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Does the Downhaul/Cunningham on RS ZEST really work?


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How is this even possible? I've watched Shaun Preistley adjust the downhaul in this video (at 2:30) several times.  It's like watching a pick-pocket steal a wrist watch.  How is he able to adjust it that quickly and what the heck is he doing?  Is he somehow pulling it down with his left hand and cleating it that quickly?

I took my Zest out and tried this, with a luff sail and can't even get it to budge, much less cleat it quickly.  This is my first dinghy so, likely user error.  But I can't figure it out.  Shaun makes 3 simple adjustments and takes off.  I want to do that too.  Unless this video is some kind of trick, ha!

 

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I don't know the Zest but usually, cunninghams (downhauls) have some kind of mechanical advantage in the control system e.g. my RS Aero is 16:1 in total, with cleats easily reached when on either tack.  It looks like the Zest is only 2:1 plus the control line isn't easy to reach. I'd not expect that to be easily adjustable while sailing. Why not contact RS for advice?  

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From my brief research the Zest has a downhaul on the front of the mast, like the Laser Pico. I've sailed Picos a lot and never found the downhaul did anything

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The kicker/vang is what matters there. And a newhish sail. And a strop at the sail clew. Combined you'll be bending the mast and depowering.

Downhaul on a sleeve sail and installed on the front of the mast is not effective at all.

Those are Dacron sails i think and will lose their leech strength relatively quickly. At which point you're out of good depowering tools. 

I have the same issue on my Taz.

 

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On 8/19/2021 at 6:00 PM, Eric Jacobson said:

 Is he somehow pulling it down with his left hand and cleating it that quickly?

It seems he is. I think I'd tie a turning block at the bottom of the mast so I could pull the downhaul more easily. 

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The effect may not be as pronounced as it looks.

The woman is clearly having trouble keeping the boat flat in the wind (lighter than him) and is feathering - so going higher but slower (usually a losing approach). But the camera minimises the impression of falling to leeward.

Indeed it looks like the wind picked up at about that time.

Plus as the camera boat moves ahead, it magnifies the impression of the leeward boat forging ahead. 

Yes, he clearly is going better, but maybe not by as much.

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14 hours ago, Xeon said:

The simple answer is , sell the zest and buy a proper boat :D

RS is selling 500+ Zests a year now, one of the most popular training boat launches, ever.
They can not make them fast enough, and I heard are sold out through Spring 2022 already.

 

I realize you're being humorous, but, the best boat is one you use.  
Eric, hope you're having fun on your new ride!

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14 hours ago, Xeon said:

The simple answer is , sell the zest and buy a proper boat :D

I think that's the point. The Zest is really a training boat and is very popular with sailing schools for teaching children to sail. I expect that most kids are ready to move on to other boats in the RS range after a season or two in the Zest.

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5 hours ago, BlatantEcho said:

RS is selling 500+ Zests a year now, one of the most popular training boat launches, ever.
They can not make them fast enough, and I heard are sold out through Spring 2022 already.

 

I realize you're being humorous, but, the best boat is one you use.  
Eric, hope you're having fun on your new ride!

Cheers for taking my flippant comment in the way it was intended. 
Tillerman made the point a lot better than I did . Zest is a great boat doing what it does, but if someone is at the stage of    their sailing journey where they  are worrying about the purchase on the downhaul. It’s time to move on to a more rewarding boat . Tbh I am just really glad the op is really enjoying their sailing .

 

And yes I am really enjoying my new ride, it’s everything I have ever wanted in a singlehanded boat .:D

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38 minutes ago, Xeon said:

 Zest is a great boat doing what it does, but if someone is at the stage of their sailing journey where they  are worrying about the purchase on the downhaul, it’s time to move on to a more rewarding boat .

Xeon made the point a lot better than I did.

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All this 'oh get another boat' is all very well for the affluent who can swap boats on a whim, but that's not going to be true for everyone. In my teens and twenties I was running my boats on an absolute shoe string and no way would that have been an option for me. A block tied to the bottom of the mast with a line through it tied to the end of the downhaul would probably - provided the downhaul cleats OK with a pull from there - make it just a tad more useable and the block could be anything used off a scrap boat. 

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26 minutes ago, AnIdiot said:

Why?

Here in the UK a leading designer and builder in the development classes was Pico National Champ at one time. His club had a whole bunch of them for training so he had one for his kids to use, and found it a relaxing alternative to the full on boats, so when the champs were held at his club he entered...

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2 hours ago, JimC said:

All this 'oh get another boat' is all very well for the affluent who can swap boats on a whim, but that's not going to be true for everyone. In my teens and twenties I was running my boats on an absolute shoe string and no way would that have been an option for me. A block tied to the bottom of the mast with a line through it tied to the end of the downhaul would probably - provided the downhaul cleats OK with a pull from there - make it just a tad more useable and the block could be anything used off a scrap boat. 

I was assuming ( maybe incorrectly) that they owned the zest so it could be sold for a more rewarding boat at no or very little added cost . In the uk a half decent laser / topper/ comet/ Lightning  etc could be bought for the same price as the zest . Any of these would be more rewarding to sail and race than a zest . 
 

Ive owned dozens of boats in my sailing life , most have cost under £900 and the majority of them cost less than £500. Sailing is as expensive as you want to make it . 
 

I was sailing for 20 years before I could spend a couple grand on a boat . Just because I’ve just bought a nearly new D zero ( thank you redundancy money ) recently doesn’t mean I don’t know how to make do and mend with cheap boats. :D

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If the op is on a limited budget or not going to change boat - tell us OP! - there's some ways to fiddle with these kinds of boats and rigs to make the most out of them...

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Zest downhaul does work, but yes there are only a few inches it can travel down. You can put a trucker's hitch in the rope to get more purchase. You can also use the outhaul, reef, and boom vang effectively. The vang actually has more purchase than it needs and with good vang sheeting technique and hiking it would probably be more effective than the downhaul, strap your outhaul and even better. The boat is designed to be stable so it doesn't need an overabundance of depowering controls. 

For all of you that are telling him to upgrade... wow... the Zest is a great boat used by hundreds of recreational sailors around the world. So is the Sunfish, Laser, Hobie Wave, Dyer Dow and plenty of other boats that might not be your first choice.

Check out youtube for the RS Zest, lots of happy families and single dads loving life! That's truly special to me and the rest of the RS family.

While the pathway to more exciting boats is the option for some, it definitely is not for all. If you're happy with what you've got then ignore everyone else and enjoy your time on the water! I could think of worse boats to sail and worse activities to be doing. 

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