What boat numbers are competitive?

29/06/2011 20:32:36
Nikita Beech

I'm strongly considering buying a Merlin Rocket but was wondering if a boat between 3550-3590 would be competitive? I don't have the budget for the 3600-3700 numbers, but have seen a few nice looking 35++ numbers for sale - I don't expect to go to the nationals and win straight away, but would a number like this be able to do it with work and commitment or do you really need a 36/37 number? I would like to be able to be top 10-15 at the nationals within a year of sailing the boat based on my previous National record in other classes, ie, the RS200.

Kind Regards, and all comments appreciated.


29/06/2011 22:29:14
The 2010 Penzance champs results surely speak for themselves:-
First sub 3600 boat was 3583 in 25th place.
Of the 65 boats listed in the results, only four were sub 3600

Have a look at the previous results and also silver tiller results where I suspect there will be a few more older boats showing further up the results.

That should start a debate!!

30/06/2011 07:35:57
Just because the there are not that many boats at the nationals with the boat number less then 3600 does not mean they are not competetive. Chris Martin sails 3583, which is a Winder boat and racing against him on the circuit its clear that his boat speed is more than fine. He even had a 3rd at the Hayling open meeting with most the big boys there after leading the race for the first to legs. 

The winder boats are very well built and i dont think they loose speed over time but new developments do come along, but you can get hull modifications made to winder boats that to work like getting the bow dropped. Unfortunatly I dont thing you can get a 1 string rakeing rig which is a massive advantage. All the merlins at the ages your looking at will have full rakeing rigs

Dan alsop has a wooden boat 3539 and it would definatly not be a suprise if he won races at Salcombe (although he is not going this year) he is extreamly fast. Glen trustwell won the nationals in 3627 in 2009.

There are a lot of slow old boats but you can find fast ones. Keep looking and one will come along.

30/06/2011 07:54:05
John Murrell
Off topic slightly but Dan & Jennie are both definately entered for Salcombe this year.

The definetive list of entries and flights are on the SYC website.

30/06/2011 08:33:50
Ben 3634
The one string can be retro fitted, in a straghtforward fashion.

30/06/2011 09:04:38
Having changed boats from 3550 to 3645 I would not say that my boat speed has significantly increased any more than the practice has improved us. The fact I am not in the top 10 at the nationals is down to me not the boat!!

I have no idea what the standard is like in the RS200 Fleet (I am sure it is competative), but to get in to the top ten in the merlin fleet is a big big challenge, particularly with so many top helms joining the fleet in the last couple of years.

I would say that if you are going for an older boat that you would not go too far wrong with a Let it Ride or a Make it so. Both very fast designs and both will be wood. The Make it So is a little less proven but in the right hands can be very fast.

30/06/2011 09:19:31
Chris M
As Chris Robinson mentioned, and the origional reply, i'm still sailing a Mk1. 

Boat speed. We've talked a lot about this going to and from open meetings this year! I've never sailed a mk 4 but I think that the newer shape is marginally faster in very specific circumstances, and not when you would expect either! They are not noticably slower than a Mk1 or 2 in any conditions. It's probably better to say that the Mk4 is marginally easier to sail fast.

The Mk1 and 2 seem very trim critical downwind and tend to adopt a very bow-high attitude when planing if you sit even slightly too far back. This is just enough to slow you up a bit on flat water, but once you're up and going it seems to make no differance. On the sea it seems to make no differance either. Also on flat water I feel vulnerable on a two sail reach, but Robbo will testify on the sea again there seems little if any differance. I think feeling vulnerable sums it up best, we are talking about a marginal differances and you will not entirely lose a 10 length lead because you sail a mk1. It may reduce to 8 lengths if you get unlucky or sit too far back for too long. Good sailing is more important.

I have updated the rig through two phases. The first was done on the day I collected the boat, and involved linking the lowers into the rake system. How to do this is explained in the library on the website. I also made the jib halyard tensioner and shroud control lines continuous which was a big help. This modification is adequate for club sailing and gives similar functionality to the one string system.

While everyone was at Salcombe last year I converted the boat to a full one string set up. This is much, much better but is not cheap if you pay someone to do it and fiddly to do yourself. It took me three weeks of spare time and cost about £450ish, but i used vectran for all the high load stuff which costs about twice as much as dyneema and there is quite a lot of it!

I guess what you buy comes down to budget. I couldn't afford £9k so spend just under £6k, sold all the sails it came with, and have upgraded the boat in manageable chunks. All of the Winder mods to date can be retrofitted. Even the most battered boats i've seen so far have cleaned up nicely with a little TLC. You only have to look at some of the Fireballs doing well to see how well Winder boats last.

30/06/2011 11:04:47
Stud Muffin
I've got 3554 the first registered Winder - It's in great condition (bumps and dings aside), regularly updated (one-string, C/B controls, Mk4 Nose job).

Structrurally they're all fantastic; they're fully upgradable and Dave or Scotty can do serious shape changes to the bow.

I don't think they are uncompetitive - it's just that most will need a good dose of TLC to bring them upto showroom standard.

Shapewise - you couldn't get a fag paper between the performance changes for mere mortals compared with a good set of sails and putting it on the right bit of water. Mk4s are a bitch to tack compared with a Mk1 but better elsewhere.

If you want a Winder then buy what you can afford and then upgrade it bit by bit. All Winders are capable of being competitive (top 20) in the right hands; it's simply that over that last ten years the right hands have all upgraded (newer not better).

30/06/2011 12:15:22
Well said....
I would say in the right hands an original Winder could win a major event.
It may not even need the tweaks ?......;0

30/06/2011 14:42:14
Geoff Wright
On a tight budget looking for a good mast could be as important as thinking about the hull. The most competitive 3500-3600 boats will usually have a chipstow rig. When I upgraded from Mark 1 Winder to Easy Roller a while back I believe the change in mast (to chipstow from superspar) gave as much extra speed as the newer hull shape.

30/06/2011 15:09:02
Stud Muffin

That's possibly true, but Taxi could be either of us with a Tin Rig on an NSM2 - we'd may be able to read his sail numbers but not the name on the hull.

01/07/2011 11:10:07
On the other subject - that Green Group looks a little top heavy....

01/07/2011 11:55:16
Observer 2
Thats to balance the Black group! looks like a bit of a soft option

17/12/2013 20:58:36
Gareth Griffiths
As someone who has recently bought an older boat I found this thread interesting. 

So basics to get further up the fleet are

1. Training

2. Good rig

3. Good sails

4. Well prepped boat with a one sting raking system.

What about foils????

20/12/2013 10:08:12
Andy Hind
This is interesting stuff - since buying Terabyte 3478 (for not many £s....) I've been scanning all the results and becoming somewhat disheartened as anybody who is anybody has a 36/37 sail no. But on the other hand I'm not expecting great things with an oldish boat so less pressure!  She is ,however, JT composite built, down to weight, nose done, 1 string raking system about to be completed so who knows....? And the varnish looks fab. Top of the 34s would do fine.

20/12/2013 10:32:07
Perhaps we could resolve this by all swapping boats (in age order) for a race at Salcombe to see if it makes any difference to who wins!  I suspect the top of the fleet will remain top of the fleet whatever they are sailing!

20/12/2013 10:55:09
Andy Hind
Excellent idea... could the age of the helmsman be factored in as well?!

20/12/2013 12:43:43
Gareth Griffiths Notting Hill Rigging Co
That would be interesting...!

Mines 3450...! At least i will have one similar boat to race against locally...

20/12/2013 12:47:00
Gareth Griffiths Notting Hill Rigging Co
What about foils though????

I have a set of Winders, but how much have Winder foils changed over the last ten years? Stiffer, bendier, shape?

19/08/2020 21:25:21
Gareth Griffiths NHRC
Just been reading this article, very interesting for people looking to get into the fleet. 

There’s some really good boats on the for sale page..!

20/08/2020 18:32:51
Having sailed 3571 at Salcombe and watched the top of the fleet sailing back the other way I am absolutely certain that if you put a top jockey in my boat, as it is, they would still be in the top quarter of a silver tiller event.  I reckon that, in general, your fleet position is 90% skill and 10% boat... so the 10% only really matters between the top helms.  You can probably buy a late wooden boat and get in the top quarter of the fleet if you are good enough or buy a brand new Winder and come last if you aren't that good!  The big issue from what I have seen is that 90% of the fleet are really quite good ! 

20/08/2020 21:47:01
Andy 3376
Hopefully Jon Turner might show us what can be done with an older boat.... I've been wondering about this for a while. Tim's Summe Wine seems to certainly go well. Mentioned to John Bell a couple of years ago at Ranelagh that he was welcome to come and race his old steed 3376 for that reason - my curiosity! 

22/08/2020 22:48:01
Stuart Bates
This is a very interesting discussion and yes there are definitely boats out there that would give the new bots a run for their money, the main issue for boats older than around 3540 is that they generally have the centreboard further back than the later boats, leading to an imbalance when reaching with the kites as the longer poles mean that to balance the boat the board needs to be much further down, unless you move the mast back.

Having sailed 3431 for a few years I certainly managed to put newer boats to shame, but she is awesome downwind!


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