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Hooked on the RS Aero: Thomas Chaix Reviews 'A Greal Little Single-hander'

23rd December 2023
Thomas Chaix afloat in Dun Laoghaire Harbour in his RS Aero dinghy
Thomas Chaix afloat in Dun Laoghaire Harbour in his RS Aero dinghy

The RS Aero 1066 is back afloat... She is one of the first generation, and she has plenty of fun to give to its third owner. After four sessions afloat (and finally a bit of hiking at the weekend frostbite races), I am asking myself the question, "Why did I resist so long the idea of trying out and sailing this little dinghy?".

Sail the boat, and you quickly realise you underestimated it. I certainly did!

In many ways, you can think of the RS Aero as a 21st-century laser, with the most fundamental difference being that it is ultra-lightweight. A full-size single-hander that, amazingly, weighs 30kg - the same as an Optimist. So, just another single-hander to operate in the shadow of the laser? I don't think so.

5-10 minutes to rig (at a casual pace, I promise), an easy launch, and here you go. 1066 will be my lunch break guilty pleasure at the NYC, no doubt.

"Sail the boat, and you quickly realise you underestimated it. I certainly did!"

Ultra-light weight means the hull form and rigs need not be extreme, so the RS Aero is utterly exciting without being hard to handle. Wide structural gunwales give a dry ride (so far) and make the boat quick and safe to right from capsize (so they say, I have not tested yet!).

A four-rig system to cover the desired sailor range – RS Aero 5 (youths) – RS Aero 6 and 7 (women & light men) – RS Aero 9 (men). All spars are carbon fibre, with a common top mast and boom for all sails and radically different stiffness in the lower mast sections. The hull is so light that even the Aero 5 has a higher sail area-to-weight ratio than most existing single-handers and retains the Aero’s incredibly dynamic feel.

Having sailed the Laser (now ILCA) at the highest racing standard at the youth and senior level, I now certainly understand the reasons behind the recommendation made by the evaluation panel for the Olympics a few years ago. The boat was described as fun, fast and appealing, with simple and well-executed concepts, which were appreciated by the testing sailors. The feel reminds me of the Europe, without the drawback of the super low boom.

A great start for RS Aero 1066 at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbite Series at Dun Laoghaire HarbourA great start for RS Aero 1066 at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbite Series at Dun Laoghaire Harbour

What about racing? And the Irish fleet?

The Irish fleet is healthy, with a bunch of talented "Weekend Warriors" leading the way and many ex-lasers joining the fleet. The second-hand market is becoming affordable to the average income sailor, and new boats (or ex-charter) are readily available at our doorstep (get in touch with Kenny Rumball, and he will sort you out with a smile). The atmosphere is friendly, and there are opportunities to enjoy sailing and racing pretty much every weekend. Word on the street is that Ireland is about to host one of the major international events within the next 3 years.

The National YC is at the forefront of class development with now 6 boats regularly sailing, and the club launched the concept of the 3-day open event with a day of coaching to start with at the 2023 nationals. It was a clear success, which the class is hoping to reproduce in 2024 with the aim of progressing the skills of the fleet.

In Dun Laoghaire, the INSS super series 23-24 has 10 entries so far, with two weekends sailed (and 3 to go). After seven races sailed, we had three different race winners and close battles at all levels.

The Aeros also feature strongly at the DMYC frostbites, with three sailors inside the top 5 overall of the first series, with the inevitable Noel Butler (NYC) as a clear winner.

This little boat certainly has all the features to be successful

  • Easy to rig
  • light, responsive and fun
  • plenty of racing for all levels, from club to international
  • a growing second-hand market
  • a reactive RS agent next door who has a few demo boats

I am certainly hooked.

Published in RS Aero
Thomas Chaix

About The Author

Thomas Chaix

Email The Author

Thomas Chaix is Head Coach at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. He currently sails the 49er dinghy (for fun) but raced the Laser for 25 years and has been a member of French and Irish teams


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