Salcombe Merlin Rocket Week - No Longer Family Friendly

22/07/2009 20:16:14
School Govenor!
The dates are heading in the wrong direction. Next year (2010) is scheduled for Jul 4 = big problems for those with kids of school age. Is the merlin establishment pro family or does it have some commercial interest (or kickback) for extending the season for the increasingly affluent second home owners? I vote for the week starting on week 3 in Jul. BTW - pls pls pls try to stick to the same week going forward so that we can secure the same property year on year...

23/07/2009 09:07:18
Salcombe Week has never been in the school holidays as far as I know. Or were you merely referring to private school's holidays?

23/07/2009 09:52:45
Mrs T
I saw the dates and cringed too.  We always have to take the children out of school for the last week which is fine as there's not much going on and they've/we've had enough! However the week before is a pain in the proverbial, so we really have to decide whether the children miss their sports days, plays etc and go back to school for a boring week or miss Salcombe altogether. Didn't this happen a few years ago and the date changed to a more favourable one for families with school age children?

23/07/2009 10:20:26
We do generally try and ensure events are as 'school friendly' as possible but Salcombe Week and the Champs are first and foremost sailing competitions and we have to get the tides right, avoiding springs and mid day low water. 

Also on the years when Salcombe Week is later i.e. school friendly, we have the issue that it is too near to the Champs and some people find it difficult to get two weeks off work so close to each other.

23/07/2009 10:27:54
Pat Blake
I have nothing to do  with this anymore - and no kids at school anymore either - although we wrestled with this problem for many years, so you parents have my sympathy.

I can tell you the probable reason for the date selection though:
The choosen week has neap tides most of the week with the smallest tide on Wed July 7th 2010. As always in the western channel neap tides coincide with high water in the middle of the day.
If the following week were choosen we would have low water springs for large parts of our days with consequent problems for course setting and motor boats/moorings etc

23/07/2009 10:33:40
Child friendly week at Salcombe? There are two to choose - SYC regatta and Salcombe Town regatta both have races for under 18's. I think School Govenor has more interest in his/her own sailing!!! If you want to ensure your children grow up non-sailors then dump them on the beach with granny while you go and enjoy your Merlin!

23/07/2009 11:00:22
Mrs T
Saying that, given the choice of the pathetic 'non competitive' Sports Days where everyone is a winner and School Plays, the children would chose Salcombe any day. It's as much about them catching up with old friends, making new ones, having fun and sailing as it is for us! See you in 2010 then!

23/07/2009 11:19:43
Tosh, how did you succeed in drugging your wife to enjoy being dragged around to sailing events? I need step-by-step instructions please.

23/07/2009 11:32:25
Mrs T
He doesn't, I enjoy it, always have done, the children enjoy it and it's the lesser of two evils as I can cruelly hand over the children the moment he steps off the water ;o)

23/07/2009 13:24:29
It is also worth considering that there are less RIBS and Boston Whalers on the race track out of school holidays and more accommodation available at cheaper rates.

23/07/2009 15:00:42
"The annual blister"! 
Every year the same moans.
It is as has been said a sailing week, that quite few treat it as a family holiday also, should not detract from running it at the best time for the sailing.
As someone who keeps his children well away from sailing whilst I sympathise I cannot agree to taking children out of school.
It's a matter of life choice these days most people get more holiday than they know what to do with, or have money to spend on them!

23/07/2009 21:11:43
To the above. and I thought I was a grumpy

23/07/2009 22:17:40
My kids never went to Salcombe until they were old enough to helm Merlins.

24/07/2009 13:19:23
To Mr fuller and Ms anonymous.

You both seem to have alot incommon Im sure you would make a wonderful couple!!!

24/07/2009 15:36:18
errmm, that should have been Mr Tosh!

24/07/2009 20:05:10
I can't see that I have anything in common with .

"As someone who keeps his children well away from sailing"

Natt was ladies champion in the Heron at age 10. Mark is now campaigning a 49er.

My point is something completely different, I think?

24/07/2009 20:18:26
Still upside down then?

24/07/2009 21:01:38
That's a bit unfair, they were the longest lasting 49er at the Tiger Trophy in 30 knot gusts (yes none survived)

24/07/2009 21:56:13
Mrs Tosh
I think we are getting away from the original thread, that being that we need to make a choice as families what our needs/wants are. Personally after my initial concerns about the dates for 2010 (and which I now fully understand thanks to Alex and Pat - thank you!) I asked the children what they would rather do and unanimously opted to forego school stuff in favour of Salcombe. It doesn't matter when Merlin Rocket week is the agencies will ALWAYS increase their prices as they know they can cash in on it and I don't think for a minute there is any kickback. That's just the way it goes - make hay while the sun shines as they say.
In answer to Mr/s . ( and I do believe that if you have something to say you should have the balls to say who you are - sorry, that's just me!) we don't have enough time to spend as a family on holiday as Tosh is never away from the 'phone working for himself and we certainly don't have extra cash to spend on lavish holidays so we choose Salcombe and The Champs as our holidays and we get the best of both worlds. The children willingly go and the boys aspire to the Bowen-Perkins and Jackson brothers who they have watched and enjoyed since they were knee high and whom they hold in high regard.
Rant over...

24/07/2009 22:44:42
former whitstable pro
Actually only Salcombe Holiday Homes had Merlin Week as high season this year - Coast and Country charged the week as mid-season !!!

25/07/2009 05:50:16
Mrs T,I totally agree with you,we will still go when jack is at school age, immaterial of when it is,I get little time enough to spend with him anyway,my only worry is your potential role models for your kids!Women... drinking...terrible!!

25/07/2009 07:17:45
Mrs Tosh
In terms as sailing as brothers!!

25/07/2009 09:49:13
Pat Blake
Well said Mrs T

25/07/2009 10:34:52
Thanks Mrs T, I'm sure it won't be long till the Tosh siblings are out on the water showing us all clean transom's as they sail to victory.
And as a teacher myself I strongly feel that a young child gets a lot more life experience coming to/competing at Salcombe than they do in the last week of term anyway. Of all the weeks in the school year the least productive learning takes place in that week as the kids are always high as kites having finished exam's etc....
Lets keep Salcombe week like it always has been, a week about Sailing, and if the tides are right and it falls in the school Hols then so much the better. If not there is always the champs in August to bring the kids to slap bang in the middle of the school Hols.

25/07/2009 16:55:00
Robert Harris
I suggest Salcombe Merlin Rocket Week is much more than just a sailing week. Some of today's younger sailors may not realise that every year Salcombe attracts a huge gathering of sailors and ex-sailors who go there to renew friendships made at Salcombe 20, 30, 40 years ago. Like others of their generation my son and daughter William and Jane also go to Salcombe year after year to spend time with lifelong friends they met on Millbay beach when they were all toddlers. 

This year we had cause for jubilant celebrations when Angela and Alan reached their 50th wedding anniversary during the week. I knew them before they were married!

25/07/2009 17:01:51
tide tables eh? who'd have 'em.

well, i'll give it another go!

27/07/2009 08:47:27
As a father of 2 school age children I noted next years Merlin week dates with horror and of the many families in our "group" a good deal of them have said they probably will not be coming. 
I've been going to Salcombe for over 40 years and it's reaching a point were we simply will not be able to come. Of course I have some sympathy for the tides argument but the week never used to be this early !! In fact it used to be 2 weeks later, it then moved forward a weeks due to bad tides etc. and now it appears to be moving forward another week !! I note in my 1994 mag that Salcombe week started 17/7.
If the tides are bad for the current week why can't we go back to the original later week or is there another agenda ?
Salcombe Merlin Week is so much more than just a sailing week and if you drive the families away then it will be a shadow of it's former self....

27/07/2009 09:47:25

Obviously spent too much time on the water and not enough time at school.

27/07/2009 10:23:45
The last day of school summer term for 2010 is Friday 23rd July so MW is 3 weeks before the end of term !!
What's wrong with w/c 18/7 ?

27/07/2009 10:52:12
Explained before, I think, tides sadly like the law of gravity you cannot repeal the law of the tides, a previous poster tried it a long time ago and his dramatic failure has put people off trying ever since.

27/07/2009 11:42:50
Can't be tides because that's 2 weeks later than the current week making the tides approx the same !!

27/07/2009 11:49:21
One other SYC consideration is having a recovery time between Merlin Week and SYC/Town Regatta (whichever comes first) all three of these events draw on considerable resources, especially from volunteers and I would suggest there needs to be at least a two week gap between Merlin Week and the first Regatta.  

In my youth I was grateful for Merlin Week being outside of School Holidays since where I worked people with families had priority in the Holiday Book during school holidays!

27/07/2009 16:37:57
Home Schooler
My advice - take them out of school and poke two fingers up at the nanny state...

27/07/2009 19:50:55
As a member of the teaching profession as of September my question is... how do you manage to teach and get to Salcombe week? Is it that private school holidays are complimentary for Salcombe week if so as a mainstream Geography teacher will I have to forgo Salcombe for the inevitable future?

27/07/2009 21:11:42
Mrs Tosh
Hummm, that's a good point Rachel. Alex made the point about tide tables and the closeness of Salcombe to The Champs being the two main reasons for the date that has been set. Without wanting to upset those who see Salcombe week as a purely sailing event,  maybe, if logistically possible, year on year Salcombe week could potentially be organised to fall early in the holidays and the Champs towards the end of August which would accommodate everyone. This would keep numbers up and smiles on everyone's faces.

It's a conundrum .........

28/07/2009 09:01:34
Rachel, make sure you teach at a school with Merlin sailing kids, then you take them to Salcombe as a school event, you could use the S.E.A.L. (social, emotional, aspects of learning) argument to sell it to your head. There are loads of schools who quote this in their anual ski trip letters to parents and head teachers to justify the time out of school.

28/07/2009 10:15:20
So how about moving the week to half-term (end May/ early June time) and asking the club to put on a handicap race for under 18's? The children can then bring their Cadets, Mirrors, Toppers etc.... 

Yes, I know, not much chance of either of the above happening!

28/07/2009 10:42:16
Andrew M
I am married to an ex-teacher.  Over the years we have had repeated problems because of the week appearing to creep earlier in the calendar (whether or not it actually has) and either I have come for the week and Becky has come down for the end or in 2007 & 2008 I missed the week altogether.  As only half the day is racing at Salcombe it has always been more family-friendly than the typical Champs - off the beach at 11:30, sometimes not back till 5:00.  There is only so much time I can take off work and it's not fair to the family to have 2 full weeks away sailing without them.  I'm sure a lot of other people who enjoy their sailing but have a lot else in their lives are the same.  I did swing it with the school for Ellie to take time out to sail when she was in her early teens but this was not possible when she was in the lower 6th as there was work she needed to be in school doing.  Fortunately now Becky is doing other things and we have no school age children there are no issues for us any more, but mid-July would always have been easier than the beginning, and the moon being what it is the tides in one week will be very similar to those a fortnight later.

28/07/2009 10:44:35
Andrew M
Last year the week was early enough for Ellie not to have finished her university term

28/07/2009 11:05:46
It seems a perfect time to point out that this year the champs is only one race a day with starts at 12 and there is loads to do for the whole family;

- beaches
- sailing school
- tennis courts
- swimming pool
- bowling
- skate park
- RIB rides
- And Canterbury is only five miles away with all it has to offer (
28/07/2009 11:32:11
Merlin week in school holdays would bring its own problem(s)
Last year I sailed in the SYC regatta which is held in August(for the first time). The plan was to berth the Merlin on Mill Bay after the first race. However, during the ride past Mill Bay during the race it became obvious that the plan had to be changed.
The reason:-
The number of boats moored off Mill Bay
The number of people in the water.
The lack of space on shore.
So plan B was to berth at Batson - but no spaces available.
Therefore sailed the first 3 races from the house! (Not realy a problem as I berth in the garage 50 weeks of the year) It was only on Wednesday that a boat space at Batson became available.
Where would you put 100 Merlins during the main holiday period?
There was also a lot more harbour traffic - which made the South Sands Ferry seem almost friendly.

28/07/2009 12:29:44
I don't think anybody is saying have it in the holidays and I can't actually remember it ever being in the school holidays. It's the fact that it's 3 weeks before the end of term and has been creeping forward over a number of years.
I think most parents would be happy if it returned to the original week 18/7 which is the last week of school term which finishes Friday 24/7.

28/07/2009 13:23:06
Presumably tides being on an about 5 year cycle in terms of when high tides are it will come back in a year or so?

28/07/2009 23:05:54
I think pjm has hit the nail on the head - of course it's a pity that parents with school children/school teachers may not be able to attend but you simply wouldn't fit 100 merlins in at Salcombe during school hols - never mind the significantly increased accomodation cost.

29/07/2009 07:42:16
I suspect that there will always be a full entry list regardless of dates.

29/07/2009 11:42:57
Mid Fleeter
Personally I would prefer it, if less people went...

03/08/2009 17:19:44
I agree with RH- which I might add is a rare thing! Bring back to the 18th as it used to be. Might be able to miss one week of school. (That is me and not the boys!!) Will miss next year as far to early. Will be the first missed Salcombe Week since nappies!

04/08/2009 10:18:58
Looking for a crew - anyone interested

04/08/2009 19:27:43
Colin S
Well, what a hornets nest this has stirred up !!We first raced a Merlin at Salcombe in 1962 in the Yacht Club Regatta (cash prizes in plain brown envelopes- usually hoovered up by Harris, J.) Several years of this, then small kids and a new Merlin week, so we carried on coming to Yacht Club and Town Regatta weeks, excellent fun for the nippers. Kids got bigger, now in their forties, so back to Merlin week crewing aforementioned Harris, J. Now as old as Methuselah so come to watch racing on the water  and grandchildren on the beach.Three weeks out of school(or 2 out and 1 back)is not on, so no grandchildren at Salcombe, no us. If it goes back to where it was 20 years ago we may make it (arthritis permitting) but we will have lost the property we have had for several years. Life must be so simple for the young Merlin sailor with no kids. I suppose that was me once !!

05/08/2009 07:57:27
Robert Harris
For more than 40 years Salcombe Merlin Week has been where the Stokes children, ours and many others have made lifelong friendships. In my opinion to deny today's M/R children the same opportunity in the current emailing, mobile, texting, Facebook environment is a mistake.

25/09/2009 18:20:29
Robert Harris
My brother John has won Salcombe Merlin Rocket week six times and has probably sailed in the event more than anyone else. He has written a letter to the chairman and asked me to post the text on this forum. With John's agreement I've made a few minor changes to clarify some points.

"I would like to add my name to the list of people unhappy about Salcombe Merlin week being earlier than usual.

The situation with my family is as follows. My daughter Sara (teacher assistant) who usually crews for my son Andrew and James my grandson who crews for Alan will probaby be unable to go due to school commitments, nor probably will the two children of my other son Richard. These days schools are much stricter about taking time off.

There are many other families with similar situations

I really feel that ther should be more liaison between the class committee and Salcombe Y. C. when the date is chosen. I am sure we must hold considerable sway in Salcombe bearing in mind the number of people we bring into the town.

I have heard through the grapevine that the commitee and especially the chairman are not over concerned about the situation.

The change of date also makes it difficult when booking accomodation as preference is always given to customers who rented the property for that particular week the previous year .

The Salcombe Y.C. will always put forward the case that the tides are not right for a particular week. Iam not sure I go along with this. I have been coming to Salcombe since 1962 when the Merlins sailed in the club regatta, even in those days we had large fleets and it was always the same week regardless of the state of the tides.

We had over 40 boats and eventually in the early 1970s we shared the week with the Fireballs (still in the school holidays). This lasted only a couple of years as the Fireball fleet diminished and the Merlins were then given a week on their own from which we all know has gone from strength to strength.

Merlin Week is a good fun, serious racing week but traditionally it is also just as important as a family holiday week.

Do not kill the Golden Goose".

25/09/2009 18:57:20
Someone who can never get to Salcombe.
If Salcombe will not play ball there are plenty of very good venues that may be glad to give us a week. 
However we would need a decision universally subscribed to by the potential atendees, which may be difficult to get.
I regret that there will more chance of pigs flying than Salcombe doing anything other than offering their choice.
Perhaps where the prices are not so very high, or the parking and off shore regulations so draconian.
Whitstable, though it lacks sand.
Hayling Island.
Christchurch Bay.
Just a thought.

25/09/2009 21:27:24
Just a thought, has anyone asked Salcombe YC directly why they selected this date. But please bear in mind the following:- The race officers, and core of rescue boats are manned by volunteers from the sailing club, not to mention all the meetings prior to this to enable the regatta to happen. OK so there are paid staff, behind the bar, in the kitchen, and John M. running the show, but an event like this takes a lot of time and input. The club also has two other regatta's in August, The Club and Town regatta's which are also run with large numbers of volunteers. I have sailed at Salcombe when the tides have been less than perfect, and must say that at times it is very crowded, and in light winds nigh on impossible to sail against the tide. All in all Salcombe do the best they can to give the best water conditions possible, and organisation. I think we should be saying a very big thanks to all at Salcombe for having the Merlin’s (when not a club class fleet, and allowing us to sail in what must be considered a very unique setting for racing, and not slatting them. Perhaps sitting down and asking what can be done for future years, and what we can do to help.

26/09/2009 01:51:42
. or . or .....
It is one of my ambitions to sail Salcombe week.   Not next year but maybe the one after.

I recognise the huge effort that any club puts into organising a open meeting let alone a whole week. To do that for a class that doesn't have a fleet at the club inspires admiration, neigh surprise!

Clearly many people have fond memories of the week which involve them as children and their children. Tradition is a strong supporter of such weeks.

I doubt that the club want the week to be anything other than a success but that requires a lot of dedication from their members. The date is after all, finally their choice. Let them choose wisely.

I feel the tone of the comments on this forum are critical of the club. I think they are to be praised for organising a premier sailing week. Lets not loose sight of the effort they put in. I hope there is still a week for me to attend in couple of years!

Re reading the above after a few sherbets it looks very up myself but the message is... Dont upset them so that they cant be bothered because i want to do it in 2011!

26/09/2009 08:43:53
Someone who can never get to Salcombe.
Not I think a critique of the club as such, but more a rather biased non-acceptance that you cannot please all of the people all of the time.
I am sure that whilst Salcombe as a whole including the club accepts even welcomes Merlin Rocket week (Tills ringing through vomit in the streets.) there has to be an non-altruistic motive too. Clubs are expensive, cliquey little holiday towns need to cover overheads even make a profit to defray costs to locals, no harm in that at all.
What is rather more serious is the though that you can overcome the laws of practicallity and nature, for those with the blessing of large, extended functional families it is a no brainer, for those of us who take our childrens development socially as well as educationaly seriously it is perhaps rather more problamatic and I welcome the chance to broaden their horizons beyond a limited pool of friends and place.
I really hope you will find a solution, with the way the politician mess around with education, you may even find a move to four term years (Like Scotland and the rest of the world after the election which may or may not solve the problem for us. Which would be political first but welcome non the less.

26/09/2009 11:26:54
ex Chairs
Salcombe is Y&Y number 1 event 'not to be missed'. Alternative venues miss the point.

Salcombe Yacht Club work very well with the Committee to identify the best week for tides and potential overlap with National Champs.

Salcombe Yacht Club 'own' the event, not the MROA. Other big events such as Nationals, Inlands are owned by the MROA.

The last week of summer term is less formal education/subject tuition and more school 'engagement' through prepared pupil events, presentations and the like. The Salcombe event, I suggest, is aligned with this social development of pupils and in many pupil situations a more worthwhile endeavour than that last week of the school year. The bigger problem is those employees tied to termtime working.

26/09/2009 11:51:38
Chris Phelan
Hip Hurra til Salcombe og Merlin Rockets i en gra og gretten verden!

26/09/2009 15:14:00
Den betydelig sagen er at hen til nyde sjor og koblob og holds skrap overalt hvorden.

27/09/2009 11:55:19
Stick with the good week that Salcombe offer, as there are plenty of other child friendly sailing weeks in the school holidays for those that can't go - a prime example is Pyefleet week which even has a Merlin Rocket start!

27/09/2009 12:17:23
Mike Anslow
Another point to remember - and probably already mentioned some while ago on this thread - is that the Class holds its National Champs in August, and to run Salcombe and the champs too close together is likely to diminish the fleets in one or both of these events.  This did happen a few years ago and complaints were received from members who were unable to attend both as a result.  Committee then expressed the wish to see at least 4 clear weeks between the events so that those who wished to would have more chance of attending both.  

The dates for the Nationals are booked several years in advance and there are issues, such as tides, which dictate which weeks are chosen. It is difficult to keep everyone happy when choosing dates for events - whether done by committee or by the host club - but I'm sure that those involved will have borne in mind the issues which have been raised in this thread.

Mike Anslow (ex MROA committee)

27/09/2009 19:10:38
Which goes to show what we already know that you cannot please all the people all of the time, and perhaps the sphere of influence may  be moving ans those losing influence may not be as happy as those gaining it!

28/09/2009 07:42:46
Robert Harris
Why do so many of you use nom de plumes? Whether you're for or against my brother's point of view your case is weakened if you can't be identified by the majority of readers. Are all anonymous posters current members of the MROA?

28/09/2009 08:31:46
Ancient Geek
I guess as long as the attendance numbers stay up, Salcombes decision as to dates is vindicated, if the entries fall then they may rethink in 2011?
A pity to see an event that has meant so much to so many, for a long while now, be the subject of an albeit, good tempered argument.
This far out I am sure the accomodation issue is not really a problem,though you may not get the same place.
Holiday let advance bookings in the South Hams are well down probably for fiscal reasons, reality says you are not going to move the school year though in years ahead there may well be Scottish dates (Which are different.) and a four term year, for the State Schools though wether the Public Schools would follow that I do not know.They are getting increasingly independent as to action.
I jusy hope for those who feel they are being excluded a way can be found, of course if its Stats, GCSE, A Levels, University Entrance, Bacalaureat, or University Exams you can't do much about those dates!
I remember that my own school summer term actualy went on two weeks or so, after term ended because of School Trips, Expeditions and CCF Camp. Indeed it was hard to fit in any family holiday until the end of August! I hardly saw my own children in the summer holidays with extra curricular activities going on. Sadly it was an arrangement that suited all parties.

02/11/2009 17:01:10
Perhaps Salcombe week scheduling could be an item for the AGM agenda, although ironically many of those with strong opinions may not be able to make it...

03/11/2009 13:41:42
Which makes a case for the AGM being held at the Inlands - a more central venue.

03/11/2009 14:23:13
Average turnout for the Inlands has been only 40 boats in recent years (unlike 80 at the Champs, and 100 at Salcombe) but of course if the venue is central some members who aren't racing that day may still attend....but not many I'd bet.

03/11/2009 14:37:44
David Gates
As Salcombe has the biggest turn out of boats by far, why not have the AGM there.

03/11/2009 14:55:11
We do
We do, that is the irony in RH's post!

04/11/2009 14:22:55
Northern Merlin
Off the 100 boats at Salcombe, how many people went to the AGM this year

04/11/2009 15:27:53
70 in total (61 Full Members and 9 Associate Members)

04/11/2009 19:26:01
Mrs Tosh
1 family booked in to accommodation as of today, children have their spades packed, school informed, just have to tell the husband now!

04/11/2009 22:20:29
Two families booked, Rachel, Hywel and bump.

04/11/2009 23:23:45
Mrs Tosh
Yey -  buckets galore, sand castles and ice creams! We'll look forward to more babes on the beach whilst watching the racing. Good stuff! Make sure you get to the Open Meeting too BP family, Great  for scrumptious snuggle baby stuff and Daddies to have sorted sailing times. Can't wait!

05/11/2009 08:45:10
got myself booked into a dog friendly cottage so im coming next year


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