MINUTES OF RS ELITE CLASS ASSOCIATION AGM
Monday 11th September 2023
Held on Teams
Attendees: Jo Hewitson, Andrew Archibald, Bill Booth, Alasdair McLeod, Colin Smith, Richard Bavin, Mike Browne, Tom Hewitson, Simon Radford, Michael Lennon, Dan Belton, Mark Fletcher, David Kelso, Simon Fisher, Andy Taphouse, Julian Morgan, Gerry Reid, Ole Rasmus Undrum, Ulf Lundvall, Steve Hammond, Borge Bjorndahl, John McRobert, Graham Dale-Jones, Bill Blank.
Apologies: Elliott Caldwell, Buzz (Alistair Keck), Russell Peters, Nick Peters, Matt Abiss, David Nicholls
2022 AGM Minutes
Proposed by David Kelso & Seconded by Colin Smith
Election of Officers
Chairman: Jo Hewitson
Proposed by Bill Booth & Seconded by Colin Smith
Secretary: Andrew Archibald
Proposed by Simon Radford & Seconded by Bill Booth
PR: Alasdair McLeod
JH explained that Alasdair McLeod wishes to step back as he is no longer Elite racing and is not involved in day-to-day sailing making it very difficult for him to write race reports. AML received a round of applause for all his hard work. JH proposed that the skipper of the Elite that comes 3rd in any event should collate the results and write the race report; and this should be forwarded to AML for circulation to the press and website. This was approved unanimously with a show of hands.
Treasurer: Bill Booth
JH thanked BB for all his hard work. BB is no longer Elite racing and would like to step down as soon as a replacement can be found. BB explained that the electronic membership payment system has been significantly simplified with the Go Cardless system. No volunteers have come forward to date.
Andy Taphouse of RS and Michael Lennon of Quantum Sails explained the reasons for wishing to change sailmaker away from Hyde to Quantum.
Why did we need to make a change?
Basically, the cost price of the sails is getting out of control. RS Sailing set the retail prices in November/December, and in the case of Hyde, it's based on their best indication of forthcoming increases. When RS received the RS Elite sail pricing in early January, it was clear the cost increase was grossly disproportionate compared to the other RS Classes. We naturally challenged, and Hyde's suggestion was nothing could be done because the current cloth had become expensive and difficult to get hold of. Hyde explored different materials to make the sails from, but none of the suggestions would meet both durability and performance. This research also prompted a further price increase to the original sails as they examined the existing and alternate materials.
What have we done to date?
RS Sailing were approached by Mike Lennon, representing Quantum Sails, to see if they could do anything for RS Sailing. We took this opportunity to ask them to price a suit of RS Elite sails, knowing Mike had designed the originals and this would be the best opportunity to change supplier only without a major redesign or a significant performance difference. Pricing looked good and Quantum produced a suit of sails in which RS scrutinised componentry and materials and overlayed; compared to a Hyde suit, no noticeable differences were present, and we were happy to hand it over to the Hewitson’s for some sea trials. ML and a member of the RS Tech team were present in a RIB to observe Soak Therapy using these sails and compared to others using Hyde sails at Chichester Harbour week. Videos of the sea trials are available at
Please see Colin Smith’s detailed and honest report below:
- The main appears slightly flatter in the luff and fits our mast / rig setting better than the Hyde sails. It seems to benefit from a flatter foot, and the Cunningham is not needed as soon when the breeze increases.
- The jib is set slightly lower than before (1cm), but the other controls are set the same i.e. luff / sheet / tensions and track setting.
- The boats performance hasn’t been impacted either way, we still do badly when we get wrong and better if we get it right.
- There are a few tweaks that have been suggested – thicker strap around the mast, better security for the tape on the spinnaker patch and the right number of attachments on the jib luff. The build quality is slightly better than Hydes – no puckering along the top battens.
- I am not technical qualified to comment on the minor differences in shape, but they set well and seem to go just as fast.
- The feeling for all those who had sailed with these sails over the weeks they had them on board was there wasn’t any noticeable performance difference either way.
It was consistent that they felt these sails were at least of the same or possibly better quality than the previous supplier. Mike Lennon is very much the expert in the field here and his thoughts are below in response to some of the questions raised:
- I know I have said this before but I want to reiterate - they will be as close as possible - within the tolerance of depth and sizing of a group of the current sails. I designed the Hyde sails with Nick overseeing it for RS.
- Set up between boats will make a much bigger difference compared to any differences between sails. Also, the sails are made to a tolerance so there are already differences between sets from the current supplier.
- Years ago we supplied the sails to the UK Olympic Tornado rep. His new sail performed differently to his older one. We spent hours in the loft trying to analyse why. We had a static rig in the loft and could physically measure the depth accurately from a static bend. We changed battens - we looked at different mainsheets and downhaul tensions. We concluded the sails were very very similar. We never came up with definite reason the performance difference. My guess was cloth having a different elastic profile. The cloth instron tensile stretch numbers where very similar but that test did not measure recovery. Anyway, my assertion is looking at a bunch of used sails in an uncontrolled environment will be very hard to get any firm conclusions from - I would say the testing you have done already on the water has been pretty conclusive already?
In summary, this is very much a change to mitigate problems in the existing supply chain and control costs; this isn’t a redesign of the sails. The cost saving on removing unused components is negligible; the move to Quantum and their supply chain resilience is essential for the continued supply of the sails with the current material and as close as possible to the original design.
Pricing and Supply:
Lead times might be longer if and when RS Sailing are out of stock. Pre-ordering and the Winter buy program will help with planning as the sails are made in Sri Lanka. RS Sailing will start next season with a small amount of stock (RS intend to start the season with five suits) but want to avoid lots of small airfreights for obvious reasons; sea freight isn’t an option due to the smaller quantities. RS have guaranteed that, with the stability of working with Quantum Sail, they will fix the current RS Elite sail prices for all orders made before the end of December 2024.
- Antigua: they have had a problem with the sailcloth degrading in the Caribbean UV. ML to discuss this with his sailmakers.
- Reefing points: the consensus is that these are not needed but ML advised that this would not affect the price.
- Black or Grey sails: the sailmakers preference is to stick with black as it has become the “off the shelf” fashionable choice and is produced in volume in Germany.
- Bill Blank asked why Dragon spinnakers are much cheaper than Elite spinnakers when both are made by Hyde. AT & ML to check with Hyde and respond.
Decision: The decision to change sailmaker was approved unanimously with a show of hands.
JH presented the following report:
Membership Stats: We have 45 members, including 5 Family memberships, and 5 Associate members.
Website: Much of the first part of my tenure was taken up with launching a new website. We took inspiration from the old one, and added more functionality to streamline the accounting procedures, so members can join and pay online, and if we wish to pay for events The for-sale section can be accessed by submitting form, and only members can place adverts.
Sponsorship: We were thrilled to receive £1,500 sponsorship from Soak Insure and I know several of you have insured your boats with them. Hopefully if we show continued support, and they provide a good service we may be able to benefit from some more in the future.
Fleet reports: We have fleets sailing regularly in Northern Ireland, Burnham, Antigua, Norway, and Hayling Island. There is a glimmer of a new fleet in Dunmore on the South Coast of Ireland. 2 boats have been purchased this year and they are looking for a third. At Hayling the class is as popular as ever with 23 boats on the beach, with many partnership owned and a waiting list for more to join the class. We have had a very active programme of sprints weekend events, and two open events Chichester Harbour Race week and the Southern Area Championships.
Burnham: Burnham has grown to 12 boats and regularly sees 8 boats on the racecourse. Ellanore No.13 has been refurbished after a long period and is now out racing too. They have just completed the Eastern Championships with Richard Bavin taking the honours.
Northern Ireland: Strangford Lough have had an active year racing mid-week and weekends as well as staging a tremendous National Championships.
Norway: has 12 boats in the fleet and are racing regularly from May through to September with a mix of evening and weekend series.
Antigua: The fleet started the year with 6 boats and now has 10 regularly racing most Saturdays in English and Falmouth Harbour. Their year started with a class start at the Jolly Harbour regatta.
Training: Thanks to the generous sponsorship and Colin Smith’s and Tom Hewitson’s generous donation of time we ran 3 training events – at Burnham, Strangford Lough and HISC. All those who took part found it very helpful and the Class thanks go to Tom and especially Colin who ran all 3 events.
Southern Area Championships: this took place at HISC and with 15 boats fighting it out in fairly light wind conditions and competitors enjoyed a class dinner in the clubhouse.
Irish & UK National Championships: Hayling sailors went on tour to Northern Ireland and enjoyed 10 days of huge Irish hospitality with some cracking racing at both the Irish and UK national in a wide variety of wind conditions. With Russell Peters and team taking line honours at the UK event and Tom Hewitson the Irish. I would like to express my thanks to the team from Strangford Lough Sailing Club who worked tirelessly both running the event and looking after their English visitors.
2024: Our flagship events next year are a back-to-back combo with Southern Area Championships at HISC followed by the Nationals at Hamble. It is a first for the RS Elite at the Royal Southern Yacht Club at Hamble and we hope to showcase boat and exciting racing.
Finally: The class is run by a volunteer committee and I would like to thank all the committee members and their wider support networks who have helped make this season so successful, the class would not run without you. I am especially appreciative of Colin and Tom who have both supported me on many an evening when we have discussed options on all number of subjects. Above all I would especially like to thank Alasdair Mcleod and Bill Booth who are both still working for the class but not sailing anymore. Your contributions are hugely valued and I am extremely thankful for your help. I would urge all members to consider taking a role to help the class move forward. Without member input the future of the class in uncertain.
BB presented a spreadsheet of numbers and explained that the accounting year has been changed to the calendar year. The 2023 Interim Accounts show that the Association has £1,850.82 in the bank and £2,576.62 in the PayPal account (i.e. £4,427.44 in total). This is less than last year because of the circa £2,500 investment in the new website. Current membership fees are:
Full Membership £30 pa - owners and crew with full voting rights
Family Membership £40 pa - owners and crews in a family up to 5 members with full voting rights
Associate Membership £20 pa – crew or helms who do not require full voting rights
BB proposed to increase the 2024 membership fees by £10 per category and this was approved unanimously with a show of hands.
Update from RS Sailing
AT confirmed that RS will continue to support the Elite class and to keep stock in Romsey.
2 boats (No.110 & No.115) are currently available for sale. Both have been used for charter so good deals are available.
All tooling is available to make new boats should there be demand.
Southern Area Championships: Hayling Island Sailing Club
Nationals 2024: Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble. Limited overnight accommodation is available in the RSYC for the early birds.
In order to encourage competitors to come to HISC & Hamble a number of HISC members who live locally are able to offer accommodation to any potential visitors to try and keep their costs down. If anyone is interested then please contact AA or JH in the first instance.
As there is no current Elite representation at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Debbie Jarvis is being paid £300 for 2 days work to assist the Committee in the planning and preparation.
Irish Nationals: This will hopefully be held at Dunmore East at the end of August.
Norway Challenge Regatta: Following their participation at the 2022 International Grand Prix, our Elite friends in Norway have very kindly offered to host a challenge event in Norway over the weekend of 3/4th August 2024. Details are still being worked out but Ulf Lundvall of Tonsberg Seilforening has explained as follows:
- In terms of accommodating guests from the UK, we can comfortably accommodate 30 individuals/10 teams.
- We understand and agree with the idea of individuals coming over, rather than strict 3-man teams. The mix’n’match of crews could make commitment easier and potentially add an element of surprise and fun to the event.
- We will probably have a sailing league format with 6 races on Saturday and 4 races on Sunday.
- Flights are available from all the London airports, Stansted, Gatwick, Heathrow. From Belfast there would need to be a stop but there are plenty of fairly quick options. The most convenient flight seems to be Ryanair from London Stansted to Oslo Torp.
- While we will try our best to host as many participants with our existing members as possible, we do acknowledge that it might not be feasible for everyone. Thankfully, there are numerous Airbnb options, hotels, camping, etc., within a short distance to the club. Additionally, the club itself has 4 bedrooms available which can be utilized.
- Regarding the entry fee per individual, we'll review the potential costs and get back with an estimate as soon as possible.
- All you will need to bring is sailing clothing, après-sailing clothing, bar money and a sense of humour.
Further information about Tonsberg Seilforening can be found at https://www.tonsbergseilforening.no
We will post more information on the Eliote website and Facebook as soon as it is available. Could anyone who is interested please contact AA as he will be the initial liaison with the Norwegian team.
Nationals: The Royal Thames Yacht Club are celebrating their 200th Anniversary in June 2025 with a major event in Cowes and JH proposed that this would be an ideal opportunity to showcase the Elite National Championships. The Elite’s would share the same windward leeward racecourse as the Etchell’s and accommodation should be cheaper than at Cowes Week.
Proposed by Colin Smith & Seconded by Andrew Archibald
AGM attendees from Ireland, Burnham and Norway were confident of a good response from Elite members.
Southerns: This would be held at HISC in September
Nationals: The Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary of the RS Elite fleet and would like to host the 2026 UK National Championships.
Proposed by Gerry Reid & Seconded by Jo Hewitson