Old Merlins from the 70's and early 80's..where are they now?

30/03/2010 15:38:35
Just reminiscing about some of the old Merlins I used to crew and race against, wondering if they still are out there racing, or have gone to the viking burial ground.

3138 Meglo Much maligned Jo Richard's design in the design guide, which is pretty inaccurate. A huge jump in downwind speed compared to the Smoker's, NSM1 around at the time. It's sister ship 3142 Mania, was much better built, but was destroyed

3139 Misirlou Ken Collins?...what happened to him?...and then 3265 U-Turn, a wider powerful disguys.
3189 Pig Pen..dumper Truck design..?
3197 Aspiration..aka the Iron Lung?
3208 Stilletto..with it's ever changing transom design?

There seemed to be alot of design dead ends around at this period, vJust wondered if they still exist and still race somewhere?..It was just exciting times, picking up design guide from the Nationals to see the myriad of designs, weights and equipment. What was new, and what didn't seem to work.

I'm sure they're are loads of design dead ends still out there ..just wonder if any of the members with long memories can enlighten me.

30/03/2010 20:06:05
Dumpertruck was lying (Dying??) in Birmingham, may have resided at Brookvale SC.

I thought Stilletto belonged to Pete Richards?

30/03/2010 20:07:14
And i think Meglo was on ebay a while back looking very sad.

30/03/2010 21:27:36
Stuart Bates (MR3615)
I owned Meglo around 1989, when she was at HLSC.  I last saw her in the mid 1990's at Lytham St Anns.  I recall that she went very well with 16 stone aboard (I was 17 at the time, with a similar aged crew!) though she had gone soft and the transom would drop by 2 inches when the rig tension was let off.

It would be nice to know if she is still around.

30/03/2010 21:33:18
3139 was owned by john hudson from tamworth s.c dont know if he stillhas it tucked up in his garage!

30/03/2010 22:39:52
Garry R
This thread of seeing old boats one used to own and now in a sad state is a little reminiscent of Black Beauty seeing Ginger just before death in the Black Beuty book by Anna Sewell.  When I read that first as a young boy it had me in tears and I remember the feeling as if it was yesterday.  If I saw a boat I had renovated in a right state it would evoke similar feelings I reckon!!

30/03/2010 23:06:26
david Henshall

You're spot on about that spell (in boat number terms, late 31XX/early 32XX), one of the boats in that run of design dead ends was the Mike Burnham designed 'Credit Card', sail no.3199. Best described as the front of a smokers mated to the arse end of a summer wine, it was a lovely, vice free boat that was equally happy in the estuary conditions of Southampton or on a pond. I sailed the boat for a number of years, often with Tim Powell (now seen at the back end of Enchantment) and the boat didn't lack for speed, despite a naff rig. Boatbuilder Ian Ridge then sailed the boat in an event at Weston and showed that it really could go.... sadly I then sold the boat, it was last heard of at Island Barn. I recently (last autumn) contacted the club to see if they knew if the owner was still a member but I drew a blank - so that trail is cold.

Other famous names seen around at that time.... Dumper Truck, going quick with the lightweight pairing of Peter (Quantum Sails) and Emma Kay, rather than the bulk of Peter Baines, but not seen since Hamble: Shaft, going to ruin somewhere up on the Thames and Batty Bat - which is still safe and sound and in a 'safe' environment.

Then there was 'Radical Posture'.... the boat which just maybe could represent the end of radical thinking......

31/03/2010 11:48:12
Didn't realise that Meglo 3138  was still being sailed, also there was 2 sister ships, Mania 3142..an own built, and Promises..3180..which ironically was better built by Waller, but destroyed.  Even from new 3138 when I crewed in her she was a bit bendy due to the being hastily constructed?!? I crewed in 3180 which was a little stiffer.  

Any contributors care to enlighten me what these dead end designs were like..and why they fell out of favour/fashion?..

Venus Satisfied
The Manchester Guardian
Velvet Scoter
Credit Card
Radical Posture
Once Bitten
Diamond Smiles

Why did people commission these experimental one off's designs rather than buy into tried and tested Morrison stable, or Rob Inglis Bad Company which dominated this era?
I'd love to hear the thinking behind these boats in this exciting design era of the class, and why they didn't work.

31/03/2010 12:01:51
I think you will find a few of them did work and worked so well that with a little tweak here and there they were made perfect and given new names. If I am not mistaken was Diamond Smiles not the forerunner to the canterbury Tales? Allot of the other designs came around at the same time as another design that proved better allround and became the 'safest bet' at the time.

31/03/2010 12:40:49
david Henshall

If you check my note you'll see that 3199, Credit Card was mine! I wish that I could take the credit for the thinking behind the boat but that was down to Ian Copsey (a great supporter of the class back then) and Mike Burnham. Mike drew the lines up, as I said, the boat was clearly influenced by the Morrison designs but had been optimised for the conditions found so often at Hamble. The concept was a hull that would carry weight at the back - Ian was a big guy,even by the standards of the day. The boat had been beautifully built over at Warsash by Graham Edwards and even some 10 years later was still less than a kilo overweight!

However, the boat definitely suffered from a less than well sorted rig and some foils could have been upgraded. All the same, on the handicap scene the boat did very well and was far better than the club level sailing that it was used for.

I ended up selling the boat to help fund a one off 14, which suggests that I'd not learnt the earlier lesson from 3199.

THink that though and you'd be wrong - for my experience suggested that Credit Card was a good, fast boat that in the right hands would have given those accepted mainstream designs of the day a run for their money. My guess is that the same applies to many of these other interesting designs - proving their success (or otherwise) is only as good as the rig, fittings and crew skills put in to the boat.

I'll try and dig out some pictures of 3199, as not only was it a quick boat but a pretty one too..... as Garry R hinted at, you'd be gutted to think it rotting away somewhere.


31/03/2010 13:49:05
Sorry Tim, my photo archive has no entry for the numbers you quote, although I do have the boats 'either side' of some of them.

31/03/2010 14:28:23
Thanks David for your informative insight, love to see some pictures too!.  

Perhaps Mags could put up on the site a photo archive of old designs?..I know you're overstretched already though! As it's good to see designs through the ages, rather than just the credits for the top jockeys. Personally speaking, I can never see enough hull pictures, makes me think of those well thumbed copies of Y&Y, looking at the b&w pictures of Nationals with all the new and interesting hull designs.

Anybody else want to chip in why they had a burning desire to have a bespoke one off design built, or a tweaked hull, rather than join the safe Morrison dynasty of designs at this time?

It's blowing a gale outside, and Easter racing down here may well be called off, nothing like a punt on the forum to take my mind off.

31/03/2010 15:53:50
Andrew M
Heaven Sent was commissioned by Alistair Evans after coming into a large sum of money, and he went to Jon Turner and asked for a Merlin with cost no object.  Reputed to be a CT derivative but if so then a Summer Wine is a Smoker's Satisfaction derivative.  Sticky in light winds and freeboard is a bit low but ballistic still offwind in a blow, has been sailing with too much weight aboard for the last 4 years!  The 2 built by Tony Lock at Parkstone may or may not be the same shape, as the shells were quite floppy according to Glen Truswell who completed them.

31/03/2010 17:47:20
chris B
Surely being radical is one of the essentials of a development class and not not every experiment will be as sucessful as the creator may wish. But until you try it you won't know if you are on to a winner or not. And there will never be the perfect boat that fulfils every demand so way out designs need support. These are just as interesting in their own way as the well known designs are is another arguement for a handicap system in the vintage wing. Otherwise no-one will take these boats on anymore.
Going back a little further in time there is 2404 looking for a new home DESPERATELY. It is north Wales. 2404 is a Nokes 'Moon Rocket' design. I think there is a two week deadline here. Can give more details to anyone interested.
Chris B

31/03/2010 20:03:42
Andy Hay - Champs Chappie
Enchantment oft discussed on the Forum, and now in the hands of Tim Powell over at Warsash. He has my file of correspondance and the lines plan (pre and post transom drop). Chris Rathbone can fill you in on her story first hand, rather than me relaying what he and Hugh Welbourn have told me.

Without these so called designs we would never have ended at the shape we have now. Personnally, I do not believe that this is the optimum and developments in other parts of the world are in a different direction. Some of this theory can be applied to the Merlin, or at least it might be worth a punt.

01/04/2010 09:07:42
'might be worth a punt' - what is the cost of such a 'punt' nowadays? £6K - if you assume the rig/fittings  could be salvaged and moved on to a safer bet in the future? I don't know the figures but, back in the 70s and 8Os, when I was sailing one-designs, it was this sort of speculative expenditure which kept the likes of me in awe.

01/04/2010 09:18:07
And what about Nitro, Shaft and Space Oddity?

01/04/2010 09:48:00
david Henshall

Shaft was last seen in a dinghy park on the Thames, but even back then was pretty much 'done in' so unless someone saved it and is staying schtum, it's long gone!

As to the cost of taking a 'punt' - I was asked to look at a project that involved 'revisiting' an older but no longer current dinghy class, but one where new build techniques would be used for the hull.

The figures were along the lines off..... Hull, complete and painted, £1500, rig, fittings, foils = £7,500. The trouble was, these figures made no allowance for the time factor that would be demanded of potential buyers, which then begs the question - why do it, when you can do to RS or P&B and buy a boat off the shelf for pretty much the same money.

Surely the way to look at this is to turn things around - someone with a fully working rig on a competitive boat to develop a 'new' hull that the rig can just be dropped on to. That would remove one of the big variables - and weaknesses - of risking the radical thinking approach.


01/04/2010 12:19:01
Paul D
I have Diamond Smiles, 
shes currently being re-decked and rebuilt with an up to date rig and foils.
Ive been in contact with Ian Holt who has informed me that she never used to go around corners that well! Should be interesting to see what she handles like once all complete.

His favourite design was Once Bitten and hed like to find out where she is now?

I remember Heaven Sent from when she was brand new. She was certainly the best looking Merlin at Parkstone putting many of our older boats to shame. She really had that WOW factor!!

Im still trying to locate my old Summer Wine, 3141.
Id love to buy her back, Sadly no luck even after a few years searching

Where do all these old Merlins go!!

01/04/2010 13:15:13
Andrew M
Was 3141 Scenario/Katie's Scenario?  Was at Hampton for a short while and I have a vague memory of an e-bay ad a year or so ago when still clearly in sailing trim.

The only ex-boat of mine I wonder about is Super Nova, 2315, a Northern Light, the only boat I ever won anything in. Went to Norfolk but has never been seen in a Merlin meeting since.

01/04/2010 14:09:45
Paul D
Hi Andrew, yes that's her. I have kept a vigilant eye on the bay and elsewhere but must have sadly missed that oppertunity :-(

Cheers for the information, I'll find her eventually.

01/04/2010 15:02:19
John Murrell
All of the comments in this thread have a common theme - something the Twelves picked up on a while ago and created a database of all the boats in the class which allows memebers to upload comments and pictures - is this something that the Merlins website could pick up on?

Obviously there's no point in reinventing the wheel so to speak so contact with them might allow the MROA to share the knowhow? I have put a link to the Twelves database below.

01/04/2010 15:16:09
Had a look at the N12 boat database on their website...and I like what I see..!
I'd happily put some time towards this Mags on the MR site, to get something similar up and running on here.

I'm sure there are loads of willing collaborators who regularly post on this forum, could provide pictures and boat racing records.

01/04/2010 15:54:50
The Lark class do a similar job with the Lark Register trying to record every boat ever made. Something based on wiki software would probably be suitable.
I've collected a few pictures at cvrda meetings of various Merlins taken from the transom to show different widths and layouts and added Smokey Bear (including the boat breakers) last weekend. These would be great to add to a Merlinography as design guide illustrations.

01/04/2010 16:31:36
The OK website have a similar list where you can post your own pictures and details of each boat. They have a picture of each and the weight of the boat and history which is good.

02/04/2010 08:22:50
Boatbreaker... Boatbreaker... We were just sailing the boat to it's full potential... We just forgot that she was 36 years old (that's younger than me!).  But, when we got her going downwind, she felt like a modern Merlin!! (If anyone is not sure what this is about check out the Whitefriars report on DSM, Y&Y or CVRDA sites) 

However, that was off topic, I have crewed in quite a few Merlins, but would be interested to know the whereabouts of 3449 Wizard In Blue. As when I was crewing Tom Shicksmith, we didn't too bad in the Silver Tiller...


02/04/2010 08:28:57
There's no edit facility on this forum.  I meant Tom Shucksmith...

Mags, can you put in an edit facility for us 12 fingered persons from Essex...

02/04/2010 08:38:58
Richard Battey

Pretty sure that 3449 is now based around Chicheter YC/Hayling Island SC, but I might be wrong. She has been re-named Lady Locket according to the results from the recent Chicheter open. I remember quite some years ago 3449 being kept and sailed at Weirwood SC. Very pretty boat.

02/04/2010 08:53:24
Thanks Richard, Tom was a member of Weirwood, so I am not too surprised to hear that... She was a lovely boat, but, according to Tom (As he has passed away, I can not be done for defamatory statemants), and I quote " Jon was trying to reduce the weight, so he reduced the lands.  This made the boat weak, and it went back to be reinforced"  That is why that boat, has extra stiffeners on the land area.  I sailed this boat with Tom in a force 6 - 7 and it held together... Before the extras were put in, it would not have survived a force 4.

It's great to hear she is still sailing...


02/04/2010 09:02:04
Hi Jon
Indeed 3449 is sailing at Chichester YC

look on the Merlin Facebook page, there's some photos of Will sailing in the Snowflake series and the Chi Open Meeting. I can vouch that the boat still looks fab and is very well cared for, despite an accident with a rock and a fixed rudder in the harbour. She is now sporting a new Laurie Smart transom. The extra reinforcement on the lands are very evident, wondered why.


02/04/2010 09:02:29
Richard Battey
I'm sorry to hear that about Tom. I met him briefly at WWSC, what must have been the late 80's early 90's, as that is my club. Interesting to learn about mods. I did see a picture somewhere recently of 3449, might have been on this site, the hull appears to be painted black, used to be a lovely turquoise, bluey mint colour, if that description makes sense!


Richard MR908

02/04/2010 09:03:47
Richard Battey
There you go! Knew I had seen a picture of 3449 somewhere. Thanks Tim. I must be colour blind as well, looks blue to me!!

02/04/2010 10:07:13
Garry R
Anorak that I am I have over the last year or two ticked the number of any Merlin which I have come across ebay eyc so I know if it exists.  However there are many others which could have quite possibly passed away without a memorial service.  There is/was one lying at the back of Thames sailing club two years ago which I haven't recorded.

02/04/2010 15:29:02
Thanks for the link, she did look better in the light blue.  Call me a traditionalist, if you like, but these things should stay the same ad infinitum!!

04/04/2010 15:10:58
Mike Burnham
Well its nice to hear some of you liked credit card. I sailed the boat with Ian for a while after she was built and she went very well in a breeze and was surprisingly quick in the light as well.There were some good boats and sailors at Hamble at the time and we had a lot of fun.
She was not an amalgamation of anything but designed to get the displacement needed for Ians ample size sitting at the back without dragging a wall of water behind combined with everything else we wanted to do. She incorporated a lot of ideas from what was seen working well or otherwise around hamble at the time. Some of the vice free handling definitely came from various comments of those sailing more extreme designs.You will see i worked hard to get all the displacement in the sections while retaining a narrow water line beam and reasonable shape to the run. The rocker was moved quite a long way back in comparison to other designs of the time to acheive this.
I drew the lines on my lounge floor where Pete Diamond drew some of his twelves as well.
Some of you will remember that the rig was probably better before breaking two of Ians masts at the same Weymouth nationals.
Anyway, what are you all doing apart from writing this stuff, I know the golf course is too wet to play.

04/04/2010 18:20:23
david Henshall

I'm not the phantom golfer.... I tried it for a while but got too frustrated! I ended up owning 3199 for more than 10 years, so knew the boat pretty much inside out. Not long before I sold it, we put it on the load cell at Ian Ridges workshop and it was just a kilo over.

As you'll see from some of the earlier postings, I tried hard to track the boat so that I could buy it back but without success - that would make an amazing boat on the classic circuit.

So go on then Mike...if you did a Credit Card II, what changes would you make?


04/04/2010 18:45:29
Mike, that sounds very similar to Richard Debenhams last design from the 1980's (ish).  Only one was built for Brian Howard and was a cross between Surf Scoter and a Canterbury Tales!!  It even had fold down seats for the crew!!  The boat was designed for the less athletic person sailing on the Norfolk Broads..

04/04/2010 22:56:14
Mike Burnham
Credit card was sailed quite athletically and was quick in the rough stuff so fold down seats were not really relevant!
Dougal, when Ian wanted his new boat it was quite a rigorous process deciding and proving the points of all significant factors in the design. Quite a lot of that was done in the King and Queen. That also answers the question of why do it, in one of the other posts.
I think we proved there was a point and Ian got exactly what he wanted. He beat some of the well known locals of the time and it gave him great satisfaction.I must admit I am amazed to find this string.
I have never looked for anything like this before and i just googled on the sail number idly earlier today. I expect i might have the lines somewhere...................

05/04/2010 08:13:58
david Henshall

I'll try to dig out some pictures as well - there was a nice one of the boat going well up at Abersoch in....1981/82 (but guessing a bit on the year).

The other part of the Credit Card story was the quality of the build from Graham Edwards. Rather than split the hull with a thwart, the boat had a mid cockpit bulkhead that was neatly curved and topped with a decorative and not uncomfortable capping. The effect was ergonomically sound and very pleasing to the eye.....

Rather than continue 'bigging up' the boat, it is worth turning back to the bigger issue of the 'one off'. As Mike said, in the hands of Ian Copsey, the boat claimed some noteable scalps, then I enjoyed some great success in the local handicap fleets.

Mike Burhnam gave the answer to the rig problem, as two masts were lost in a very windy Nationals week. Although the boat was re-rigged, it was with one of the 'new' sections at the time, a proctor Beta, the sails that had been with the boat (Team, from David Robinson) never set that well on it. I put on a suit of Banks, but was always aware that the rig was 'not right'.

Had a really good rig been stepped and then the boat put in the hands of a class act helm and crew, then it think that the boat would have been the equal of the NSMs and Wines that ruled the fleet at the time.

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but Int Moth,12 and Int 14 sailor Ian Ridge also sailed the boat and declared it fast and with great potential.... so maybe all that time spent in the King and Queen (and Mike - this is where the recent discussion started again) was well spent


06/04/2010 08:49:16
Barnanbus has passed away at Thames.  

Her hog was rotten and after some enthusiastic drilling from underneath and some less than enthusiastic epoxying she was deemed un salvagable.

We are now up to six Merlins at Thames, with five taking to/due to take to the water.

22/04/2010 13:16:10
Leonard young
I have a vintage Merlin that I would like to give away to someone who would make use of her.

Number 2095 Rob Hoare built. Shown as Jim's Joy in my old MR members book. The hull and decks are sound, original and slightly newer masts. Sails. Boat & Road trailer available too.

Do you maintain a list of people who might be interested.

Kind regards
Leonard Young


22/04/2010 13:37:36
Leonard, Your best bet is to place the boat on the For Sale list as Free. You will find plenty of peolpe who are looking for a boat/project and will get plenty of use out of her.

04/05/2010 19:43:06
david Henshall
Have been loaned a couple of pics showing the hull shape of 3199 (Credit Card design from Mike Burnham)

Will work out how to post them then write again!


04/05/2010 20:15:32
former whitstable pro
Sorry Mr Young but a check on the sail no is needed 2095 was /is a very famous boat that came 2nd in 1968 champs and was built by John Freeman !

04/05/2010 20:44:11
I have the pleasure of taking care of Finlandia, 3190.

05/05/2010 10:11:04
Barry D
I think Leonard means 2065 not Wotfree 2095

05/05/2010 13:49:32

Now residing a little further down the coast near Abersoch. It's in fantastic condition I spent an afternoon looking for places to touch up the varnish she was that good
There's a new set of Banks sails which might have been on the boat once or twice.

I know nothing about MR's to be honest so I don't know whether the Wyche and Coppock Noakes design was any good in a MR fleet of the time, but all I can say is that the build quality is superb.

05/05/2010 21:47:56
Looking through the older postings I see Once Bitten mentioned.  She's dry stored at Upper Thames and hasn't been out for a couple of years.  I know who the owner is, but haven't met him yet....

To 'former whitstable pro", I"m the humble owner of Robin Hood 2040 that you saw at Laurie's recently. She was looking great the last time I saw her, but now she's had her final coats of varnish and been fitted out, I'm sure she looks stunning. We're uncertain whether the mast is going to arrive before Bourne End Week at the end of the month, but if it does, she'll get her first outing there!

06/05/2010 08:41:06
Wondering if there are any plans afoot to build a boat database?...and put it up on the web.
Something that adds more substance to the database in the club hand book, with pictures, results and last known location.

As I said in my previous post, I'd be happy to put some time into this..from the posts on this thread, there are many willing contributors too!

06/05/2010 10:07:13
RichardP I also saw your boat at Laurie's, absolutely stunning - look forward to see her at Bourne End. But if you have ordered your mast from SuperSpar dont hold your breath, i'm still waiting for mine ordered in Feb and promised in March and a fellow club member (who was told his was physically in the Country when he paid for it) has been waiting since January!  Dont expect to be kept informed on progress or get any straight answers either - best of luck  dv

06/05/2010 11:45:22
dv, thanks for that.  I think Laurie's virtually given up hope of getting it in time and  I'm not sure who he's ordered it from, but it's supposed to be on a flight from Oz.
Let's hope it arrives in time for Minima or Thames...or failing that next season!

18/05/2010 14:46:53
mike b
dougal, did you ever put those pics up please?

24/05/2010 18:23:32
david Henshall

I've not been able to get over to see Ian Copsey yet, I hope he may have some pictures. Eddie Mays has too but they will be from years ago and I'm not sure if he could find them. I did manage to get a couple though - one from Ian Ridge taken at Hamble, another of the boat being sailed at Chew Valley

Pics are at...


Am still hunting for the boat...would love to get it back, even now!


17/03/2013 21:24:58
Hello again Dougal, sorting out my office recently I found the original lines of credit card and the drawings we gave to Graham Edwards to build her. I remember being somewhat distressed when he told me he had modified the bow plank runs slightly because lots of designers make the same mistake and in 3/4 bow on view they look "drooped" so he changed them a bit! For some reason I have a copy of some lines (quite different) marked fadeaway as well, it looks like I drew them up from somewhere at the same time. At a guess it is possible someone at Hamble had them and I wanted to check the displacement calcs.............it was 30 plus years ago!, best, mike

17/03/2013 21:56:50
David Henshall

are you still down just off the A27 (last time I knew your location it was just off the roundabout where you leave to head down to Hayling).

I'm busy right now writing the new book on the Merlin - a book that will contain a number of hull lines. If you go to the facebook page for the book - facebook then 'merlinrocketbook' you'll find lots of pics and hull lines already.

Can you contact me direct Mike on...dougal at davidhenshallmedia.co.uk




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