2018 has been better or perhaps I’ve just been out more and I have some observations and learnings after my first full year of RS Vareo sailing.
RS have stopped making the RS Vareo now focusing I imagine on the RS100 as the single handed gennaker experience. It’d be interesting to hear from Vareo sailors who moved to the RS100 what it’s like, certainly a lighter faster boat is appealing.
That said I’m enjoying the RS Vareo a lot, it’s fast, easy to sail, can be challenging in strong winds and definitely provides plenty of exhilaration. It is on the heavy side at 93kg all up sailing weight so if you’re thinking of getting one, consider the quality of your slipway and your ability to recover the boat. I’ve added wide beach wheels to my launch trolley which helps pulling the boat across the beach.
The boat is big enough for an occasional crew and is great for taking a child out in. I weigh about 75kg and think the ideal sailor weight for the boat is probably around 85kg, but it still works. I have an advantage on lighter wind days and just need to work harder on stronger wind days or use the storm sail.
To be competitive in a mixed fleet, the boat is hard work up wind it has to be said. It’s also a busy boat with all those ropes and there’s no time for relaxing downwind. It is pretty much full on in all directions but that’s good, I can’t wait for the downwind legs to get the kite up.
My acquisition for 2018 has been a storm sail. I picked mine up second hand but in nearly new condition and have been out with it twice, once in F5-6 and once F4-5. On the F5-6 day it helped me make a second place, on the F4-5 day the boat was a dog and I didn’t fare well at all. Clearly the storm sail has its place only in much stronger conditions.
I can recommend getting a storm sail if you’re on the light side, going out in strong conditions is good for learning and boosts your confidence. On the rough days now, I’ve gone from standing on the beach deciding whether to go out to deciding which sail to use and it has increased my opportunities to get on the water.
Capsizes are now very infrequent, I’m in the top third of the fleet during club racing and I’ve learned a few things over the months, most probably not really specific to the boat and most fairly standard. There is still an endless amount to learn but base competency is there now.
Really important, check that the kite is correctly set up and will hoist and drop properly on shore (if the wind permits).
With the kite up, look behind you for incoming gusts and bear away on the gust, particularly in light conditions when you’re sailing higher than usual. Make sure the ropes in the boat are not tangled or looped, that can really screw up kite hoists. As you gybe, pull the kite firmly onto the other side to a) keep you moving b) prevent it twisting and hourglassing. If you do twist the kite, switching tack should help. Certainly dropping it and hoisting on the other tack seems to solve this.
If the kite appears to be jammed when hoisting, do not force it. Likely the sail is jammed in a pulley and you risk damaging the sail by forcing it.
In strong conditions it can be difficult to bear away downwind, don’t be afraid to get your weight well to windward, heeling the boat to windward as you sheet out and bear away.
The boat points much better with your weight well forward but when tacking slide back to raise the bow a bit and reduce hull resistance as the boat cuts across the water. You can really hear it in the water if your weight is too far forward when tacking.
The boat is easy to get into irons in stronger conditions, be firm with your tack and sheet quickly to get the boat moving again.
Weather helm seems to be prevented by keeping the boat flat (of course), weight forward and applying enough kicker. I have two sails one newish and one old, the old sail generates weather helm as the draft has moved further back. Strong downhaul with the old sail remedies this.
The gunnels are long, flat and smooth and I find myself sliding up and down them a lot to adjust boat trim, this really makes a difference.
Kill boat speed on the start line by releasing the kicker, sheeting out and getting your weight well back.
In my mixed fleet I can’t get around larger boats on broad reaches and frequently head up inside them, then overtake on the inside with the kite up. More kite work, but effective.
A final tip is to check out the RS Vareo Facebook group.