This 12ft dinghy represents the state of the art in the development of small training boats and is destined to be the first introduction that tens of thousands of young people have to the boating world. It can be sailed by one, two or three people and replaces the RS Quba.


The development work was carried out by legendary designer and sailor Jo Richards, alongside RS Sailing.

The RS Zest incorporates lessons learnt from the larger Quest, which has sold around 1,000 units since being launched only two years ago. These include a centreboard (not daggerboard) for easier operation in shallow water, a high stability hull form, higher boom and increased crew space, plus an improved rudder and mast gate design.

In addition, there handholds are integrated to the runners on the bottom of the hull, to enable crew to stay with the boat in the event of a capsize. Similarly, hand-holds are built into the inner sides of the buoyancy tanks to help sailors get back into the boat as it’s righted from capsize.

The prototype model was unveiled at the 2017 Southampton Boat Show and production is intended to start at the end of this year. There are already almost 200 orders, including 130 from the Sea Cadets and a further 30 from the Andrew Simpson Foundation. Find out more at RS Sailing.

RS Zest specifications

LOA: 3.59m
Beam: 1.47m
Hull weight: 68kg
Mainsail: (Dacron, reefable) 5.7 sq m
Jib: (Dacron) 1.2 sq m

For more beginner dinghies, see our feature best beginner dinghies.

RS Zest dinghy

The RS Zest is designed for learning to sail.

Written by: Rupert Holmes
Rupert Holmes has more than 70,000 miles of offshore cruising and racing experience, in waters ranging from the North Sea to the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn. He writes about all aspects of boat ownership and marine travel, including destinations, seamanship and maintenance, as well as undertaking regular new boat and gear tests. He currently sails around 5,000 miles per year and in the past couple of seasons has cruised from the UK to the Azores, as well as winning his class in the 2014 two-handed Round Britain and Ireland Race. He also owns two yachts, one based in the Mediterranean and the other in the UK.