Interview with Mike Eades, Sec., SeaWind COA

RC Sailboat: Hi Mike, thanks for giving us this interview.

Mike Eades: It's a pleasure to talk SeaWinds with any enthusiast!

RC Sailboat: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Mike Eades: I'm a retired native of the UK , now US citizen, living in a small western town in Arizona . My sailing interest and career has been unusual, to say the least, with very limited soft water sailing but over 30 years of racing land yachts and DN iceboats. I got into R/C sailing about 4 years ago and race my SeaWind #89 with the West Valley R/C Mariners Club (WVRCM), Litchfield Park and the Canyonstate Yacht Club, Sun City in the west valley of the greater Phoenix area. Jay Barnes, who made the initial effort to establish the SeaWind Class, and I race together and when he and his wife both fell victim to medical problems in late 2003 he asked me to take over the helm as Class Secretary. For me, the attractions of racing R/C sailboats, or any racing sail craft for that matter, are the Adrenaline rush of competition, the intellectual challenge of setting up and tuning a sail rig and harnessing the vagaries of the wind to get around a course faster than others, within the tactics and strategy permitted by the rules. Not to mention the camaraderie of doing it in company with others similarly addicted. (For a fuller account of how I got into SeaWind sailing and early thoughts on forming a new class, see my article “SeaWind One-Design, Part 1” on the SeaWind Resource Center web site.)

RC Sailboat: Since you are the SeaWind Class Secretary, can you give us an opinion about the SeaWind Class in the US ?

Mike Eades: The SeaWind Class is the most recent of a total of 24 classes to be recognised by the American Model Yachting Association (AMYA). The desire to establish the SeaWind as a new one-design class arose from a process of natural selection. At WVRCM we began a club racing class called “1-Meter Sport” in which any boat up to 1-Meter, built from a commercially available kit, was allowed. The SeaWind simply outperformed the competition and produced the highest level of skipper satisfaction in terms of speed, manoeuvrability, looks, durability, cost, ease of build and ability to perform in a wide range of wind and water conditions.

RC Sailboat: The SeaWind is a very beautiful sailboat. Do you consider it a racer or a very “fun to sail” sailboat?

Mike Eades: Judging by the opinions of many skippers worldwide, expressed on the SeaWind Resource Center Forums, it is clearly both. In the US as elsewhere there are many SeaWind skippers who sail blissfully alone for relaxation or in informal fun racing groups in addition to those engaged in Club fleet racing.

RC Sailboat: What are your main objectives as the Class Secretary?

Mike Eades: They fall into two categories:

1. Promotion and development of the class within the AMYA structure. Generally assisting the establishment of SeaWind fleets and /or new Clubs. Publicising Class activities through reports/newsletters etc.

2. Providing an efficient administration of Class business. Registration of sail numbers, administration of class rules including organising a bi-annual ballot on officers, rule changes etc and providing an information service to members and prospective members on all aspects of the SeaWind and Class.

RC Sailboat: Do you organize National races?

Mike Eades: As Class Secretary I don't personally organize events. Within AMYA, individual Clubs submit bids to the Class Sec. to hold Regional or National Championship regattas. My job is to encourage bids to be made and ensure that all Clubs and Regions are given a fair opportunity to host these prestigious events. Naturally, I help clubs with advice and assistance in event planning if and when they need it.

RC Sailboat: How many SeaWind skippers do you have?

Mike Eades: Right now we have 100 skippers with 112 boats registered with the US SeaWind COA, 80 of these are also members of AMYA. This puts us halfway up the AMYA “league table” of class membership.

RC Sailboat: Do you consider that the Class is growing?

Mike Eades: Achieving a membership of 100 skippers in two years after the initial recognition by AMYA (requiring a minimum of 20 members) is quite encouraging. Wherever a SeaWind fleet has been established the growth in fleets has been very strong. I think we can look forward to a lot more growth, as the merits of the SeaWind as a fleet boat become evident.

RC Sailboat: The SeaWind is very popular in the US , any comments on that?

Mike Eades: There are certainly a lot of US SeaWind skippers out there, I think at last count there were almost 150 listed on the Seawind Resource Center and, of course, many more who are not active online.

RC Sailboat: What is your opinion about Seawind Resource Center website ?

Mike Eades: This web site continues to be a valuable asset for SeaWind skippers worldwide. It is independent of the US-SCOA but, early on, we established an excellent working relationship with the webmaster, who has assisted the US-SCOA enormously. It is a professionally managed site with an extremely active base of regular visitors and contributors. An average of around 230 visits per day over the 3 years it has been in existence is testimony to the value that SeaWind skippers around the world see in the site.

RC Sailboat: I read that the SeaWind has problems with spare parts in the US , is it true?

Mike Eades: KYOSHO, the manufacturer of the SeaWind, are currently in the midst of a substantial change in their arrangements for US distribution of all their wide range of R/C models, both kits and parts. In the short term this has caused some disruption to supplies of both SeaWind kits and parts. I have received assurances from them of their commitment to the US market and support of the Seawind COA. The next few months will show how this commitment translates into renewed supply.

RC Sailboat: Do you consider that the SeaWind Class is the most active?

Mike Eades: As I mentioned earlier, the SeaWind class is about halfway up the class membership list. While that is a very satisfactory start, it pales into insignificance beside some of the longer established classes such as the Soling 1-Meter (~750 members) and Victoria (340 members), so we have some way to go. We do have an active program of events and this year will hold at least 4 Regional Championships and our first National Championship here in Arizona .

RC Sailboat: Do you consider the SeaWind a good sailboat for a beginner?

Mike Eades: I do! While the price of a complete kit, including boat, radio, servos etc, at around $400 in the USA currently, is more than the initial price for some other kit built boats, such as the Victoria, or Fairwind, these boats require substantial modification to be competitive in their respective classes. All in all a SeaWind, built according to the Instruction Manual, provides a rewarding introduction to R/C sailing that can please a beginner and satisfy an experienced sailor.

RC Sailboat: What do you think about the IOM Class?

Mike Eades: The IOM, like the US1M class and 36/600 class, is a development class where the class rules encourage builders/skippers to experiment with different designs, rigs etc within a framework. These are exciting classes and attract the very best designers and sailors. However the trend to high-tech construction leads to a relatively high cost for entry, even for an older model, and to some extent inevitably lead to pressure to have the latest innovation to remain competitive. I believe both these and one-design classes have their place in the scheme of things. I began competing in 36/600 class myself last winter.

RC Sailboat: How do you see this Class in a couple of years?

Mike Eades: In the US I would like to see active fleets in every AMYA Region and several Clubs in the most active areas with a regular program of Regional and National events around the country. Attending an out of town event is a real blast! On the International scene, it is interesting to speculate whether any other countries will formally recognize a SeaWind class as there are a number of very active fleets in several countries, as evidenced by Resource Center reports. The International Criteria for recognition of new International classes by the ISAF – RSD are very much geared towards development type classes. Anyway that is a matter for initiative by local clubs if they wish.

RC Sailboat: Any last word for our readers?

Mike Eades: You have probably gathered from all the above that I am a SeaWind enthusiast! The one common factor that seems to shine through in all the contacts I have had with other SeaWind skippers around the US and around the world is a shared enthusiasm for the boat and willingness to share experience with others. It is a wonderful community of skippers. I hope it long continues to be so!