Open Meet Entry Fees and Prizes

25/04/2016 22:18:12
Martin Smith
As the Rutland ST draws near I note from the NOR that the entry fee is £23 with the promise of a prize to just the winner with other prizes at the organisers discretion.
I recall last years winning helm receiving  a glass and his crew an empty cardboard box that the afore mentioned glass once occupied. 
I realise clubs have overheads etc but how can one club run a two day estuary event with prizes for the same £23 entry fee.
That's very nearly 10% of the single persons membership fee and I'm entering a one day event not applying to join the club!
Am I mistaken in thinking the association used to suggest a level of prizes dependant on number of entries? I thought I had seen something around this in the year book. In any event it seems stingy to me to overlook half a boats crew at the prize table.

26/04/2016 11:19:26
I agree with Martin here, every year i've done it (at least 3) only three glasses are awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd even if there are over 30 boats and only one glass per boat. If you compare this to Wembley two weekends ago where the entry was £15 including prizes down to 5th, breakfast, coffees, snickers on the water and a hot dinner when you get off the water, surely the least they can do is to provide prizes for the crew and helms of the top 3 boats?!

26/04/2016 13:38:07
Peter Male
I went to Rutland many years ago  -  no wind (it died after signing in) - no races - no refund of any sort. I think that says it all  - I've never been again.

26/04/2016 13:42:13
We did a lot of ST meetings last year with no hope or expectation of being in the prizes. I was shocked by the entry fees at some clubs (mainly on the south coast) I think the most expensive was £40!. At one club we were also told as we came ashore there was no hot food available! Perhaps its time to somehow reward the honest and fair clubs and boycott the rip-off ones?  30 x £23 is £690! ...that buys a lot of glasses, lunches for the safety crews and petrol for the ribs!

26/04/2016 14:18:27
Paul hollis

Rutland has always been the same. expensive entry, expensive food and not very friendly. and to add insult take's a massive amount of time to turn races around.

I'm with Caroline a small club like Wembley can provide butties, tea and coffee and a meal afterwards for £15 and be friendly taking your money why cant a large club like Rutland do the same. or is the case that its a business and catering want there cut the club want there's and stuff everyone else.
stopped going 4 years ago after it took an hour to set a line after taking us all round the pond and then they binned it anyway as what wind there was had gone and they towed half the fleet home.
my feelings are if they organised a party in a brewery we could all drive home afterwards. 


26/04/2016 17:37:34
Guy Browne
Echo the same thoughts has Pete Male, why I haven't been for so long. 

27/04/2016 10:08:02

I have never been so can't comment really. All I can say is that I am surprised by some of the enty fees I see and it can be off putting. Last weekend at Cookham we charged £8 for Saturday and £15 for Sunday including Bacon Butties and Tea and prizes for 3 Vitange boats on Saturday, 1st for the guy pearce on Saturday, 3 boats on Sunday plus 1st home boat on Sunday and all for helm and crew (thats allot of prizes, 16 glasses or bottles of wine). Even with this I feel it is boarder line but we don't look to make a profit, just to enjoy the weekend. But then we have 20 boat turnouts, not 30-40!


Is there cause to look for a new training venue?? There must be other places that could do it. Grafham maybe? Datchet? 
Maybe time for a change. 

27/04/2016 10:21:01
Olly Turner
I think the key factor is whether the hosting club has a home fleet of Merlin Rockets and a representive that can organise a well run event with good racing, modest entry fee's and a warm welcome etc. The clubs we visit (such as Hamble and Rutland) don't have this and use the opens as a money maker first and foremost. More time was spent selling/buying food at Hamble than actually racing!
The clubs without home fleets tend to have lesser turnouts in my eyes too.
Is it time to reduce the number of Silver Tiller events to the core Merlin Rocket home clubs and get quality value for money racing back with better turnouts??

27/04/2016 12:51:58
Andrew Mills
Essentially there are 2 sorts of clubs we go to for open meetings: small to medium-sized clubs often on restricted water run by the members for the members and big clubs generally on large reservoirs with a lot of paid staff doing catering and running the place.  So Banbury, Wembley, Cookham, Hampton etc. have a group of volunteers doing the work and are not really aiming to make a profit except maybe in bar takings.  However Rutland, Queen Mary etc. need to cover their substantial overheads and as Olly says, without a home fleet we are paying for the privilege of sailing on their bit of water, sometimes quite substantially.  The issue for the training weekend is that it would be hard to run it on the waters that the volunteer run clubs sail on, but it has been at Rutland for quite a while now and maybe it is time to consider other options.  Good luck to you all if you are going this weekend - it will be bitterly cold!!
If we don't go to some of the big business clubs though we will lose quite a few of our open category ST events. 

27/04/2016 13:38:12
Running the B14 TT in co-operation with the 505s over the 21 - 22.05.2016, our entry is £39.00, but this is for a 6 race weekend and bowl of pasta for each competitor after racing each day. This option does not effect the takings at the galley, but means that competitors can quickly get access to hot food on coming ashore with queues being quick to disipate due to only tokens and no money changing hands. We have been doing this for a number of years and I am always amazed that more clubs/classes do not do it. It is cheap to do and can make the difference when justifying the entry fee, as the old addage of the prizes cost a lot, does not hold as most people treak round the country with no chance of winning. Something we teh B14s have also bought in is the spot (Merit) prizes that have greater value than the place prizes. It is the middle to back of the fleets that make the difference on fleet size. The top guys travel whatever, with many of them not being so loyal over the years as the middle to back of the fleet as they chase the competition.
I will never forget the 2009 Merlin Nationals where due to the generosity of the suppliers I managed to blag prizes off, we gave every competitor a prize, including Stuart Gurney's 10 pints of beer ;) Think that was a first as many said it was the first time they had been recognised at a national event with a prize. 
Clubs where no racing takes place over the weekend, should return the entries as they will still make money through the bar and galley to negate any costs for glassware etc. To many clubs see it as an opportunity for a money spinning operation. It should be mutually benifical to all parties involved. Anyway enough from me

27/04/2016 13:38:19

Olly and Andrew are right and it is a shame that this is the case but thats the way of the world. It does seem a bit of a a shame though that clubs that do have a home fleet such as the Thames Clubs, Hayling, Lymington, Parkstone etc are now having to alternate ST's with eachother when the likes of Rutland and Hamble get a ST meeting every year and don't support the class.

 I made th suggestion a few years ago that we should be looking at updating the ST catagories as currently you can qualify for and win the Silver Tiller without dipping your toe in the river and given our roots this seems wrong. In my view, being a river sailor, Banbury, Midland, Hamble etc are not restricted water and present a totally different challenge to sailing on the river at any of the river clubs. You only have to look at how competative the old vintage boats are at the river clubs to see this.

I would like to see an additional catagory and a re-shuffle to include river sailing as part of the Silver Tiller. We need to support the river clubs more, particularly bearing in mind the growing popularity ofthe vintage/mature boats. Not only would this preserve the smaller clubs but also the older baots and hence our class history.

27/04/2016 14:37:21
I agree with jez,a river categorys a great idea,but to be fair blithfield don't rip us off and draycote have looked after us too,not huge clubs but big water....why have a rutand open meeting and use the Monday as an extra training day??not my idea but mike calverts??

27/04/2016 15:13:34
I can see your point. I also think that some of the classification is a bit funny. Would River, Pond, Estuary and Sea make sense? (I can't think of a venue that doesn't fall into one of those categories...) Could 4 of each plus 2 guest be an idea?

27/04/2016 16:14:09
I can see Olly's logic here but I think the most expensive ST event last year was in fact a club that has a home fleet! The people this practice hurts the most are in general the young sailors who should be encouraged and nurtured (we have few enough of them as it is!)

27/04/2016 16:32:08

To go back to the start of this thread, I agree it would be good to have prizes further down the fleet, or at least podium...

I don't agree with the sentiment that we should boycott big clubs on open sailing areas (though this is of course personal choice). Once a club reaches a certain size the administrative burden becomes excessive and good will/ volunteering isn't enough so there are overheads to cover, and on the whole it leads to very well run clubs, even if it lacks some of the charm the smaller clubs possess.

That many of these clubs don't have active Merlin fleets means I also feel privileged they make room for us in their calendar at all, that they do gives us access to sail at some great venues, like Rutland, which I always enjoy sailing at.
That doesn't mean the class shouldn't negotiate hard for the deal we get (including prizes, entry fee etc.)
p.s. I like the idea of the "River, Restricted, Open, Sea" categories but think it might be a little off topic for this thread and could make it harder for people to qualify?

27/04/2016 17:46:34
Martin Smith
To return to my opening post I was in fact correct the year book states that prizes should go to the top 10% or first three boats whichever is greater with a prize to both helm and crew. It also states that each club is to apply by September 1st each year for its event to be designated ST with a choice of three dates, the committee are supposed to inform successful clubs by end of November of the result of there application, i.e. holding an event this year does not give automatic right to one next year.
Whilst no criticism is intended of anyone concerned in the organisiation of the ST circuit I wonder if this happens or if clubs just expect to be granted an ST event?
I can appreciate from organising the Midland Circuit how challenging organising the ST circuit must be.  
This thread has raised several interesting points not least the ones concerning clubs with no home fleet, I would add to that clubs that have a home fleet that do not travel anywhere, I see the merit in discussion else where regarding reclassification of qualification (to include a river event and not just the Thames either) and also of the number of events, perhaps such a proposal should be put forward for discussion at the AGM.
Rutland has a great training facility in terms of its classroom, accommodation and the catering and I am in no way being critical of that. But I'm not happy in the way I come away from their open meet feeling like I or the class were not really welcome and that I've not had value for my money, as has been pointed out 30 x £23 buys a lot of glasses, fuel and duty crew refs.

27/04/2016 21:53:05
Phil Emery
Did Barnsie just say 'That's enough from me'?

28/04/2016 12:58:21
Stuart Bates MR3615
I can understand all the points made on here, and have to agree that the Entry Fee does really depend on a group of willing volunteers to provide help free of charge.
In terms of the River category in the Silver Tiller, I would be wary of introducing this, due to the lack of number of river clubs away from London.  I sail at Hollingworth and, though I have not been able to travel much for a number of years due to a variety of issues, I would find it hard to make a River Silver Tiller event, the only one I have ever done was at Burton-on-Trent, which was quite a journey.  Also how would you define a River Club, as when does a river become Sea (only adding this as the nearest club that could host a river event would be Blackpool and Fleetwood, but that would still be tide dependant)

28/04/2016 15:27:30

Stuart, I get your point about travelling, but sailing at a river club myself, I have to travel just as far to get to all the other events, including Hollingworth Lake. We make the effort so as to qualify for the Silver Tiller, however, since you don't have to sail on the river to qualify few people outside the river network make that effort to visit us these days. You have totally vindicated my point, thank you.


I think most clubs are already classified as one or another,but a little common sense and a committee behind the decision would serve well. 

28/04/2016 18:22:06
Chris Martin
In answer to a few points:
The procedure in the yearbook is not what happens - i doubt very much whether it's been done like that for quite some time. If we did follow that procedure we'd struggle to get the ST published before January! Not a critiscm of club's or their management structures but some clubs are better at getting moving than others! Of course the majority are run by volunteers who are busy people. Clubs don't have an automatic right to an ST event, and things do rotate around.
Going forward a few ideas are in the mix to try and make things fairer for clubs and reduce fixture congestion. They are just ideas at this stage and since on the whole most people seem happy i doubt there will be big changes.
Rutland ticks all the boxes as a training venue (Water, facilities, accommodation etc) and to be fair they have looked after us quite well for a number of years. From a racing perspective i agree that the value for money is at best variable.

29/04/2016 10:33:08
It has to be time for a S/T shakeup, it's been the same format since I started in Merlins 10 years ago. Is this the moment to ask why Shoreham (lovely club/people/party/entrance fee, just for the record) always has to be the champs warm up? 

29/04/2016 12:15:16
re the ST my feeling is that 'if it aint broke, don't fix it' - we are currently doing really well as a fleet, and credit should go our hard working committee, and in particular Chris's work on the thankless job of doing fixtures. The current leaders of the ST and previous winners are a fair reflection of the racing we do/have done, which is what I would want from a series like this.
Ben, you're welcome to come and sail at Shoreham at any time of year, in fact we've identified some date when all Merlin's would be welcome to come and join us for some sea sailing practice;

- 8th May
- 29th May
- 5th June
- 26th June
- 3rd July
- & not forgetting 6/7 August for the open!

You can sail 4 times (in addition to doing the open) at £10 a weekend before you would be asked to join. If you live outside 35 miles there's a special 'out of town' membership of just £100 for 10 sails and only 1 duty requirement, a bargain!!

All racing starts at 11.00 on Sunday's and there is always an opportunity for tuning on Saturdays 
Give us a call or email for more info if anyone is interested in joining in.
Sophie Mackley [email protected] 07711 510613
Wiliam Warren [email protected] 07802 587831

01/05/2016 08:51:58
Chris Martin
To answer Ben's point Shoreham get that slot because that is one of three weekends that the club runs an open. The July slot clashes with Salcombe week and it seems a bit pointless going to Shoreham in September immediately after the champs. We actually caused a minor drama this year because i got the date wrong!
Its a similar situation at Lyme, they run one open weekend per year and when it is is when it happens. Not all clubs have the resources at their disposal to run an event any weekend of the summer.
Ive told a lot of people this at the bar, but its probably never been written down. My process when we start the calendar is as follows:
1) Where is the dinner? if there is going to be sailing there obviously this must be the last event
2)  Tidal clubs. If these are on bad weekends its not worth bothering so they need pick of the dates - Fleet reps thats why I'm hassling you at the end of september!
3) Clubs with restricted use - not many of these but Lyme and Shoreham fall into this group.
4) The rest. 
I try not to put more than two "big" STs in one month, but this is impossible with 21 events. With this number of events you have to accept that is very unlikely that anyone will do all of them, so if we have a big one in the southwest, the following weekend will be somewhere else to try to ensure as many people as possible will do two events per month, or at least have the opportunity to without doing thousands of miles on the same road - again not possible for everyone.
Number of events. There are two ways of going really, as we are we have lots of choice and we are getting 20+ at most events (Better than most classes), from a pool of probably 50+ travelling boats.
There is a school of thought that quite drastically reducing the number of ST events will increase turnouts, and i had been in this camp but i'm rapidly starting to think that this wont actually work. At least one good front of the fleet sailor's first event this year will be Whitstable because its the first one that both he and his crew can do - Ok an extreme scenario but he can't be the only person with heavy commitments away from sailing. Its would also make it easier to win the ST overall, though if went down this route and it worked the individual events would be potentially more difficult to win.
I dont think there is a totally right or a wrong answer on this one. Discussion round the dinner table yesterday at Rutland was on race formats and getting more shorter races in at key events. I think that this is a good idea.

02/05/2016 10:53:20
Ben 3767
Thank you Chris for that succinct and revealatory reply. I can see that the fleet is doing very well at the moment, and I am very grateful to  Chris and the rest of the committee for the hard work that they put in. Thank you also for the Shoreham calendar Sophie, I look forward to every sailing opportunity, of course.  I was merely suggesting that the S/T seems to have been formatted the same way for a long time now and that maybe we should shake things up a bit. At Parkstone we have realised that the fleet needed stimulating and one of the ways we have done this is to change our racing format and use the bay more than we have been, simple  measures which have increased turnouts and interest in the club fleet. Increasing the number of (shorter) races at events sounds like a very positive move, as does a cap on entry fees, I don't think reducing the number of events is a good idea (back to opportunities to sail) but if we're still doing the same style series in five years time that won't be the best effort of the dynamic exciting class we sail in.

02/05/2016 19:03:08
Chris Martin
I dont disagree, but I think we also need to be careful because what we do currently does seem to be working for those out there travelling - the danger is we make sweeping changes and wreck it completely, we dont want to do that!
There has been much criticism of Rutland SC's race management in the past - they did a great job today in testing conditions. Three races with minimal time between and good courses. Well done! 


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