Ask even the most disinterested landlubber to name a brand of sailing boat and he or she will quite probably come up with a single word: ‘Laser’. They may not be able to name any other type of boat, refer to the bow as the ‘pointy end’ and talk about ‘parking’ the boat but they’ll still have heard of the legendary Laser dinghy. And if Performance Sailcraft (PS), the Australian Laser manufacturer, has anything to do with it soon they’ll be able to remember a second brand name: Feva.
Performance Sailcraft are unofficially known as the ‘Laser Kings’. Every year they manufacturer many hundreds of Lasers and are heavily involved in promoting the brand in the Asia/Pacific region. If you sail a Laser, or your kid sails a Laser, then it was built by PS- they’re a prime example of an Australian manufacturer building a world class product on the international market.
CEO of Performance Sailcraft Chris Caldecoat (aka Chris ‘Kringle’) observed that Lasers have always been extremely popular due to their versatility and simplicity.
‘The class has been around for a long time and Australia has always fantastic representation in Laser fleet sailing with over 300 boats at title events…The class here is highest per capita than anywhere else in the world.’
‘A lot of people, even if they sail other classes, have a Laser hanging around; its gives you that Class A feeling, just put them in the water and go!’
And with a strong class has come some exceptional sailing talent: Glenn Bourke was three times World Champion, Michael Blackburn was the best in the world in 2006 and now Tom Slingsby has the honour of wearing that mantle- with two World Championships and a heap of Grade One notches on his tiller, he is going into the Olympic regatta in Qingdao, with his jaw set and a gleam in his eye.
Now Performance Sailcraft has a licence to build and distribute the British designed RS range (including the hugely popular Feva, RS400 and RS200) expect to see a Laser-like increase in class participation.
‘We intend to tool up here and build and supply Australia and international markets; we’ll be building the RS400 and RS200 by the end of the year’ explained Chris.
The manufacturer of RS boats in Australia will inevitably create a ‘them and us’ situation with the British- expect to see an Ashes style racing series evolve, with similar levels of passionate intensity upon victory, and shocked denial upon defeat. If you’re looking to be part of the racing aristocracy of the future, make a RS your next boat.
A particularly smart choice would be the RS Feva- it comes with a number of rig options making it perfect for solo sailors, family crews or mates. It’s been the world’s best selling two-person sailboat in recent years, an ISAF International Class, winner of Dinghy of the Year in the USA, Coup de Coeurs in France and is an RYA Recognised Junior class.
The high boom and large cockpit make it a favourite with adults and children alike, female sailors will appreciate the fact that the Feva’s ideal weight is 120kg, with a two person crew hugely competitive at 100kg. This weight range will make it a popular choice in Asia. Other user friendly features include: a two part mast and boom that stow within the length of the boat for easy transport; a mast that can be stepped without the mainsail; the mainsail can be hoisted and dropped which makes it easy to handle ashore and prolongs the life of the sail.
The 2008 Australian Schools Teams Racing Championship recently raced out of Woollahra Sailing Club in Fevas and you will be seeing a lot more of them on the water over the next season and beyond. Upcoming events include the RS Feva Nationals and the RS Nationals (all classes) to be held in Sydney during mid January 2009. These two events will be held just after next year’s Australian Youth Olympic Festival: 14-18th January.
Sekonda 2008 RS Feva National Championships at HISC
In January 2010 Australia will host the Feva World Championships, sure to be a huge boost to the class, while RS400 and RS200 fleets compete for the coveted Gold Cup. Chris expects more than 120 local boats to compete with the resultant publicity sure to inspire the next generation of junior sailors. He said that the popularity of the Laser class and the rise of Feva is part of a larger trend: dingy sailors are moving away from classes that don’t provide an international pathway.
‘The participation level for off the beach classes is going to grow dramatically towards ISAF recognised and Olympic classes’ observed Chris.
RS Feva Worlds 2006 - Lake Garda
And this dynamic can only increase. With the success of local sailors like Tom Slingsby and sailing’s increasing media profile, particularly at an Olympic level, the next generation has plenty of role models to emulate. Chris for his part is predicting Slingsby will bring home glory for the Australian sailing team at Qingdao:
‘He’s a tremendous sailor and has had the right coaching and backing, AST CEO Michael Jones and YA CEO Phil Jones have put together a great program.’
‘It’s great to be able to offer him and the team all the support we can muster and we Tom and the whole Australian team well!!’
If the sight of the world’s best sailors battling it out doesn’t inspire you to get out on the water, nothing will. If you sail a Laser there’s a huge program of racing events coming up that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most competitive individual: from 25th -28th July Royal QLD Yacht Squadron will host the South Pacific Masters (PSA Masters Series Round 1); mid November sees NSW & ACT State Masters Championships in either Toukley or Jervis Bay (Round 2); while Mount Martha will host the Victorian State Masters/4.7 Championships from the 14th-15th February 2009 (Round 3).
NSW & ACT Laser Association will host the State Teams Race on September 13 at Dobroyd Aquatic Club in Sydney; the Coast Championships from 11-12 October at Lake Macquarie’s Toronto Amateur Sailing Club; the NSW/ACT State Championships from 7-8th February 2009 at Yarra Bay Sailing Club in Sydney; and the Metro Championships from March 14-15 at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
And the fun’s not just for the Eastern states: Westralians have the Laser Nationals from the 27th December to the 5th January 2009 at Fremantle Sailing Club, with Yachting Australia’s Australian Youth Championships from the 6th-11th January in Mandurah followed by Asia Pacific Championships on the 12th January at WA’s Royal Freshwater Sailing Club.
For more information about either Lasers or RS Feva see the following sites:
Performance Sailcraft contact details:
Performance Sailcraft Pty Ltd
Lot 7 Catamaran Road, Ourimbah NSW 2258
You can download the latest RS screen saver here