Old Merlin Handicapping

28/06/2013 13:07:01
RichardT
Pat\r\n\r\nSlight slip of the keyboard on first line - should be 3553 onwards for current PN and not 2553.


18/08/2013 21:12:59
Andy
"Up here in Scotland we are looking into this very thing, and I've spoken offline to a couple of people about it. The fleet here is varied to say the least, with older boats the norm. One potential owner said he wasn't comfortable getting a boat as he felt that someone could just 'carbon' an old one and walk away with everything on handicap (we run 2 sets of eqaully weighted results, line and handicap, to encourage boats of all ages). And then I bought 3236, an old NSM1 with carbon SS rig, full raking system, carbon foils, even carbon transom flaps...talk about gamekeeper turned poacher. \r\n\r\nSo this is what we are doing: Boats older than a Winder mk1 will use their 2012 handicap numbers, including any adjustments as recommended by the class. But for boats older than around the mid 1990's, any variance from original spec will get a hit. Therefore my NSM starts at 1032, gets a hit of say 7 points for the carbon rig, 3 for the raking system, and 3 for the bigger spi. That puts me at 1019, a bit slower than the ally rig wood Tales, and a touch quicker than the ally rig wood NSM4 with old size kite. These numbers are provisional...!\r\n\r\nAs class rep I will keep a spreadsheet of all the boats racing, along with adjustments. This can only work as we are small in number, and it isn't a big administrative task. It could work for the wider fleet however if there were standardised 'design' numbers, and set penalties for non'standard' developments based on age. It wouldn't be too hard to have a database with the design handicaps (perhaps based on historical data?) and a simple app or input dialogue based on a tick box system, to allow anyone anywhere to make adjustments based on a few simple parameters (I'd suggest spar material, bigger kite y/n, raking rig for starters). So if we visit a club, they can go on the Merlin website, type in the boat number, and make adjustments if necessary. \r\n\r\nThe database could carry 'endorsed' figures for people who have their boat configurations set, so that race committees don't have to check every boat. Any owner knowingly racing under such a figure but who has modified any of the parameters since gets automatic disqualification, from event and series, so the onus is on the owners to check the committee has their handicap correct, a simple thing if you have the base number and know what your rig is made of and your rig config. 'Endorsed' figures could be done by almost anyone willing to corroborate the simple factors involved (2 countersignatures) - it's not difficult to see if a boat has a carbon rig, raking system and the bigger kite.   \r\n\r\nThe old boats are not getting any faster, so the current system is useless for us..."


18/08/2013 21:12:59
Andy
"Oh and 'original construction' would be a good parameter, to weed out the carbonising deMay lot and also the late build NSM2's...!"


18/08/2013 21:12:59
Andy
"Pat's numbers are very close (2 points away) from what we were planning. It remains to be seen what effect the carbon rig and other things on 3236 have - somewhere on the forums a previous owner said the boat was certainly faster than a 'normal' NSM1, but not quite as fast as a wooden Tales. For us up North, I think we will still modify numbers based on major changes to configuration - much as I'd like to race off 1030, I'm not sure that others would be happy with that and I'm concerned about accomodating people in 'original' boats without leaving them feeling disadvantaged (thinking about my brother's Smokers versus Jeremy's lovely Smokers with carbon raking rig, for example), especialy as they currently make up the bulk of the fleet up here.  \r\n\r\nHopefully moves like this will encourage the fence-sitters up here who are waiting to see if carbonned up boats will race with unfair handicap advantage. The spreadsheet, detailing boat mods, will be available to everyone on the Scottish mailing list. Obviously I'll report back and let people know if it would be feasible for a similar system elsewhere. I don't see any problems with getting clubs to accept the numbers, as they can only go DOWN compared to the class list Pat posted, which can only help others in Merlins or other boats. \r\n\r\nThere is definitely a whole new 'old' fleet out there waiting to happen I feel, at prices that many can afford. Be daft not to take (fair) account of them, as some may well trade up to the latest boats if they like what they see - I'm heading this way, especially as finances pick up, but without our £450 Smokers I wouldn't have even considered the Merlins, and there would possibly be nobody trying to get the Scottish fleet going again. \r\n\r\nI could even be sailing a GP! Anyways, back to sanding and scraping ;-)"


18/08/2013 21:12:59
Andy
"Hi Dougal, for me it's mostly the racing, but not entirely. We are trying to operate a broad church in Scotland, so the Smokers was bought for money reasons but quickly became an object of pride (you should have heard all the comments in Fairlie). I'd like to think that what we will try this year will allow someone to feel at home in an authentic, concours restoration, or a 'keep her going' mentality boat, with or without carbon bits. My heart does tell me that it is a bit daft to put a carbon rig on an old boat, so hopefully an equitable solution can be found where you can if you really want to, but if not then you have no disadvantage and can also be proud that your boat is original. For this, an element of granularity is required..."


18/08/2013 21:12:59
Andy
"Something tells me we won't have to cross the '99% of the boat replaced but still an old boat' resoration issue up here, but who knows?!"


19/09/2013 16:24:06
Tim
"I actually agree with Pat's first point, but not the second.\r\n\r\nOld Merlins don't get faster at the same rate as new ones, so their PYs shouldn't be dragged along with the modern fleet; they should be fixed, but reviewed as the Vintage fleet develops, the same as all other classes.\r\n\r\nHowever, looking at older style kit, a brand new kevlar sail is no quicker than an brand new dacron sail. When the old boats were built, they used modern materials. I don't see why old boats that use modern materials now are penalised for things that provide no performance advantage. This essentially encourages De May boats to use increasingly outdated kit."


19/09/2013 16:24:06
Tim
"Tim B, Pat2121, and other non-modernisers,\r\n\r\nI understand the interest in a level playing field in terms of hull shapes for the De May series, but I really don't understand the desire to discourage people from stiffening things up and using modern sails.\r\n\r\nThe 'ebay bargains' mentioned are generally actually 'projects' that require a lot of time and/or money to bring them back to their former glory and make them structurally sound. If this constitutes an arms race, then I think those sailing hot rods are equally entitled to go racing as the 'sensible chaps' going (relative) banger racing, without being heavily penalised. Someone mentioned a penalty for two pack... which means they're actually encouraging the sourcing and use of worse paints and glues - really?!\r\n\r\nI also still don't understand the requirement to penalise the use of modern sail materials. As I said in my previous post; brand new kevlar sails are no quicker than brand new dacron sails. Is the objection down to aesthetics? Both Thames A Raters and J Class yachts seem to manage OK with modernisation without detriment to the image or the need for handicapping the modern sail cloths.\r\n\r\nI guess I just don't get the idea of nailing people for restoring classic boats to full race condition (which is how they were built) for the De May, i.e. a racing series. Modernised classic boats still look amazing, they just sail better and don't fall apart as much."


09/10/2013 14:31:43
Richard 1074 and 3443
I agree with Pat's 2nd point. Perhaps the De May additional handicaps on Rig/Kite/ mast/sail material etc could be further enhanced.


15/10/2013 23:11:04
Pat Blake
"Lots of interesting thoughts on this thread, thanks to all for your input.\r\n\r\nLet me explain that Mervyn Allen, Ben Marshall and I met last Thursday  to discuss ‚??Old Boats‚?? handicaps as we were mandated to do by  the meeting at Cookham Reach SC in January last year.\r\n\r\nWe mulled over many of these issues. Our primary purpose was to review the handicap system for the DeMay Vintage and Veteran series ‚?? as outlined on page 41 of the new Year Book that you should have got very recently. We decided that essentially the system that was put in place last year worked pretty well and with a small tweak or two would continue in place for that series this year. Ben is in charge of implementing these handicaps and he will be applying them as of the first event at Tamesis on Saturday.\r\n\r\nOur conversations then went on to the wider issues of ‚??older‚?? Merlin Rockets sailing in handicap events in clubs all over the country ‚?? we know there are plenty.\r\n\r\nThere has been a recent change of the MR Portsmouth Yardstick handicap to 990 presumably as reflected by the results from some clubs and big handicap events in the last year (mainly because we have an influx of top sailors in our class and gradually there is an increase in performance as people generally improve due to training etc.). I think any reasonable person would agree that a MR that is 10 or 20 or even 30 years old has not suddenly going 5% faster than it was last year. So we think that the bands which are published in the Year Book (page 41) WERE a good guidance. I stress were because they have been in place for a few years now and the PY has changed since then; we think it would be more reasonable if it were based on a figure of 1000.\r\n\r\nTherefore we think the table should look like this:- \r\n\r\nYear	Sail Numbers	Handicap Number recommended\r\n1999 onwards	2553 onwards	Current Portsmouth Number\r\n1989 -1988 inclusive	3430 -3552	1010\r\n1984-1988 inclusive	3331 -3429	1020\r\n1979 -1983 inclusive	3157 ‚?? 3330	1030\r\n1974 -1978 inclusive	2833 ‚?? 3156	1040\r\n1969 -1973 inclusive	2165 ‚?? 2832	1050\r\n1964 ‚?? 1968 inclusive	1616 ‚?? 2164	1060\r\n1959 ‚?? 1963 inclusive	895 ‚?? 1615	1070\r\n1954 ‚?? 1958 inclusive	500 -894	1080\r\nBefore 1953	Below 500	1090\r\n\r\nThese dates were chosen carefully ‚??back in the day‚?? and we think that generally they reflect the progress of the class. However I accept that there were some boats that were particularly ahead of their time and vice versa, but you have to have a starting point and it is up to clubs to modify these numbers if necessary.\r\n\r\nSo what we would like to know is:\r\nHave clubs been using these numbers in the past and if so do they work?\r\n\r\nPlease reply with as much detail as possible. But please don‚??t be bitchy and unpleasant about others who have a different approach to sailing their Merlin Rockets. Remember that the whole purpose is to get everyone out on the water, enjoying racing dinghies of whatever vintage. Handicap racing is never completely fair ‚?? but usually the best sailors win."


04/12/2013 11:26:07
Pat Blake
"Interesting work DaveC - can anyone fill in the gaps?\r\n\r\nOf course in 1960 Merlin Rockets were cutting edge racing machines with all the hot shots racing in the class. A bit like today - but it is hard to imagine if you look at an old Mk9! It is however strikingly similar to todays number.\r\n\r\nSo if you try to extrapolate that into racing a Mk9 from 1960 in a handicap race today you need to consider that the boat is over 50 years old, although admittedly some will have been upgraded with carbon rigs etc. Although the reality is that none of these restored boats are really sailed by top sailors. Probably the the 1961 handicap of 1033 is more realistic.\r\n\r\nIf you look at the recomended handicaps on my post of April 8th we were thinking that early sixties boats should be racing off 1070 - quite a big difference I admit. There are some  quite striking similarities though for boats built in the eighties and nineties.\r\n\r\nHandicapping is not an exact science and never has been. So we should all aspire to fleet racing. Our numbers were an attempt to make it reasonably fair for someone sailing an oldish boat at a club that only has handicap racing to have a reasonable chance of winning. They obviously need amending for different circumstances - for example at Cookham we don't use the handicaps at all because we think that on the river where there is a lot of short tacking old boats have little disadvantage, but that depends on the day. If I was to try and race my old boat 901 in a big open water handicap event then clearly 990 would be impossible. Maybe 1060 would be achievable?"


04/12/2013 11:26:07
Pat Blake
Interesting work DaveC - can anyone fill in the gaps?

Of course in 1960 Merlin Rockets were cutting edge racing machines with all the hot shots racing in the class. A bit like today - but it is hard to imagine if you look at an old Mk9! It is however strikingly similar to todays number.

So if you try to extrapolate that into racing a Mk9 from 1960 in a handicap race today you need to consider that the boat is over 50 years old, although admittedly some will have been upgraded with carbon rigs etc. Although the reality is that none of these restored boats are really sailed by top sailors. Probably the the 1961 handicap of 1033 is more realistic.

If you look at the recomended handicaps on my post of April 8th we were thinking that early sixties boats should be racing off 1070 - quite a big difference I admit. There are some quite striking similarities though for boats built in the eighties and nineties.

Handicapping is not an exact science and never has been. So we should all aspire to fleet racing. Our numbers were an attempt to make it reasonably fair for someone sailing an oldish boat at a club that only has handicap racing to have a reasonable chance of winning. They obviously need amending for different circumstances - for example at Cookham we don't use the handicaps at all because we think that on the river where there is a lot of short tacking old boats have little disadvantage, but that depends on the day. If I was to try and race my old boat 901 in a big open water handicap event then clearly 990 would be impossible. Maybe 1060 would be achievable?

09/12/2013 11:30:48
Tim B
"Perhaps to address the crop of ""newer"" old Holt/winder wooden boats just about to hit the circuit...\r\n\r\nA base handicap figure could possibly be worked out if the boat is raced in ""original default mode""..what the boat was raced with when it was first launched. Then detract for:  new modifications to the original boat, carbon masts, hard finished dacron/ODL6 sails, go faster stripes.  So that at least these crop of new boats will have a mentality of racing in original mode, rather than ending up in a carbon deck stepped mast/handicap war as is now plaguing the de may fleet.  \r\n\r\nWith so many EBay bargains out there, there has to be a quick and cheap route to racing that rewards sailing the boat in it's original guise, so to attract more runners and riders."


09/12/2013 11:30:48
Tim B
"Unless you can have an opt out of the default Merlin setting ..and have an unrestricted arms-race classic Merlin, where you can take an old hull..and add go faster bits, carbon sheathed decks, stiffeners, lose the heavy bits, and lo and behold,,you have a ""De May"" hot rod. Which would be a difficult class to handicap and administer, whilst hopefully the majority of sensible chaps would be racing the default original old boat.\r\n\r\nI'd rather see, like for like aged-boats racing in divisions, like the CVDRA do.  I wouldn't mind being passed on a reach by a new Potato, knowing I can tack quicker and go upwind faster, and claw back time in my woodupwinder weapon of mass destruction. \r\n\r\nCome and do the ""Not going to Salcombe, reasonably-priced Merlin regatta"" at Weston SC in the Summer.."


09/12/2013 11:30:48
Tim B
Sounds well thought through Andy!..\r\n\r\nLiking your approach and attitude..especially the bits about wanting to race against similar boats in some level playing field and the PY.\r\nAfter years of frustration owning Merlins and not really having the right series to race in against similarly minded chap and chapesses..hopefully the undercurrent will take this forward.


09/12/2013 11:30:48
Tim B
"Yay Edward!..\r\nthank goodness someone else has has the audacity to challenge old boat's handicaps being linked to the front of the development fleet..it's kind of really, really obvious now that old wooden boats don't get any faster! \r\n\r\nIndeed resetting the handicaps back to where they were before the handicap erosion started in earnest, to try and create a level playing field for prime of life and older boats, and then handicap for go faster bolt on bits, which could be owner/honesty driven to cut down admin\r\nI'd like to feel the the some new "" love and attention"" that the Merlin Association give the minority of the spangly new 100 - 150 boats in the circuit, for the die-hard long time aficionados majority who have late 70's to mid 1990""s boats.  \r\n\r\nThere is a big fleet of moth-balled garaged/barn stored rennovated Merlins out there wanting to race, but have no hope and little inspiration to race at local club level due to the handicapping being linked.  Love to see a new series of races based around these, as I feel the De May circuit has gone a little too narrow boat  orientated.  Which is fine and dandy if you like sailing on a river.  \r\n\r\nFragmentation of the Merlin fleet is something of a dirty word, but consider it more as administered stratification of boats.  So all can have a great fleet race"


14/02/2014 11:32:44
Chris
!.....if terylene sails allowed a 1960s Merlin to sail off 991 imagine what they would do for a modern boat!


14/02/2014 11:32:44
Chris
!.....if terylene sails allowed a 1960s Merlin to sail off 991 imagine what they would do for a modern boat!

07/03/2014 09:25:07
Edward
"Some useful and quite consistent information is emerging here. Andy is racing 3236 off 1032.Others have previously suggested this as a bench mark. Before I purchased my boat I considered a carbon rigged  NSM2  from Alde Yacht Club where the club allowed it to race off 102. Presently my alloy rigged NSM 3 using the figures which the association publish has to race off 101.  Clubs seem  prepared to accept the association figures for older boats and the simple answer in the short term is to adjust these back to where they would have been before their value was eroded by the link to the current yardstick. If you take the figures for older boats and add 10 to each of the given values you get figures which are not far off those we have above and which assist in validation. There must be other information out there to do this. This year we lost 4 points by the link to current yardsticks - If last year for example we had lost say 6 then that is equivalent to the recasting I have suggested. \r\n\r\nI am not sure I have an answer to the carbon rig problem, except buying one, unless you go down the route adopted by the Norfolk punt class where each boat has its own figure. Perhaps in simplistic terms carbon rigs are just minus 10. What we need is agreed and stable figures, which clubs will accept, but with the link from the current figure broken. In defence of the figures published by the association that is what we appear to have but only if they are pegged and not allowed to be dragged down each year by the quicker boats at the front of the fleet. Can I make a plea to the  Committee as a minimum to reset the age band figures back, even to where they were this time last year, but they probably need to go back by the additional 10 points I have suggested  and republish them on the website so that we can pass this information on to our clubs."


07/03/2014 09:25:07
Edward
Pat - What an excellent and quick response - and the figures match the ones I have just proposed having been reset backwards by 1 minute. These age bands are easy to understand for club race officers who shouldn't be left with the task of checking boats for raking rigs or carbon masts. I can rake my rig if I mess with lots of bits of string but not just one - so who makes the judgement on that. My own club is happy to use the figures so lets get them on   the website so they can be verified by clubs if required and get on with the sailing.


08/03/2014 05:53:21
Jim C
I've been researching old PY numbers recently. I've got a big gap in the late 60s and 70s, but these are gathered from official sources, converted into the modern equivalent.

1960 991 (terylene sails)
1961 1033
1962 1033
1963 1033
1964 1033
1981 1031
1982 1031
1983 1031
1984 1040
1985 1031
1986 1031
1987 1031
1988 1031
1989 1031
1990 1031
1991 1021
1992 1012
1993 1012
1994 1012
1995 1012
1996 1018
1997 1021
1998 1022
1999 1024
2000 1024
2001 1024
2002 1024
2003 1024
2004 1024
2005 1024
2006 1021
2007 1019
2008 1018
2009 1014
2010 1006
2011 1006
2012 1002
2013 994
2014 990

08/03/2014 05:53:21
Jim C
A difficulty about issuing a handicap that reflects the current performance of an old boat is that old one designs have equally changed. If a 1963 Merlin that raced off 1033 equivalent when new is up against a 1963 Wayfarer that raced off 1101 equiv when it was new, then is it right that the Merlin gets 1070 but the Wayfarer the current PY of 1114? Consider the difference between the ghastly single skin polyester Solos of the 70s and the modern foam sandwich boats for the amount one designs can change.

It seems to me that published ratings for old development classes should reflect the relative performance the boats had when new, just as with one designs. That doesn't stop a club making allowances for a 1963 boat no longer being as fast as it was when new, but if making such allowances for restricted classes the clubs surely ought to be making the same allowance for old one designs that are also no longer what they were.

My personal opinion is that such problems are better handled in a personal handicap solution.

08/03/2014 17:53:21
Jim C
"I've been researching old PY numbers recently. I've got a big gap in the late 60s and 70s, but these are gathered from official sources, converted into the modern equivalent.\r\n\r\n1960	991 (terylene sails)\r\n1961	1033\r\n1962	1033\r\n1963	1033\r\n1964	1033\r\n1981	1031\r\n1982	1031\r\n1983	1031\r\n1984	1040\r\n1985	1031\r\n1986	1031\r\n1987	1031\r\n1988	1031\r\n1989	1031\r\n1990	1031\r\n1991	1021\r\n1992	1012\r\n1993	1012\r\n1994	1012\r\n1995	1012\r\n1996	1018\r\n1997	1021\r\n1998	1022\r\n1999	1024\r\n2000	1024\r\n2001	1024\r\n2002	1024\r\n2003	1024\r\n2004	1024\r\n2005	1024\r\n2006	1021\r\n2007	1019\r\n2008	1018\r\n2009	1014\r\n2010	1006\r\n2011	1006\r\n2012	1002\r\n2013	994\r\n2014	990"


08/03/2014 17:53:21
Jim C
"A difficulty about issuing a handicap that reflects the current performance of an old boat is that old one designs have equally changed. If a 1963 Merlin that raced off 1033 equivalent when new is up against a 1963 Wayfarer that raced off 1101 equiv when it was new, then is it right that the Merlin gets 1070 but the Wayfarer the current PY of 1114? Consider the difference between the ghastly single skin polyester Solos of the 70s and the modern foam sandwich boats for the amount one designs can change.\r\n\r\nIt seems to me that published ratings for old development classes should reflect the relative performance the boats had when new, just as with one designs. That doesn't stop a club making allowances for a 1963 boat no longer being as fast as it was when new, but if making such allowances for restricted classes the clubs surely ought to be making the same allowance for old one designs that are also no longer what they were. \r\n\r\nMy personal opinion is that such problems are better handled in a personal handicap solution."


17/03/2014 19:40:01
Miles
My two penneth.\r\n\r\nWhat if? boat/design keeps the handicap of the year that it was first built/ddesigned.\r\n\r\nMeans my old IXb 2143 would be sailing off the equivalent of 91 as it was in '69\r\n\r\nDoes that tally in any way with the table above?


25/03/2014 07:04:57
Pat2121
"Tim, modern sail materials make some difference but a carbon mast makes a big difference compared with a wooden or alloy one, especially in weight and a two-packed epoxied boat is much stiffer than a tradition varnished one (effectively wood reinforced plastic like frp or grp).\r\nI've been collating results for the cvrda for several years which has included De May events and seen the performance differences. \r\nSurely if a boat is going to sail off an age handicap it should fit to the class rules of that age i.e. a 1968 boat should meet 1968 class rules."


25/03/2014 07:45:58
d.h
"there are some really good points here,pat blake pat 2121 and tim ,these are just my thoughts....when 2427came along she was really stripped no mast sails fittings etc,we decided it would be easier to pimp it rather than try to find an original unbent mast22.6...original fittings,so the bottom four planks are sheathed,carbon mast& boom, winder board and rudder,but...its still 43yrs old,it would never be able to sail off the current m/r handicap..so the 1050 pat blake is proposing is a sensible start point,adjust accordingly from there,i would rather see an old boat updated than end up on a bonfire!!!\r\n(or in nyaminyami's case two benches on a shed)"


25/03/2014 07:45:58
d.h
"dougal..just for the record,we also pulled satchmo from last years shustoke bonfire...this has all its bits so we intend to restore her as built,plus she was one of dear Patrick kings boats,...worth saving just for that reason alone...must be the heart talking!!"


25/03/2014 15:26:29
Rod & Jo
"Keith's observation is exactly what I pointed out in the other thread. \r\n\r\nWhen was the old boat handicap system first introduced? If 1620 was rated 60 points higher than the then current PY, is this not the place to start from?"


28/03/2014 15:05:54
Luke
Just grouping by sail number doesnt seem to work as some designs with the current system are not that much slower than a modern boat but get a massive handicap increase. This was one of the issues with the handicaping meeting we had a Blithfield. I sail an old Merlin but I couldn't recomend the MROA system as some of the boats it gives points would give them a massive advnatage (too much really). Even then you need banding for the rig as a carbon rig makes a huge difference even to an old boat.


28/03/2014 15:05:54
Luke
Would a hull shape based system be worth investgating?


02/04/2014 08:25:02
dougal
"Hi Ben, I'm sorry but I cannot work out the difficulty in aiming for a greater degree of 'granulation' - working out a PY is working out a PY, in the end the calculation is the same, even if some of the numbers are different. All the boats will have different elapsed times, so in theory, it should not be a problem for the handicapping to be far more focused. However, I think you are really on the right track to  suggest a fixed point that remains constant (though can easily be reviewed if this is found not to be working).\r\n\r\nWe now have the situation where some of the later Ian Holt boats are now classed as older/classic, so the differential between say, Gareth G with 'The Dream Machine'  and Pat Blake's old MkIXd is as big as between the IXd  and the likes of Gently. \r\n\r\nIn the end, it will all depend on what it is you are trying to achieve. Is the wish to get more 'prime of life boats' sailing, or make the racing more attractive to owners of boats older than that?\r\n\r\nBut a great idea and one that I look forward to seeing developed further.\r\n\r\nD"


02/04/2014 08:25:02
dougal
"You will all be pleased to know that this is a far from new topic! As a class, the Merlin fleet should be proud that  going back as far as the late 1960s, moves were already being discussed as to ways in which the older/less competitive boats could still feel as if the Association 'wanted them'! (there is nothing like being unloved!. As the book has progressed, I've tried to capture the various moves and initiatives that have been made, aimed in the main at greater 'inclusivity'. However, what has been happening over the last few years is something new, that is taking the Class (which is, by definition, a very 'broad church') into new territory. At one end of the problem are perfectly serviceable 'prime of life' boats. Now back in the early 1990s, the boundary was set at DangerBat - 3400. However, as I said earlier, this threw up a number of anomalies! Any form of cut off, be it by date, sail number or design (for instance, the NSMIV; is that an old new boat or a new old boat? And then, if you put the NSM Iv one side of the line, what about Thin Ice?) - any line that divides will cause issues.\r\n\r\nAt the same time that this has happened, the growing strength of the Thames 'old boat' scene has seen the majority of modernisation taking place. There is nothing at all wrong with this, all credit to some superb restorations that have taken place (I think the work that Chris Rathbone has put into his Outrage design is just amazing....in looks and performance, there is a boat that ticks all the boxes). However, that demand for performance has now gone beyond the addition of carbon spars and mylar sails to the creation of brand new boats constructed around the deck beams of an old boat. Views on this highly sensitive subject probably change the further you get from the immediate 'Home Counties', but there are out around the country a significant number of older boat owners who look at this and think that the Merlin classic scene is not for them - and are therefore lost.\r\n\r\nMy concern is that left unmanaged, the end result for the class as a whole will be fragmentation - the Thames boats doing one thing, prime of life another, really old boats something different and those in the middle (the Smokers, Hexagons, Ghost Riders and the like) hopefully finding someone who is interested in them.\r\n\r\nIt is worthy of note that this is far from an interesting but in the end un-important sub plot! In my research for articles on other classes, one thing is crystal clear. Those classes that can engender a sense of inclusion, of 'oneness' tend to keep a broad base of support in addition to the core racing fleet. Those that rely purely on the elite tend to get more and more just the class for the few, which in the end is the route to shrinkage and lack of interest. \r\n\r\nThe answer should be 'stratification' of some sorts - but that is a big issue all of it's own.\r\nD"


02/04/2014 08:25:02
dougal
"Hi Andy - and other owners of boats from 'middle earth'!\r\nThere is a point that keeps being overlooked here: is this just about the racing and somehow getting a bigger bang from a 30 year old (or older) buck, OR.... is there even just the slightest hint of interest in the heritage of the class. From where I sit, the head says the former, the heart the latter.\r\n\r\nShould we be doing more to ensure that the rich diversity in the class timeline is preserved - I believe we should. Let me give you an example. Just last year, a perfectly 'saveable' MR went to a Viking funeral for no other reason than it wasn't one of the popular river designs. Had that been a Mk IX, IXb or XII, then my guess is that it would be in a workshop now being fettled. But Merlin sailing has always been a fickle, fashion conscious  business, so no one wanted a boat that would have been a real addition to the classic scene and an important part of the 'jigsaw'.\r\n\r\nWhat could be done to change this? Well, all the boats have their design listed, so why doesn't the same list give a PY number by design? Let's face it, many will be on or about the same.....Smokers, hexagon, Ghost Rider and fadeaway are probably all one - though maybe a Mustard seed (or a SuperSeed) might just get a few points nudge in the right directions. Even if today we don't have (again as an example)a 26c - plucked out of the air, it's a J. Aveston Banana Split, it would be good to see some of these rare beasts saved as they have a story to tell - but no, the answer seems to be let's save the Holts and Proctor boats for their prowess in one set of conditions.\r\n\r\nAnother example: Pat and Sandy sail Pat Blakes old boat, a Proctor IXd (2121, Half Cut). Now I have the reports of Half Cut's progress at the nationals, it is an interesting boat but one that it is probably fairest to say was from the latter and less successful period in the Proctor timeline. But sandwiched around 2121 are IXbs, Expectants, Superstitions and the (aforementioned) Booth Outrage. What is so wrong, to help ensure that Half Cut continues to be a floating testament to Proctors thinking in the late sixties, if the IXd gets a few extra points on the PY.\r\n\r\nOf course, the alternative is that what is really wanted here, is just a subset of the mainstream class, that want just a narrow version of the modern boats for level racing on one stretch of water. Great, brilliant and the Thames sailors are the best at doing just that.... it is/ they are impressive to watch.\r\n\r\nBut should all the other old boats be held hostage to that? No, I just don't think so.\r\n\r\nd"


07/04/2014 01:16:46
Pat2121
Ben, you could try what Chris Barlow is doing for Shearwater and return figures to the RYA which define each group of Merlins as a seperate class. So we have something like "Merlin 1-500" as a class on the PY return for Shearwater and get a recommended figure back for it. Likewise "Merlin 500-894" and any other bands that apply.
The more clubs that do this the better a figure we will get for everyone to use.

07/04/2014 01:24:18
Pat2121
BUT adding to my post above, the rules have to be strict about state of modernisation. This should only be for old boats which are not modernised with carbon, kevlar, mylar or two-pack. The Blithfield rule of "put a modern rig on and you sail off the modern handicap" should be applied, otherwise the whole thing starts again as truly old boats are outclassed by the modernised old boats and we end up with even more handicaps within handicaps.

07/04/2014 01:30:52
Luke
Just grouping by sail number doesnt seem to work as some designs with the current system are not that much slower than a modern boat but get a massive handicap increase. This was one of the issues with the handicaping meeting we had a Blithfield. I sail an old Merlin but I couldn't recomend the MROA system as some of the boats it gives points would give them a massive advnatage (too much really). Even then you need banding for the rig as a carbon rig makes a huge difference even to an old boat.

07/04/2014 01:32:21
Luke
Would a hull shape based system be worth investgating?

07/04/2014 02:44:03
Richard 1074 and 3443
I agree with Pat's 2nd point. Perhaps the De May additional handicaps on Rig/Kite/ mast/sail material etc could be further enhanced.

07/04/2014 03:36:16
Tim
I actually agree with Pat's first point, but not the second.

Old Merlins don't get faster at the same rate as new ones, so their PYs shouldn't be dragged along with the modern fleet; they should be fixed, but reviewed as the Vintage fleet develops, the same as all other classes.

However, looking at older style kit, a brand new kevlar sail is no quicker than an brand new dacron sail. When the old boats were built, they used modern materials. I don't see why old boats that use modern materials now are penalised for things that provide no performance advantage. This essentially encourages De May boats to use increasingly outdated kit.

07/04/2014 04:01:15
Peter Mason847
The Merlin is a development boat so it does not make any sense to handicap it. Also, the population of them is far too small for any meaningful statistical analysis of performance changes due to, say, installing a carbon rig. If an old boat becomes obsolescent, scrap it or modify it to get the performance back. Or live with it an interesting historical conservation item.
By all means race them in grouping by sail number or era, but just have straight races and no tinkering with the results.

07/04/2014 06:45:36
Tim B
Perhaps to address the crop of "newer" old Holt/winder wooden boats just about to hit the circuit...

A base handicap figure could possibly be worked out if the boat is raced in "original default mode"..what the boat was raced with when it was first launched. Then detract for: new modifications to the original boat, carbon masts, hard finished dacron/ODL6 sails, go faster stripes. So that at least these crop of new boats will have a mentality of racing in original mode, rather than ending up in a carbon deck stepped mast/handicap war as is now plaguing the de may fleet.

With so many EBay bargains out there, there has to be a quick and cheap route to racing that rewards sailing the boat in it's original guise, so to attract more runners and riders.

07/04/2014 09:05:06
peter horscroft
i'll "go" with all of that Tim B - start with what the boat "used to be" then "load" from there according to "mods made" 
peter

07/04/2014 09:33:08
Tim B
Unless you can have an opt out of the default Merlin setting ..and have an unrestricted arms-race classic Merlin, where you can take an old hull..and add go faster bits, carbon sheathed decks, stiffeners, lose the heavy bits, and lo and behold,,you have a "De May" hot rod. Which would be a difficult class to handicap and administer, whilst hopefully the majority of sensible chaps would be racing the default original old boat.

I'd rather see, like for like aged-boats racing in divisions, like the CVDRA do. I wouldn't mind being passed on a reach by a new Potato, knowing I can tack quicker and go upwind faster, and claw back time in my woodupwinder weapon of mass destruction.

Come and do the "Not going to Salcombe, reasonably-priced Merlin regatta" at Weston SC in the Summer..

07/04/2014 09:40:49
Andy
Up here in Scotland we are looking into this very thing, and I've spoken offline to a couple of people about it. The fleet here is varied to say the least, with older boats the norm. One potential owner said he wasn't comfortable getting a boat as he felt that someone could just 'carbon' an old one and walk away with everything on handicap (we run 2 sets of eqaully weighted results, line and handicap, to encourage boats of all ages). And then I bought 3236, an old NSM1 with carbon SS rig, full raking system, carbon foils, even carbon transom flaps...talk about gamekeeper turned poacher. 

So this is what we are doing: Boats older than a Winder mk1 will use their 2012 handicap numbers, including any adjustments as recommended by the class. But for boats older than around the mid 1990's, any variance from original spec will get a hit. Therefore my NSM starts at 1032, gets a hit of say 7 points for the carbon rig, 3 for the raking system, and 3 for the bigger spi. That puts me at 1019, a bit slower than the ally rig wood Tales, and a touch quicker than the ally rig wood NSM4 with old size kite. These numbers are provisional...!

As class rep I will keep a spreadsheet of all the boats racing, along with adjustments. This can only work as we are small in number, and it isn't a big administrative task. It could work for the wider fleet however if there were standardised 'design' numbers, and set penalties for non'standard' developments based on age. It wouldn't be too hard to have a database with the design handicaps (perhaps based on historical data?) and a simple app or input dialogue based on a tick box system, to allow anyone anywhere to make adjustments based on a few simple parameters (I'd suggest spar material, bigger kite y/n, raking rig for starters). So if we visit a club, they can go on the Merlin website, type in the boat number, and make adjustments if necessary.

The database could carry 'endorsed' figures for people who have their boat configurations set, so that race committees don't have to check every boat. Any owner knowingly racing under such a figure but who has modified any of the parameters since gets automatic disqualification, from event and series, so the onus is on the owners to check the committee has their handicap correct, a simple thing if you have the base number and know what your rig is made of and your rig config. 'Endorsed' figures could be done by almost anyone willing to corroborate the simple factors involved (2 countersignatures) - it's not difficult to see if a boat has a carbon rig, raking system and the bigger kite.

The old boats are not getting any faster, so the current system is useless for us...

07/04/2014 09:44:50
Andy
Oh and 'original construction' would be a good parameter, to weed out the carbonising deMay lot and also the late build NSM2's...!

07/04/2014 10:01:32
Tim B
Sounds well thought through Andy!..

Liking your approach and attitude..especially the bits about wanting to race against similar boats in some level playing field and the PY.
After years of frustration owning Merlins and not really having the right series to race in against similarly minded chap and chapesses..hopefully the undercurrent will take this forward.

07/04/2014 10:24:25
Ben Marshall
Hello Martin\r\nThis thread is more about Merlins in a mixed fleet and both of the series you mentioned are about Merlins racing Merlins. There is only one small change to the De May at present (web page to be updated) and that is the removal of reference to 'small spinnaker'. The Thames series races are staraight forward 'open events' for merlins with no handicapping.


07/04/2014 10:24:25
Ben Marshall
Hello Martin
This thread is more about Merlins in a mixed fleet and both of the series you mentioned are about Merlins racing Merlins. There is only one small change to the De May at present (web page to be updated) and that is the removal of reference to 'small spinnaker'. The Thames series races are staraight forward 'open events' for merlins with no handicapping.

07/04/2014 10:24:25
Ben Marshall
"Mervyn Allen, Pat Blake and myself are very interested to see if we are able to make any improvements upon the MROA published figures for mixed fleet, club racing (handicap races). I wish to open this 'thread' to your thoughts ! Note - other thread re current figures used at your club.\r\nBen"


07/04/2014 10:24:25
Ben Marshall
"Yes, handicapping aims to provide fair racing, BUT ! IT MUST BE KEPT SIMPLE! Too much detail, differentiation between merlins in one fleet, considerable calculation etc. are unlikely to succeed, alas. The handbook offers two different approaches to this problem and both employ 'very broad brush strokes'. The second version was developed for class racing in the De May series. Perhaps this has some mileage if it was given a different base line figure of a PY of 1050 which doesn't change, annually, when a new figure is produced for the modern racing fleet."


07/04/2014 10:33:03
Ben Marshall
Mervyn Allen, Pat Blake and myself are very interested to see if we are able to make any improvements upon the MROA published figures for mixed fleet, club racing (handicap races). I wish to open this 'thread' to your thoughts ! Note - other thread re current figures used at your club.
Ben

07/04/2014 11:21:45
Ben Marshall
Yes, handicapping aims to provide fair racing, BUT ! IT MUST BE KEPT SIMPLE! Too much detail, differentiation between merlins in one fleet, considerable calculation etc. are unlikely to succeed, alas. The handbook offers two different approaches to this problem and both employ 'very broad brush strokes'. The second version was developed for class racing in the De May series. Perhaps this has some mileage if it was given a different base line figure of a PY of 1050 which doesn't change, annually, when a new figure is produced for the modern racing fleet.

07/04/2014 12:39:25
dougal
Hi Ben, I'm sorry but I cannot work out the difficulty in aiming for a greater degree of 'granulation' - working out a PY is working out a PY, in the end the calculation is the same, even if some of the numbers are different. All the boats will have different elapsed times, so in theory, it should not be a problem for the handicapping to be far more focused. However, I think you are really on the right track to  suggest a fixed point that remains constant (though can easily be reviewed if this is found not to be working).

We now have the situation where some of the later Ian Holt boats are now classed as older/classic, so the differential between say, Gareth G with 'The Dream Machine' and Pat Blake's old MkIXd is as big as between the IXd and the likes of Gently.

In the end, it will all depend on what it is you are trying to achieve. Is the wish to get more 'prime of life boats' sailing, or make the racing more attractive to owners of boats older than that?

But a great idea and one that I look forward to seeing developed further.

D

07/04/2014 13:11:41
Pat2121
"Ben, you could try what Chris Barlow is doing for Shearwater and return figures to the RYA which define each group of Merlins as a seperate class. So we have something like ""Merlin 1-500"" as a class on the PY return for Shearwater and get a recommended figure back for it. Likewise ""Merlin 500-894"" and any other bands that apply.\r\nThe more clubs that do this the better a figure we will get for everyone to use."


07/04/2014 13:11:41
Pat2121
"BUT adding to my post above, the rules have to be strict about state of modernisation. This should only be for old boats which are not modernised with carbon, kevlar, mylar or two-pack. The Blithfield rule of ""put a modern rig on and you sail off the modern handicap"" should be applied, otherwise the whole thing starts again as truly old boats are outclassed by the modernised old boats and we end up with even more handicaps within handicaps."


07/04/2014 15:49:23
Peter Mason847
"The Merlin is a development boat so it does not make any sense to handicap it. Also, the population of them is far too small for any meaningful statistical analysis of performance changes due to, say, installing a carbon rig. If an old boat becomes obsolescent, scrap it or modify it to get the performance back. Or live with it an interesting historical conservation item.\r\nBy all means race them in grouping by sail number or era, but just have straight races and no tinkering with the results."


07/04/2014 20:58:44
peter horscroft
i'll "go" with all of that Tim B - start with what the boat "used to be" then "load" from there according to "mods made" \r\npeter


08/04/2014 01:21:22
Edward
Pat - What an excellent and quick response - and the figures match the ones I have just proposed having been reset backwards by 1 minute. These age bands are easy to understand for club race officers who shouldn't be left with the task of checking boats for raking rigs or carbon masts. I can rake my rig if I mess with lots of bits of string but not just one - so who makes the judgement on that. My own club is happy to use the figures so lets get them on   the website so they can be verified by clubs if required and get on with the sailing.

08/04/2014 01:24:02
RichardT
Pat

Slight slip of the keyboard on first line - should be 3553 onwards for current PN and not 2553.

08/04/2014 05:14:27
Keith Callaghan
The key thing is to disconnect the PY numbers of older boats from the current 'RYA' PY number. It is clearly illogical to penalise decades-old boats just because the current boats are performing ever faster. Pat's proposal (based on sail numbers) is a good one, but what if a new boat is built to an old design? That boat would have a new sail number (37xx) so would be ineligible for the PY allowance.

08/04/2014 05:36:23
Chris Rathbone
Kind of Dougal to highlight my Outrage as being fully restored. Very tatty in comparison to the boats fully restored by Laurie such as Robin Hood, Flipside etc. But still lots of fun to sail!

08/04/2014 06:05:52
Miles
My two penneth.

What if? boat/design keeps the handicap of the year that it was first built/ddesigned.

Means my old IXb 2143 would be sailing off the equivalent of 91 as it was in '69

Does that tally in any way with the table above?

08/04/2014 06:06:04
chris
I think we still need some qualification on the numbers. Basically are they meant for boats in original condition or not?
I have been encouraging the earliest ribbed boats in the west country 6,7,16,40, 110, 252 to name but a few local ones. I'm not sure it is quite reasonable to space all the post 500 boats in 4 year groups but the ribbed boats (pre 500) in nearly double that period. From my experience there is as much difference between the earliest designs and the next generation. ( a large lump of lead on the centreboard for a start!). Thank you for looking into all this.
chris

08/04/2014 06:10:16
Rod & Jo
Keith's observation is exactly what I pointed out in the other thread. 

When was the old boat handicap system first introduced? If 1620 was rated 60 points higher than the then current PY, is this not the place to start from?

08/04/2014 06:22:12
Pat2121
Tim, modern sail materials make some difference but a carbon mast makes a big difference compared with a wooden or alloy one, especially in weight and a two-packed epoxied boat is much stiffer than a tradition varnished one (effectively wood reinforced plastic like frp or grp).
I've been collating results for the cvrda for several years which has included De May events and seen the performance differences.
Surely if a boat is going to sail off an age handicap it should fit to the class rules of that age i.e. a 1968 boat should meet 1968 class rules.

08/04/2014 07:32:54
David Child
Pat NO. 
A Merlin Rocket indeed any class boat, (Unless grandfathered either as a case or a general waiver.).) needs to comply with current rules. Many a good boat has been kept at the leading edge by constant updating, this is a skill/interest that seems to have disappeared but has always been part of racing. There are many MR examples as well as other classes.

08/04/2014 07:58:57
Andy
Pat's numbers are very close (2 points away) from what we were planning. It remains to be seen what effect the carbon rig and other things on 3236 have - somewhere on the forums a previous owner said the boat was certainly faster than a 'normal' NSM1, but not quite as fast as a wooden Tales. For us up North, I think we will still modify numbers based on major changes to configuration - much as I'd like to race off 1030, I'm not sure that others would be happy with that and I'm concerned about accomodating people in 'original' boats without leaving them feeling disadvantaged (thinking about my brother's Smokers versus Jeremy's lovely Smokers with carbon raking rig, for example), especialy as they currently make up the bulk of the fleet up here.  

Hopefully moves like this will encourage the fence-sitters up here who are waiting to see if carbonned up boats will race with unfair handicap advantage. The spreadsheet, detailing boat mods, will be available to everyone on the Scottish mailing list. Obviously I'll report back and let people know if it would be feasible for a similar system elsewhere. I don't see any problems with getting clubs to accept the numbers, as they can only go DOWN compared to the class list Pat posted, which can only help others in Merlins or other boats.

There is definitely a whole new 'old' fleet out there waiting to happen I feel, at prices that many can afford. Be daft not to take (fair) account of them, as some may well trade up to the latest boats if they like what they see - I'm heading this way, especially as finances pick up, but without our £450 Smokers I wouldn't have even considered the Merlins, and there would possibly be nobody trying to get the Scottish fleet going again.

I could even be sailing a GP! Anyways, back to sanding and scraping ;-)

08/04/2014 08:49:04
d.h
there are some really good points here,pat blake pat 2121 and tim ,these are just my thoughts....when 2427came along she was really stripped no mast sails fittings etc,we decided it would be easier to pimp it rather than try to find an original unbent mast22.6...original fittings,so the bottom four planks are sheathed,carbon mast& boom, winder board and rudder,but...its still 43yrs old,it would never be able to sail off the current m/r handicap..so the 1050 pat blake is proposing is a sensible start point,adjust accordingly from there,i would rather see an old boat updated than end up on a bonfire!!!
(or in nyaminyami's case two benches on a shed)

08/04/2014 08:58:19
dougal
Hi Andy - and other owners of boats from 'middle earth'!
There is a point that keeps being overlooked here: is this just about the racing and somehow getting a bigger bang from a 30 year old (or older) buck, OR.... is there even just the slightest hint of interest in the heritage of the class. From where I sit, the head says the former, the heart the latter.

Should we be doing more to ensure that the rich diversity in the class timeline is preserved - I believe we should. Let me give you an example. Just last year, a perfectly 'saveable' MR went to a Viking funeral for no other reason than it wasn't one of the popular river designs. Had that been a Mk IX, IXb or XII, then my guess is that it would be in a workshop now being fettled. But Merlin sailing has always been a fickle, fashion conscious business, so no one wanted a boat that would have been a real addition to the classic scene and an important part of the 'jigsaw'.

What could be done to change this? Well, all the boats have their design listed, so why doesn't the same list give a PY number by design? Let's face it, many will be on or about the same.....Smokers, hexagon, Ghost Rider and fadeaway are probably all one - though maybe a Mustard seed (or a SuperSeed) might just get a few points nudge in the right directions. Even if today we don't have (again as an example)a 26c - plucked out of the air, it's a J. Aveston Banana Split, it would be good to see some of these rare beasts saved as they have a story to tell - but no, the answer seems to be let's save the Holts and Proctor boats for their prowess in one set of conditions.

Another example: Pat and Sandy sail Pat Blakes old boat, a Proctor IXd (2121, Half Cut). Now I have the reports of Half Cut's progress at the nationals, it is an interesting boat but one that it is probably fairest to say was from the latter and less successful period in the Proctor timeline. But sandwiched around 2121 are IXbs, Expectants, Superstitions and the (aforementioned) Booth Outrage. What is so wrong, to help ensure that Half Cut continues to be a floating testament to Proctors thinking in the late sixties, if the IXd gets a few extra points on the PY.

Of course, the alternative is that what is really wanted here, is just a subset of the mainstream class, that want just a narrow version of the modern boats for level racing on one stretch of water. Great, brilliant and the Thames sailors are the best at doing just that.... it is/ they are impressive to watch.

But should all the other old boats be held hostage to that? No, I just don't think so.

d

08/04/2014 09:15:40
d.h
dougal..just for the record,we also pulled satchmo from last years shustoke bonfire...this has all its bits so we intend to restore her as built,plus she was one of dear Patrick kings boats,...worth saving just for that reason alone...must be the heart talking!!

08/04/2014 09:25:36
Andy
Hi Dougal, for me it's mostly the racing, but not entirely. We are trying to operate a broad church in Scotland, so the Smokers was bought for money reasons but quickly became an object of pride (you should have heard all the comments in Fairlie). I'd like to think that what we will try this year will allow someone to feel at home in an authentic, concours restoration, or a 'keep her going' mentality boat, with or without carbon bits. My heart does tell me that it is a bit daft to put a carbon rig on an old boat, so hopefully an equitable solution can be found where you can if you really want to, but if not then you have no disadvantage and can also be proud that your boat is original. For this, an element of granularity is required...

08/04/2014 09:28:32
Andy
Something tells me we won't have to cross the '99% of the boat replaced but still an old boat' resoration issue up here, but who knows?!

08/04/2014 09:46:15
Edward
Some useful and quite consistent information is emerging here. Andy is racing 3236 off 1032.Others have previously suggested this as a bench mark. Before I purchased my boat I considered a carbon rigged  NSM2  from Alde Yacht Club where the club allowed it to race off 102. Presently my alloy rigged NSM 3 using the figures which the association publish has to race off 101.  Clubs seem  prepared to accept the association figures for older boats and the simple answer in the short term is to adjust these back to where they would have been before their value was eroded by the link to the current yardstick. If you take the figures for older boats and add 10 to each of the given values you get figures which are not far off those we have above and which assist in validation. There must be other information out there to do this. This year we lost 4 points by the link to current yardsticks - If last year for example we had lost say 6 then that is equivalent to the recasting I have suggested. 

I am not sure I have an answer to the carbon rig problem, except buying one, unless you go down the route adopted by the Norfolk punt class where each boat has its own figure. Perhaps in simplistic terms carbon rigs are just minus 10. What we need is agreed and stable figures, which clubs will accept, but with the link from the current figure broken. In defence of the figures published by the association that is what we appear to have but only if they are pegged and not allowed to be dragged down each year by the quicker boats at the front of the fleet. Can I make a plea to the Committee as a minimum to reset the age band figures back, even to where they were this time last year, but they probably need to go back by the additional 10 points I have suggested and republish them on the website so that we can pass this information on to our clubs.

08/04/2014 09:57:53
Tim
Tim B, Pat2121, and other non-modernisers,

I understand the interest in a level playing field in terms of hull shapes for the De May series, but I really don't understand the desire to discourage people from stiffening things up and using modern sails.

The 'ebay bargains' mentioned are generally actually 'projects' that require a lot of time and/or money to bring them back to their former glory and make them structurally sound. If this constitutes an arms race, then I think those sailing hot rods are equally entitled to go racing as the 'sensible chaps' going (relative) banger racing, without being heavily penalised. Someone mentioned a penalty for two pack... which means they're actually encouraging the sourcing and use of worse paints and glues - really?!

I also still don't understand the requirement to penalise the use of modern sail materials. As I said in my previous post; brand new kevlar sails are no quicker than brand new dacron sails. Is the objection down to aesthetics? Both Thames A Raters and J Class yachts seem to manage OK with modernisation without detriment to the image or the need for handicapping the modern sail cloths.

I guess I just don't get the idea of nailing people for restoring classic boats to full race condition (which is how they were built) for the De May, i.e. a racing series. Modernised classic boats still look amazing, they just sail better and don't fall apart as much.

08/04/2014 10:17:55
Tim B
Yay Edward!..
thank goodness someone else has has the audacity to challenge old boat's handicaps being linked to the front of the development fleet..it's kind of really, really obvious now that old wooden boats don't get any faster!

Indeed resetting the handicaps back to where they were before the handicap erosion started in earnest, to try and create a level playing field for prime of life and older boats, and then handicap for go faster bolt on bits, which could be owner/honesty driven to cut down admin
I'd like to feel the the some new " love and attention" that the Merlin Association give the minority of the spangly new 100 - 150 boats in the circuit, for the die-hard long time aficionados majority who have late 70's to mid 1990"s boats.

There is a big fleet of moth-balled garaged/barn stored rennovated Merlins out there wanting to race, but have no hope and little inspiration to race at local club level due to the handicapping being linked. Love to see a new series of races based around these, as I feel the De May circuit has gone a little too narrow boat orientated. Which is fine and dandy if you like sailing on a river.

Fragmentation of the Merlin fleet is something of a dirty word, but consider it more as administered stratification of boats. So all can have a great fleet race

08/04/2014 11:41:21
dougal
You will all be pleased to know that this is a far from new topic! As a class, the Merlin fleet should be proud that  going back as far as the late 1960s, moves were already being discussed as to ways in which the older/less competitive boats could still feel as if the Association 'wanted them'! (there is nothing like being unloved!. As the book has progressed, I've tried to capture the various moves and initiatives that have been made, aimed in the main at greater 'inclusivity'. However, what has been happening over the last few years is something new, that is taking the Class (which is, by definition, a very 'broad church') into new territory. At one end of the problem are perfectly serviceable 'prime of life' boats. Now back in the early 1990s, the boundary was set at DangerBat - 3400. However, as I said earlier, this threw up a number of anomalies! Any form of cut off, be it by date, sail number or design (for instance, the NSMIV; is that an old new boat or a new old boat? And then, if you put the NSM Iv one side of the line, what about Thin Ice?) - any line that divides will cause issues.

At the same time that this has happened, the growing strength of the Thames 'old boat' scene has seen the majority of modernisation taking place. There is nothing at all wrong with this, all credit to some superb restorations that have taken place (I think the work that Chris Rathbone has put into his Outrage design is just amazing....in looks and performance, there is a boat that ticks all the boxes). However, that demand for performance has now gone beyond the addition of carbon spars and mylar sails to the creation of brand new boats constructed around the deck beams of an old boat. Views on this highly sensitive subject probably change the further you get from the immediate 'Home Counties', but there are out around the country a significant number of older boat owners who look at this and think that the Merlin classic scene is not for them - and are therefore lost.

My concern is that left unmanaged, the end result for the class as a whole will be fragmentation - the Thames boats doing one thing, prime of life another, really old boats something different and those in the middle (the Smokers, Hexagons, Ghost Riders and the like) hopefully finding someone who is interested in them.

It is worthy of note that this is far from an interesting but in the end un-important sub plot! In my research for articles on other classes, one thing is crystal clear. Those classes that can engender a sense of inclusion, of 'oneness' tend to keep a broad base of support in addition to the core racing fleet. Those that rely purely on the elite tend to get more and more just the class for the few, which in the end is the route to shrinkage and lack of interest.

The answer should be 'stratification' of some sorts - but that is a big issue all of it's own.
D

08/04/2014 12:57:40
Pat Blake
Lots of interesting thoughts on this thread, thanks to all for your input.

Let me explain that Mervyn Allen, Ben Marshall and I met last Thursday to discuss ‚??Old Boats‚?? handicaps as we were mandated to do by the meeting at Cookham Reach SC in January last year.

We mulled over many of these issues. Our primary purpose was to review the handicap system for the DeMay Vintage and Veteran series ‚?? as outlined on page 41 of the new Year Book that you should have got very recently. We decided that essentially the system that was put in place last year worked pretty well and with a small tweak or two would continue in place for that series this year. Ben is in charge of implementing these handicaps and he will be applying them as of the first event at Tamesis on Saturday.

Our conversations then went on to the wider issues of ‚??older‚?? Merlin Rockets sailing in handicap events in clubs all over the country ‚?? we know there are plenty.

There has been a recent change of the MR Portsmouth Yardstick handicap to 990 presumably as reflected by the results from some clubs and big handicap events in the last year (mainly because we have an influx of top sailors in our class and gradually there is an increase in performance as people generally improve due to training etc.). I think any reasonable person would agree that a MR that is 10 or 20 or even 30 years old has not suddenly going 5% faster than it was last year. So we think that the bands which are published in the Year Book (page 41) WERE a good guidance. I stress were because they have been in place for a few years now and the PY has changed since then; we think it would be more reasonable if it were based on a figure of 1000.

Therefore we think the table should look like this:-

Year Sail Numbers Handicap Number recommended
1999 onwards 2553 onwards Current Portsmouth Number
1989 -1988 inclusive 3430 -3552 1010
1984-1988 inclusive 3331 -3429 1020
1979 -1983 inclusive 3157 ‚?? 3330 1030
1974 -1978 inclusive 2833 ‚?? 3156 1040
1969 -1973 inclusive 2165 ‚?? 2832 1050
1964 ‚?? 1968 inclusive 1616 ‚?? 2164 1060
1959 ‚?? 1963 inclusive 895 ‚?? 1615 1070
1954 ‚?? 1958 inclusive 500 -894 1080
Before 1953 Below 500 1090

These dates were chosen carefully ‚??back in the day‚?? and we think that generally they reflect the progress of the class. However I accept that there were some boats that were particularly ahead of their time and vice versa, but you have to have a starting point and it is up to clubs to modify these numbers if necessary.

So what we would like to know is:
Have clubs been using these numbers in the past and if so do they work?

Please reply with as much detail as possible. But please don‚??t be bitchy and unpleasant about others who have a different approach to sailing their Merlin Rockets. Remember that the whole purpose is to get everyone out on the water, enjoying racing dinghies of whatever vintage. Handicap racing is never completely fair ‚?? but usually the best sailors win.

08/04/2014 17:07:03
Keith Callaghan
"The key thing is to disconnect the PY numbers of older boats from the current 'RYA' PY number. It is clearly illogical to penalise decades-old boats just because the current boats are performing ever faster. Pat's proposal (based on sail numbers) is a good one, but what if a new boat is built to an old design? That boat would have a new sail number (37xx) so would be ineligible for the PY allowance."


08/04/2014 17:32:33
Chris Rathbone
"Kind of Dougal to highlight my Outrage as being fully restored. Very tatty in comparison to the boats fully restored by Laurie such as Robin Hood, Flipside etc. But still lots of fun to sail!"


08/04/2014 17:52:30
chris
"I think we still need some qualification on the numbers. Basically are they meant for boats in original condition or not?\r\nI have been encouraging the earliest ribbed boats in the west country 6,7,16,40, 110, 252 to name but a few local ones. I'm not sure it is quite reasonable to space all the post 500 boats in 4 year groups but the ribbed boats (pre 500) in nearly double that period. From my experience there is as much difference between the earliest designs and the next generation. ( a large lump of lead on the centreboard for a start!). Thank you for looking into all this. \r\nchris"


08/04/2014 17:52:30
chris
"1) Current rules 1b includes....or those class rules applying to them at the time when the original measurement certificate was issued or endorsement signed.\r\nKeeping to 'old' rules is still therefore keeping to modern rules too. BUT it either/or not mix-and-match measurements. \r\n\r\n2) Dougal's point about heritage is closer to where I am for vintage sailing. For day to day club racing less so perhaps but many people will own an old, even a very old, merlin because they are cheap and because they are still a great boat to sail.I've been given three 'free to a good home' over the years. At this level it should not be about cheque book racing but about encouragement, enjoyment and inclusion. For sailing the very oldest Vintage Merlins I see little point trying to modernise them as they are never going to compete with modern boats. Most that I know of are in more or less original condition and can race against each other well. But when mixed with modernised boats the enjoyment drops to zero for me. I'm afraid that's why I don't join in the de May any more. But the main point is there is a variety of points of view and they are all valid. The bottom line is that PY numbers are suggestions for clubs but many clubs do find it difficult to know where to start and may well be reluctant to use them unless they are seen to be sound.\r\nI sail 507 on a small lake, currently using 1070, which seems realistic and others even think it generous. I'll usually beat 2121 on Shearwater, but put us both on a larger water it is completely the opposite. Last year I started using the RYA's online service for results (as I'm sailing Sec) we haven't got enough results yet but they will eventually produce a set of 'official' numbers for your boats on your water. This seems a good way too. If we can eventually combine all this data..."


08/04/2014 19:27:09
David Child
"Pat NO. \r\nA Merlin Rocket indeed any class boat, (Unless grandfathered either as a case or a general waiver.).) needs to comply with current rules. Many a good boat has been kept at the leading edge by constant updating, this is a skill/interest that seems to have disappeared but has always been part of racing. There are many MR examples as well as other classes."


08/04/2014 23:56:02
Tim
"Pat2121,\r\n\r\n- Two identically cut new sails made with Dacron vs Kevlar cloths should be virtually indistinguishable in performance. Bearing in mind all sails start new, is it fair to punish one over the other?\r\n\r\n- I accept your point about a carbon mast in gusty conditions. I didn't actually mention carbon masts in my post but, for what it's worth, in light winds (which seems to be the majority condition for the De May series), it is arguable that carbon is of negligible advantage. In some ways the weight of alloy helps roll tacking. \r\n\r\n- Glue and paint do not increase the stiffness of a hull. Newer wood and sheathing do, but his is not what is being discussed here. Better glue prevents failures, and better paint protects wood. \r\n\r\nBetter maintained boats are likely to take advantage of the above, possibly hence your data, but I still don't understand the anti-modern for anti-modern's sake camp. I'd just keep it to hull shape - which is the key difference - and be done with it. \r\n\r\nI hope my comments are taken in the manner they are intended, which is to promote fair racing and decent boat maintenance and restoration. :-)"


08/04/2014 23:56:02
Tim
"To be fair, my knowledge of the 1968 rules is not up to scratch, but did they ban Kevlar sail cloth, two pack epoxies and paints and carbon masts? It was then, as it is now, a development class..."


09/04/2014 09:52:41
chris
1) Current rules 1b includes....or those class rules applying to them at the time when the original measurement certificate was issued or endorsement signed.
Keeping to 'old' rules is still therefore keeping to modern rules too. BUT it either/or not mix-and-match measurements.

2) Dougal's point about heritage is closer to where I am for vintage sailing. For day to day club racing less so perhaps but many people will own an old, even a very old, merlin because they are cheap and because they are still a great boat to sail.I've been given three 'free to a good home' over the years. At this level it should not be about cheque book racing but about encouragement, enjoyment and inclusion. For sailing the very oldest Vintage Merlins I see little point trying to modernise them as they are never going to compete with modern boats. Most that I know of are in more or less original condition and can race against each other well. But when mixed with modernised boats the enjoyment drops to zero for me. I'm afraid that's why I don't join in the de May any more. But the main point is there is a variety of points of view and they are all valid. The bottom line is that PY numbers are suggestions for clubs but many clubs do find it difficult to know where to start and may well be reluctant to use them unless they are seen to be sound.
I sail 507 on a small lake, currently using 1070, which seems realistic and others even think it generous. I'll usually beat 2121 on Shearwater, but put us both on a larger water it is completely the opposite. Last year I started using the RYA's online service for results (as I'm sailing Sec) we haven't got enough results yet but they will eventually produce a set of 'official' numbers for your boats on your water. This seems a good way too. If we can eventually combine all this data...

09/04/2014 12:12:50
Tim
Pat2121,

- Two identically cut new sails made with Dacron vs Kevlar cloths should be virtually indistinguishable in performance. Bearing in mind all sails start new, is it fair to punish one over the other?

- I accept your point about a carbon mast in gusty conditions. I didn't actually mention carbon masts in my post but, for what it's worth, in light winds (which seems to be the majority condition for the De May series), it is arguable that carbon is of negligible advantage. In some ways the weight of alloy helps roll tacking.

- Glue and paint do not increase the stiffness of a hull. Newer wood and sheathing do, but his is not what is being discussed here. Better glue prevents failures, and better paint protects wood.

Better maintained boats are likely to take advantage of the above, possibly hence your data, but I still don't understand the anti-modern for anti-modern's sake camp. I'd just keep it to hull shape - which is the key difference - and be done with it.

I hope my comments are taken in the manner they are intended, which is to promote fair racing and decent boat maintenance and restoration. :-)

09/04/2014 12:30:52
Tim
To be fair, my knowledge of the 1968 rules is not up to scratch, but did they ban Kevlar sail cloth, two pack epoxies and paints and carbon masts? It was then, as it is now, a development class...

15/04/2014 08:37:33
Martin Hunter
"Hi does that mean for the Demay Series and Thames Series a laminated mainsail will have the same handicap as a dacron sail, and for the original boats does that mean, the handicaps will apply, on age rather than beam measurements, please come back soon\r\nMartin"


15/04/2014 08:37:33
Martin Hunter
Hi does that mean for the Demay Series and Thames Series a laminated mainsail will have the same handicap as a dacron sail, and for the original boats does that mean, the handicaps will apply, on age rather than beam measurements, please come back soon
Martin

25/04/2014 20:56:25
M214
"At Ranelagh, with few newer Merlins, we have been sailing off the age handicaps as listed in the yearbook as well as personal handicaps which change if you win or lose a (fleet) race. Personal handicaps are not used within classes.\r\nSeems to work pretty well though I do have a good handicap, particularly in light winds! As always, whatever you're sailing, you need to sail a lot if you want to do well in series.\r\nNick"


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