Tips for buying a pre-owned RS Elite

Generally buying a pre-owned RS Elite is a reasonably safe bet. A brand new RS Elite will cost in the region of £35,000, a second hand elite can cost as little as £10,500. However, prices for pre-owned boats depend largely on the extra accessories like racing instruments, trailer/cradle and the number and condition of sails, etc.  It's unlikely that you will find an Elite below £10,000, and second hand prices will most likely rise due to supply and demand and bearing in mind the cost of a new one.

At the time of writing only a few second hand Elites are available, you should expect to pay around £18,000 to £20,000 for a three-year old outfit, with full kit and trailer. You would pay less for older boats but they are rarely available.

So far approximately 100 Elites have been built all from the same mould. However, the same mould has been used by different builders, the first 39 in the UK, numbers 40–54 in Brazil and 55–90 in Thailand. Most recently, production has moved to China. Despite being built in three countries the boat speed remains the same across the fleet. In a recent UK Nationals, older boats, mid numbered boats and new boats all had good results with very few points separating them.

Things to look out for

  • All newer boats have been fitted with Harken fittings; check cleats, blocks, etc, to see if they need replacing.
  • Check the spinnaker hatch cover for wear and tear, if it’s tired don't worry as a new one costs around £30 and is easy to fit.
  • Look in the forward tanks for any water, the tanks should be dry. If they show any signs of water, then the boat may have a leak; if this is the case look carefully at the self bailers and check for damage, especially the under side – small hair line cracks can cause water ingress. Again this can be easily remedied, also look in and around the rudder stock, and speedo to check that the seals are OK.
  • Via the inspection hatches check the bulk heads and wether they are sound. Some of the older boats have had their bulk heads replaced. The process for doing so is  quite  established, and once repaired performance is unaffected. If you discover you have an issue contact RS who have the bulk head templates and should be able to put you in touch with boat builders with experience of replancing them.
  • Check the keel for chips and knocks. RS Elite keels comprise one stainless box section steel rod from the boat down to a lead bulb, all encased in fibreglass. If you tap the sides of the keel you will find that it is hollow – don't worry that's part of the design, however in some cases you may find water has got in, again this is easily fixed.
  • Check the mast for any signs of adhesive tape having been used in the past either for transportation or for winterisation. When removed, tape can take a thin layer of coating from the carbon mast; if left in this condition UV can damage the integrity of the carbon over time. Again this is easily fixed with a coat of varnish, but get advice before starting this job or have it professionally lacquered. Check the mast track for signs of damage around the full length batten ends which can pop out of the track if worn. Check the mast foot for signs of corrosion – the mast heel may need replacing, particularly on early boats. If the mast still has the original halyards, you may find them a bit neat. You should add an extra couple of feet to any replacement over and above the Selden specification. Some boats are fitted with a twin pole system while others have a single pole. Your preferred choice can be easily adopted one way or the other. The vast majority of the fleet sail with a single pole.
  • Most boats will be fitted with a Tacktick system for boat speed, compass and depth. This is a wireless system and generally works quite well; boats fitted with a solar back up tend to be more satisfactory. On some of the older boats, the system is fitted in the starboard forward tank and will have a 9v battery. This battery will need changing every season and sometimes twice a season and it's a wee bit fiddly. If any water has ever got in here you may want to check the wiring for any signs of corrosion. In later boats, the system is fitted to the starboard bulkhead beside the shroud plates and is much easier to access. Tacktick instruments are now marketed by Raymarine and the recommended product is the Racemaster System and Triducer T075.
  • Look along the ridges around the aft deck for damage as this is normally where collisions occur. Helms tend to forget how much stern is behind them or an opposing boat on the opposite tack hasn't allowed enough room! Likewise, look at the bow for the same reason.
  • The boat should come with an anchor and warp, two paddles and a bucket. Most boats will be fitted with a spinnaker chute sock, and two forward pocket bags. Some newer boats have stern bags as extras. Check the middle foot rest bar, it should be tight and should not have been used for any mooring ropes as it is not load bearing. Believe it or not someone did try to lift a boat tied to the bar rather than the lifting point!
  • The original boats had Batt Sails but the supplier was changed in 2007 to Hyde. RS Elite sails are pretty robust and for club sailing you should expect to get four years out of them although you may want to replace the jib a bit sooner.
  • RS Elite road trailers vary – some of the early models have proper cradles fitted; in a few cases the aft cradles sit higher than the self bailers and has been known to cause damage to the bailer mouldings, these can be modified for a better fit. Some owners who have bought newer boats have kept the cradle type trailers because they liked them so much. Newer trailers have support pads and some come with event storage boxes.
  • If you plan to travel to events with your boat (and we strongly recommend that you do), make sure that the trailer is up to the job. It might be wise to spend an extra £300 or so on your trailer for peace of mind.

For spare parts visit the RS store 

The above will hopefully give you a better idea of things to look for on a pre-owned Elite. As one of the fastest growing keel-boat fleets in the UK, you will find a very friendly bunch in the class and we will be only too glad to help you and hopefully welcome you!  



A guide to costs (inc VAT)

Mainsail £1,589.00  
Jib £889.00  
Spinnaker £959.00  
Hawk £31.88  
Spinnaker chute cover £28.50  
Main halyard £87.48 27m x 5mm
Jib halyard £29.57 12m x 8mm single purchase (2:1 optional)
Spinnaker halyard £85.18 25m x 5mm

For a full list of equipment and up to date prices, visit the RS Sailing Store.

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