Sunday, March 9, 2014

Why the RS300 is Better than the Laser - Let's Stir the Pot!

(For this  post I borrow the title and concept from Tillerman's popular series "Why XYZ class is better than the Laser" to make a point using sideways logic.)

If you sift through comments in various dinghy forums about the introduction of the two new entrants in the Laser-sized hiking singlehanded market (the singlehander sans the assymetric chute), the RS Aero and the Devotti D-Zero, there seems to be a vocal majority that want to see the Laser displaced because;

  1. After forty years we need to incorporate newer technology (i.e. epoxy construction, carbon spars, laminate sails), a modern hull-shape and a double-bottom, flow-thru deck layout etc.
  2. After forty years, we should be able to get a faster hiking singlehander than the Laser.

Surprise! surprise! RS has had this hiking singlehander in their U.K. product line for fifteen years. It is the RS300 and it fulfills both of these requirements.

  1. The RS300 has carbon spars, laminate sails, and a double bottom layout, sexy flares - nothing Laser-like about this design..
  2. The RS300 is fast; faster than the Laser, faster than the Olympic Finn, and probably, when the smoke clears, faster than both the brand new RS Aero and the Devotti D-Zero.

The RS300 sold like hotcakes,  Right? Wrong. Although it has achieved a solid base of committed sailors (Steve Cockerill, the man behind Rooster Sailing was a particular fan and won several national championships), the RS300 never achieved runaway popularity. Why? It was much too tippy for the average sailor. Designed by Clive Everest, who made a name for himself in the very narrow International Moth class before it foiled, the RS300 doesn't have a flat section anywhere. In degree of difficulty, the RS300 rates behind the International Moth but probably close to the International Canoe - not a formula for mass-market success. In this case, the race for market success doesn't always go to the swiftest or sexiest.

I have come across two entertaining YouTubes of sailors trying to master the RS300.

A caveat. This blogger has never seen a RS300, let alone sailed one. Also this blogger doesn't live in the U.K so much of this info is from what I can glean from the InterWebs.


Tillerman said...

And I don't think they have RS300s at Minora Sailing either although they seem to have pretty much every other boat in the RS range.

I know of one blog by an RS300 sailor Slipper Musings. Maybe the author, Mark R, can explain why the RS300 never really took off.

Tweezerman said...

Thanks for pointing out the RS300 blog. I think you hit the nail on the head when you've tied the U.K dinghy market into the widespread use of Portsmouth racing at the club level. This tends to promote the latest, greatest mentality and constant churning out of new dinghy models from U.K. builders. Not necessarily a bad thing but certainly different from how things are run in North America.