Topic : Just how much better is a mk4

As some one who is considering entering the class I'm looking at the boats for sale and notice that there are now some affordable quick designs being offered at sensible money...

However the front of the fleet is full of new boats.

Are they really that much better?

Posted: 20/06/2009 15:14:25
By: Ian
Only as good as the the sailors in the boat, generally the top yachtspeople get a new boat every few years.

Posted: 20/06/2009 16:06:44
By: Rob
The simple answer is " a little better than a Mk 3, especially accelerating, tacking, tracking into a chop and early planing", GIVEN THE SAME CREW! However the answer is the same for every generation in a restricted development class. It is even worse in a pure development class with few restrictions. But be of good cheer because the design differences are much less than the differences of the humans sailing them.
A really good crew in an old boat wil go much faster than a really old and/or inexperienced and/or lazy crew in the Bee's Knees mark 17.
I use the word crew for both people. The Merlin is possibly the only dinghy where both members are equally important and that is one of its many great features.

Posted: 20/06/2009 21:08:15
By: Mike Fitzpatrick
An alternate answer is that the front of any one design fleet is also packed with new boats - as are racing cars, running shoes, rowing boats - you name it.

Posted: 20/06/2009 21:12:51
By: Mike Fitzpatrick
Whether you have a Mk1 or a Mk4, the hull is only one variable. The rig plays a huge role (mast and sails), as does total crew weight and the weight distribution of the crew when combined with the hull you have. Remember also there are very few modifications that can't be retrofitted to an early boat.

I have an early winder and have had the dropped bow and fuller bow sections and it suits me just fine. I wouldn't want the straight run aft of the later winders as I feel, as a properly proportioned gent (circa 14 stone), I need the rocker (albeit very small) of the earlier boats. I would also observe that a number of others who have bought later boats, who are similarly proportioned to me, do not have the 'electric' performance that they had previously. Now is that less rocker aft in their later boat, the increased competition in sails and therefore sail shape, or something else?

The 'Gear' debate is great and valuable if carefully thought through and set in context. For many, and this goes from the top to the bottom of the fleet, the psychological affects of having the same as someone else or something different can have dramatic positive or negative affects.

An early Winder can get you very competitive and posting head turning results at open meetings. When you posting consistent results in the top 15 and are struggling to improve then look at why; but it won't only be the hull variant.

I know with my old ship I am still the limiting factor. When I am not I might consider upgrading!

Posted: 21/06/2009 07:12:13
By: Nick S
Ian,  perhaps you should state your aspirations. If it is 'winning the Silver Tiller, Nationals or Salcombe' the advice you would get is different to 'doing very well in at my club - which is a) restricted water b) resevoir c) sea' or 'just joining the circuit for fun hoping not to be last'

Posted: 21/06/2009 15:32:20
By: alanf
I have no great aspirations in the fleet, just curious really and wondering how much i want to spend on a boat for club racing and perhaps the odd open.

I sail on the Medway in Kent which is a river estuary that opens up into quite a large expanse of water when the tide is in and you move down river so we have a bit of every thing.

A friend at the club is going to lend us white whale for the Medway Marathon next weekend so perhaps I'll have a better idea on a weeks time.

Thanks for all the input

Posted: 22/06/2009 10:37:36
By: Ian
I've got 3554 the oldest registered Winder. I've had the nose done which did change the feel - in some cases for the worse (tacking is slower). But overall I'm very pleased. The Hull is stiff as a board, the rig is floppy in the right places - and if I look after it properly I see no NEED to change it. FRP scrubs up well too.

Get a Merlin - it's much more fun than not having one at all. Winders are very reliable - another bonus!!

A short trip to Whitstable and you'll get all the advice you need - and a decent pint too.


Posted: 22/06/2009 11:16:42
By: David L
If I were you, I'd get a Mk4, just because you won't be mucking around with things.

The key thing is the one-string. With the one-string you will not have to have such an expert crew (because ideally you should be looking outside the boat while the crew tweaks the rig). AND importantly, you are much less likely to break your mast with a one string, in my opinion.

You could get a well looked Mk1 Winder, with or without the nose job, or indeed a not so well looked after Winder Mk1 and send it to a specialist (e.g. Winders) to sort out any dings.

Either way - a key decision, do you want a Chipstow rig, or a SuperSpars. Because if you want a Chiptow it would be very un-economic to convert from a Super Spars, you are unlilely to find second hand Chipstows, so you'd need to allocate around �2,000.

If you go the Mk1 route, allocate in your head about �400 if it hasn't got the nose drop and later you want one. Allocate about �1,000 if you want a professional 'one string' convertion.

I have to declare that I have both a Mk4 and a fully converted Mk1 (nose, one-string, refurb'd) and I can't sail both at once, so I am selling one. Both with Chiptsow rigs. I've listed the Mk4, maily because to get 'value' for the Mk1, I'd need to ask a silly price, given unloved Mk1's with superspars change hands at �5.5-6k then you can see that if you spend �4k bringing it up to current spec then the price would be silly, even if you take a 50% loss on the upgrade, it woudl look pricey.

Posted: 22/06/2009 12:05:40
By: alanf
do I want a Chipstow rig or a Superspars...

Good question I guess but having never sailed one i don't really know. Hannah and I are about 20 stone and sailing on the water described above... so what's recommended

Posted: 22/06/2009 15:42:19
By: Ian
I have sailed in the Medway regatta in GP14's many times.

There is no hard and fast rule, but lighter crews seem to prefer Chipstow, a lighter and more flexible mast. At 20 stone you are two or three stone lighter than 'ideal'.

I expect some others will post comments shortly.

Posted: 22/06/2009 18:22:40
By: alanf
I would recommend a Nice Let It Ride, but then I would as mine is up for sale!!!

Seriously though it has always gone quick on the river and goes well on a reach when up on the plane which happens quite quickly.

Posted: 22/06/2009 18:25:06
By: Jez3645
If a heavier crew, I would suggest the latest Superspar as it will hold in column more than the other masts on offer. However, if you were after a new mast, AJ (Chipstow) would build a custom lay-up and potentailly give the best of both worlds.
We have used a Superspar for the last 2 Nats and have not had a pace issue especially as we only sailed the boat one weekend prior to each Nats. Glenn T will vouch for the downwind speed!

Posted: 23/06/2009 16:05:25
By: Barnsie
Ian - you've had a lot of good advice and maybe your test sail on the Medway by now. If you want a look at every Mk of Winders and a few older wooden Merlins why not come 20 miles to the east and visit with the Whitstable fleet on the sea. Maybe even come down this coming weekend and see lots of Merlins at our annual Open Meeting. Should be able to give you a ride Sunday afternoon after racing, which finishes early to help long distance entries.
Call me on 01227 281867 if you want directions or more info

Posted: 25/06/2009 22:49:34
By: Mike Fitzpatrick
An easy rider with a chipsow rig will suit you to a tee.

Posted: 25/06/2009 23:14:35
By: JonCG
Yes thanks to everyone for their advice and we would love to come along to Whitestable to see what all the fuss is about however its this weekend that we are getting a sail in White Whale and doing the Medway Marathon, and we wouldnt want to miss that.

Still I'll probably have more questions next week :-)

Posted: 26/06/2009 09:16:56
By: Ian
Ian it really depends on what your aspirations are as to what you spend on your 1st Merlin.  I have enjoyed sailing around midfleet or below with the odd startling result for about 10 years or so.  I have a very pretty 13 year old Merlin (my 5th!) which I sometimes suspect of being capable of much better things with serious money spent on the rig and pointed in the right direction by more talented people than me e.g. in my hands a 35th out of 80 in the last race of the last Champs and an entertaining ding-dong battle with Mike Fitz and a very new Winder all the way round.  However as I have failed for one reason or another to get to any open meeting at all before Salcombe Week this year I don't think it is the boat holding me back.  Like all sports, there is a law of diminishing returns when looking at the money and effort expended against the success achieved, and if you want to be at the front of this fleet you need to spend a lot on the kit then spend a lot of time using it.

Posted: 26/06/2009 22:59:31
By: Andrew M
P.S.  If I were considering starting out in Merlins at moderate expense Thunderclap 3466 is a very well sorted boat that will get you into the middle of the fleet with very little hassle.  Most older Merlins in my experience need the best part of a season to sort out all the gremlins replace all the things that are going to break in a blow and get all the controls to work properly.

Posted: 26/06/2009 23:02:59
By: Andrew M


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