The Merlin Rocket Book. Jim Park and Ian Holt

03/11/2009 14:47:09
David Gates
A copy of the The Merlin Rocket book has come up on ebay for £78.00. I know it's a good book but!!!!!!!!!!!

For any rich person out there here is the link:-

03/11/2009 15:08:34
Jeremy 3709
Time for a 2010 update / reprint to cover developments todate ?

03/11/2009 15:50:24
I think this suggestion has done the rounds many times. If mind serves, the cost of printing a run the size of the likely demand is too high

03/11/2009 18:35:16
Sorry, this is only a lose connection to this thread, but what are class funds for? I remember think last time I saw the accounts that the class cash balance was "comfortable" around the £35k mark,(I have gone and found the last mag now).

The Solo fleet is the richest one I have come across, they have bucket fulls of money. In my tenure as treasurer of the Fireballs we spent it all, rightly or wrongly, it made my job more difficult.

Trouble is you can only spend for the good of the class as a whole, you cannot underwrite commercial ventures, you cannot subsidies championships, you need certain funds to cover printing, Dinghy show, championship shortfalls and stuff, but £35k?

If this suggestion is dismissed as not efficient spending, anyone got any other ideas?

03/11/2009 21:31:16
Northern Merlin
Who has the copyright for the book ?

03/11/2009 22:23:39
Umless they assigned it the authors or their literary heirs.

04/11/2009 10:56:27
A few years ago I enquired about the new technique of "print on demand" where you can get a run of as little as 50 books for a sensible cost, and then go back later and get another 10 without any 'retooling' cost at all. 

The issue would be getting the original text onto a computer; an existing book would have to be chopped up and scanned in. Then of course the temptation is to edit it a bit...

06/11/2009 22:03:22
Keith Callaghan
....and maybe even correct a few errors of fact.

06/11/2009 23:11:21
Such as.....?

07/11/2009 10:54:28
Andrew M
Have a look at Keith's website.  He has issues with the way the end of his partnership with Pat Blake was reported.

07/11/2009 15:29:54
I wrote a software package called Lawtex97, as name suggest many moons ago later wrote a similar package called Simtex, basically a package to transform paper material into e-books as a modular online learning tool. I should think that 12 years on it should be easy to find some software to create an ebook on CD, and relatively cheap to reproduce.

07/11/2009 21:59:37
The digital part is the easy bit. Its getting the info off the paper and onto the computer that is a pain.

08/11/2009 11:54:41
Most scanner software has an Optical Character Recognition (OCR)- at least the last 2 HP scanners I've had came bundled with it. It tranlates a 'photocopy' into a worpad or word document - very handy.

I'm fairly sure any print bureau or printer would be able to scan it to a file which could be edited. Permission to do may be less strtaightforward.

08/11/2009 21:10:23
Ah, again, you're missing the point. Computers can indeed turn a printed page into a (moderately accurate) electronic file....

....but we have HUNDREDS of printed pages to scan, save, OCR, correct, append! There's the rub.

09/11/2009 00:12:52
I definitely agree, but with few other options, it must be high on the list of alternatives.
How about voice recognition software - read the book to the children at night, and meanwhile the computer turns it in to a digital file! two jobs in one!

09/11/2009 08:36:48
which would be cheaper? Get the pages retyped by proficient typist, or scan and correct. I used to use textbridge and employed a student to scan pages and correct errors before proof reading by another.

09/11/2009 09:35:55
The digital print companies will slice the spine off a 'donor' book, and feed it through their machine. Whilst they can then rebind it, it becomes a little narrower!

Anyone going to offer me a donor to get this project off the ground?

09/11/2009 09:42:35
I guess the MROA would have to contact Ian and Jim first to see if agreement could be reached to do this.

You might be able to scan/photocopy a book first without need to remove the spine (though that would take time)

09/11/2009 09:44:11
Another thought, the book might have been written on a computer (they did have them in the mid 80s....), so might be an electronic copy on an old 5 1/4 inch floppy?

09/11/2009 10:12:42
Keith Callaghan
Sorry to go off the main point, but I need to clarify what I meant by 'errors of fact' above. Among other things, I was referring to the statement in the Book which suggested that I 'left the class' because I was miffed at the rejection of the 4-plank proposal. That is untrue. I also felt that Jack Holt's designs perhaps didn't get the attention they deserved.As for Patrick and I, we were friends then and still are - as far as I am aware, there is nothing in the Book which contradicts that.

09/11/2009 15:51:35
Just found the scans of the covers...
09/11/2009 15:51:51
Back cover
09/11/2009 21:44:00
Chris M
The Jack Holt designs will hopefully be covered in a new vintage design guide that is being collated by Mervyn and a few others.

11/11/2009 14:11:21
david Henshall
In the end, the way forward is not just to reprint the Park/Holt book, for though this is excellent it is now some 25 years out of date. Maybe a better solution is to use what is there as a starting point and then build on that, bringing things bang up to date. That is not as hard as it sounds, for the more recent years are much easier to research - plus in the case of the Merlin, have seen less in the way of 'frantic' development that was so much a part of the first 40 years of the class.

THis all sounds very nice, but could it be done? The simple answer is yes - though there are two factors that could 'make or break' this as a project. Could the Class Association take on the copyright of the old book and the new book together and then hold it on behalf of the class? Secondly, who holds the originals, in what format and with what approval for use of all the pictures that are already featured in the old book.

Resolve these two issues and then the task is far more straight forward. I say that with the experience of just having completed 'Hooked On' - the story of the first 40 years of the INternational Contender. There is an interesting aspect to this book as it was kicked off by an ex Merlin sailor now living out in Australia who asked why the Contender could not have a book "just like the Merlin Rocket one". Being a Merlin and Contender sailor I knew what he meant and took on the task of writing the class history in the same light by informative style used in Jim and Ian's tome. There are other links between the two classes, not the least being that one of the best pictures in the book shows a 'younger' Glen Truswell showing just how to sail fast offwind....

Alas, I am not one of the usual open meeting pundits from within the class heartland, though that said I've been a class member on and off since the early 1970s. Having grown up at Hamble, Merlins were very much part of my sailing background, though the choice of 1317, a MkXII was not that inspired for Solent sailing. Since then I've hit the high spots in the 1980s with 3199, the Credit Card design from Mike Burnham ( a brilliant boat yet sadly a design overlooked by the wider class) and still enjoy the subtle skills required by the Merlin with my classic 'Smokers' as an antidote to the Contender/505 sailing that I also do.

Mags was right to call for 'heads above the parapet level' on this and maybe I am sticking mine right up into the firing line. But that said, I am sure that I am far from unique in being one of the more 'background'' class members who love the boat and everything about it but are not out on the circuit. If this last fact is true, then it should be easily possible to shift between 200 and 300 copies - at which point the whole activity can become self funding.

I asked earlier 'could this be done'. The bigger and show stopping question is more one of 'Should it be done'?

That has to be a question for the class as a whole, but the feeling must be that with such a richness in the class history, (and not just the first 40 years but from 1985 until the present) that to not do so would be to miss a wonderful opportunity.

David 'Dougal' Henshall
13/11/2009 14:03:12
I read this thread with some interest as an OK Dinghy sailor and some time Merlin sailor, who would love to have a copy of the Merlin book. OKDIA the international OK association recently commissioned Robert Deaves who is a long time OK sailor and Author of the Finn book Finnatics to write a book on the history of the class to celebrate its 50th anniversary. (an excellent read & books still available by the way :-)). The book project was made possible by asking member national associations to pre-purchase a number of books to help finance the research & publishing costs. The Merlin class - while not being International does have a healthy national association and a large number of very strong clubs, that may be willing to do something similar. If you have pre-paid orders for a few hundred books the whole proposition would look a lot more viable.

13/11/2009 14:51:33
The only place Merlin Rockets Sailors splash the cash seems to be in the bar.

13/11/2009 15:37:56
I mentioned before about 'Print on Demand' which makes low-volume print runs feasible, and also means you can print another 10 at cost if you get another 10 orders the next month.

13/11/2009 19:12:11
david Henshall
Another interesting aspect here - the focus on 'price'! 

Back to recent experience: Once I'd completed the MS for the Contenders, I had two options. Paperback or hardback. I'm not expecting the numbers to be huge here, but even so the differential was not that great - £10 v £15 (that may go up to £12 and £17.50 but even at the new higher price it is hardly something that most sailors will need to make sacrifices to get!Both boats also have something in common, as an all wood Bonezzi boat is a thing of beauty, just as is, for example, this years championship winning boat. It's a valid question! If you can afford a Bonezzi - or a Winder, are you going to baulk at the price of a book dedicated to the boat you sail?

Not to forget....If you read carefully, you will see that the 1986 book was generously - though very discreetly, sponsored. From the Class Association, through Batt sails, Winders, plus seven other named contributors, the help was there and without banner headlines proclaiming who had done what.

My guess is that today, there is a harder edge to these things, with more of a quid pro quo being demanded - but that may not be a bad thing if the inclusion of sponsors allowed for more of a full colour, coffee table sort of book. Okay, that may hike the price up another 50%, but is not the boat, and it's history, well worth it?


16/11/2009 19:24:03
Keith Callaghan
Mags, your proposal appears to be sound. You can have my copy as a donor book - but I want it back (even if slightly narrower!). Incidentally, the copyright of the book is owned by Jim Lowden, not Ian Holt/Jim Park. Another thought - what about contacting the original printers to see if (subject to copyright etc) they will reprint the book? (Stones Printers, Milford-on-Sea - not sure they still exist, but they may have successors).

16/11/2009 21:08:33
Why thankyou Keith, you are a mine of information, as well as very generous! We will see what the committee decides about the book idea. 

I daresay someone reading this knows Jim Lowden and can ask what he thinks of the whole business...

18/11/2009 16:40:40
John 1201
I met Jim Lowden at Queen Mary SC a couple of weeks ago, he is currently restoring a flying 15.
Although I did not mention the MR book to him I am sure that he would be very happy to cooperate with any reprint. Might even tempt him back into the class!
Well worth talking to him.

20/11/2009 10:01:37
chris B
2012 will be Jack Holt's centenary. Could David H's suggestion (or was it an offer?) be linked or expanded to that in some way?

20/11/2009 12:04:57
david Henshall
Chris B. 

I'm already doing some other work relating to the Jack Holt/2012 dateline (a perfect antidote for all those looking to avoid saturation coverage from Weymouth that summer!) and think that the idea of tying the two in together has a great deal of merit. The timescales are just about there too - start early in 2010 with a target publication date of say, Salcombe Week or Nationals 2011.

If the old MR book text can be used, then half the book is there already. It would be an interesting challenge to somehow blend this into a bigger publication, that brings the story bang up to date, whilst at the same time trying to ensure that the later chapters build seamlessly onto the earlier work.

That said, it could be done and yes, my earlier postings were meant to be read as an 'offer'.

I count myself as lucky, as I've had three great sailing loves in the 40+ years that I've been dinghy racing - The Contender, Merlin and 505. I'm also lucky that I am in a situation where I can indluge the time needed to write a 'readable' history. The Contender book is now done, for the 505 I am aiming for a 2013/2014 publication date to tie in with their 60th anniversary, so yes, the timing would work for me too.

Just a thought..... this would make timescales all the tighter BUT how about the date of April 1st 2011 - 60 years of the full 'Merlin Rocket' class. Now there is a date that should not be allowed to pass without some ceremony!


27/11/2009 14:04:47
I have no interest in Finns whatsoever, but I have to say this new book looks so good I could quite happily read it all anyway.
28/11/2009 07:24:30
Saw this article on book publishing, may be useful..

This weekends click not been released on IPlayer yet, may be worth watching for more info when it is..

28/11/2009 09:47:48
Keith Callaghan
Magnus, are you going to discuss at the next MROA Committee meeting the possibility of producing a new Merlin Rocket Book? You have a putative author, the means to produce it using new technology, and an offer of the original material from the original book (subject to copyright). Hopefully the MROA can dip into its funds to provide a little venture capital.

28/11/2009 12:28:39
Tony Lane
It would be great to have a new book. If I can be of any help please let me know. 
I have MROA Year Books for 1951 and 1962 to 2009 except for 1964 and 1981 which are missing.

28/11/2009 12:35:18
Now on Iplayer... see...

28/11/2009 13:48:14
david Henshall

I would hope that I am something more than a 'putative' author! The link to the Contender Book is listed above, although the book is not released as yet here in the UK as the wish was that this would form part of the 40th Worlds, scheduled for Brisbane in Jan 2010. The key point of this was that not only did 'Hooked On' have to be more than just the story of what happened to the boat in the UK, it had to be 'readable' in the multi-cultural enviroment (gosh - that sounds like something out of a party political broadcast - but sadly all too true). Having checked on the costs of doing a translation into other languages, we stuck to English but kept the text (lots of finger crossing here) comfortably readable.

It is not usual, but then neither is it unknown for one author to build on another writers work. Making the transition from one to the other good enough so that the reader can't easily tell where one finished and the other begins, well, that will be an interesting task.

I said in an earlier response on this topic that I was somewhat surprised with the focus on price. The first book was assisted ( I've backed away from the term 'sponsored' as that implies some form of reciprocal branding) which could help explain why it was such a damn good buy all those years ago.

From recent experience, a good 'guesstimate' for a new MR book would be in the region of......

Soft binding, B&W pictures....... about £15

Hardback, colour dust cover but B&W pics....£25

Ditto but with some colour..............£30

or you could go for the full Mutts Nuts, glossy, high quality coffee table sort of publication and be up around the £45 - £50 mark - though I stress that these are approximations and do not take into account any support/sponsorship/advertising that could be used to up the standard but control the end user cost.

I'm sure the first book was a 'labour of love' - unless you've big money to throw at the project, the second book will have to be the same!



28/11/2009 21:59:01
I've asked for "the book" to be added to the agenda of the next meeting. We'll have a chat and see what the general consensus is.

Thanks to everyone for the ideas and offers so far.

28/11/2009 22:06:50
Keith Callaghan
Sorry David, I meant no offence. My use of the word 'putative' was incorrect use of English, in that I really meant 'intended' or 'proposed'. I hope that the project gets off the ground and like Tony, if I can be of any help, let me know.

29/11/2009 08:44:36
david Henshall

You do not need to apologise - for you actually made the point for me that I was trying to make. Whoever writes the 2nd book (by that I am assuming that the question is when not if) will need to have a good command of the english language, for the Merlin Rocket class demands high standards. One only has to see the quality of the comments expressed on this site when compared with other on line forums to see that spelling and correct use of grammar still matter here.


29/11/2009 12:08:38
David Gates
Like everyone who has commented on this thread, I too would love to see an up to date Merlin Rocket book of good quality, and would be willing along with others I am sure to make a small donation to help kick start the project. Likewise I am sure there are loads of us with pictures and information that would be willing to allow them to be used in a book just for the recognition. If the Association agree to doing a book, how much would be needed to start it off.

29/11/2009 17:00:23
david Henshall

From a position of finances,the writing process is fairly clearly defined. You sign a contract, get an advance and start writing.

However, in the case of the Merlin Book ( as with the Contenders, 505s and my guess the recent Finn book)life is very different for this is not being done by the writer as a money spinner - as I said in my last comment, this has to be a done by someone who wants to do it rather than someone who is paid to. Even at bargain prices, for a book such as 'MR2' (sorry Toyota, may have to borrow your car title for a while) would suddenly become unviable.

Again working on a 'guesstimate' basis - I would think that the most advantageous route to making any such project a success would be for the class association to own the copyright - that way reprints and 'MR3' in 2035 can be easily negotiated. The writer gets his expenses covered and the glory (????? Glory - what glory).

So the money side doesn't really start to raise it's head until you get close to printing. Then, it is a simple matter, if such a thing exists, to take a punt on how many copies will sell; the greater the number, the cheaper the unit price.

So, if 'MR2' were to be available, how many copies do you think would be sold?


29/11/2009 17:34:39
David Gates
David, I understand that it is not money to start with, information photo's etc. There must be a wealth of this out there, If it can be co-ordinated for people to send in this material, then it becomes more of a job of correlating and checking. to start with. Still no easy task. Just need to find a way to encourage people to do it.


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