RS700 Prototype Launches at Hayling Island SC

The all-new RS700 prototype hit the water for the first time at Hayling yesterday

Thursday August 24th 2000, Author: Gerald New, Location: United Kingdom
The International Canoe class presented one of sailing's oldest trophies, the Challenge Cup from 1875, at their championship prizegiving on the balcony of the Hayling Island SC. Meanwhile, in the dinghy park below (and with no apparent sense of irony), Nick Peters and Alex Southern were rigging the latest RS challenger for a share of the single-handed market.

RS700 Prototype at HISC

The RS700, an all-new single-hander with trapeze and asymmetric kite.

Still in early prototype form with many adapted bits from the works bin, the sleek grey machine is aimed at the single-hander who needs that extra rush.

Nick Peters was quick to point out that the boat was the result of pressure from existing customers wanting an asymmetric single-hander. RS had looked at adding such a sail to the highly successful RS600, but felt that too many compromises were necessary and the boat was so successful as it was, that the only route was a new design. Having gone for this new boat, inevitable comparison will be drawn with the Musto Skiff.

Phil Morrison has drawn the lines and it is very much in the RS800 style, with the same philosophy of making the boat fast with a clean deck layout and easy handling. The hull is around 15 ft long overall, with a slightly shorter waterline and around 4 ft 6 ins beam with racks. As with the RS800, thought has been given to providing a cockpit that you can sit in rather than having to perch or stand.

The RS700 is currently rigged with a carbon mast with single spreaders and lowers, and a forestay that splits to attach to the forward hull either side of the chute beam. The mainsail is a soft Hyde sail with only a full length top batten, making for more restful handling compared with the fully battened RS600. The sail is the same area as the RS600 sail at 12 sq m, but with a longer luff. This long luff allows sufficient height at the hounds for the asymmetric to be hoisted from there rather than the masthead (a la canoes) and removes the requirement for a second set of spreaders.

The 16.1 sq m asymmetric is launched and retrieved by pump action with a one metre pole straight through the bow, resting on top of the forward tank. The boom was a temporary large diameter aluminium tube with a conventional cascade style kicker. The mainsheet is straight off a centre block and jammer combination. A simple dagger board is used and the rudder is standard RS style.

The whole exercise is aimed at producing a fast, exciting boat that, as with the RS800, is easy to handle for the ordinary sailor who wants to experience the ultimate challenge in a reasonably priced boat.

RS700 prototype with Alex SouthernAlex Southern helmed the RS700 on its first trip in a 20 knot south-easterly into Chichester Harbour, and seemed quickly at home. After a short beat he bore away and went for the asymmetric, which proved reluctant to fully hoist at first attempt - a second go sorted that, and with Alex back on the trapeze the boat looked very fast and steady. The inevitable capsize did not produce any drama and the boat was soon up and going again.

Alex commented afterwards that he found the general handling easier than the RS600 and the boat much more stable. Obviously a procedure had to be developed for hoisting and handling the spinnaker, but as they develop the layout and systems he did not see the asymmetric being a problem, given the stable platform.

Nick will be canvassing sailor's opinions of the concept at the RS Class Nationals in Pwllheli next week, it will be interesting to hear just what the existing RS600 owners think of this idea.

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