If you are interested in radio controlled sailing at Perth Radio Sailing Club then our advice is as follows:
PRSC members are usually at Jackadder Lake in Woodlands every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoon throughout the year. Informal racing happens on Wednesdays from 11.00 am, while Thursdays and Saturdays are more serious. Club racing commences at 2.00pm, but members often arrive about 1.00pm. Plan to visit the lake and please make yourself known to one of the members. We are keen to introduce new people to the sport.
Most members are more than happy to let you have a sail of their boat. Sailing them is easy - sailing them well is the hard part! Before long, you are sure to have a radio in your hands and in control of a boat.
Buy a second-hand boat (almost any one will do providing it sails). Get sailing as soon as you can. PRSC members will give you plenty of advice regarding which boat is likely to be suitable for you, as well as giving advice on cost, value for money etc. The PRSC website classifieds section normally has a boat or two advertised for sale.
Plan to spend the first year learning about (a) how to steer and control your boat with a radio transmitter, (b) the sport at all levels and (c) the boats used in competition. Plan to upgrade your boat after the first season to one that you have chosen carefully, based on what you have learnt.
We would not recommend buying a kit or building from a plan to any newcomer to the sport. We would not suggest buying a brand new boat either. Most skippers find that they are able to upgrade once they have picked up enough knowledge to work out what type of design they want.
There are many club members who have the experience and ability to assist you to get started, so please don't hesitate to ask!
Are there any kits available in model shops which I should consider?
Sailing for fun may become fairly humdrum after a while and you may well end up looking for others to join in with, either informally or through a club. Competition is not available in Western Australia with model shop kits so you need to research carefully what does work and what does not. Check your local user groups before purchasing your boat.
Which class should I go for?
Whatever is sailed at your local club. There is not much fun in sailing around without someone to race against. At Perth Radio Sailing Club, we promote the International One Meter (IOM) and DF95 Classes. Both classes are sailed concurrently, but on different courses, on each of our sailing days with handicap races for both classes once a month on Thursdays and Saturdays. The sailing calendar will give you an idea of days and times plus type of races sailed. For beginners we recommend the Wednesday "Gentlemen's Sailing" sessions where sailing is more relaxed and races are not scored.
Any guidance regarding choice of design for a beginner?
Probably for the first year it will be your lack of rules knowledge, tactical experience, and ability to control the boat that will slow you down rather than any fault of the boat. So, if you are planning to replace the boat after a year (as suggested), it is not terribly important which design you have. Look at results on the Australian website, the local club website and ask your local club members (several) which they rate as a good choice and which to avoid at any price.
Can you give any guidance to a beginner wanting to buy a boat?
Again, for your very first boat, availability and price will be the primary considerations, and the speed potential of the boat at this stage is not that important. Performance as well as price should guide the purchase of your next boat. Used boats are often excellent value. They will usually not be regarded as the fastest around but they may well be the ones that were regarded as the fastest until recently. As there is a significant fashion element in the sport it is sometimes possible to pick up very quick boats at quite modest prices. Second hand boats will usually be at quite attractive prices compared with buying new but, as ever, you tend to get what you pay for and the better boats will attract better prices. The pace of design development is not great and any boat that was truly competitive a few seasons ago will still be a potential winner if equipped and sailed well.
Assume the RC equipment will not be in tip top condition and expect to replace it, keeping the original as spares. On this basis it is not terribly important to have RC equipment with the boat.
Do not buy any boat without having seen it first unless you trust the judgement of someone who has.
Where should I find a second hand boat for sale?
The club secretary or other members may know of one of the club's members who has one he may wish to sell. Check the club's website, as well as other Perth club sites. The Australian Radio Sailing website also has a comprehensive list of boats for sale. Many of these will be based in the Eastern States. See the links page for details.