2010 PY

05/03/2010 15:35:59
Now 1006 ......................................... Will make sailing on restricted waters on handicap even less competitive .

05/03/2010 15:46:50
Happy Phantom Sailor
About time too

05/03/2010 16:11:34
The Phantom has dropped by 8 points as well to 1035!

05/03/2010 16:31:33
Mr Clever cloggs ;-)
So who likes the 'Change' column added to this years PY list upon my request....

05/03/2010 16:33:53
Mr Clever cloggs ;-)
Just noticed the Wayfarer's have got slower, even though they have a new design out two years ago. Go figure that one out....

05/03/2010 16:41:16
Would it be sense to fix the older boats' handicaps? As while the guys at the front (new) end of the fleet are evidently getting quicker, the older boats certainly aren't. Currently I believe older boats sail off 'current Merlin Yardstick plus X'. Personally, I think it would be fairer to fix the older boats' handicaps rather than drag them along as the newer boats develop and progress.

On a different note, it's a good reflection on the fleet that they think Merlins (and their sailors?) are getting consistently better...

05/03/2010 17:51:07
wow..big drop..reflecting the talent of the top jockeys and speed of the newer plastic boats no doubt.

I'm not sure my 20 year old woody can live with a py of 1006 in a club handicap bandit fleet, even though it's a Chipstow Tales. Usual story, ok up wind, but can't hang in there downwind. I think that's put paid to my handicap racing this season, where there are some averagely sailed single-handers doing some average, averagely timed lap racing., on some dodgy single-handed biassed course.

The Merlin handicap bands (year 1989 onwards, and before 3466) did try to take that into account, (the first Tales and derivatives launched), but perhaps not now the speed differential between the wooden boats of this era and the new composite boats. Is plus 10 (PY1016) ?, now a realistic number? I would echo the previous comment of trying to fix the older boats handicap back to 1014.

05/03/2010 20:34:59
too slow
it's all a joke, you can not possibly handicap race fairly against single hander with an asym or any boat with an asym, or a foiling moth or any dead class that rooster choose to rebuild which has a handicap from the 70's!!! ( they play the game better than most) All h/cap racing should be banded to make it even by the type of boat......... but then who cares....... as every dog has it's day and it's all just a bit of fun ...........................right?

did anyone see dickie's result in the Hoo freezer....he lost an hour long race by 15 minutes to an IC! QED.

05/03/2010 21:02:56
Anglian Webfoot
Ah well,never mind, I shall just have to continue cruising round with original kit until someone donates a couple of carbon rigs with ugly grey sails attached.  If the club handicappers are in a generous mood does anyone think I can go back to the old number + the age allowance and can I have a few more added for a lovely suit of cotton sails currently under repair?

05/03/2010 23:56:27
Remember this table. It is endorsed by the RYA, and was created with their consent/approval. Your race team should use this table for club-level handicap racing!

06/03/2010 08:27:01
Hi Folks

RW had a navigational error and had to unwrap himself at the mark and also believe it was his first visit. Simon Allen if he'd travel, used to, is one of the countries top IC sailors and its his home waters. ON an ICs day he is the hardest to beat and even Mike Childs cannot do it and he has been the top IC for years. Some clubs race the Merlin off 1000 and they still win. However, I do agree that a new band should be introduced at the start of the Winder Mk1s. Reason for here is that too many of the original Winders have now had upgrades.
Biggest Bandit is the Cherub as Pete Barton could in the right conditions sail to under 800. Just imagine, one of the top 49er teams being let loose in it. There are some glitches still but that will only be resolved if clubs provide the data. So its down to the members of clubs to make the system work. In principle it is great but it is only as good as the data received.
Bye for now, off for a sail in the sun with the chill factor. Ouch!!!

06/03/2010 09:43:39
surely the age related boats table should have further distance from the new py, add another 8 right through the list; or more because the list pre-dates the last few changes too. Currently we have 21 year old boats sailing off the current py? I don't think so!

06/03/2010 11:01:59
Garry R
Every year my 60 year old gets faster according to the PY!!  I haven't lost weight so the boat must be on a fitness regime I don't know about.  Off last year's age related handicap at my club sometimes I can give the Lasers a good run and other times I can't.  This year I think it will help the Lasers all the time.

06/03/2010 16:33:00
Peter 3112
So although poor old Lucky Strike gets no younger she is expected to be 8 better this year than last and 10 better than 2008 - time to fit a carbon mast or an auxiliary! I hope I'm sailing her better these days than 2 years ago but I am not getting any younger and will struggle even more against the Wayfarers and Lasers. However, having heard how fast the really modern Merlins were at HISC Fed week last year I am not surprised that we have had to take a cut and pleased that the front end of the class can compete against asymetric plastic baths.

06/03/2010 18:09:39
Chris M
So it will be all boats pre Winder mk1 except Moondance then.......?

Seriously, I think that the system in place is the best we can get without opening up the system to abuse. It needs to be simple and as such will never be perfect.

06/03/2010 22:50:27
simple yes, but it needs to be adjusted from time to time; just like the py list!

07/03/2010 19:47:51
Our club still sails off 1024 for modern boats and thus 1074 for us in 2121 and we find that's OK as we come pretty even with the lasers. But now someone's told sailing committee the Merlins and Lasers have changed so they're going to look at handicaps. They just didn't get it when I said that the RYA PY was just a guideline and clubs should set their own figures as they've always used published numbers, despite being a puddle where courses are set for lasers and its usually impossible to use a kite. 
But I don't know how we'll manage to sail 3434 - a twenty one year old original kit ROTS - off 1006 and not be bottom of the fleet. Surely there could be an intermediate band for non-carbonised boats.

07/03/2010 21:12:40
too slow
This is the problem 3,700 boats and 20 that do the circuit.........do the maths!
why do 3,680 boats have to have the same handicap as the latest machines that are now costing about £20k
I had a lovely sail today in my 45 yr old boat , put wings on the new ones why should it affect me?give then a different number. mind you rooster has probably pissed off a few graduate sailors who have had an easy ride for the last 20 years!
can someone maybe call the RYA and have a chat...it's a two way street and as the MROA you should support the 3,680 boats too not just the 20 or so that are competitive at 1006.
the thing about our class is that the boats are lovely and thats why we sail them so please keep them alive ( look at 14's, there are no penultimate 14 fleets,the boats are dead, so lets not go down the same route for the sake of 20 boats.)

08/03/2010 08:34:31
What actual difference in seconds does this make on a one hour handicap race? Would I be right in thinking it's just under 30 seconds?

08/03/2010 08:37:52
chris B
Our club has never accepted the merlin handicaps for older boats at face value and simply have a second py for boats over a certain age. I think one problem is that the MROA numbers for older boats do not say if they are for boats stil sailing in the condition that they were first certified or do they apply to hull regardless of how much they have been updated with rig, new size spinny, shutes .etc. Although it could be a mine-field I do think the numbers need some qualification to make them credible to club's sailing committees.

I do agree with the comment that the classic Merlins have got something right compared to other classe's classic wings. I would support the suggestion of stating actual numbers for the older boats rather than Py+xx. Logically, in a development class the newer boats should always be getting faster but the older boats don't change (unless updated).But the suggested PY's should take into account whether the boat has been updated (retro-developed?)

08/03/2010 09:06:53
I hear the Laser Radial PY now indicates they are faster than a standard Laser...but what can you expect after a windy winter? They will be faster!

08/03/2010 12:44:56
We have had to sail off 1007 at Brightlingsea for the last year as we do too well at our club - the problem is a handicap is always an average of all winds, skills, and venues.  We wouldn't beat an asymetric on a windward/leeward in a Force 3, but up the shore short tacking against the tide they suffer.  i do feel that we should however lobby for vintage handicaps to be included by the RYA! this would make clubs view them more fairly!

08/03/2010 13:18:15
Fat Pig
Isn't it about time the class updated the 'old boats' ratings table? As the owner of the boat that's on the breakpoint, I feel pretty aggrieved that, in a 21 year old wooden NSM4, I'm expected to compete on the same handicap as a new Winder.  Surely we're not saying that our class has stagnated over that period?  Fat Pig has been updated to deck stepped and a carbon rig, so she's not massively outclassed (in the right conditions) but there's no way that she sails to the same handicap as a modern boat (even allowing for the bloke on the tiller).

08/03/2010 15:17:13
Providing you can decide what makes a boat fast or slow then a ratings/handicap table has to be possible within the talent that The Merlin Rocket Class has within it. Including of course crew weights.

That is of course if the Merlin Rocket Class membership have decided , and the RYA approved that it is in fact a handicap / rating class, not a level racing class designed and built within a set of paramters.

If it is just for handicap racing with other classes then the class could presumably offer advice and experimental results to the RYA or individual race organisers, toconsider adjustment of either the Portsmouth Scale as a whole with maybe several levels in due course or on a local basis, and of course dependent also on the wind and general conditions!

Probably easier just to race level and enjoy it?

08/03/2010 20:40:37
Measurement Man
Ok; may be it is time to come clean.

The Portsmouth Yardstick Advisory Panel has been re-constituted, and I can confirm that the Merlin Rocket Class is represented on the panel, so to all contributers who are concerned that the panel is uninformed or unaware of the realities in the class, you are mistaken.

Lets get factual for a few moments and leave speculation behind....The MR Yardstick has for a number of years been overstated by the system of gathering information from the clubs via the annual return system. Many clubs who are returning their suggested PY's for older boats return the age adjusted number, which in the averaging process, drags up the average on which the published Recommended Number is based. This effect does in fact outweigh the effect of the newest boats being fast, because the number of clubs submitting returns that include handicap racing of the newest Winder designs are very few.

18 clubs submitted returns for Merlin Rockets for the 2009 season (excluding those who submitted for single handed or no spinnaker configurations). Shoreham, Whitstable and are the clubs who club race new merlins in any numbers, and they recommended numbers of 982 and 1000 respectively. Other clubs with good size fleets sending in returns include Blithfield (recommended number 1005) and Chichester (1008), who are reporting on the Snowflake series. Both of these submissions include a range of older an newer boats. Clubs such as Parkstone and Wembley primarily class race and do not submit a return, and HISC has not returned for a number of years.

Cookham suggested 968, and while famille Blake are members there and may be blamed for beign just too damn good, there are a range of other ages of boats and sailors contributing to the mix. Compensating for this were Bewl (1028) Cam (1054) Tamar (1034).

Interesting to see that Chew Valley returned a recommended number for a Classic Merlin Rocket at 1009.

Punch all the data into the computer and it comes out at 1006. Last year the calculation came out at 1008, the previous year 1012, so at 1014 there was a large element of benfit of the doubt. This has come out in the wash this year.

A common comment is that 'my old boat has not got faster'. For those of you that have not pimped your boat this may be true; but those of you who have decked stepped, carbonised masts, booms/ rudders, added raking rigs, new model spinnakers, twin poles, laminated sails etc etc etc, it may be harder to believe that these tweaks have had not effect whatsoever.

Two points to finish; first is that the Recommended Number is a starting point for reference, and a local handicap should be produced that reflects local conditions and boats - not by estimate but by using the process laid out in YR2 as part of the system. Second is to re-iterate the point made by an earlier contributer which is that handicap racing is inherently flawed - so go with the flow and enjoy the day!!

Maybe this is a good time to highlight the new web based returns system that I would encourage all clubs to use, which enable you to calculate your results on sailwave, and then upload directly onto the RYA database. This will permit much quicker adjustment of PY numbers - as quick as a few weeks, rather than the years that it takes for changes in a class' design to show through under the Annual Returns system.

Hope this helps, chaps.


08/03/2010 23:59:02
I wonder about the credibility of some of the club returns. Bewl Valley is listed as a merlin club, I don't believe there are many if any merlins there!

No merlins have raced there this year, only two posted results last year and were both visitors from Whitstable sailing off 1018 and neither won!It doesn't seem like there was any merlin activity in 2008 or beyond either.

When I looked for a club to join in Kent several years ago I looked at Bewl because the MROA site advised it was a Merlin club. Then, they had no merlins!(this was also advised to the MROA at the time)

How is it that they can return a Merlin result to the py system when they don't have any?

How are they still listed on this site as a merlin club?

I'm not having a go specifically at Bewl, but information from any of these clubs has to be correct or it should be withdrawn.

09/03/2010 07:48:37
Northern Merlin
How many MR's does it take to make a Merlin Club ? perhaps once we know that figure we can then see how many clubs actually sail MR's.

09/03/2010 08:32:00
Measurement Man

You are absolutely right; looking at the forum a few days ago there were race results being flagged from Bewl, the winter series, I believe, but it has not been a strong Merlin club since the days of Nick Peters and Chris Andrews. However, this is the reality of Merlin sailing for very many of our members; they race as a singleton or a strong minority in a general handicap fleet. These competitors are the very people to whom an accurate PY is most important; the likes of Parkstone, Shoreham, Hollingworth etc, where strong class fleet racing is the norm may not even know what the PY is!

This all serves to underline the importance to everybody of urging their club to make a return, either on the website, or as a traditional paper submission.

The more data, the more accurate the outcome; unarguable, I'm afraid.

If you would like someone to visit your club to discuss using the web return for the PY system, let me know and I will see what we can do.


09/03/2010 08:51:26
I think we might have to have a work with our Sailing Sec at COokham. I have no idea where he got 968 from! Given that a Merlin has not won a single handicap event at the club in the 2009 season!

09/03/2010 09:20:21
I believe Brightlingsea has been completing returns online with 2-4 Winder style Merlins competing with a variety of Lasers, Mirrors and Fireballs.

Measurement Man, have you seen these results coming through to the committee??

As Craig says we sail of 1008 as a number I gather we get back from the online system / RYA. I am hoping that the number we get back will be no worse than 1006!!

09/03/2010 10:20:16
Garry R
I hadn't realised that the lasers have got 2 points added on to their handicaps so that's 10 of a difference compared to last year.  Think I'll take up snakes and ladders and rely on the dice!!

09/03/2010 10:32:52
Measurement Man
Brightlingsea did a web return proposing 985.

Tot Cal for the web returns was 1003. You can see that the trend is for boats to be getting faster as more newer boats enter the market. This is the other side of the coin; new boats makes for a healthy class, which is where we all want to be.

Never going to please all the people all the time.

I would come back again to the point that the system intends that local adjustments are made to suit local conditions and boats. If it is not happening, it is not a weakness of the system, but in its application.


09/03/2010 10:36:32
Lasers now have XD controls and have got faster as a result not slower ..............

If Lasers are handicapped across results for new and old [ pre XD ] then same should apply to us albeit in bands to reflect comparative speeds as the class develops .

09/03/2010 11:29:38
Andrew M
Unless I am calculating it wrong the change since last year is less than 30 secs in a 1 hour race (= 1 poor mark rounding) and less than 1% in all.  The number has not dropped enormously since the changes in spinny rule that have made a very big difference downwind.  I have only participated in one handicap race in the last year - it wouldn't have made any difference to the results.  But as Graham says, local factors make a big difference, short-tacking down a shore then running deep back down again is not quick in a 505 or a Fireball.

09/03/2010 11:41:30
You're still changing the PY rating for whole fleet when only some of it is progressing.

The older boats should have a fair rating for examples that are in good, not necessarily 'pimped' condition. A PY rating should not compensate for owners that do not keep boats in good condition, but it doesn't seem fair to have the sliding scale that is in place. I think this is a Merlin thing, not an RYA thing?

For example: Garry R's boats are in immaculate 'as new' (not 'pimped') - condition, but (with the greatest respect) they aren't getting any faster! How is the PY+x fair for this type of MROA member?

09/03/2010 11:53:33
How many Canterbury Tales built before 3430 get a preferential number? How mant NSM 4s built after 3430 have to sail on the same number as a brand new boat? I am glad that someone thinks this is right!

09/03/2010 12:27:45
Andrew M
Answer, 1 CT was built before 3430 (I stand to be corrected but believe it is only the original, 3417).  No NSM4's HAVE to sail off the same PN, it is up to clubs with the involvement of the local fleet to decide what is fair for the local fleet in the local conditions.  The high profile events, Bloody Mary and the like, attract the top end of the fleet and are held on open water.

09/03/2010 12:41:30
Andrew M
Sorry, Canterbury Tales was 3413.

09/03/2010 13:43:15
It’s called shandycrap for a reason, anyone who believes it’s always fair, or could ever be fair, is delusional.  Depending on the conditions and course configuration someone is always getting a gift and someone else is getting shafted.

It’s all about getting on the water and having an enjoyable sail, if you want to take it that seriously you should be somewhere else.

09/03/2010 14:16:34
Many thanks for the detail Graham, my one and only observation of the numbers you quote, with the exception of Cookham, is that the further you get from the sea the slower Merlins are expected to be.

There may be a number of resons for this, I would expect the age demographics of sea boats to be younger and therefore more modern. However it does stand in the face of the perceived nature of the class as a handy inland or river boat, at some stage the class has turned into a quick sea boat that is not very good inland!

09/03/2010 14:30:53
N 12 is absolutely right.

09/03/2010 17:37:00
Tim Male
Blithfield introduced 1005 for a "modern" merlin back in 2008 when it was clear that the RYA PY was out of date. It was accepted by the fleet very well (I actually did all the math and proposed it). We also changed the Phantom by the same amount to maintain the close racing that existed between the 2 "fastest" fleets. It equated to about a 45 second change in an hour when we were starting from 1018.

What prize do we get for being 2 years ahead of the game? :) [smug]

It hasn't actually changed our finishing positions for handicap races, but it has brought the "slower" classes closer to the front, which is good for those who are just club racers.

The debate as to what is a modern merlin and what's an "old boat" requires another topic.....

09/03/2010 17:41:13
did MROA declare to the RYA that it was going to put bigger kites/carbon sticks on the boats I wonder. And perhaps this is just playing catchup to the fundamental changes that we have all known about but the RYA are oblivious. It could well be that for the first few years after the new kite was introduced that the MR's enjoys a healthy advantage as they were using an old py for a boat with a substantially small sail area.

09/03/2010 21:11:09
David 3709
while 1006 might be for 2010 would there be a history of PY going back at all anywhere. In particular when 3440 was built what was the PY then.

09/03/2010 21:16:41
Chris M
The spinnaker size rule didn't change, it just became possible to use all of it. I would hope that the RYA knew about it, they do afterall look after the class rules and ratify all changes.

09/03/2010 21:58:45
cake and eat it
I find it rather amusing that you all choose to sail a development class and then complain when the class develops and the handicap changes.
A Personal Yardstick next?

09/03/2010 23:30:09
I had 3466 new and if I recall correctly the handicap was 1024 - the same as a Tasar.  But if you go back a lot further the Merlin handicap in old money was 91 - the same as a Finn!!! 

Ever since the new rules kite came in we have been racing off 1000 at Whitstable without too much difficulty. Although we class race in our various series, we do have a number of all in handicap events (club championships, RNLI pursuit etc) and these are the ones on which are returns are made, hence our recommendation of 1000.

09/03/2010 23:38:04
Historic Merlin Handicaps
I think you boys need to be rather quiet and be thankful for small mercies.

1975: 1040,
1980: 1040,
1985: 1040,
1989: 1040,
1995: 1021,
2000: 1024,
2005: 1024,
2006: 1021,
2007: 1019,
2008: 1018,
2009: 1014

10/03/2010 08:02:38
Enterprises don't have age related handicaps - yet.  However, no one would expect a 25yr old wooden Ent to win against a modern competitive glass version when sailed by equally competent crew.  Why do we appear to expect that to be  the case in Merlins?

I don't think there is any difference between expecting to win a club race against other classes compared to expecting to win a club race against a glass Merlin.

10/03/2010 08:22:22
It is ironic that a level racing class spends so much of its time discussing handicaps, is there a hidden agenda here?
Do we need a MerlinRocket version of tye Chilcott Enquiry?

10/03/2010 08:31:51
Ex Ent
Unlesss your name is Dave Beaney, as he IS still winning in his 30 yr old wooden Ent against the modern glass boats! and ALAN johnsons is older still and still beating all the fleet.
BUT they are not typical 25 yr old boats, which as you say dont stand a chance against a modern 'equivalent'.

10/03/2010 09:54:38
Garry R
There are two issues here I believe.  How do Merlins get on when racing Merlin to Merlin in a fleet of boats widely differing in age and not pimped but kept in reasonable original nick?  In this situation are the age related handicaps suggested by the MROA working, because after all those parameters will remain (in relative terms) unchanged when everyone in the Merlin fleet slides up or down the PY pole.  Once you get into the realms of mixed handicap racing then it is different.  The relative diferences in PY between classes do change and this is the result of us racing in a development class whose speed and performance improves AT THE NEW END OF THE FLEET and using this baseline figure all the way down the line for the boats of a certain age.  Now while we would all love to have a brand new Merlin regularly updated and sailed as well as the top guys, this is not the case whether through economics or ability - or both!!  Is there a case that boats over a certain age - albeit on the sliding scale that is in place already, have their handicaps left untouched when the top guys in the new boats (say ten years old or under) move lower in the PY? As I have said in the past my 60year old boat is not getting faster and it would be interesting to see if the top crews sailing her would be able to beat a new boat also sailed by a top crew on the current handicap system.  Again I am talking un-pimped here!!  I do want to keep her original.  I should add here that I am not personally out to win at all costs (and thank God for that as I would be destined for perpetual disappointment) but it must be good for club sailing if results do not become a monotonous procession of the same boats in the same order week after week by the same margin of difference. It certainly becomes more exciting when results are close. At Forfar we have had a year where racing went down to the last race of 3 out of our four series in a small fleet and it was great fun.  This year with 10 difference compared to last year between Merlin and Laser that won't happen. It should be remembered that perfect handicapping should result in a dead heat every time!!  Of course it never will in sailing but the results shouldn't be predictable before you leave the shore!!

10/03/2010 12:34:39
Sponge and fudge
Well said 'Cake and eat it'. The PY system is meant to give good sailors in good boats an equal chance of winning. If you sail a 30 year old version of any class you can't expect to win, let alone a development one.

10/03/2010 13:28:53
Having just chatted to Simon Lovesey (who does PY number crunching for the RYA) I think it worth re-iterating a point:


It's not gospel.

10/03/2010 18:58:22
Tim Male
Mags, from the RYA documentation:

"When adjusting any Portsmouth Numbers, great care should be exercised. The proposed change should only, and truly, reflect the performance of that design of boat on your club's sailing waters and not be because the class has better (or worse) sailors than the club average."

I'd say that the 2010 PY is the most acurate that has been published in recent years and should only be tweaked if you're sailing on something other than "average" water.

10/03/2010 19:19:02
ben hollis
Not strictly true tim i think pys should be adjusted at most sailing clubs. what do you class as an average water?
there are different caliber of sailors from club to club so at some clubs the merlin rocket py might be way off the py number given by the rya.

you cant no matter where you are just settle for rya pys as all sailors racing on regular basis at each club are at different levels.
if you didnt adjust py to reflect on the caliber of sailors then it would be boring to watch or take part in because you will know who is going to win before you touch the water. the py should therefore be adjusted to suit everyone that sails on a regular basis so everyone has a fair chance of winning.

10/03/2010 19:26:54
ben hollis
another point to add is that in handicap or fleet racing if you are sailing a 25year old boat then you have more of a challenge to win.
it doesnt matter what class of boat it is as garry says you have no hope against modern boats doesnt matter how modified it may be pys must be adjusted on the modern boat.
you dont see F1 teams using older designs to win the principle is the same in my opinion.

10/03/2010 19:50:50
Tim Male
Oi Ben,
The boat yardstick isn't adjusted for crew skill, for "everyone to have a fair chance of winning" you need to use Personal Handicap racing.

10/03/2010 21:36:31
> doesnt matter what class of boat it is as garry says you have no hope against modern boats 

Even in river conditions against the real inland specialist designs? (at least given equal sails). Given reasonably comparable rags I wouldn't fancy my chances in a modern Cherub against a 60s vintage design in light airs at Thames SC...

10/03/2010 21:51:39
ben hollis
yes tim sorry thats wot i meant my apologies

12/03/2010 19:18:32
Sailing Sec at Cookham here. Regarding the questions raised by Jez3645, the figure of 968 is the result of the official RYA calculations for our 2009 spring and summer handicap races in which Merlins took part (and finished!) - albeit only a few races. The spread of PY's achieved was from 851 to 1050 with 968 being the average.
For the 2009 winter series, the average figure was 978, based on 9 races, with Jez3645 having a personal average of 919. So why we let you sail on 1019 I do not know!!!
[BTW - the figure submitted for the Albacore you'd all love to beat was 965!]

12/03/2010 20:07:01
Measurement Man
Nigel,  thank you for the independant verification of facts!  Could you be persuaded to check out the upload to the RYA website?  I am not a e-guru, but am given to understand that after registering initially, you work out results on sailwave and then press an 'upload to RYA' button, and it automatically shares your results with the rest of the nation.

Clubs such as Cookham are very important in the collation of data so do please consider it.



12/03/2010 23:02:50
Finding this hard to follow, the original post said that 1006 would make, I assume Merlins, uncompetitive on restricted waters. Did it mean that Merlins would be unbeatable off 1006? So was arguing for a lower number, I had interpreted the statement as arguing for a higher number. 

I have already noted from GGGG's notes that, with the exception of Cookham, Merlins look to get slower as they move away from the open sea. Cookham, as far as I know is about as restricted as you can get, baring that Mere in Solihull, has boats sailing, one assumes in some sort of competion off very low numbers, is this what the original postee was proposing?

Going back to my earlier post, and Merlins getting slower as they move inland, in some respects this implies that other boats are getting faster,(as they move inland) does anyone know what these are? I am struggling to come up with anything save those big things they sail at Kingston, and I cannot believe they influence National PY numbers.

13/03/2010 01:18:03
This inland sea thing confuses me.  The modern Merlin is an extreme shape compared to most (but not all) classes. It is tippy (though not uncontrollable) and manoeuvrable. It has a symmetric spinnaker that can be launched quickly but requires a bit of a balancing act in the front with the pole (e.g. compared to a RS400).

I have sailed it inland and on the sea. On the sea it is influenced quite a lot by the waves making it more challenging to sail than on flat water. Waves knock it around and provide troughs to sail the bow into.

The Merlin has a (relatively) high aspect rig suited for inland (see the Thames A Rater at the show).

So why do the numbers show it going faster on the sea compared to inland? I cant help wondering if this has more to do with either the courses or the age of the boats. I suspect that more old boats get sailed inland than on the sea? Courses are constrained at river clubs where Merlins are sailed making the spinnaker less beneficial than on big courses. Do we see this effect with a Fireball or Kestrel?

On a related topic..

My biggest problem with adjusting handicaps at a club level is that for our club (and I suspect others) results are adjusted on the basis of the boats that sail regularly. We only have one statistically significant Phantom sailor, likewise RS300. IF we adjust the Phantom handicap it MUST become a personal handicap because it is impossible to distinguish between person and boat.

I don't believe that the purpose of handicapping is to ensure we have a dead heat. If you are a rubbish sailor you should come at the back. Just because you sail the only one of a class at the club doesn't mean you should end up standing an equal chance of winning. That is like saying we will hobble Federer because he keeps winning so that Henman stands an equal chance - where is the sport in that? I will stop trying because in the end the handicap will be adjusted so that I can win anyway!

In the end class racing must be best because it is a fair'ish competition though newer boats tend to be quicker - Dave Beaney Ent being an exception. (But then Dave has never been a slouch in an Ent). However we are not all blessed with the opportunity to race in a big class fleet every weekend. Handicapping gives us as good as we will get if applied sensibly. My plea is please make it as fair as possible by making the Sailwave/online returns to build up a mass statistically significant database and (contrary to the RYA view maybe) limit the fiddling with the RYA numbers at a club level if you only have singleton boats in a class.

13/03/2010 11:21:52
John A old merlin, current ent
Dave, Old ents in wood can still be competitive, but I still think they are handicapped out in all but the light stuff, Mr B who we both know well only wins on rivers and ponds and won't race on the sea (I do wish the Ent's would get their own forum) Re age allowance for older boats if I get 2717 restored (repaint and varnish) and sail her with a 40 point allowance is this fair as she is decked stepped (although without lowers as I was told the hullwouldn't take them)and altough the tin spars won't take laminate sails it will take modern dacron. If i put carbon spars on then i can have an up to date rig with big spinny, twin poles etc on a wide hull (ghost rider) but with the same age allowance as hog stepped.I'm not good enough to get the best out of the boat and the project was only bought to do some CVRDA events but I hope you understand the point.

14/03/2010 14:47:02
One of the contributing factors at Cookham to the low Merlin average 'achieved' PY value is that when Merlins are sailing in a handicap race, they are competing with much slower boats that do comparatively less well, especially in light winds. This tends to raise the "average corrected time" for the race, and results in the fast boats achieving lower PY values than usual and slow boats achieving higher PY values than usual. However, the figures are still valid - that's just the way the system works. That's not to say we always have light winds (witness the 2009 CRSC Silver Tiller), but on stormy days Merlins may be the only boats afloat!

For most of the year, Merlins race in their own class, so we have relatively few handicap races to submit involving Merlins. I am sure the RYA know how to handle this, and that our results will not have a disproportional effect on the final figure.

[PS: How do Merlins compare with Albacores elsewhere?]

15/03/2010 10:13:39
Midland SC sailing sec
The saga of inter fleet relativities has pre occupied clubs for years.  At Midland it is regularly recycled with the usual issues of:
The official PY
the make up of a fleet in terms of boat age
the make up of the fleet in terms of talent
the influence of the water and the growth of trees or the sinking of the water level

For each actual race at Midland there are 12 results.
4 named fleets, menagerie and overall and then again on personal handicap.

The handicaps between boats are hotly discussed and uses the official PY as a basis then altered accordingly based on practical experience. We can calculate in a pseudo scientific way the actual results and will submit them in due course to the RYA. We have tried splitting the fleet into different starts but the general feeling is that we like to start a fleet altogether for the fun of starting and accept that the newer boats will usually pull ahead. But the older dogs will get their day via the personal handicap mechanics.

We recently changed (from 1/4/2010) the Merlins down relative to the other fleets (Solos, Enterprise, GP14, laser types, RS types, Nat12, fireball. The GPs currently have a PY advantage of an additional 60 seconds over the official so it will be interesting to see how that pans out. That fleet, like the Merlins is a mixture of old and new, both boat and crew. The very old fireball has about 90 seconds over the official figure and now starts with the Merlins.

According to our results person, the current 'bandit' boat is the Solo.

15/03/2010 13:43:58
Here are some results with Albercore (7th) against Merlin (29th).

Boat handicaps give a indication on how you are doing in a handicap fleet.
In a single race it can tell you little other than whether or not the conditions suited your type of boat, if there are no other boats in the same class.
We found it useful to sail in a handicap fleet as we could practice our technique in clear air whilst still having the enjoyment of being part of a race.
Class racing is of course the best which is why we sail at Tamesis where there are 10+ Merlins out every Sundat all year round.

15/03/2010 16:17:06
David R
I sail at Port Dinorwic Sailing Club. It is very evident that our waters place some classes at a distinct advantage or otherwise. A boat that will do well must be agile, tack and jibe quickly and roll well. I don't think I have ever seen (or will ever see) a Contender win, but RS400 and Solo do well. Without altering the handicaps what happens is that sailors gravitate to the classes that typically do well. It may be argued that this is a good thing as it builds fleets of certain classes. There is another Merlin at PDSC, but I have never seen it raced and so have no idea how it comes out. I am hopeful that the Merlin will not prove too much of a disadvantage... It has been a lot more fun last year in the Harrier, when I was somewhere in the bottom half of the fleet, than in the Contender the year before, when I was so far off the bottom of the results sheet that the fishes there carried lights!


15/03/2010 17:04:11
Handicap racing is obvioulsy flawed from the start. The ultimate solution would be to have a limited number of classes that are 'official' and can be raced, that way a critical mass of fleets could be encouraged. I'm not an expert on motor racing, but I have never heard of handicaps in that, I just hear of different classe, F1, F2, N class etc.

I assume that the 11 national classes that the RYA have, was once upon a time, an attempt to encourage such polarisation.

Personally, I really don't enjoy handicap racing, but if it is all you have got available to you it has a tendency to eventually either
1. cause you to moan for ever about your handicaps
2. seek a ringer on your particular water

I think the PY system has broken the back of fleet racing in many clubs, and as sailing number have declined and number of classes proliferated, you get the situation of these races with only one or two of each type of boat. A downward spiral.

I'm sure that is not what the intention of the PY system was, I'm sure it was to allow those who just were not in the 'big' fleets to occasionally have a go against other classes.

The solution is more club fleet racing and leave the handicap racing to novelty events like the Bloody Mary or other 'fun' regattas.

How do we get there - I don't know?

15/03/2010 18:21:08
PY Hater?
"The spread of PY's achieved was from 851 to 1050" - which indicates the scale of the (actually unsolvable) problem.

"The solution is more club fleet racing and leave the handicap racing to novelty events like the Bloody Mary or other 'fun' regattas" - is the solution, we always got moaned at as a club for only allowing a handfull of classes (or at least prioritising them), but it meant that only now and again in special events did PY become an issue.

I always laugh when the guys in old boats want a PY they can win off though - they don't expect to race in an open against the new boats and win, so why in a multi-class event?

15/03/2010 18:40:16
Hadnt thought of it like that AlanF but suspect your are on the money.

15/03/2010 19:05:23
It is ironic that a class that is a level racing development class's busiest thread on its excellent forum is on handicapping! Alan is absolutely correct.

16/03/2010 08:31:33
> The solution is more club fleet racing and leave the handicap racing to novelty events 

But that's clearly not what people want. If you tell me I have to sail a Laser or sail nothing I'll be the one snug and warm under the duvet when the first gun sounds... Class racing may be what the top 10 or 15% of the club wants, but what about the rest? I submit that its clear that it isn't, and telling folk what they ought to want isn't going to work.

16/03/2010 08:54:25
I once belonged to a club that only allowed three classes of boat to race, if you wnated to join and race then you had to have one of the three. Some years ago they felt this was resticting membership and so opened up to any class of boat and handicap racing. The result - no extra members and the destrution of good club racing. My advice to clubs is to restrict handicap races and focus on class racing. 

My other though is that the Merlin is a not a one-design, we should expect development and be pleased that out handicap is coming down or the concusion would be that the class has stagnated!

16/03/2010 09:12:51
Ancient Geek
Dave you are right, when I started racing in the South of England that was the case, at Minima For instance it was Merlin Rocket - National 12 - Cadet - Solo or a small handicap class of Enterprises a half rater and an Albacore. Other clubd were the same the real problems seem to have been caused by the proliferation of Manufacturers One Designs, if clubs were able to be more Draconian the choices would be restricted and class racing again would rule at club level. But clubs need members and TRavellers Trophies mean class racers travel away.

16/03/2010 12:06:22
Just need to get all the old boats out handicap sailing, to show a true representative of the Merlin fleet as a whole!.
If they entered handicap races and did badly, the handicap would drop. (presuming the races results are returned to the RYA promptly). For some beer money, I would happily race and do badly, taking it on the chin for the Merlin handicap.

16/03/2010 13:20:47
I think that would be a R2 breach

16/03/2010 13:54:18
if it was deliberate it would be misleading and thereby a Rule 2 breach.
But a simply change in boat ratios as a normal portfolio of racing boats with a spread fleet cannot be a breach. Nore could it be policed.

learn about rules at Rutland race training.

16/03/2010 14:06:08
[quote]If they entered handicap races and did badly.....[/quote]

For most of us in old, unmodernised boats doing badly is the norm and why we go racing with the cvrda. We've done the Exmoor Beastie in 2121 and couldn't even get them to give us the official adjusted PY, despite taking documentation of it, so ended up going off with the Phantoms instead of with the Albacores.

16/03/2010 15:23:40
That was a tongue in cheek comment regarding sailing badly for beer money.

In fact just sailing my old Merlin to my best ability, would still have the desired affect of reducing the Merlin handicap imposed upon me, if I did enough races. If I could lobby some support from 3430 to 3543 to get out there and do some handicap racing, then perhaps the race officers could actually see the tangible speed difference between these boats (that get no allowance under PY) and the new plastic boats. Surely the tiered handicap system for club racing the Merlins have, need revising and clarification?..

Or is it just tough titty, you bought a Merlin, it's a development class, and that's what will happen !?! If you don't like it then, don't do any club shandicrap racing, find a local club where they fleet race, or trade up into a newer boat.

16/03/2010 18:12:43
3434 will eventually be doing badly sometime this year. I said that last year but she's suffering the old "cobblers children have no shoes" syndrome as the OH is a carpenter and painter so there's no time to fix our boats :-(
Once done she'll be handicap racing at Cheddar (BCYC) - any more Merlins there?

16/03/2010 18:43:34
Actually Tim B you may be coming to the conclusion that if you have an old Merlin pre 3500 or so, there is not a lot of point belonging to MROA if nothing is done to adjust PY numbers for old boats and accommodate the obvious inconsistencies mentioned above. Does this encourage 2nd hand values also? All one wishes for is more of a level playing field for older Merlins. Talk about it and you are accused of always wanting to win (not true) or taking it too seriously (but it's OK to spend £20,000 on the latest kit). The sop of the old boats prize at Salcombe or Champs is not especially incentivising.  Perhaps a declining membership may concentrate a few minds, maybe only 220 members for those after 3500 is what is wanted.

16/03/2010 20:59:29
Surely its all irrelevant? So long as the merlins you race against are subject to the same PY number theres no change, and if you still cross the line first in a handicap race, does it matter if a laser gets one place up the results sheet due to some numerical abberation? Probably an unpopular view, I know.
I've suffered a misconception for years that the Portsmouth Yardstick was a three foot long derivitave of the bit of old bamboo used for getting weed off the rudder. After reading the post i'm not sure which is the more useful to me.
I'll get my coat....

17/03/2010 07:34:20
Why net get a couple of the top helms to swap boats with us less able lower fleet members and see what happens? I reckon the Top helm in a mature merlin would still make the top 20% of the fleet or better and I will still be in the bottom 20% even with a new boat, the boat is not the only reason they are at the front.

17/03/2010 08:30:37
Contrary to some suggestions, the Committee is not standing idly by on the handicap matter.  In recent years the Vintage fleet, in liaison with Committee, experimented with a type of handicapping which accounted for age but mostly kit.  However, it is known that water/wind conditions also play a major part but they are even more difficult to account for.

At the front of any fleet the newer boats will mostly win because of boat and occupants. A new boat does not guarantee success let me assure you. There is no point applying constraints to equalise out these advantages for the ultimate "first across the line prize". Racing is about relativities and a combination of personal handicap to reflect personal skill/experience and a maybe a "correction" for the boat itself may be possible. Our internal handicapping is pretty crude at present with age related recommended handicaps and it is probable that the Committee will review these to reflect a more absolute reference rather than a relative reference to the variable PY handicap. This is largely an internal Class affair. As has been pointed out, the older boat has not suddenly got more competitive.

We are well placed to represent the Class in the overall PY decisions but in the spirit of the Basic Principle we should contribute to sport of sailing by accepting the inter fleet decisions which are made in good faith with the available evidence.

Come to Rutland Training and go faster!

So far a range of age of boats from brand new to definitely mature. Diversity accomodated.

17/03/2010 09:14:36
Dont blame the MROA. Personally i have had a lot of satisfaction (no pun intended) in beating much newer & more expensive boats in an old boat. I wouldn't expect to do that on a championship course, but there are plenty of places on the Merlin circuit where you can compete (including Salcombe). Ultimately if you want to compete at the top level in the Merlin class you have to dig deep into your pockets - it doesn't guarantee success, but......... If you want strict one design racing on a budget you are looking at the wrong class, however If you want a well balanced thoroughbred for not much money & are willing to accept the limitations of an older boat - You can have a lot of fun. Plus you will have plenty of cash left for your evening constitutional

17/03/2010 11:00:38
Regarding the 'older boats are not becoming more competitive' argument, could this be addressed by a separate  Old Boat PY (set around the NSM 4 / Tales turning point)? The classic and vintage boats could then be tied to this value by the '+xx' system. This could be reviewed as is fair, but would be independent of a Modern Merlin PY.

Then a more regularly updated Modern Merlin PY would impact only those who are at the new end of the fleet, i.e. the end of the fleet that is still developing (as it is supposed to).

Other classes, where there is a dramatic difference in performance between new and old boats have two PY values (I refer to Moths etc), why shouldn't we?

17/03/2010 11:24:27
Ex merlin
two classes 'Merlins' & 'Rockets'?

17/03/2010 14:27:27
Andrew M
Nothing's perfect.  Handicap racing is never going to be.  There are 3 things that will mean a boat does not keep up with the front of the fleet which relate to the boat not the driver.  In Merlins we spend a lot of time obsessing about hull shapes, there has been something of a step change around the 1st CT hulls but it really isn't as easy to define as that, there were other boats with similar characteristics earlier (Once Bitten) and the shape has been modified quite a bit since the initial CT 3413 from which the moulds were taken for the JT tales, subsequently modified on a few occasions.  Boats get softer with age, even when well maintained, and in other fleets older boats are not expected to be quite on the pace in open water.  There has been a lot of rig development with refining of the basic soft deck-stepped mast/raking rig concept, and the big spinny.  So if I decided to follow Glen's mods and tuck in the planks on the bilge of Heaven Sent, drop and narrow the bow waterlines a bit, get a Chipstow rig and new sails, how would we handicap that?  An NSM4 with a carbon mast and big spinny against a hog-stepped ally Summer Wine?  If we fix the PN for NSM4's then is that just for those with original rigs?

As it is I enjoy my racing on a level basis, there are still people in much newer boats I can beat from time to time and a win on handicap isn't the same as pipping someone on the line after a tacking duel up the last beat.

17/03/2010 15:49:13
Developments are so minute nowadays with the hulls all quite smilar but with potentially great variation in speed on account of old/new rigs along with sails there could and should never be different py's for dfferent "eras" of merlins. Ultimately there is no way to qualify the ratio of speed wth age, Beauty of merlns/n12's e.t.c is that theyre all different. Time to give up really , Forum has attracted some 90 odd posts, would dread to think how many there would be if it came to choosing staggered PY's! Its a development class...

17/03/2010 16:12:55
IT doesn't matter what the handicap is when you have to race in handicap races, you have to sail with what you are given, in the end there can only be one winner, and then conditions make variences inevitable. In lighter airs Merlins will always do well, when its blowing dogs off leads then you look for Fireballs & 29'ers to be winning, it natural.
CLubs are these days meant to adjust the handicaps to suit local conditions anyway's.

17/03/2010 16:16:18
Jacko seems to win whatever at Blackwater.

17/03/2010 16:25:47
Measurement Man
...That's because Jacko is a God, and not tied by the limitations that affect mortals ...

17/03/2010 17:00:16
May land [from the] sea
Are you sure its not Lorna who is winning, while Jacko is just sitting at the back?

17/03/2010 20:39:37
mmm...tammy open meeting...isint "passing cloud" always in the chocolates by the end of the day?......1960 something?...

18/03/2010 07:27:40
bi curious
....and the Adur 7's used to do quite well at Cookham and UTSC against the new boats too......food for thought, and not a PY in sight.

18/03/2010 07:52:14
Chris M
I've resisted coming in here for a while having been tied up talking about PYs at my club. I think, personally, that graduated changes to the PY system for older boats is actually more trouble than it's worth becuase there is no truly fair and equitable way of deciding the boundries and what boat falls into what catergory.

The 10 points per 10 years thing works well for very old boats (30 years) that are being sailed more or less as they were built because it's not worth upgrading them. However once you hit the low tank era I know of very few boats that are actually being sailed in the spirit of this, ie with no significant upgrades such as big kite, long poles etc. A stiff, well maintained NSM IV, Gnome, or Summer Wine with good sails is actually at little disadvantage compared with a CT until you hit planing breezes or the sea. What conditions do 75% of races take place in? Force 2 to 3.

What did we do? It took some getting through, but Blithfield SC now race a "Modern" Merlin off 1000. A "Modern" Merlin is defined as anything with a carbon mast. An ally rigged boat gets a PY of 1010, in line with MROA recommendation. We haven't gone for the full sliding scale as we have currently no need to.

Why this definition? It's very easy to differentiate between boats and it's a "Spirit of the rules" thing, in that if you are prepared to spend £xk upgrading a 25+ year old boat to a chippy or SS rig then you are clearly trying to either compete with the big boys, or to outcompete the other oldies. It is totally unfair to expect an alloy rigged NSMxx to compete with a carbonised one on level terms. This situation has clearly happened (See referance to the De May series earlier) and does cause resentment, as does the reverse such as deliberately buying new "old" kit to harbour a better handicap. I hasten to add that nobody at BSC has done this, but we do have a couple of significantly upgraded old boats as well as boats that are more or less as built.

There is no perfect solution to this problem,

18/03/2010 08:05:40
Robert Harris
'Passing Cloud' has already won the competitive Tamesis winter season sailed by my nephew Richard Harris and his 9 year old son Harry. No handicaps involved but admittedly she has carbon spars etc. but so have several of the other older boats. There were two other 'Passing Clouds' in the Tammy fleet.

19/03/2010 08:14:59
...dont know about the PY thing but would be inclined to agree with Alan F earlier post.  As far as old boat boats go the people keeping their boats in original condition are really taking part in a concours d'elegance and why not if that rocks your boat.  The merlin class is a development class and it is pretty amazing (and a credit to the class) that boats as old as 40+ (with the correct development, carbon rig etc) can compete on equal terms in the the right conditions with even the most modern boats. They are also a complete pleasure to sail.  Embrace it!

19/03/2010 09:25:03
Andrew M
Yup, we have hit the ton on this thread!

Nothing else to say, have done it already

19/03/2010 13:03:39
dv ......best sailor in the world?

24/03/2010 09:08:53
He does it again, Jacko not complaining about his handicap, but then he's a good sailor.

24/03/2010 18:27:57

30/01/2011 09:19:24
996 in 2011 ? Used at Steve Nicholson Trophy ............

01/02/2011 19:22:01
All fair between the older and newer boats, just look at the Thames river series, probably the best racing series for bringing old and new together (and the most enjoyable) The river is a great equalizer.


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