Topic : Classics at the nationals

Last time the champs were at hailing there was a classic fleet that completed a 3 day regatta. Please could the we have some clarification on the possibility of this happening again and what are the parameters for entry. Ie 1st boat at 5ft8inch beam 1st boat over 30 etc. The problem now is that the 30 yr rule vintage? Is bringing into play wider boats so a restriction should really be placed on categories relating to age  and beam  thus creating effectively 2 vintage/classic fleets. There is no way a proctor 9 can compete on the sea against an NSM2 so wen need to see some clarification that will encourage then older narrower boats.

Posted: 31/05/2011 23:21:11
By: Phil
Hi Phil
The de May Series faces the same conundrum - 30 years/designs now included. Have a look at this year's handicap system and please comment in public. Vintage boats must be kept out of the way of modern fleet. I took 1189 to the Inlands which was quite windy. I went knowing that I was happy to retire when the fleet was finishing but Martin H took Quiver and he really wanted the points and could not simply, retire.

(Selina and I were really chuffed that we took all the gybes but one until we eventually got wet !)

Posted: 01/06/2011 10:20:04
By: Ben 2529
Create two classes, Classic and Vintage. The more older boats the better. It creates a healthy second hand market, it is a good intorduction tot he class without having to spend 13k, and still get a competitive sail. Flying 15's did it many years ago with success.

Posted: 01/06/2011 16:30:12
By: Ian

We are very happy to be lead by competitors when it comes to vintage and classics, and don't want to exclude anyone. Last time out, the fleets started together, and the oldies (boats not necessarily people!!)finished a lap early, being awarded their own prizes.

All were happy with that, and we would be delighted to implement the same again, and to define the categories for vintage/ classic in conjunction with the competitors.

Please feel free to contact me by e-mail or phone (07837 239958) to discuss.


Posted: 01/06/2011 17:20:59
By: Champs Man
What a good idea. If I can share my thoughts.... The N12s have in the past successfully started their vintage boats 5 mins before the main fleet. The Cadets have their bronze fleet starting 5 mins after the combined Gold/Silver fleet and they (Bronze) do one lap less. The vintage boats should not pose much of an overtaking problem to the moderns. So little additonal work and everyone gets a good sail.

Posted: 02/06/2011 14:16:06
By: DavidC
It's an issue that has also been discussed at some length by the cvrda, but my personal view is that at some point (and this may have to be sooner rather than later) at lot more thought will have to be put into the vexed subject of classic handicaps if the overall classic scene is to continue to florish.

Team Smokey - based around 3025, a Rowsell Smokers, had been put together with the intention of a serious tilt at the DeMay. Along with SupercrewJon - who in the guise of Jon Thompson (aka jon711) has an established track record of crewing Merlins, the boat has been fetteled and sprayed with a new quick rig being worked on. This was based on dacron and alloy to maximise the PY position.

Last year, when it was pretty damn windy at Bough Beech, we proved that this was a great package for the full range of conditions and the feeling that the Smokers is a great all rounder is hard to ignore. BUT that said... we'd quickly come unstuck on handicap against an NSM 1 or 2..... and when the early Tales finally qualify the classic scene could be skewed by the arrival of such a dominant development.

It is easy to identify the issue, far harder to make meaningful suggestions but if I was to make one, it would be based around the existing DeMay work and the sliding scale of numbers suggested by the MROA for giving handicap help to older boats in a normal PY environment.

Currently the DeMay series is heavily biased towards river and smaller venues, so the inlands and Nationals are probably the times when the more modern classics would feature strongly. But this should not be relied on, else those older boats really will start to question if it is all worth it. Maybe the sliding scale of PYs , then additional premiums for carbon, mylar and other state of the art features....


PS - the no arrival of Team Smokey, in conditions that would have been 'just what we wanted'.... total bummer as with a fortnight to go before the first demay event, both Helm and crew succumbed to (totally different)illnesses that will probably see the boat not sail this season. But... just like good old Arnie...we'll be back!

Posted: 02/06/2011 16:59:59
By: david Henshall
I would find the idea of a 3 day event for clasics sailing a shorter course than the main fleet to be a great way for me to bring 2717 out to the nationals but not have to worry about the hull going ping if the conditions got a bit OTT.Although I only crewed a couple of boats at WLYC in the late 70's perhaps the classic fleet should be limited to the designs of that time , i.e Ghost Riders, Phantom Kippers,Hexagon's et al, and the vintage boats the earlier narrow designs. I know this is a bit simplistic but it may be a start

Posted: 02/06/2011 22:16:30
By: suffolk merlin
Well said David, and I agree totally (But a crew, always agrees with the helm!!).  I would be very concerned if a Canterbury Tales, which is still a modern fast design, would ever be considered as a classic.  Maybe, when boat development has progressed to a point that the CT is outdated, then, allow them to join in classic racing.  At the moment, even the old CT's are still competitive in the new boat fleet!  

Would we get a CT to win the De May, NO... David is probably a little too rotund for a CT!!!! (That's me sacked as crew!!!). I do agree that the handicaps may need a bit of investigation, and possibly be a bit more lenient, to the older boats in original condition. If we do not encourage the older boats, then they will end up rotting away in a corner of a dinghy park in Abbotabad!!!! We should be proud of the Merlin Rocket heritage, and encourage the older boats to race, and maybe, even, occasionally beat the modern pocket rockets (excuse the pun!). But I can also see the other point of view, if you have spent all the money getting a brand new boat, would you not be a bit peeved, when David and myself planned past you in the Smokers???

It is just a question of what the class want to promote most, the modern rocketships, or the older boats, which lets be fair, most of us got into Merlin sailing in older boats before moving on to modern marvels.

Interesting subject, I have no answer, and I have a feeling the Class Committee could have many long discusions on the subject

Jon Thompson

Posted: 03/06/2011 00:05:00
By: Jon711
It's an interesting point that one. However the hull shape may indeed be current, but you cannot take away the fact that - if you go by age - an old CT is an old CT. All of the one design that are thought of as "classic" (GP14 et al) are more or less the same hull shape as a brand new boat, does that mean they are excluded? Of course not, and it would be wrong to do so.

Having looked after the second hand list for quite some time it's been intersting watching the sales trends. When the CVRDA first became really active it seemed to coincide with a big revival of old boats on the Thames and narrow merlins were selling like hot cakes. However you couldn't give away a smoker or a phantom kipper as noone wanted them, now that they are eligable for the CVRDA events and people know this they have started to move again. The null point now seems to be NSM II/IV some of which become eligable in a year or so's time, some are already.

My point is that if you catergorically exclude a boat you run the risk of making it undesirable in the only place that there may be a market for it, or that it's capable of competing. Does that not defeat the whole object of the CVRDA which is to preserve boats which have their best racing days behind them?

There are loads of very famous old merlins which have disappeared. A few have turned up, but others have ended up on the bonfire having not been sailed for years. It would be a real shame if the generation of Armed Forces, Charge, Buckle Up and all those other cracking old boats were left vulnerable to the same thing. Of course age will take it's toll, but if we have the means to generate interest which preserves some or most of them it should be done.

Posted: 03/06/2011 08:28:06
By: Chris Martin
I would suggest in time that there is going to need to be another catagory to include the later designs. As Chris says, an old CT is not really going to be on a level par with a current CT no matter what you do to it, however I do agree that in the Vintage fleet they will have an advantage on open water. This said, as Jon rightly points out, you would be hard pushed to win the De May in a CT, I think you will find it a challenge even in a smokers. As you know, I have two of them and having sailed one at Cookham there was no way I could keep up with the old narrow boats rolling up the river AND i was giving away a handicap to boot.

What is intereseting is that looking at the current system, in my smokers I am giving 10 points on my PY to a Satisfaction due to the width, now that is something to think about!

Posted: 03/06/2011 09:02:43
By: Jez3645
Jez and Chris. From what I've seen, I'm pretty sure that you're spot on regarding beating the river boats on their home turf. But get to a venue Bough Beech sized or bigger and then get breeze and the boot would be firmly  on the other foot.

From your replies and the other insightful comments made, it looks as if the whole topic needs something of a rethink. Should the classic scene be more of a mirror image of the ST series, where boats have to be capable of mastering the full range of conditions and venues?

I also agree that the object has to be to make the classic circuit 'inclusive' rather than exclusive. There should be enough elasticity and granularity in the PY system to allow for the newer boats to be allowed to compete.

But - is it a greater failure to create a platform where a lesser sailor in a new boat wins - or to create one where the lesser sailor in an old boat is unbeatable. Squaring that one won't be easy.

(3025...but with more than a passing eye on a real inland 'classic'.....more on this to follow once I'm back and about more)

Posted: 03/06/2011 09:39:41
By: david Henshall
I intend to bring 'Armed Forces' (3442) to the Nationals this year.
I'm obviously not expecting to do very well, but hope to not be last in every race!
It would be nice if a few more boats of similar vintage and budget came along.
It's not necessarily about official prizes, rivalry between comparable boats (and crews!) can make for good racing in the back half of the fleet.
Hope to see you at Lyme tomorrow.

Posted: 03/06/2011 10:42:22
By: Chris I
A lesser sailor in a better boat winning should be solveable with handicaps and is not unique to Merlins. I would put money on GP14 number 4 being significantly slower than number 12000 yet both will qualify for CVRDA events. Things move on in so called one designs too, and there have been hull tweaks to improve the boats as well as significant rig change. Just look at the Fireball, and the Solo! 

An old boat is an old boat, whether it's obsolete or not. Coming back to GPs I bet no 12000 wouldn't disgrace itself at opens in the right hands, but neither would it be considered a desirable boat.

Posted: 03/06/2011 19:45:56
By: Chris Martin
Chris, to a certain extent that is my point, the handicap needs to be a bit more generous to older boats, in orignal condition, with original rigs, so that we can preserve the history of a great class.  I f you put a carbon rig, with tape drive sails on a 40 year hull, the handicap punishment should be drastic, but I fear at moment it is not...

David is trying to keep as much orginality as possible, while still trying to get the best handicap possible. An old boat should stay an old boat (In my opinion!), fine replace tufnol bocks with Harken, but keep the rig as original, and if it isn't then a swingeing handicap should result... I love to see the old MR's sailing, but get very disappointed when I see a modern rig on an old hull. It's a bit like putting your Grandmother in hotpants!!


Posted: 03/06/2011 23:36:15
By: Jon711
Well, I am not so sure about that. 

MR's are a development class and owners are encouraged to keep their boats as up to date as they can and be inovative as well. If an owner can update and improvise within the rules to his/her benefit then so be it. These old boats can do very well on sheltered or river locations and offer great sport. If every boat sailed in its as built state of development then the class would be way behind newer classes in terms of development and there would be even bigger gap interms of speed between the newer and older boats.

No, I think older boats should be modernised as and when owners feel like it or can afford it or get the time and skills to make the new kit themselves.

Posted: 04/06/2011 00:02:29
By: East Coast Imbiber
Again you're in a situation where modernisation keeps old boats in the fleet. Actually as boats get newer this is probably less of a problem, but if you think about a 3 figure number Mark IX it would be rigged very differantly from 2xxx very late Mk IX. In those days it would almost certainly have been modernised to keep up. Obviously carbon stuff is a little differant, but most of those are done for club racing/odd open on the Thames where there is no handicap and they are looking to exploit the boat's best conditions to the full - exactly what a restricted class is about. There won't be many boats that are exactly as they left the builders yard.

Posted: 04/06/2011 08:59:11
By: Chris Martin
I am going to have a stab at a few basics at this point. Vintage racing is drawn together via the CVRDA and the De May series; the Inlands, Nationals and even Bourne End week could be brought into the picture more significantly.The CVRDA is a well organised, large group of enthusiasts with diverse interests who will continue to influence and shape our future. The De May series is managed by Mervyn Allen and I do some of his admin. This is all about Merlins and the opinions on this forum are vital but we must find a direction in which we can move forward.
There are three main groups to consider, each of which has equal importance: racing old boats in original condition, old boats in much improved condition and those more recent designs included in the 30 year rule.
The first and most important priority is 'travellers' ! There are not many of us !! If the structure was changed would you travel more/further ? If yes, lets see what would get you to attend De May Series events. If no, please say so, then we know where we are.
From my experience, we are not going to split the 3 main groups up because there are not enough who will travel. More awards within the fleet could be considered.

Posted: 04/06/2011 09:49:07
By: Ben 2529
From my perspective, it's more about attitude than modification although it's the first that "encourages" the second. There are plenty of races around that cater for the determined win at all costs helms and a nice feature of the early deMay series races was the relaxed, after you, mentality which seems to be lacking now, certainly at the front of the fleet. I am finding it difficult to travel for the moment but there are others at the Club who were discouraged by the "sailing" at Cookham, lovely spot that it is. Nick

Posted: 05/06/2011 10:54:28
By: Nick Price (214)
Awards for boats that aren't modernised would tempt us out more, as would stopping being able to win the vintage series by not leaving the Thames.

Posted: 05/06/2011 16:23:39
By: Pat
I didn't want to be controvesrial, but it seems, I have been. All I am saying, is let classic boats be classic, let them be natiomal, then we have fun!!  There will always be people who try to take the rules to the limit...And they will be scorned, by the other classic sailors.  David and myself believe, (And Pat & Sandy may want to agree), That we just want to see classic and vintage boats sailing.

The classic and vintage fleet, is the best way of getting people into Merlins, they are cheap, but still exciting!! And once they have tried an oldy, the may want to go modern!! Indeed, with the cost of a modern Merlin, who, in their right mind, would spend that sort of money, without knowing what a fantastic sailing experience they are missing....

And Pat is right, lets have more De May's spread around the country, they are one of the best adverts for the class, the clubs do not need to be Merlin clubs, they just need to be willing!!! As an example, has there ever been a Merlin open at Chester Sailing & Canoeing Club?? I am sure they would be willing, if approached..


Posted: 05/06/2011 17:11:37
By: Jon711
For a bit of fun I popped a suit of cotton sails on my classic today. It was a bit blowy and when wet they weighed a ton!  I can see why every sensible racer grabbed terylene with both hands.  What a kerfuffle carrying them to the car and now drying inside as it was drizzling. No wonder the wooden masts snapped with regularity!

Now, I wonder what a carbon/kevlar rig would cost me?

Posted: 05/06/2011 22:31:53
By: East Coast Imbiber
Morning Chaps,

May I steer this fascianting conversation back to the original question for a moment?

There seems to be the shred of a proposal in here for a three day, reduced rounds event at the Allen Merlin Rocket Nationals at Hayling Island this year, is that right?

If this is the case I would happily come up with a format and pro-rata fee.

If you will take up such an option please let me know asap (by the end of this week) and if there are 6 or more firm names I will implement the proposal.

Any queries, please ring me on 07837 239958.

Kind regards


Posted: 06/06/2011 08:38:33
By: Champs Man
If i can get a crew (the wife refuses to sail a merlin!)then I would be interested in bringing 2717 down for 3 days, I assume it would be middle of the champs?

Posted: 09/06/2011 15:53:55
By: suffolk merlin
Suffolk Merlin, good morning!

Yours is the first response - if you can gee up support and get the 5 boats needed you can choose the days you want to count!

Advantage of going Wed Thurs Fri is that you get the Championship dinner and the prizegiving and PARTY included....

Your choice, just get your compadres to sign up!

As ever, any q's ring me 07837 239958


Posted: 10/06/2011 07:37:08
By: Champs Man
Im not vintage  (my boats only 28!) Id like to do a few days at the champs. Not fussy about which days but a long weekend might make more sense?

Posted: 13/06/2011 10:17:32
By: dv
looks like this may not happen, pity as there are some people out there who would like to compare there performace with modern boats but over a shorter course, but of course warry of hull build problems with older boats

Posted: 14/06/2011 22:10:54
By: suffolk merlin
Fed Week the week before might be fun for older boats, you can enter by the day, low cost, guaranteed sunshine (almost).

Posted: 14/06/2011 23:37:46
By: Chris I
Can we get the 5/6 vintage boats down to Hayling?

Any takers? Let us/GGG know?

Ben (Marshall), any interest from the de May regulars? If there were, I would look to getting some holiday booked!

Cheers, Charlie

Posted: 26/06/2011 10:54:04
By: Charlie
Not for me but I will have a chat with friends and see if I can get any confirmed names or serious interest.

Posted: 27/06/2011 07:29:28
By: Ben 1189
As we were slamming into the waves in Chichester Harbour on Saturday I was glad we'd taken the old plastic Albacore instead of the Merlin Rocket and that reflects the view of many owners who find the sea too punishing for the old boats. 
But I wished the old Merlins had been at Bosham with us on Sunday for a perfect day's sailing at the Bosham Classic Boat Revival. Light winds, gentle seas and wall to wall sunshine. Mags brought Swallow to show off but not a single Merlin came. Ours is currently laid up for repair but I hope that next year there will be more Merlins at such a welcoming event.

Posted: 27/06/2011 21:42:00
By: Pat2121
Hi, sadly I'm not an owner of a classic MR, but am very interested in the whole subject.

You may be interested to know we are running (2nd year) a Classic Boat Revival for classic dinghies on Sept 22/23 and would love to see as many classic/vintage Merlins there as possible. Check out the club website at Last year we had over 50 boats on the line, this year hoping for 70+.

Pleased to say that a classic MR was one of the first to enter this years event!

Like many old dinghy racers we just don't want to see old race boats that might be a bit past their sell by date rotting and unloved in some dinghy pArk, we are keen to see them back out racing where thy should be.

Come and join us to race and party like the good old days!!

Please help spread the word and do come down and join us.

Please get in touch if you need any further info on the Revival event or want to discuss how we can revitalise classic dinghy racing in general.

Posted: 26/08/2012 23:11:13
By: David Edmund-Jones
As one who was at the Nationals[ I do not claim to have exactly "competed"], in a 1960 Mk X11, the idea of actually getting any silverware was never in my mind. I wanted to participate and introduce a youngster to racing. All without significant outlay. The boat was cheaply bought on ebay and not"optimised. It would have been more interesting to go round with others of a similar speed/age but the winds concentrated my mind without it. Did we mind? - no. Did we clutter up the start line/ racetrack ?- no. Did we have fun? -Yes. 

Narrow boats will never be on the same level as more modern designs, especially at sea. If we want to keep the older and much cheaper designs into mainstream racing, then it needs more to actually turn up and make it worth the Race committee's time and effort to work out handicaps, apply them and hang about for us to finish, although the idea of doing one lap less is most attractive. It may well bring into the fold more returnees to merlins, encourage the transition to mid level boats, and keep merlins sailing rather than gathering dust in garages. The front will be dominated by those with deeper pockets or professionals. [but that is another red herring or mackerel from Lyme].

Oh- and the social scene was on an equal footing.

So= maybe see you at Bosham, - me with an older crew and a spinnaker pole!

Posted: 02/09/2012 10:56:12
By: Richard Stevens


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