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New RS Aero Class Reports Growth with 25 Boats Now Across Ireland

30th November 2020
 RS Aeros race in the DBSC Tuesday night series in Dun Laoghaire Harbour RS Aeros race in the DBSC Tuesday night series in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Credit: Afloat

Brendan Foley, Chairperson of the Irish Aero class outlines developments in the new lightweight single-hander from RS

If you were to pick a year to get a class going, 2020 would not be the year that you would pick, where Covid-19 has impacted sailing in a stop-start way. The RS Aero class, however, has bucked the trend and grown in numbers and reach, around the island of Ireland.

Growth in RS Aero numbers

Current numbers stand at 25 in Ireland. Dublin is the main centre with 14 boats based out of Dun Laoghaire, Swords and Howth. Add in Greystones and that number rises to 16. A fleet is based on the east coast of Northern Ireland with the majority based at Ballyholme Yacht Club.

There is one Aero in Cork Harbour and the expectation is that a contingent of Munster dinghy sailors will be attracted to this spritely class.

We are delighted with the growth in the class and there is very strong interest in new boats for 2021. Clearly, when people can travel to mainland UK, they will be able to access second-hand boats at very competitive prices. The main RS dealers in the North and South also have some very good packages available on new boats.

Some of the sailing diehards forced out of keelboats and double handers by Covid, turned to the RS Aero rig and hull as the obvious choice for fun, versatility and ease to get on the water. We were all encouraged by the sailors entering the class and knew we would have competitive racing. Training and coaching have been strong from the outset, with plenty of opportunities to build skills, when racing was denied. Indeed most of us get out several times a week, whatever the weather, where restrictions and facilities allow.

Of interest when new boat owners were asked why they bought the RS Aero over other single handers, the reasons are quite varied.

Here are some the comments from owners;

  • Faster and more fun than a Laser
  • Really light pulling up and down slipways
  • Fast to rig so can get in and out for a sail in short window
  • I thought they were going to be the Olympic single hander so wanted to get one
  • Getting out of big boats and wanted something fast but also easy
  • I hate gyms, wanted to get fit and this looked like fun
  • The International events circuit is really, really good
  • Even if you are not winning you are having fun

The people buying RS Aeros range from multiple national champions to people getting back into dinghies to single-handed sailors looking for something different. There is a strong female contingent in the fleet and the age ranges go from 14 to older than people are prepared to say (definitely well into his 60s)! While competitive, the class is renowned for its welcoming and friendly approach. Race winners share what they did to win races so that everyone learns and grows. Class members even make equipment for each other (Thanks Stephen Oram for the digitally printed compass mounts). The class is inclusive rather than exclusive and fun is high on the agenda!

RS Aero Racing

The racing results from PY sailing this year demonstrate the potential of the RS Aero under handicap with Noel Butler winning the DBSC PY Tuesday Series and the author taking the DBSC PY Saturday Trophy. With numbers growing so strongly in Dun Laoghaire the RS Aero has already overtaken some established dinghy classes who have their own starts in DBSC racing, so it’s likely for the 2021 season the class will have their own start.

Like so many classes the RS Aero had to abandon the running of the Irish Open due to C19 restrictions. This makes 2021 even more important as the inaugural RS Aero Irish Open will now run with even more boat. (Make sure to keep an eye on afloat.ie – where dates for the Irish Open will shortly be published).

Daragh Sheridan of HYC braved the C19 restrictions and quarantine to race the UK Nationals in August (the only overseas competitor). Sailed in a windy Eastbourne he finished a brilliant 12th place in the 7 fleet, the biggest fleet of the championship with 57 competitors.

As racing was cut short in October with lockdown Aeros all over Ireland have been posting great footage to the class Facebook page, of burns in the excellent sailing conditions over the last few months.

Daragh Sheridan of HYC competing at the 2020 British National Championships in EastbourneDaragh Sheridan of HYC competing at the 2020 British National Championships in Eastbourne

The future of the RS Aero

2021 will also likely see the addition of a new 6m² rig to the fleet. Currently, the RS Aero has a 5, 7 and 9 square metre sail. Many feel the 5 can be underpowered in light airs, and the 7 overpowered in over 18/20 knots, so the sweet spot of a 6m² rig is currently being trialled at UK events this winter, with positive feedback. Many of the Irish fleet have signalled their intention to get a 6 rig which will see a wide range of female, youth and male competitors able to compete together.

The RS Aero 6 sailThe RS Aero 6 sail

Given the level of interest wherever an Aero is rigged, we expect continued growth from other youth and adult single-hander classes. The fleet will continue to race with all rigs on a PY basis until such time that the introduction of 6m² rig and/or critical mass allows a split.

Race Calendar (provisional and subject to COVID)

  • A large contingent of RS Aeros will race in the DMYC Frostbite and Ballyholme Winter Series over 20/21 when C19 rules permit.
  • The RS Aero Fleet will compete alongside the other RS classes on the RS circuit for 2021 – dates have been announced and intention is where possible to for the Aeros to race with the other RS fleets.
  • Easterns - Greystones Sailing Club - Dublin - April - 24/25
  • Southerns - Baltimore Sailing Club - Cork- May 29/30
  • Leinsters - Dun Laoghaire Regatta Week - Dublin - July 2/3/4 - 200/400 Only
  • RS Eurocup - Garda - July 26-30
  • Inlands - Blessington Sailing Club - Wicklow - July 24/25
  • Northerns - Carrickfergus Sailing Club - Antrim - August 14/15
  • Nationals - Rush - Dublin - September 10-12

Ballyholme Yacht Club will hold an Open regatta for RS Aeros on the 1st and 2nd of May 2021. For the adventurous, the worlds will be held in Lake Garda, Italy in 2021.

As C19 restrictions ease, the class and RS dealers in Dublin and Belfast will be putting on demo days to try out the amazing RS Aero. Dates will be posted on afloat.ie shortly. Chat to your local Aero owner and they will be happy to give you a spin so you can check out the boat.

RS has also just released a new rigging video which gives a good overview of the boat;

Published in RS Sailing
Afloat.ie Team

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