Jan 9, 2024
Brilliant events, informative shows and some new records broken by RS Sailing and RS sailors. As the year draws to a close, RS Sailing’s Commercial Director Michiel Geerling reflects on 2023.
“I want to thank everyone for an incredible year. We have had some huge achievements that I think we should not forget to celebrate.”
It was a brilliant summer of events for RS Sailing. Highlights include the RS Feva World Championships which saw 422 sailors coming with their families to enjoy an amazing week at LNI Follonica in Italy. This was the biggest RS Feva event to date, and was the best attended World Sailing youth class World Championships in 2023. “It’s amazing to see that the RS Feva is the fastest growing two-person youth class internationally when you look at World Sailing’s figures.”
RS Sailing also supported World Sailing at the Para Sailing World Championships 2023 at WV Braassemermeer, Netherlands. The RS Venture Connect was one of the three boats selected again by Para World Sailing to be part of the World Sailing World Championships together with the Olympic Classes.
The RS21 World Championship 2023 also broke records this year; 55 boats from 11 countries competed in Porto Rotondo in Sardinia, Italy. “This is such a big achievement for a relatively new class. It’s also a class that is really putting a good stamp on the sustainability side.” The RS21 Italian Class is the first sailing class in the world to achieve ISO20121 certification. Created by the International Organization for Standardization, this certification is only awarded when an event organiser adheres to a detailed set of requirements that meet the international standard for sustainable event management. Not only was this a big success at the World Championships, but the class was also invited to present a ‘Sustainability Masterclass’ as part of the World Sailing Sustainability Sessions.
“We’ve also been honoured to work with some great partners this year.” In October, RS Venture Connects were raced in SailGP’s We Foundation One Sport Race and RS Sailing confirmed their preferred vendor partner agreement with Crystal Lagoons. In September, RS Sailing announced their partnership with Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina; providing an extensive range of boats to their state-of-the-art JYC Academy which has already seen 1000+ children benefit from the programmes this year.
It’s been a particular good year for RS Sailing on the international stage. “Globally, we’re expanding further and wider in all corners of the world. 2023 has seen growth in many classes; from RS21 fleet building in Canada to Japan’s first-ever RS Aero National Championship in the All Japan RS Open 2023 event.”
RS Sailing is not just about the boats, it’s also a celebration of the sailors. “There have been so many great memories to shout about this year – too many to mention in just one post! For me, it was a great moment to see RS Aero sailor, Ken Fowler, be awarded Highly Commended ‘Sailor of the Year’ at the British Yachting Awards.” Ken sailed his RS Aero around 262 islands over the course of the last four years and completed his odyssey in June 2023, raising more than £70,000 for charity.
RS Feva duo Ben Greenhalgh and Tom Sinfield were also awarded Highly Commended at the British Yachting Awards 2023, in the ‘Youth Sailor of the Year’ category. A well-deserved congratulations goes to the pair after they achieved an incredible double victory in both the Nationals and the Worlds RS Feva Class.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support from the Class Associations too. They are at the very heart of our communities and work so hard to deliver fantastic events all year around.”
Michiel also extended his thanks to the wider RS Sailing family in the dealer network. “We have good friends in our network that we can always call and rely on. We’ve grown and strengthened our dealer network in 2023 and there is a lot to celebrate.”
Back in February, the Class Associations joined RS Sailing at the RYA Dinghy Show and it was also the first time they put RS Sailing Store on the stand alongside RS Sailing. This wasn’t the only successful show of the year. Despite the apocalyptic weather at Southampton International Boat Show, “it was the best SIBS we’ve ever had. Thank you to all those people who wore their wet-weather kit and still popped by to have a chat on the stand.”
Finally, RS Sailing rounded off the year with the RS Toura winning ‘Best Dinghy’ in Sailing World’s Boat of the Year Awards. “This prestigious title means a great deal to us – especially all of those behind-the-scenes in production and development. Recognition like this serves to affirm our position as the world’s leading small boat manufacturer.”
Looking forward to next year there are many exciting shows, events and boat developments on the horizon. RS Sailing will add to its leisure and training range in 2024; bringing simplicity back to the beach with a brand-new catamaran. With buoyancy and easy handling in mind, this model will complete the versatile RS CAT trilogy in the RS Sailing family.
2024 also marks RS Sailing’s 30th birthday and they are celebrating it with a huge party and weekend regatta. “We hope to see you all there at the 30th Anniversary at Hayling Island Sailing Club, 17th-19th May. In the meantime, check-out RS Sailing Club for all the events near you and internationally.”
Michiel concludes, “Thanks again for being part of the RS Sailing family in 2023. I’m really looking forward to a good 2024. Our amazing team will – for another year – work hard to gain more participation in our sport, set high standards at events and build boats that are there to last.”