Laser builder Performance Sailcraft Australia has taken on the successful RS Sailboat range from Britain, and is now licensed to build and distribute all of the RS range in the Asia Pacific region.
The RS Sailboats line-up includes junior learn-to-sail and racing classes in rotomoulded thermoplastic, as well as high performance GRP (fibreglass) one-design dinghies for one and two-person crews.
'We were very particular about choosing the right brand to complement the Laser range,' says Chris Caldecoat, PSA's Operations Manager. 'It had to have one-design capabilities, international status and support from Yachting Federations worldwide.'
The dinghy revolution
The expansion of PSA's range comes at the conclusion of a huge summer in which the NSW Central Coast based company built and supplied 160 new Lasers as charter boats for the Laser Standard and Masters worlds in Terrigal, NSW in February, followed by the Laser Radial Women's Open Men's and Youth worlds in Takapuna, Auckland in March. PSA also built another 450 Lasers for the numerous local and international sailors who were training and racing Downunder during the 2007-08 summer.
'We have not had a major Laser event for the past three years with less than 350 boats,' says Chris Caldecoat. 'The junior Laser 4.7 fleet alone will double from 50 at the last nationals in Melbourne to 100 in Perth next Christmas.
'With the time constraints on the general population, the dinghy market has turned towards off-the-shelf, ready-to-sail one design boats. Today's sailors are out on the water, not in the shed building boats, and the improvements in dinghy sailing apparel also allows sailing all year round these days.
'We have seen this with the Laser, which has been at the forefront of the off-the-shelf sailboat revolution. The class continues to grow and our boats are being sailed up to four or five times a week by keen club racers.'
Promoting junior sailing
PSA is targeting the junior classes in the RS range, particularly the RS Tera which will be on sale for less the $5000 with a dolly. 'It is a ISAF Recognised boat, it looks cool and presents young single-handed sailors a boat with world title ambitions,' Caldecoat says.
'Performance Sailcraft will always target the racing side of the market, from introduction through to Olympic and World title aspirations.'
Also at the top of the list is the one-design RS Feva (ISAF International Class), which PSA has identified as filling a gap for an international junior class leading in to the 29er and 49er classes. A new XL Feva fully equipped for racing, on a dolly with cover will cost $9500.
The Feva has been selected to be used at the Australian Schools Teams Racing Championships for 2008, and PSA will bid to host the Feva World titles on Sydney Harbour in summer 2010.
Olympic Youth Festival
PSA will supply both Lasers and RS Fevas for the Australian Olympic Youth Festival on Sydney Harbour in January 2009.
The company is also implementing a program to assist young sailors around the Asia Pacific region to come up to competitive speed in the Feva class as quickly as possible. PSA will assist all competing nations in the Australian Olympic Youth Festival to send their best junior sailors and coaches to an elite training camp in Britain prior to the 2008 XL Feva World titles in Sweden.
'The idea is to get the top kids and their coaches up to speed on the XL Feva and let them bring that knowledge home,' says Chris Caldecoat.
Modern two-person adult boat
Beyond the junior classes, the first senior boat from RS Sailboat's range to be manufacturered by PSA in Australia will be the RS 200.
'Our market research shows that we are missing a two-person modern adult boat,' says Chris Caldecoat.
'This boat will also soon become an international class, with events at fun locations all over the world for competitors to travel to and compete.'
Charter boats and regatta support
PSA intends to build on the successful model established at major Laser regattas by making RS charter boats available every summer for overseas competitors travelling to Australia and New Zealand, and supporting the class events with on-site factory support.
RS boats will be distributed through PSA’s current dealer network around Australia and New Zealand. The company is also employing an RS brand manager to introduce the range to sailors in south-east Asia, where it expects the Feva in particular to become a popular class.
Performance Sailcraft Australia (Asia Pacific)
2 Catamaran Road, Fountaindale
NSW 2258 Australia
Tel : (61) (02) 4389 1088
Fax : (61) (02) 4389 1085
Mobile : (61) 0404 822 171
Email : chris(at)lasersailing.com.au
Skype; chris caldecoat