RS Venture: Best Recreational Dinghy
Purpose: club trainer/racer
Recommended race crew: 3 to 4
Best attributes: open cockpit, high buoyancy, construction quality, and versatility
Price as sailed: $14,000
RS Sailboats is fast becoming the world’s preeminent small-boat builder. RS produces a long line of high-performance skiffs, and an expansive range of rotomolded dinghies for tykes and adults alike, but what they didn’t have until now was a boat for the recreational sailing masses. When the judges first laid eyes on the 16-foot RS Venture, they immediately thought “sailing schools,” but when they were done sailing, they saw its greater potential.
The boat is in some ways a modern Flying Scot—at about half the weight (436 vs. 850 pounds). It has all the right selling points for young families, clubs, and training programs: It’s roomy, buoyant, and has the essential sail controls. But most of all, concluded the judges, it’s lively and fun on all points of sail.
Rich, the resident cynic and big-boat sailor of the panel, was surprised how much he enjoyed sailing the boat, and that it planed when he and Stewart set the asymmetric spinnaker. “It was easy, very stable, and moved along well,” said Rich. Stewart agreed: “Everything is where it should be. They [RS] say it can handle up to eight people, and I could definitely see that.”
Equally impressive, the judges agreed, was its construction. RS is renowned for being meticulous with its product development, and the Venture is Exhibit A. Every component was high quality and purposeful: roller-furling jib, single-line spinnaker launching system, fittings for a symmetric spinnaker option, vang above the boom, grab-rail mainsheet loop, and more. Its polyester glass construction was beautifully finished, and the non-skid was good.
A major consideration with recreational dinghies is righting from a capsize, and to this end, RS designed the boat around the ability to right it easily (even without the optional masthead float). The cockpit is self-draining, and when righted, it will come up with 3 to 4 inches of water in the boat, which flows out of the stern flaps.
“The key to a wide boat is keeping the buoyancy out of the sides,” said RS managing director Martin Wadhams. “If it floats too high, the centerboard is inaccessible.” Their solution was to use benches, which gives the boat a flatter floor, provides protected seating inside the boat, and puts the buoyancy into the floor instead.
“This is a great boat that I’d definitely recommend for families,” said Allen. “Especially with the asymmetric setup, the kids will learn everything they need to know.”