First, it is about as good looking and modern as a new boat can be. A very smooth reverse shear, combined with nicely defined chines and the by now obligatory reverse plumb bow render the boat quite attractive.
On deck it is a very open boat with all controls, sheets, blocks and lines in about all the right places. Clever touches like adjustable jib halyard and adjustable tack utilizing athwartship jib tracks made getting the jib just the way you want it very doable. It was impressive was how everything fit perfect, straight out the box. This is a well thought out, nicely laid out and nicely executed little boat.
Not a Selden fan in the least, they nonetheless have built a nice carbon spar for the boat, coupled with an aluminum boom. What is really unique and quite clever is the mainsheet post (in lieu of a traveler) that also acts as a protector for when the Torquedo electric out board is retracted. There is a designed pug attached to the bottom of the motor and it seals off the engine and prop completely when the engine is retracted. It had to be the easiest outboard motor to raise and lower and use, ever. Still, the range on these electric motors borders on ridiculously short. Watching the battery percentage drop as you “rev” the thing up is entertaining at the very least.
How did it sail? Beautifully. Granted we had near perfect conditions of flat water and breeze from 6-16. Steering it was just a delight – light helm, responsive and just plain fun. We sailed with four people and there was plenty of room and plenty for everyone to do. The boat’s ergonomics were nice; a short hiking pad allows the crew to lean out a bit while facing inboard – a much more natural position anyway – and a perfectly angled bevel at the deck makes things quite comfy for the crews’s butts.
One of the best things was that most of us had never sailed them, but it didn’t take a lot to get on pace fairly quickly. Not tweaky like the Melges 20 for example, with just a little knowledge one can get up to speed in no time. It helped immeasurably that good friend and expert in boat like this, North Sails’ Brian Janney, sailed with us and orchestrated the tuning, and Ed Furry from Sail 22 gave us some tuning numbers and they seemed to be pretty spot on. All six of the 21’s seemed to go about the same speed, with the better teams able to do a bit better, just like in any class.
The production North Sails were very nice. I liked the mainsail a lot – smooth and responded well to rig adjustments. Zero complaints there.
It is clear as day that RS has put a ton of thought and work into turning out these boats and as much as I’d like to find something to bitch about, I really can’t. Yes, they are a big supporter of SA, but I’m not going to bullshit anyone about the boat because of that. I think they’ve hit their marks on everything that I could see, and after 10 races on the boat, none of us were beat up at all. I’d jump on one of these little beauties anytime.
RS has built a tidy little boat here, hit a competitive price point, and with over 50 sold so far, I can’t imagine why this won’t be a big success for RS. – Scot Tempesta.