Thursday, May 26, 2016

RS Aero - Racing against 38 Lasers (including 2012 US Olympic Rep) with an Aero 7

Posted this on Facebook last November, but thought I'd share here as well. This day of racing convinced me to buy an Aero. That's me to the far left in the pic, tacking immediately after the start.

Race day!

38 Standard and Radial Lasers vs. 1 RS Aero 7 in 12-3 knots. NW breeze with big phases, holes and puffs; mostly WL courses, except one double-Harry Anderson (look it up). I was hobbled by a top batten that was too tight, making run-to-run gybes pretty much impossible in the light air and thus limiting tactical options downwind.

Since the rest of the fleet was racing "for real," I started at the unfavored boat end of the line in all but one race, tacking immediately to stay out of the way. Rarely was this the right way to go, but the Aero's quick acceleration and option of high or low modes meant I rarely rounded the weather mark out of the top 3. 

The Lasers seemed to go by-the-lee better than the Aero, which accelerated faster in puffs and favored less windward heel. The Aero seemed a bit more sticky in traffic but generally held its own on the runs. 

The committee set pretty broad first reaches on the one double Harry Anderson course, but the second reaches were on the beam and really showed off the Aero's light weight, excellent blades and superb acceleration. The poor Lasers didn't have a chance and I pulled out to a commanding lead, despite hitting very light winds on the final beat to the finish. 

Between races I let a few people try out the boat for a few minutes. Everyone enjoyed the boat's light responsiveness and comfy hiking position. 

On yeah: in my second time in the boat, starting at the unfavored end, racing against the 2012 US Laser Olympic rep and other fast locals, my on-the-water scoreline was 2-1-1-1-1-1.

Statement made!

RS Aero - first impressions

Actually wrote this on Facebook last November, but thought I'd share here as well.

Went out for a practice sail in the RS Aero 7 (there are 3 Aero rig choices: 5, 7 and 9) today in 5-10 knots and relatively flat water. Also sailing were two Lasers, one helmed by a very good local Laser sailor (Andrew Scrivan). Some observations:

Upwind I could foot or point at will, pulling away in either mode. In the lulls I could ease the vang, stay high and just VMG the hell out of them. In puffs it was hike hard, vang on, smidge downhaul, ease sheet and just accelerate away (or stay up and climb 3-5 degrees higher). The good Laser guy was sailing with the new radial-cut full sail and working very hard, sailing lower but not pulling forward. He mentioned that there was no way he was going to start above me in tomorrow's actual races...

Running it was closer, as my technique was still adjusting. The Aero has a higher aspect ratio main that takes some getting used to, plus the boat is so much lighter. In the puffs I just accelerated away though. Overall, running I would call it about even or Aero slightly ahead. Impressive, considering this was my first time in the Aero and one of the two guys I was trialing against is *very* fast downwind and also a former Olympic campaigner. 

Reaching it wasn't close--the Aero blew them away. I was able to sail lower than the two Lasers and stay planing, which allowed me to head up in a lull approaching the leeward mark while they had to sail lower and slower on the final approach. After less than 2 minutes I'd pulled out a 4 BL advantage after starting 1 BL astern and passing them to leeward. 

Other observations: - the boat and rig are SO LIGHT pulling around on the dolly! - the blades are nice and quiet (no humming) - the boat accelerates (and decelerates) beautifully - it's more difficult to roll-tack because the hiking strap isn't as high off the deck (making it harder to really fly over to the other side with confidence) - the boom is quite high making it easy to get around without fear of getting conked in the head. - the mid-boom sheeting makes for effortless gybes and roundings - slow-speed sailing is challenging because the boat just stops when hit by waves. I found it easy to get into irons or knocked onto the other tack when maneuvering at low, pre-start-like speeds. - the halyard tail came off the mid-mast mushroom and slapped against the sail going upwind (minor niggle). It's really nice not having to step the mast every time, and dropping the sail with the halyard is a breeze at day's end. 

The vang on the boat I'm sailing seems to be missing one of the cascade portions so it's quite hard to pull the last bit on. The side-deck-led downhaul and outhaul were a bit fiddly, the shock cord wasn't really doing it's job on the downhaul tail and the outhaul wasn't easing out well when bearing off to a run (McLube-ing the hell out of everything might help). 

Overall, the boat was enjoyable, light and quite responsive. Imagine less-skilled sailors might have a bit of a learning curve getting used to such a light boat, but it rewards the effort. Great fun!