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Why the RS Aero is catching on in New Zealand

by NZ Sailcraft 15 Oct 2021 10:56 BST 15 October 2021
Zoe Hawkins on one of her first sails in the new Aero, still nervous! © Lawrence Schaffler Boating NZ

There is nothing you can do in an Aero that you can’t do in other popular one-person sailboat classes. But as this writer reports, sometimes it’s simply better to do these things in an Aero. And right now is a great time to buy one. Read on to find out why.

Zoe Hawkins of French Bay Yacht Club,Auckland explains why she opted for an RS Aero to get back into the sport after some ‘time out’, and subsequently purchased one for her daughter. Both boats join the small but growing number of RS Aeros in and around Auckland.

“The RS Aero is very light. The hull weighs around 30kg, roughly the same as an Optimist. Getting it on and off the trailer and around the boat ramp, even with a back injury, is much easier than any boat I have had before. In fact, I can do it by myself. A big tick in its favour.

It also has different rig options. I opted for a 5m2 and a 7m2 rig but a 9m2 is also available. This extends my wind range and means there are less days I will be sitting on shore watching while braver, stronger people head out sailing. Sailing at French Bay in the Manukau, with its reliable sea breeze, I am glad to have the smaller option.

The sail controls come back to the cockpit. It’s easy for me to pull the vang, cunningham and outhaul on and off without planning a massive logistics mission forward to the mast: and doing so flattens and depowers the sail considerably, although with its flexible carbon rig there are some tricks to getting the combination right. The hull is ergonomic too – it’s a far cry from the hard lines of the Laser hull and the deck and gunwhale is perfectly curved so the boat is very comfortable to sail. It’s also self training, and the raised boom takes the main dangers away.

I also wanted to genuinely race with other boats at my home club – a mix of J14s, full-rigged Lasers and Laser Radials, 3.7s and youth classes. And now, I can. While my boat handling needs work, I love the art of sail trim and tactics and the Aero lets me really put my mind to these, cutting through the water nicely. It rewards me when I sail well. It will also give me a good ticking off when I don’t!

I have the option of joining in with RS Aero class events, including national championships, and the owners are actively sailing, enthusiastic, and communicate via a WhatsApp group to arrange get togethers. Some of them have joined me at French Bay already, and we meet at other clubs around New Zealand

With its rounded deck, the boat is very comfortable A wind vane on top of the mast is a big no-no because it makes me crane my neck. I know it will be hard to get back in if I capsize, but the solution to that is to stay upright (so far, so good, no capsizes).

With my injury I may not be out there for as long or going as hard as stronger sailors. I can’t hike like I need to and that shows in my performance. But I am having a blast.

Could I have done all this in an older, cheaper boat? Yes, for the most part. But life is too short to sail a slow boat. Or to spend time on boat maintenance.

Vital Statistics

  • Crew weight: 35-95kg
  • Hull weight 33kg
  • Length 4m
  • Sail area 4/7/9m2
  • Price: from $17,000.
  • Visit for info

Parts of this story appeared in Boating New Zealand magazine, and it is republished with permission and thanks.

A new container of RS sailboats will arrive in New Zealand soon. International shipping costs go up every month so get your order in before these latest arrivals sell out. Visit to arrange a ‘try-before-you-buy demo and you could be sailing your new RS Sailboat this summer!

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