Since ,the maximum beam measurement was introduced in the late 1960's crew weights have been lighter and lighter, and now there are crews of about 20-22 stone or even lighter, perhaps now we should incease the sail area by 25 -30 %, so that crew weights of larger sizes can compete on level terms, otherwise in another 20 years will be less than 20 stone, and most people sailing merlins will be over sized.
30 years ago you could sail with 26-28 stone, but if you did now, you probably could not get in the top 15%,Harry Haynes thought we should have done this and have fully battened mainsail, I look forward to your views, Martin
How will this make any difference? Surely, lighter crews in average winds will just go faster, and in strong winds it would be same as now, heavier crews keeping the power on whilst light crews reduce it.
Surely we want to go faster, but wouldn't it be nice to prove it?
You say "otherwise in another 20 years [crew weights] will be less than 20 stone", but what reasons do you have for suspecting that the trend between 1970 and 2010 will continue?
And why is this different to any other dinghy classes where people got fitter and hiked harder? Look at how the average weight of an Olympic Finn sailor has plummeted.
A long while ago I observed that sailing was becoming too weight conscious (Not just the Merlin Rocket Class.) and suggested a minimum all up weight, boat, sails crew etc. With those failing to make the weight having to carry lead in the boat to make it up. The Jockey Club manage that with many races a day shouldn't be hard.
Hi , I thought we were sailing a development class not a one design, the weight in the finn has only come down due to modern materials, ie carbon mast and laminated sails with better designs, and anyway Sir Ben was not a lot lighter than Chris Law, who would have won had we gone to Russia games for the sailing . But the maximum beam was 7 feet 2 because that was the width of Mr A Warrens garage, nothing scientific about that. So increasing sailing area will stop the decrease in crew weights, or even better change the rules so that you could have any sail area and any height of mast, wouldn't that be fantastic, and also stop people leaving the fleet as they get bigger when they get older.
If you want to sail a14ft boat with more sail area why not buy one? There are plenty to choose from.
I think it's fair to say you'll be in the minority with this idea
not really surprised at your comment, you must be a smaller size person, however give it 30 years and you will be too big . I thought you would come back with something more constructive.
30 years? I have been sailing Merlins for over 50 years and I am not that much bigger than when I started! The problem with age is not size, it's strength and agility, as I found out today at Salcombe. More sail and fully battened sails (haven't we been down this road before in the 1990s) would make it even more difficult for me.
Incidentally I would not call Chris M a smaller sized person!
We're a restricted class not a development class. A different hull shape for heavier crews is the logical solution, I'm sure Keith Callaghan can sort hazardous hull to meet your needs. You just need to build one..
The issue in a lot of classes and it appears that the Merlin is no exception, is that sailors are getting older (in line with the general population). This is great as it means that we can enjoy our sport well beyond the age at which our fathers and grandfathers hung up their kapok-filled life preservers and retired to becoming 'master-tacticians of the bar'.
However, what an increasing number of older sailors now want is a silver bullet which is going to restore their former youth, reduce their waistline, and stop it hurting so much in the morning. That seems to come in the 'guise of more beam, more sail area, lighter boats, etc...all of which make the younger and fitter go faster and fuse the older and slower to look for ways of overcoming/obviating the effort required to make the boat go as fast as the younger and fitter seem to manage. A Merlin with 25% more sail area would be a right handful in a much over a F3!
The Merlin accommodates the options of making a boat which is more 'weight friendly', has a stiffer and more powerful rig, has more hiking power aft (Shebazzle and Jellyfish-stylee) without imposing significant changes and cost on the populous.
If we did make the sail area larger guess who would still be at the front? Yes, that's them! The younger and fitter sailors. The older and larger sailors would still be just as far behind, perching on the sidedeck and moaning about their backs, arms, shoulders hurting.
...I know because I was that soldier!
Ooops...just noticed that I haven't re-registered on the new forum database.
Don't mess with the fundamentals of the boat - that's not development. Look what happened to the N12 since the double-bottom saga, trying to compete with RS.....
As has been pointed out many times before as well as earlier in this thread, the way to go for making heavier crews competitive is in fact to INCREASE the weight of the boat. What is long-time ex-Merlin sailor Stuart Jardine sailing competitively? An X od keelboat. After participating in Salcombe Week, previously reckoned by Y&Y to be the top sailing regatta in the country, there has to be a very good reason for changing the formula that brings 120+ boats ranging in ages from 50 years old to just out of the box out to compete on level terms.
I DO NOT propose any change to the boat.
I DO SUGGEST the introduction of a minimum crew weight that could be big enough not to handicap those who never have been or no longer are lightweights quick weigh in at registration the provision of lead or other weights to put in a receptacle in or near the middle of the boat, for the skinneys. The jockey club do it hundreds of times a day not difficult.
I think the Jockey Club do it more for Health reasons - to make sure the jockeys aren't dangerously light/dehydrated
A quick google search would suggest that an Average UK male is 5'10 and should weigh (according to BMI) about 11.5(ish) stone & an Average UK Female is 5'5 and should (again BMI) be just over 9.5 stone
I'm not a fan of the BMI scale but it's often not far out.
So perhaps handicapping lower than average weight crews might work? But how many of the top teams really weigh less than 20st combined? and would adding weight to their boats really make that much difference. I'm sure the front of the fleet wouldn't change a great deal if they suddenly had to carry an extra kilo or 2 of lead.
Yes but this would be a major change to the class rules and I would suggest almost impssible to police. We would be carrying round scales and weights which would need to be calibrated/certified. Not everone has the same crew for each event let alone series. Remember if it were to become a class rule then it opens up the possibility of protests. I can't imagine it would be accpeted but that's not to stop the propsal going forward. I think we should look at crew changes in major events which are not allowed in most international classes.
Dave C a simple set of bathroom scales (electronic type £6.50 at Robert Dyas will do.
Paul Watson it is NOT for elf n safety its to level the playing field and give fairer racing!
As for policing people don't cheat much now do they? (Irony) cheats should be protested.
Just googled "average weight of a man" and got 13.16 stone and 5ft 9in in England. To be fair, this sounds like a bit of a fatty. However, I'm 6ft 1in, and 14.5 stone, so probably not in the best position to talk! Either way, it seems to prove that there is both variation and a difference between what we should and do weigh.
While I'd dearly love to see minimum weights introduced (near my typical all up crew weight), I don't think it'll ever happen as there are a lot of good light people out there. Anyway, it's nice to hear the discussions around this rather than taking weight out for a change.
By the way, I also agree with Andrew's comments around the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought... it really ain't broke at the moment, and we have plenty to fiddle with; we're playing with:
- rigs (all sorts of new masts),
- hulls (4 or 5 different shapes in the past few years?),
- foils (hatchet boards, JT rudders), and
- internal systems (like spiros and new bouyancy tanks)
Fair old amount of development going on right there I'd say...
If you put fixed weight into the boat the you are penalizing the lightweights, as the heavy sailors will have that weight on the rail, not on center line - UNLESS all teams wear weight jackets to equalise (I've worn them in the past - Never again thank you)
I suppose that you could come up with some sort of formula that wold balance total weight against weight on the rail, but would you want to work the maths out if you just borrowed a crew for an open?
Also, fixed weights in the boat assumes that crew and helm never alter fore and aft trim, so that factor would need to be added into the formula.
Comparing to the Jocky Club is a very big red herring, Jockeys don't normally lean out to go faster.
All these worries about light crews having it easier could apply to 20 other dinghy classes, surely? Why is the situation in the Merlin so bad that we (supposedly) need to fix it, where other classes don't bother?
Mags, I like you see little to "fix" but suggest something that will broaden the appeal of the greats dinghy.
Weight is a universal problem in the more competitive classes, some have introduced a MAXIMUM and one a minimum weight narrowing the appeal. As long ago as 1963 the championship was won by a judicious crew swapping!
Jon, Jockeys lean forward to go faster! Not out.
I absolutely agree about weight jackets.
Dave C, I would agree same crew throughout a series crew change only for illness and genuine personal problems.
Gareth Griffiths NHRC
It would be great to have a Merlin Design that could carry more weight... It'll be interesting to see how well the reserections of Steppenwolf and Niane go against the modern boats...
i would say that after chatting with a number of the great people down at Salcombe that there is a market for an alternative to the one design Winder hull shape, one that carries weight better and looks a bit more modern.
Gareth.... first the news you have been waiting to hear! Steppenwolf lives and is wonderfully quick! We were buddy sailing out in the bat with Wuthering Heights, swapping boats around and trying different settings. Even allowing for the fact that Steppenwolf was just quickly put together to get it afloat (no spinnaker even) and sported a tired mainsail from Number 1 (which dates it rather) it felt..... great, a lovely boat that could be/should be developed further.
This does lead on to a comment about the wider question of 'lack of development' You have Jon Turner working up Shebazzle at Weymouth Dinghy weekend, Jo Richards doing his thing at Cowes, whilst at the other end of the country, another way of addressing the desired hull form, Miles Jame's Wuthering Heights is showing speed a plenty - when there is more like the correct weight in the boat and some breeze. This week has been very significant...we've looked at the ICON, a Tasar and more hull forms than you can shake a jib stick at! So, development does indeed live and is alive and kicking at multiple locations around the country.
What is clear to me however is that, as someone tasked to look at and comment on what is happening, hull weights could get even lighter once super wide (in its modern format) starts to rule the race course. Can a super-wide be made to carry weight..... maybe.... but it will take all sorts of minds to work through the many different possible permutations - plus the proposed rule changes to facilitate hull building. Assuming that there was a change of the rules at next years AGM, it would be Jan 2016 before you could be building a boat to the new regulations. As I said to Miles this evening, as he was thinking about possible hull changes, the trick must be to know what you want to build next year, then build it the following winter. In the meantime, the 'Prime of Life' boats have been joined by a very smart newcomer...son of Niane and a smart weight carrier, 'Steppenwolf'!
PS - tricky conditions when the pic was taken - sea breeze v land breeze.. 25 st in the boat and it still went!
Gareth Griffiths NHRC
great news Dougal
Niane is getting closer every day, though I have to disappear for work for a few weeks now but Ill take you for a spin before the autumn i promise
Yet more development....though of a more light hearted variety. No wind today, dawn to dusk sunshine....HOT...so with sailing binned, what to do with the day. Luckily, Miles James has a workshop full of hull frames (the ones that were destined to be firewood at Jacko's shed), plus those of his own boats, so a fun afternoon was spent 'building' a new hull from the best of all of the shapes.
In the end, what looked best was the front of a Steppenwolf and the back of Wuthering Heights, is that Wuthering Wolf or SteppenHeights?
New shapes are being looked at to carry weight, here is the symmetrical view of the days experiments in Abersoch. It is sometimes a lot easier to be able to walk around the idea than just see it on paper.
25st hahaha that dosent even qualify for the heavyweight prize at the nationals.
25st referred to what was in Steppenwolf at time of photo, not the heavyweight all up we're targetting. We were sailing a boat with a design weight of 20st with at least 29st in it (water included). Steppenwolf's design is not the question here.
hi miles...I find that hard to believe that Steppenwolf was designed for twenty stone...that was dave fowler on his own.....I thought it was drawn and built for him.....
Sorry for confusing you. Dougal posted a photo of Steppenwolf mainly for Gareth to see her afloat as he is restoring a Niane, another Ian Holt design.
Steppenwolf was Ian Holt's answer to what he thought was wrong with his Cantebury Tales design, and it had weight carrying abilities.
The boat Dougal and I were sailing at Abersoch was Wuthering Heights with far too much weight in her. When I designed and built her I didn't weigh as much as I do now, and my crew weighed 9 stone. We had an all up weight of 20stone.
Now that I have passed the middle age bracket and added a few pounds plus having crews that are more than 9 stone,the challenge is to design a new shape. My current thoughts/ideas on development are leading towards a shape similar to Wuthering Heights that can carry weight. The picture of a new shape I posted is of what a weight carrying Wuthering Heights might look like.
Gareth Griffiths NHRC
I have been discussing designing a new boat that carries more weight recently and these discussions have been progressing well.
Will have to compare notes sooner or later.
I know four people who are keen.
What is quite interesting about this weight debate is that when you think about it there is a very wide weight band currently sailing Merlins competitively and performing well, all sailing the same boat with pretty much the same rig.
This is the same boat with the same rig dimensions that in the mid 90's when I first started sailing Merlins was not deemed suitable for heavier teams. In fact you could say that the changes made to the CT hull should make it more weight sensitive and less suitable for restricted water - this has simply not happened and the CT hull is still a good all round shape even in the face of the - albeit limited - competition that has appeared in the last five years.
Could it be that in trying to design a "heavyweights boat" and a "lightweights boat" people have been barking up totally the wrong tree and that if you design a fast boat and sail it well you'll win almost regardless?
Unfortunately none of the weight carrying alternatives of the mid 90's were really developed to their potential, or for whatever reason simply didn't perform well enough to capture the imagination of those who may benefit.
Where we are now is that the majority of the fleet is sailing close derivatives of a single hull shape and it's going fast and winning races with a weight range of 20-26st. Funnily enough lightweights do well in the light stuff, heavy's in strong winds. I don't think that there has ever been a Merlin hull that has proven itself to be this weight tolerant in the past. This could be rig, or all sorts of things but here we are!
Gareth Griffiths NHRC
But there aren't currently any alternatives to the winder Canterbury tales design on the market...
There were certainly a few heavier crews sailing at salcombe who were chatting about a better design that would suit them.
The Merlin is a popular design and it is a box rule, not a one design and this is something we should cherish as well as something we should use to our advantage if we want to sail with another average size/weight male.
Chris, having spent the week with David Henshall: sailing, analysing, and discussing this weight issue, and with the benefit of Ian Holt's approach to this (Steppenwolf ) and my Wuthering Heigths at the opposite end, studying these and comparing with hulls of classes that carry weight and perform. We have ended up with some criteria that need to be met that are currently absent. There is an improvement out there, it's just not yet been built. The drawing board is out and pens are inked.
There is really only one way to find out. Design it, build it, test it. I do not think it is going to be a 'tweak' of any existing shapes.
I'm not saying that it can't be done, just that the perception that the CT can't carry weight and perform seems to be wrong based on the last 10 years or so.
There's always been an alternative boat out there, but the market has not chosen it. This doesn't seem to be a function of the hull's ability to carry weight. There are alternatives out there now - four of them, some more readily available than others and some more proven, but all would certainly benefit from further development. But its a brave move!
Okay...a big topic that I will try (??) to be brief with. One of the great stories in the book (now there is optimism for you) was the 'dust up' between David Robinson and the more generously proportioned helms - of which Spud was just one, over the inability of the class to do anything to encourage the lightweights. It may seem strange now but at the time, David R had a valid point and in the end he addressed it by getting Greg Gregory to design a boat specifically for him - the Ghost Rider (this story is in the 1st MR mag of the 2014 season). So, back then there was a clear distinction between lightweights and the rest, something that Phil Morrison reflected in his design philosophies.
Fast forward to the last 20 years: By 1995 the Tales was the standard hull form of choice and the crew weights had plummeted. Peter Scott had asked Phil M for a boat that could challenge the Tales whilst carrying weight and for a while 'Thin Ice' looked a possible answer ((BTW - how good it was to see Thin Ice at Salcombe, beautifully redecked by Laurie Smart....) but rather than develop the concept, it was easier to just go with the flow - after all, with the RS 400 just looming over the horizon (yes, the 400s celebrate their 20th anniversary this year) these were not good times for the class.
This then was the background to the development of Steppenwolf; Ian Holt actually describes this as a boat that will carry weight. Now if Ian Holt thinks that there is a clear distinction between a boat for lightweights ( a great example being the superb DangerBat - up for sale right now but no takers!) and a boat for the heavyweights, then I for one would not want to argue with his extensive knowledge of the situation.
Bringing this topic bang up to date - having been out in Steppenwolf this last week, I though it was a wonderful boat to sail (we had about 25/6 stone in the boat, but I felt that she'd still have been okay with a tad more).**** PS - a huge well done to Miles james for saving the boat and restoring it to full sailing glory! This poses a big question! If one built a new boat to this design today and fitted it out/rigged it just as with the new Mark Barnes 'Smiffy/Dancing Brave', would it compete with the Winder 5s? More to the point, would it offer a better chance of competing if there was more weight in the boat? The answer could well be positive.
However - this is comparing a 1995 design with a 1985 design. The big question for the class has to be somewhere out there in the future. Jon Turners Geni....a Keith Callaghan design, the Jellyfish or the rumoured new shape from Jo Richards........... it will happen, sometime (the crystal ball just doesn't say when!). BUT - all these new boats look as if they will be superb open water speed machines, aimed at burning up around a championship race course. Yet, as we know, there is so much more to the Merlin Rocket scene than that. Could it be therefore that the Ian Holt development of the Tales... if not Steppenwolf, then 'Son of the Wolf' - could well be the answer for a competitive all rounder AND a weight carrier.
This was the question being asked at Abersoch this week. I have a sneaky suspicion that 'Master Blaster' will always be a lightweights boat - in other words, a superfast flattie for the big boys may well be the circle that cannot be squared. But a quick all rounder for the big boys could be possible (Martin Hunter will be happy to read this conclusion) without any rule changes.
Sadly though, my biggest doubt is that this will not happen! Instead, the likes of the 'Wolf', Gareth's 'Dream machine', the Bardsley-Dale 'Rush in Blue', Tim B with 'Blow-U' and others will come to the conclusion that the answer is to do their own thing with some racing for 'prime of life' boats....with the danger that this could end up outside of the core MRoA organisation!
Pure Magic, 70 years of the Merlin Rocket
Doesn't history always end up with Lightweights sailing Heavyweights designs more competitively, particularly on restricted waters?
"Doesn't history always end up with Lightweights sailing Heavyweights designs more competitively, particularly on restricted waters?". If the likes of David Robinson and Ian Holt think otherwise then I don't think I would like to try and correct them. However, one could say that it was"far better for a lightweight to sail a lightweight's design".
But as part of the fun this week we sailed the Icon, then spent a long time looking at things like Tasars and RS 400s. Boats not a million miles from a merlin but... some of them carry weight, indeed, make a virtue of it!
If you never ask the question, you will never know the answer. That answer might be that this is all being looked at from the wrong angle! For starters, we are, as people, all getting bigger. That is not just the big obesity issue, in all ways we are getting bigger, taller, stronger.
When Martin Hunter started this interesting and informative thread, part of the argument was the lack of development. He was right to raise the question, for as it has been said, that is the only way to get an answer!
Surely the development in rigs has widened the range of weight the Merlin can carry? By comparison the RS400 and Tasar rigs are archaic! It's too late to ban carbon spars and I'm sure no one would wish to go back.
We should also not confuse weight with fitness! At risk of stating the obvious - fit crews will always be fast and rightly so. Sailing is a sport, however it is one in which older competitors can still compete but only if they maintain their fitness. Sadly there are no quick and easy fixes to loss of fitness and increase in weight, you have to work at it.
I can't remember when though I think it was around 10 or more years ago Phil King was trying to answer this question at Rutland. Essentially he was saying that on open water the advantages of a wide flat boat even for heavy crews were so great that boats designed as weight carriers would always lose out. All is compromise and the issue is trying to find buoyancy somewhere in the hull form (= curvature) without losing the straight line planing speed from flat surfaces. For river sailing we all know that boats like the Holt banana boats or some early Proctors are very hard to beat in light winds because in conditions where skin friction is the major issue they have very low wetted area, but you would probably lose 100 yards a leg on a windy reach on the sea.
Can't rewrite Newtons 1st Law. You can look at reducing drag by reducing wetted area, but when lightweights get in it, it will have even less wetted area. In the old days of wooden frames, builders might straighten the rocker profile for lightweights, mainly to maintain waterline length. The converse of this is that a "heavy weights" design would have more rocker to avoid draging the transom, which puts more curve in the run, which is not ideal for encouraging early or fast planing.
Hull speed in non planing conditions is completely determined by a function of waterline length, so in order to acheive an improvement in overall boatspeed you are really looking to increase the range of conditions (and the ease) that optimum speed can be acheived.
Rigs and foils are probably the best place to look for a heavyweights edge, since if more power can be derived across the range, you will expand the range that the hull is performing at its optimum.
Or stay off the pies, go to the gym and practice more.
Gareth Griffiths NHRC
I think investing in foils and rigs will be the next step, hull shape changes to benefit a heavier crew are not rocket science and yes if a lighter crew sailed a more powerful hull shape with less wetted they would be faster in light winds.
But heavier crews would be faster than the same heavy crew not sailing a boat designed to carry extra weight.
This issue has been rattling on for almost as long as i can remember......
In the early 1980's Phil Morrison designed the Quatermass which was meant to be NSM 2 which would carry a bit more weight. The centreboard and rig were moved slightly forward in the boat and the hull shape had a bit more rocker. I think it ended up somewhere between an NSM 2 and a Satisfaction.
The design was very quick to windward and running, won several races and finished in the top 5 overall at Salcombe a few times but was never competitive when it came to marginal 2 or 3 sail reaching, so it was never a Championship boat.
Only 2 were ever built 3258 & 3259, they both currently reside on the Thames where they are probably the quickest boats available......
It is interesting looking at the later boats from Phil...42 and Thin Ice (if my memory is right, one of the two 42s built, Deep Thought, is still going great guns at Upper Thames... the other being at Trent Valley) with the suggestion being that they could indeed be very good 'all round' boats.
But.........can you help at all please? is there any way I can get a picture of either of the Quatermasses (Quatermasai?) - in particular a transom shot - for the Pure Magic page/book?
Pure Magic - 70 years of the Merlin Rocket
We have one of the Quatermasses at Tamesis ... it's PDQ on the river! I will try and get you a photo this week-end if she is out.
Oh no.... I'm sitting here working through the 400 odd pages of MS as I know that I have already made reference out to the Quatermass design but will need to see what the research turned up. I had a lot more in the way of luck with '42' as one was built at the Dalby 'home boatyard' - when the plans arrived the lines for the boat were on the same set of plans as everything else from Phil.
Working through this period chronologically, it has become clear to me that these late designs from Phil M were amongst his prettiest and most effective, yet the die was already cast that the fleet wanted the Holt Tales. Thin Ice worked well (and won Salcombe), Wing and Prayer did well for Peter Scott (who had been the one to go to Phil for a weight carrier) and both the 42s had all round potential that is reflected in the fact that they are both still 'good' boats.
On my list of questions for Phil when I get down to Devon is indeed his thinking in these latter stages....so there will be more to add.
But if you can get a picture of one of the boats that would be fantastic - I've a penchant for transom shots but anything else to go with that will be a help.
Many thanks Dave
Pure Magic, 70 years of the Merlin Rocket
Dave C - again!
Found it and...oh dear indeed! One of the two quotes associated with the design is that "it was intended to be more tolerant of trim".
The other you can read next March in the book ..... when I'm on my way into exile!
If of interest, here's a shot of the transom on Proctor Mk VIII
Actually both Quatermass' are at Tammy although one rarely sails, I'm saving it for later or no. 1 son.......