At first glance the array of RC sailboats can be overwhelming. We want to break it down so that you can make a wise choice and then get on with the Joy of Sailing. All RC model sailboats use the power of the wind for propulsion, and all use the same basic radio equipment for handing.
RC Model Sailboats
Categories – There are two basic categories of RC model sailboats, “one-design” and “developmental”.
- One design– Radio controlled sailboatsin a one-design class must adhere to strict class uniformity. The uniformity is applied to the features of the boat that affect performance. The purpose of one-design, is to ensure that sailor’s skill will be the primary factor in the outcome of races among boats of that class. One-design boats appeal to those who would rather sail and race on equal terms and enjoy a good support system of other owners and a strong class organization.One-design model sailboats hold their value well because they do not become obsolete and are also easier to buy because they are very specific and come either ready-to-sail or in very complete kits.
- Developmental RC Sailboats– RC Sailboats in developmental classes have only a few standard specifications. For instance, they may be restricted in length and the amount of sail area they can carry. But they might not have restrictions on how the hull is designed, how heavy it must be, etc. These boats appeal to those that like to work on building a better mousetrap. Normally developmental boats are not a good choice for newcomers because the bits and pieces that make up the boat come from all over and there is little support for someone to learn how to sail because the boats are rigged so differently.
- MisIdentified Boats – There are a number of RC sailboats on the market that call themselves One-Design, BUT they allow a number of performance related modifications. In fact, they are not one-design at all. I would caution you to look into the class racing rule and see if the class you are considering allows modifications that affect performance. If they do, no matter what they are called, they are not one-design if you can change major parts, sails, keel, rudder, weight, change shapes of these items, whatever.
SailRC Commitment – We sell and service only true one-design boats because we know your investment is sound, and the enjoyment suitable for all newcomers. In fact, one-designs are the choice for many of the world’s greatest racing sailors because it tests sailing skill not how much money is invested to have a faster boat.
Classes – Above we have talked about CATEGORIES of boats, One-Design or Developmental. Now, let’s talk classes. An RC sailboat class does not refer to classification as much as it refers to a name, a recognized group of sailboats that normally race against each other.
- RC Laser – The most popular class of one-design RC sailboat in the world is the RC Laser. There are thousands of RC Lasers sailing around the world (Over 9000 in North America alone). No matter where you go, you will find fleets of RC Lasers sailing and racing on even terms because all the boats are exactly the same. All hulls molded in one mold, all sails are cut from the same pattern and made in only one shop, all authorized parts supplied come from a single manufacturer with no modifications allowed – period. Like most one design RC sailboats, however, owners may personalize their boats in appearance, colors, graphics, etc., since these variations have no affect of performance.
- 50/800 or Marblehead – Another class of RC sailboat is the 50/800, so called because it is restricted to 50″ overall, and 800 sq inches of sail area. This is an old class of boats dating back to the early 1900s. However, many of the older Marbleheads are no longer competitive with newer designs because this is a developmental class. As the boat develops, it gets faster . . . and normally more expensive. Older boats become obsolete and lose value quickly. Except for their size limitations, you may not even recognize that you are looking at a Marblehead. These highly developed and sophisticated boats are fun to sail, but are not at all appropriate for a beginner.
So what’s right for you? – If you are new to sailing, we highly recommend that you buy into a real one-design class. Because they are identically produced, they are less expensive to buy (better value) than a developmental RC sailboat, and they hold their value well. Also, most one-design model RC sailboats come complete either in kit or ready-to-sail form. That means you won’t need to run around looking for all the required parts.
If you enjoy the challenge of the cutting edge of development, developmental boats are for you. There are many great classes that you can choose from, just don’t start there.
Last word – Since model RC sailboats are so INexpensive compared to real sailboats, RC sailors often own several boats, some one-design, and some developmental.
As mentioned, SailRC offers the very best in radio controlled sailboats – one-design only. We support all owners with specific hands-on knowledge because we know every piece and function of the models we sell.