Traditional classes need modern new boats to help them survive

by Chris Kameen on January 8, 2014

RS Feva World Championship 2012I enjoy the romance of traditional classes such as the Sabot, Manly Junior and International Cadet to name just a few. Indeed I have often thought how great it would be for my nephews and nieces to learn to sail in the same boat I did, the International Cadet. I’ve also thought ‘why do we need another class of boat?’ when new ones came along… until I decided to start Sydney Sailing School and looked for suitable boats for teaching and transitioning people into racing and club membership.

Picking on the International Cadet, the boat has been around for nearly 70 years, maybe more and is steeped in history, but does the class continue to attract completely new entrants to the sport, and I would argue no. In general, sailing schools are no longer using them, for the simple reason that they are expensive and complex to maintain and run.. it might suit the purist but not the person who has to pay the wages of the instructor staff or the maintenance bill!

The major benefit of the traditional classes is that there is a plethora of very cheap boats around in various states of disrepair, some of which, any sailor will tell you can be soon smartened up and fixed and hey presto low cost sailing. However to a newcomer that knows nothing, it is spotting the ones that have potential from the ones that don’t that is the hardest. And as sailors we don’t help these newcomers – we either don’t have the time to invest to help or we are a motivated seller!

To me this really is the barrier that we sailors have created and why I firmly believe that we need the modern plastic boat to help preserve the traditional classes. Given that the number of sailors active on the water is dwindling and ageing we need new people and these people are much more likely to buy a boat that they are familiar with, having learnt in it. Once they are sailors then they will look at boats on their merits and some will like the tradition or the type of racing or the club where that boat is sailed and get involved… but unless we get more new people sailing we are going to struggle and numbers will continue to drop.

Open_bic-going-fastAt Sydney Sailing School all of our Open Bics are for sale – so our students can buy a second hand one for $2500 or a brand new one for $3600. That second hand boat will retain most of that value as long as the boat is looked after and can be resold to another family for their kids to have fun.

Just recently we have also become the distributor for RS Sailboats that manufacture the fastest selling 2 man boat in the world – the RS Feva. We have just obtained a few and will be transitioning our Pacer fleet at St George to these new boats over the next 6-12 months.

Our plastic boats will more than likely never have the same romance about them as classic wooden or carbon fibre race machines, and one day will be replaced by an improved version or class at a lower cost, but if it keeps lowering the barrier to entry for sailing then that is a good thing right?

For more information about our range of boats for sale check out the website or drop me an email at

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