Sitting by a pond and enjoying the surroundings is very relaxing. We have spend long afternoons just sitting and watching the water, the ducks, the geese, and our boats gliding gracefully across the pond. We never have to stop to refuel, the sailboats are totally wind powered--and the batteries for the controls last over 4 1/2 hours. Sail boats do not make noise or require a great deal of attention to keep them out of trouble. We can visit, put down the transmitter and take pictures, or stop the ice cream truck and get a treat--all while sailing a boat. Almost anyone can learn to sail an RC sailboat and get a lot of enjoyment doing it. Model RC sailing is a hobby that can be enjoyed by the entire family as well as spectators. We also get to meet many very nice people who stop to chat and ask questions about the boats.
As a skipper spends more and more time at the pond, they will find that their control of the boat improves. It takes practice to sail the boat efficiently, and make it go exactly where you want it. Another skill that comes with practice is understanding the wind conditions that require different control techniqus on the sail winch and rudder. Adjusting the sail before launching the boat is another learned skill that can make the difference between a slow and a fast boat. A skipper begins to feel pride in his/her ability to sail the boat precisely and fast.
Once a skipper learns to operate an RC sailboat, and another boat appears on the pond, a race almost always occurs. Racing starts informally and progresses to organized racing with a marked course, starting signals, right-of-way rules, and score keeping to determine a regatta or an entire season winner. Regattas are held by clubs, among clubs, within AMYA regions, and on a National Level for each class. See V-32 Regatta History. Model yachts are divided into a number of classes which define and limit certain aspects of the design, such as size, weight, and sail area. One-design classes strictly limit the design of the boat so race winners are determined by the skill of the skipper, not some special hardware that may be very expensive. Class descriptions and rules for all the established classes may be found at the AMYA web site.
Racing model RC sailboats is not difficult; it's the winning that takes skill. Unlike racing cars, power boats, or airplanes, sailboat racing is no more strenuous on the boat than just sailing around for fun. Sailboat racing does not risk damage to the boats, unless some skippers fail to follow the racing rules. We don't go home with broken parts...well except for Steve.
Building a Boat
Many skippers enjoy building their own boat from a kit, plans, or from an original design. Seeing your own hand-built creation sail across the pond is real joy. The V-32 sailboat can be purchased as a kit or as a factory assembled boat. The Dragon Force cannot be handbuilt, and must be the factory assembled sailboat. The RG65 class promotes handbuilt boats and new designs.
Former and Hopeful Full-Size Sailboat Skippers
Model RC sailing is surprisingly similar to sailing full-size boats, but of course you are not on it. Many RC skippers were former full-size sailboat owners. They may find themselves without a sailboat for various reasons, but still have an interest in sailing. Model RC sailing often fills a desire to be near the water and to test your skills against the wind. Some RC sailors have commented how much more convenient RC sailboats are than full-size boats. There is no trailer, no dock fee, and you can go for a short time without the effort of setting up the boat. The skills learned in sailing full-size sailboats are directly applicable to model RC sailing. I never hesitate to hand my transmitter, without instruction, to someone who has had full-size sail boating experience. The skills learned in RC model sailing are also directly applicable to full-size sailboat handling. Some sailing schools include model RC sailing as part of the formal instruction for full-size sailing
Model Airplane and Car Operators
Many people who fly RC model airplanes and race RC cars find RC sailing to be a relief from some of the frustrating aspects of those hobbies. No fuel, starting batteries, propellers, noise, smell, or wheel replacements are required. An RC sailboat never suddenly smashes into the ground because of an operator error, and equipment failures seldom result in damage to the boat. For example, if the battery fails in a sailboat, the wind will gently blow it ashore where it can be easily retrieved. Of course, this does not apply when sailing on Lake Erie in a South wind. A well-built sailboat seldom is damaged sailing even in very strong wind.
Okay, I know what you're thinking: Sailboats can sink! That's true. A collision between two model sailboats in strong winds may result in damage that causes the hull to fill with water and the boat will sink. This only occurs when the impact is a severe "t-bone" and the bow of one pokes a hole in another. I have been sailing V-32s since 2006, and have never seen a boat sink. The V-32 is a fairly tough boat--it has been sailed in 18 mph wind where the mast is often horizontal, and had no damage.
I only go sailing on days that end in "y," but my friend only sails on days that have a "d" in them.
Copyright 2006, Kettering Model Sailing Club. All Rights Reserved.