Vintage boats are to be classified as boats having been awarded a certificate before 1985. Thus, the most recent vintage boat will be number 3357. Boats built between 1985 and 1999 will be ‘Classic’ and the MROA intends to create situations to encourage the racing of this group. New build, replica boats, may apply for dispensation to race in the De May series and owners should contact Mervyn Allen for the permissible specification.


This series, of approximately 12 races, is for vintage boat racing. The De May series is clearly based in southern England with racing being a one day event and within a one day return journey for most competitors. However, there is no reason why a parallel series for vintage racing should not be created in other geographical parts or overlapping parts of the UK.


Vintage boats are competing for the De May Trophy based on handicap results and for the Octagon Trophy based on non handicapped results. Results will be based on the RRS (current year) low points scoring system. Points and awards will be given to the helm and a helm may use only one boat per event but more than one boat during the series. A helm will not change the specification of the boat, that relates to handicapping, during an event. Five results will be needed to qualify (discards apply thereafter) and a DNS score will be 50 points. A tie break during an event will be based on the last race the boats sailed against each other. Similarly for the series although discards will count if needed. The handicap system will be employed in all events.

A further two trophies will be awarded in the De May series; The Draycote Water Porridge Bowl for awarded to the first boat with a specification close to when it was first launched (e.g. no transom flaps, no spinnaker chute, terylene or cotton sails, wood or metal mast, construction ribbed or glued). The Draycote Water Summer Series Trophy Awarded to the most improved newcomer throughout the De May series.


(Start with 1000 and alter accordingly).

Ribbed boat


Wooden mast


Aluminium mast


Cotton Sails



The newly formed Merlin Rocket Owners Association Historic Wing has the aim of preserving and sailing older boats as they were built, without modernisation or carbon rigs, thus preserving a living history of this long standing class. At present, boats within this section, primarily race within the CVRDA (Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association) and the Vintage Wing. For further details contact [email protected]

Handicaps for Club Racing

The Portsmouth Number (PY) for Merlin Rockets is 980, set by the RYA in March 2021

Although Merlin Rocket designs have developed considerably over the years, the Portsmouth Yardstick System publishes a Portsmouth Number to apply to all Merlin Rockets, which is unfair on older boats.

To address this problem for boats sailing in club handicap fleets, the MROA has produced a table that can be used to alter the current PY appropriately.

Although these 5-year bands reflect the periods of design development, it is recognised that some older designs appeared 'after their time' and it is a matter for individual clubs to decide whether they reflect this in the Numbers allotted to individual boats. If your club handicapper has any queries, please refer him to Graham Williamson, the MROA Measurement Scheme Co-ordinator who sits on the RYA Handicap Advisory Panel.

The basic format is therefore:

Year (inclusive) Sail Numbers Handicap Number recommended
1999 onwards 3554 onwards Current Portsmouth Number
1989-1999 3430-3553 Current Portsmouth Number +10
1984-1988 3331-3429 Current Portsmouth Number +20
1979-1983 3157-3330 Current Portsmouth Number +30
1974-1978 2833-3156 Current Portsmouth Number +40
1969-1973 2165-2832 Current Portsmouth Number +50
1964-1968 1616-2164 Current Portsmouth Number +60
1959-1963 895-1615 Current Portsmouth Number +70
1954-1958 500-894 Current Portsmouth Number +80
Before 1954 Below 500 Current Portsmouth Number +90

Note this table is for mixed-class handicap racing. Vintage racing (fleet racing, that is) should use the vintage handicap adjustments instead.

Owners Association

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Merlin Rocket Owners Association