Why I Moved to the RS 600 - Dylan Collingbourne
In July 2018, I was considering changing class from the Laser Radial to another boat due to issues I had with hiking. I was struggling to find a boat that took my interest, so I searched around and gathered some ideas... Maybe a Blaze, a cheap International Moth, RS 100, RS 300 or RS 600. I had tried a Blaze which was becoming the top contender. However, I had a look into their calendar and every UK national championship for the next couple of years was based in the south-west and this is a problem when you're based in Essex. Great!
At this time, I was still campaigning in the RS Feva and took part in the RS Feva Europeans at the 2018 RS Games at WPNSA. Whilst I was down there, I did the RS200 nationals with a friend from my club.
How I discovered the 600sWhilst competing at the 200 Nationals, the 600s had their national championships. A brand new RS 600 was in the dinghy park, it looked amazing and watching them race looked so much fun.
After researching a bit more after the event as to where the 600 circuits are held, I wanted one more and more (The main event that I am attending this year is the National Championships held at Stone Sailing Club - only a 20-minute drive away).
I had a look around for 600s being sold, and it looked like the class was growing again. After purchasing my boat in October, I have been trying to sail it as much as possible and it has been a very steep learning curve.
Key Differences Between the RS 600 and my previous experience
Having sailed the 29er, with some knowledge of trapezing, it was still a very difficult boat to master. When first starting to sail the boat in about 10-12 knots, the one thing I struggled with is not having a third hand! It was a whole new experience to helm using the main and trimming the trapeze height which ended in a lot of swimming. However, with a lot of practice over the winter, the 600 felt less and less like a giant arm-band and more like a skiff.Sailing the 600 does feel like a massive learning curve as it is a whole different way of sailing compared to what I have done before. I've sailed the Feva for a significant amount of time and have become used to stiff rigging with tight shroud and rig tensions. However, the 600 has more to play with, there is a lot more flex needed and at some points, it can be quite disconcerting. I have to work on the rigging a lot more to see the difference in performance, as up until now I have just been trying to keep the boat the right way up. There is a similar upwind style to the 29er with trying to make the boat plane and with experience with quick tacking and getting out on the wire, it has helped me progress into the class. I am still learning certain skills in the 600 and just wanting the season to start ASAP to get out on the water and enjoy it as much as possible.
Why the RS 600?It's a great boat to sail, it incorporates quick skiff sailing, which I have experienced in the 29er. As well as quick tactical decisions with high reliability on boat handling, that I have learned on the Laser Radial and the RS Feva. After sailing the boat for a couple of months over the winter period, I have come to love sailing the boat with the thrill of high speed (almost as quick as the 29er) and quick learning involved in controlling the boat through manoeuvres. I have only been able to race it once or twice in some challenging conditions, but once the boat starts to fly, you get such a great feeling and sense of achievement. I'm still studying at school, but am able to quickly go home after school, grab my kit (typically my Thermaflex legs and my Supertherm Top) and head down to the club for a quick sail if the weather is good. The great thing about this is that I can get a lot of practice in by quickly rigging the boat and having the track rather than threading the sail onto the mast as I had to with the laser. Something else that has helped me progress in the boat has been the welcome that I have received by joining the class as the Facebook group has tremendously helped out with guidance on the boat when I need it as well as attending the Dinghy Show, having chats with the guys on the RS 600 stand.
For this season I am most excited for the national championships being held at Stone Sailing Club in Essex as it will be my first event and I want to test Rooster kit to help trapezing and Allen hardware that is being developed. Other events that I hope to attend include the Inland Championships at Grafham Water in September.