RS Elite Background

The RS Elite was commissioned and born by a group of sailors from Hayling Island Sailing Club - (on the South coast of England, just to the East of Portsmouth). Twelve boats were ordered from Hayling Island Sailing Club syndicates and a Class Association was formed to represent the interests of initial and future owners, both at HISC and elsewhere.

The fleet is promoted as the 'Modern, classic keelboat for the discerning sailor'. It is non hiking, and although fast, it is not a sportsboat. When drawing up the specification for the boat it was labelled as a 'classic for the 21st Century'. This has undoubtedly been achieved. 

The design brief was for a boat which was suitable to sail inside Chichester harbour, with its shoal waters and yet to be equally at home in Hayling Bay (often very choppy), and similar waters throughout the UK and beyond.

Since its beginnings in 2004 the enthusiasm for the boat has spread within the UK and beyond. There are now fleets at the Royal Burnham Yacht Club, Falmouth, Northern Ireland (Belfast Lough), Lymington and there are groups of boats in Guernsey, Holland, Norway, Sweden and the Caribbean. In total over 65 boats have been built as at early 2009.

Download a line drawing of the RS Elite


The following is the original presentation of a proposed One Design Keel Boat by Phil Morrison for Members of Hayling Island Sailing Club, April 2003.

The intention is to produce a modern version of the classic racing sailboat, such as the XOD or the Swallow. The boat will be a delightful racing boat especially suited to the waters of Chichester Harbour yet still capable of taking the family for a gentle potter around the Harbour or teaching the basics of sailing. It will also be sea worthy, with enough reserve bouyancy and safety features to cross the bar and sail in the more open waters of Hayling Bay in suitable conditions.

The size, sail area and detailed features are all intended to make the boat simple and easy to handle, minimizing the requirement for phisical strength, yet rewarding expert and skillful handling. The design will as far as is possible within the constraints of size and draught be optimised for windward work and close tacking performance.

Off wind I have opted for a symmetric spinnaker in view of the sailing conditions in the Harbour which so often requires negotiating strong currents in light winds. I propose a modern pole handling system and have deliberately placed the pole attachment point low on the mast to minimize the physical agility and/or strength requirement in the crew.

The hull is a true keelboat relying heavily on its bulb keel for stability, hence physical size and number of crew should make little difference to the overall performance. The aim is for a racing crew of 2-3, cutting down on the cost of a round at the bar!

Hull shape will be long, graceful and elegant based on some of the modern maxi boats and America´s Cup style yachts without the quirky bits. Having small overhangs, which helps in light airs and tacking, the hull shape will rapidly pick up its full sailing length when underway without having that buried look of some modern designs.

The boat will have a double bottom which will be self draining on the mooring and make the boat self recovering in the case of a knockdown or swamping. There will be room for stowing the sails and other loose gear under the side decks and in an aft locker. The intention is to produce a physically undemanding boat which is a delight to sail, looks elegant on the water and is inexpensive to own and maintain.

I have become aware of a considerable demand for such a boat not just in Chichester Harbour, and have every hope that once started the concept will gain further pockets of interest elesewhere.

Phil Morrison
April 2003