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Natural succession in the RS Sailing family

by Mark Jardine 13 Sep 08:30 BST
RS200 UK Nationals at the RS Games at the WPNSA © Alex & David Irwin / www.sportography.tv

In August RS Sailing celebrated 25 years in style with the spectacular RS Games at the WPNSA: the largest one-design event in the UK. An incredible 1300 sailors in 900 boats took part in this marathon of sailing and fun.

RS Sailing is a company that fully embraces the ethos of 'sailing for life', not just in the range of boats, but also within the staff, two of whom have grown up with the company and are now at the top as new owners - Alex Newton-Southon who has been at RS Sailing since the very beginning and Jon Partridge who is in his twentieth year – with 45 years of RS experience between them!

Jon and Alex have already been joint Managing Directors for the past three years – a time when the hugely successful RS Aero was launched, as well as ground-breaking boats such as the Quest, Zest and the RS21.

"Jon and I are very passionate about the future, not just about RS Sailing, but also about the sport of sailing itself. We love sailing – it's our passion – and the energy we give to our jobs is derived from that," Alex explained.

"Our vision is to help increase participation in sailing – be that training, club sailing, national racing, international racing, or just enjoying being afloat. We believe that by creating and working with the class associations to put on awesome events, like the RS Games, that go above and beyond what small boat regattas have had before, we will help increase participation and continue to grow the RS family," said Jon.

Martin Wadhams, the founder of RS Sailing together with Nick Peters, reinforced the continuity which has been the building block of the organisation, "We've tried from day one to provide a structure at RS which gives an evolution, while retaining the ethos of the company, reflecting the heritage of how we brought RS to where it is now. Alex has been involved with RS since he was at school and become an ever-greater part of the technical team, managing all our recent boat development projects, so he's utterly proven, and Jon's role has grown over the last twenty years on the sales and commercial side. We've been so fortunate to have two people like Jon and Alex. Their passion to build classes and inspire new generations is unmatched. The two of them mesh together perfectly with their balance of commercial and technical."

Talking to Martin about when he and Nick founded RS Sailing is enlightening, as he describes the early days when they made the decision to produce the RS400 and RS600; "It was heart in mouth! Howard Taylor nurtured Nick and I, and I will always remember the meeting where we sat down with the plan, the finances and the question of 'Can we sell forty boats?' to make the investment work. It was a real leap of faith, but we believed in it and the rest is history. Right from the outset we organised joint events for the classes and that played a bigger part moving forwards than we could ever have imagined."

Jon, Alex and the wider team of RS staff, suppliers, designers, distributors and class associations are focused on the future, and if the way they've approached their roles at RS Sailing throughout the years is anything to go by, then sailing itself will continue to benefit from their passion and direction.

Find out more at www.rssailing.com

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