Club Sailing Sailing documents

Message From General Committee

It has been really pleasing to see the growing Laser fleet getting out on Sundays for some high quality racing. The fleet welcomes beginners and has some highly competitive expert sailors as well. Then if you want the additional excitement of an asymmetrical kite there are the RS100s!!.
Single handed OTB sailing and more importantly racing, in my view, is one of our purest forms of sailing and something I have enjoyed over many years. For me it is probably a similar feeling to riding a bike insofar as you are fully connected, effectively becoming an integral part of a single machine. The feel and constant feedback you get from all the continually changing dynamics; wind, waves, sail trim, body movement all forms part of that purity. I believe as we move up in boat size to larger crewed OTBs and then keel boats, some of that purity gets lost along the way!!
This has caused me to reflect that over a period of 10 years I have owned, sailed and raced 3 different OTB single-handers; Sabre, Laser and Aero and I would like to share my thoughts:
But first my disclaimer: These are purely personal views from experience in the context of suiting a reasonably fit 75Kg, 50yr plus person with average racing skills. I am sure there will be many alternative opinions out there – which I am happy to debate over a beer sometime 😉
I started with a Sabre which is the boat you sit in rather than “on”. The thing I loved about the Sabre was the ability to tune it for heavy weather which enabled me to enjoy and be competitive in winds up to 20knots. It has a relatively high aspect rig / short boom hence it’s tune-ability and the importance of keeping that boom out of the drink downwind when conditions get interesting!!. An added bonus is that the timber ones can still be competitive, DIY repairable as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Then on to the Laser. What a boat – our most popular single hander at RBYC!! – I think it’s been around for over 50 years now and probably has the highest number of owners across the globe, and of course it’s an Olympic class. No question; if you want to test yourself competitively against the best single handed sailors it has to be the Laser. Another great feature is the different rig sizes from 4.7, to radial, to full size to suit different weights. Unfortunately I bit off more than I could chew with a full-size rig which I found a struggle in anything over 15 knots, especially upwind. It has to be said that hiking could have been a little more comfortable until I learnt to invest in a proper hiking wetsuit.
Finally, a couple of years ago at RBYC, I moved to the Aero 7 which also has 3 rig sizes (7M2 being the most popular). All my preconceptions about how this boat might perform were TOTALLY blown away with my first outing!! What a machine!!!!! – Yes it’s relatively expensive and there are still limited numbers to race against. But if the Sabre was an HQ Holden and the Laser a Commodore the Aero is the Mclaren !! Carbon fibre everywhere but still a very tuneable soft sail. The hull weighs just 33Kg – less than an Optimist !!! Rigging it for the first time was a challenge, I think I counted over 20 micro blocks resulting in effortless rig tuning which is so important as constant adjustment is needed to get best performance around the course.
When you ease off on to a reach the boat just “takes off” but you still feel in control, the balance was impressive. The strange thing I found was all the non-intuitive stuff needed, especially downwind in strong wind; the plate stays down and if you don’t ease the vang and cunningham on rounding the top mark it will flip you, (well me!!) instantly. I absolutely loved my 12 month Aero journey and associated swimming lessons!!.
But if you were to ask me if I had to choose just one of the 3 to go back to now – the Sabre would be my pick, maybe I’m showing my age…….. on the other hand if you want to get some great racing at RBYC talk to the Laser fleet and I’m sure they’ll tell you everything you want to know and be very welcoming.

Neil Sargent