles away from the Cal Sailing Center, the RS Toura is being introduced as the newest edition to the fleet at Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC). Similarly to CSC, MCSC began as a way to make sailing more available and accessible to those in the community. Since its founding in 1977, they have provided over 100,000 people with the opportunity to learn the sport of sailing. They serve as the largest youth sailing program in the state and, on average, record around 44,000 hours of sailing during the 18-week season. MCSC Program Director Nick Hayes was given the task of finding a boat to suit the needs and size of the program. Enter the RS Toura. This summer will be the first time MCSC is using the RS Toura and it has weighty expectations to meet.
MCSC sees over 400 youth sailors throughout the summer, with a majority of their students being repeat attendees. Perhaps the best showcase of MCSC’s student retention is their workforce, the vast majority of instructors grew up through the program themselves. In fact, the final year of youth instruction serves as a two-for-one, teaching advanced sailing techniques as well as being an instructor-in-training course. When we asked Nick what made their program so popular for students, he explained that it is the unique way in which they teach and train young sailors. No matter your age or skill level there is one universal, there is essentially no racing. Instead they support a system that can be best described as a multi-year team building exercise. “Our system is unique because we want our sailors to develop skills that extend beyond the race course,” Nick says. “Through our program students are introduced to a cross-training platform and they are developing empathy skills that allow them to become master sailors, instead of just athletes.” It is this unique teaching approach that led them to the RS Toura.
At MCSC, the RS Toura will be sailed with four people on board, including an instructor. Most importantly, each of those four people will have a skilled position. Throughout every day of sailing, each person will move through the four skilled positions: jib, spinnaker, main, helm. “The size of the Toura, and the number of bodies required to sail it is what really drew us in,” Nick says. “We always want more people on board versus less and never want anyone to be bored.” That is the real magic of the cross-training approach. “The depth of experience and knowledge that each sailor leaves our program with allows them to be ready for almost any kind of sailing, whether that be a college team or, more importantly, a tall ship or blue water sailing program.” The RS Toura provides a great avenue for sailors to learn more advanced skills while working together and developing increased interpersonal skills.
These two programs truly exemplify the spirit behind RS Sailing, to introduce more people to the sport of sailing and create passion for the sport. Though their programs differ greatly, one focusing on teaching adults the ins and outs of sailing, the other giving kids an all-inclusive bootcamp in empathy sailing, they are both able to help people develop new skills, all while using the RS Toura.