Martin Wadhams from RS Sailing has provided the following response following the release of the women’s Olympic skiff Evaluation Report which was published by ISAF on Friday:
RS900 - Women’s Skiff Contender
The RS900 and 49er FX have been recommended as the only two boats that ISAF Council should consider when making their final decision. So, this race will go on right until the finish line! The fundamental choice ISAF will make is between an existing platform (FX) and the right size boat (RS900). We are disappointed that the RS900 was not a clearer winner at the Trials – and we are certain it would have been if there had been some stronger winds… Of course the biggest and most powerful boat (FX) felt good to the sailors in light winds… Not surprising – and not the whole picture.
Please see below a message I sent today to the relevant ISAF committee and council members:
We are, of course, delighted that the RS900 is one of the two boats recommended by the Evaluation Panel for selection as the women’s Olympic skiff.
There are several important points relating to the RS900 on which I would like to give you more information:
There were only a few specific criteria set out by ISAF for the women’s skiff – 2 trapezes – 1 gennaker – competitive when raced by 110 to 130kg female sailors.
The evaluation clearly recognises that the RS900 was purpose designed.
If its rival is chosen, there will be no going back in 12 months time if it becomes apparent that the boat selected requires tall, heavy female sailors that would severely restrict the geographic spread and popularity everywhere of the event.
It was unlucky that, despite scheduling a nine day trials period, the wind was relatively light – with just one afternoon when the breeze reached 15 knots. We are sure, following our development process and the response from top sailors up to Gold medallist level, that in stronger winds the RS900’s correct power and excellent handling would have been loved by the sailors and shown in their feedback. It is, of course, no surprise to us (or, I expect, you) that the largest and most powerful boat was faster in light and moderate winds!
The RS900 was specifically designed for the women’s Olympic skiff. The Evaluation process showed that the boat is the right size and it will be over 20kg lighter than the FX, making it responsive afloat and easier to handle ashore, launching, loading etc. The RS900’s manageability (and cost – see below) will help the Class broaden, women’s skiff sailing grow and the Olympic event to be bigger.
Cost has been seen by ISAF as an important factor in the international uptake of a women’s skiff class. The RS900 is less expensive than its rival. The RS900 offers outstanding value for a high performance skiff of its construction spec and open book cost control with ISAF will ensure this continues.
Selection of the RS900 would add diversity to the manufacturers involved in world level skiff sailing. Conversely, selection of another 9er would give a monopoly (men’s and women’s Olympic skiffs + world youth skiff) to the 9er brand. We (of course!) believe adding diversity would be healthy for the future of the sport and the sailors.
The RS900 is entirely owned by RS Sailing – avoiding any potential future issues arising from split rights.
If you look closely at the detailed breakdown (rated Good, Average or Bad) of all evaluation sailor’s feedback on every aspect of the boats, the RS900 has the highest 'Good' score.
This is a great result for the RS900 considering: The trials were sailed in conditions that favoured the largest, most powerful boat – and the competitive weight range for the RS900 is clearly seen as ideal.
So, following the Evaluation we are totally confident that the RS900 offers:
• A visually spectacular skiff that the sailors will love to race across the full wind range
• A skiff that is purpose designed and the best suited for the sailor weight criteria set by ISAF
• Exceptional value – with long term ISAF control
• A highly experienced manufacturer with the widest international distribution & spares network
• Diversity of international skiff manufacturers / brands
RS Sailing website