The first ever Australian National RS Classes Championship will be held in January 2009 at Woollahra Sailing Club. The club has just posted the notice of race and already there is strong interest; it’s the first time Australian RS Feva, 200, 400 and 800 sailors will have the chance to strut their stuff at a premier national event. And the timing of the event is particularly good- it’s going to be held over the Australia Day long weekend, just after the Australian Olympic Youth Championships.
Woollahra is keen to see as many RS boats on the water as possible so racing will be open to all classes. Chris Caldecoat of Performance Sailcraft, the Australian manufacturers and importers of RS boats, said that the National Titles will be a great way to build interest in the RS Feva World Championships, due to be hosted by Woollahra in 2010.
‘We should have enough of the RS 200s and 400s in the country, because we are actually building the RS 400s and we’ve imported quite a few RS 200s, to have a substantial fleet and have a bit of fun.’
A fleet of about 40 RS Fevas are expected and as it’s the junior boat at the preceding Australian Olympic Youth Championships, many of these sailors are expected to stay on and compete in the Nationals. The Feva World Championships the following year are shaping up to be an ‘Ashes on the Water’ event with a large contingent of British sailors expected to travel to Australia to compete on Sydney Harbour. Originally intended to be just Fevas, additional RS 200, 400 and 800 events have been added after strong pressure from the UK. ‘I know the Brit’s have just gone crazy over it. The RS 200s Nationals are on in the U.K. at the moment and they’ve got one hundred and sixty odd boats. If we get 30 of them coming this way, which is sounding positive, it will be a fantastic event.’
Although Caldecoat is anything but xenophobic, he admits that the Pomme versus Aussie tension will be good for business. It’s also likely to inspire some blistering competition between the traditional cricket foes, with the Australians keen to show the British that the English designed RS boats are even faster down under. While the Fevas are battling out for World Domination, or at least bragging rights as the fastest crew on the planet in 2010, the RS 200s and 400s will be fighting equally hard for the coveted ‘Gold Cup’.
Caldecoat joked that he’s already thinking of renaming the Gold Cup, the ‘Wet Ashes’, or something similar, to reflect the strong Australian and Pom contingent. Although unlike the original Ashes, which as we all know contained the incinerated remains of the bails after a particularly thorough pasting by an Australian team touring the UK, there’s unlikely to be any torched part of an RS inside- they’re far too strongly built.
In the lead up to the National Titles, Performance Sailcraft are organising a number of events for RS sailors and those interested in becoming involved in the class. With years of high level Laser event organisation behind them, they’ve got the expertise to do this well. Upcoming RS events include Demo Weekends at a number of clubs with RS Feva, RS Tera, RS Vision and RS 200s and 400s on hand to sail and a BBQ thrown in- free food and a day sailing some seriously fun boats? If you can think of a better, cheaper day out- we'd like to hear about it.
A RS Association is in the process of being constituted and Performance Sailcraft will release more details shortly. If you’re interested in becoming involved in the association contact Chris Caldecoat on firstname.lastname@example.org They’re also selling 200s and 400s at some ‘pretty nice prices’.
Although it’s not strictly speaking a new class, the promotion of a less established class is always controversial, and there is fine line of not upsetting any of the established classes when there’s a new kid on the block. But whenever news of a new class appears there is inevitably the call that Australia needs another class ‘like a bull needs tits.’
In anticipation of this response, we asked Caldecoat why he thought that Australia needed the RS brand. It turns out that Caldecoat was quietly passionate about the subject and spoke emphatically: ‘The writings on the wall – there are a lot of classes out there that do not work – full stop…we’ve got failing participation in sport due to those classes…It’s a free market: anyone can go do what they want and sail what they want.’
‘There are a lot of people with time constraints these days that want ‘boats in boxes’. They don’t have to worry about changes in the class and where they can buy their parts. That’s where we work...’
He added that he thought that participation at junior levels had been depleted by boasts that are too complicated, too narrow in their weight range or too expensive with ‘people getting annoyed with the fact that they can’t keep up.’
Performance Sailcraft are putting their money where their mouth is by offering a special deal for clubs that introduce and support RS fleets. It’s similar to the well known Fly Buys scheme, but unlike this type of supermarket points system you don’t need a level of expenditure equivalent to Bolivia’s gross national debt to claim your free toaster.
‘We call them RS academies; we give them some plaques and we give them some flags and put them on our website. We help them with training days and sailing days…If they have club boats we will give them discounts.’ ‘Privately owned boats that sail in the fleet can order their parts through the clubs…and they will just get reward points ticked off or added to their account. They can either cash that in on club boats or prizes for the end of season event….’
Woollahra and Mornington Clubs have both come on board and already have strong Feva fleets, with more NSW and Victorian clubs expected to follow suit. And it’s not hard to see why the Feva is an appealing choice- apart from being strongly built, simple and a good performer, it’s many things to many people. It comes with a number of rig options making it perfect for solo sailors, family crews or mates.
The Feva has the distinction of being 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. For more information about either Lasers or RS Feva see the following sites:
Email Jason at Jason@lasersailing.com.au for more information about the RS Demo Weekends and to book your spot.
Click here to download a great RS screen saver
Performance Sailcraft contact details:
Performance Sailcraft Pty Ltd
Lot 7 Catamaran Road, Ourimbah NSW 2258
Email : email@example.com
Tel : (61) (02) 4389 1088
Fax : (61) (02) 4389 1085
Mobile : (61) 0404 822 171