RS stands for Racing Sailboats, a UK company that designs and manufactures sailboats. Today RS makes a big range of racing sailboats and learn to sail sailboats. I have sailed both. I love both. I believe RS makes excellent sailboats. In my opinion the sailboats that RS make lead the industry for small sailboats. I know of only one other company that I would seriously consider buying a small sailboat from and they exclusively make catamarans (Nacra or Hobie if you were wondering). What about Laser? From what I understand Laser is not a well functioning company, so, good luck finding spare parts or maybe even buying a new boat in the first place. Topper is a good option but I believe their sailboats don’t have the user centered, performance pedigree that RS has. Even if you want a comfortable, accessible, well-behaved sailboat, we all need a little performance sometimes. In my opinion, that’s what you’ll get with a Racing Sailboat. A boat that’s straightforward to rig, well thought out, great value, has great performance, is durable and spare parts exist and are easy to get hold of. That’s why I buy exclusively RS. I’ve looked at other options but I always come back to RS.
Why did RS create the Neo?
As a sailing school the durability of the sailboats are crucial. Everything that Sailing Fanatics owns and operates is made from plastic. It’s much easier to maintain and lasts a lot longer without significant maintenance than its counterpart fiberglass. I see a lot of sailing schools that still use fiberglass boats. These schools choose performance. A fiberglass hull is significantly lighter than heavy plastic. Less weight means quicker acceleration and a faster top speed. Fiberglass boats are generally a lot twitchier to steer, react faster to changes in wind, waves or weight and just don’t last as long without regular maintenance. Great if you fully know what you’re doing and you want a challenge: not so good for a anyone who is still learning. Hit a dock in a fiberglass boat (which happens a lot at a sailing school) and you have a hole to deal with. Hit the dock in a fantastic plastic hull and you just get a thud noise. No harm done, no hours doing tricky fiberglass work. My vote every time for anyone learning to sail (beginner or intermediate) would be a fantastic plastic hull. In the past that would have only really given you the option to buy a boat designed for junior sailing or so lacking in performance that sailing it would be very boring.
Then came the RS Neo
All the benefits of a plastic hull with a big and powerful rig, designed for performance. Now, I haven’t sailed it yet but I have high expectations for the Neo. The rig comes from the RS Aero. A carbon fiber mast and boom plus a properly cut and battened sail. Why not just buy an RS Aero? Personally, I would. I’m an experienced sailor with a need for speed. I know I have the skill (most of the time) to look after it. I have recently started windsurfing and I have brought two boards that are a carbon and fiberglass mix. I’m still learning and although I can handle these boards it is worrying to me that I might fall or crash. If I do I know I’ll damage the boards and have to pay a lot of money to fix them. I’m taking that risk personally but as a school, a cottage sailor, a beginner, intermediate sailor or young sailor I would likely choose a plastic hull. However, I’d choose the Neo because it will increase the performance of the plastic hull. I think the Neo will be closer to the feeling you get when you sail a Laser. Alright, the hull will be a little heavier but I think the higher performance rig could make up for it.
I’m excited to sail the Neo. You can see the RS Neo at the Toronto Boat Show this weekend (January 20 and 21).