Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Radio-controlled sailing model | How Large?

Almost without exception the uninitiated spectator who has been watching a model out sailing and then sees it being brought ashore will express great surprise at how big it is. That little model you see out on the pond can be eight feet long and weigh up to eighty pounds. Unless you sail in a swimming pool, the rule of thumb is: the larger the model, the easier to sail. And one of the most important considerations in selecting a model is its size, all other things being equal. If you cannot see the boat well enough to distinguish wind changes on the sails and reaction to the controls, you will be unable to operate it among a fleet of models sailing offshore. The distance to which we can sail our model yacht is limited not by range of the radio transmitter and receiver in the control system but by the capability of the human eye. Beyond a certain point we cannot see the boat well enough to set the sails properly. Visibility is crucial for setting sail trim and course - and also for avoiding collisions.

From a practical standpoint, the minimum overall length is 36 inches if you plan to sail with other larger models. The large "J" boats and "A" Class boats measuring eight feet in length represent the upper limit. Thirty nine to sixty inches constitute the most common hull lengths. In selecting your model size consider: where you will store the model when not in use; how you will transport it to the water's edge; what is involved in your launching it (depth of water required, weight of model, bulk of model, etc.). At the time of purchase you will need to consider the cost of having the model kit delivered to you. Generally, models up to 50 or 60 inches can be packed to ship by mail or United Parcel. Models which cannot be packed within UPS size and weight limitations must either be picked up personally at the shop or be shipped by truck. The same considerations must be given to the spars for your model. A tall one-piece mast may be very expensive to have shipped. If you overlook the shipping costs, you may find the shipping more costly than the model itself, unfortunate but sometimes true.

Sailing model weights range from five pounds to over 80 pounds. Fifty inch models will range from ten to 30 pounds, which is within the launching ability of most adults. The larger boats require a cart or two persons for launching.

While a child's toy boat can be launched from the edge of the pond, the size of the R/C models requires a launching area with water deep enough to allow for the depth of the model keel. The typical 50/800 Marblehead draws 15 to 18 inches. You may need to wade out into the water to launch and recover your model. At facilities for full-size boats, there is usually big-boat activity which wipes out model activity - model boats sail best undisturbed by powerboat wakes and water skiers! The Parks and Recreation Department in your town may be willing to follow the lead of the Town of Needham, Massachusetts, in providing model-boat facilities, particularly at ponds where other public access is restricted. Consider too the possible need to launch a small boat to recover a disabled R/C model.

The sails on the modern model racing yacht are left attached to the spars rather than furled or stowed as they would be on a big boat. In the normal home it may be hard to find space to stow away a ten-foot mast with sails attached.