Silver Tiller Discussion.

11/10/2018 14:18:02

Some Silver tiller thoughts.

As a recently new member to the class we have done a few Silver Tillers and had great fun, as they are, I am a bit confused how it works as a series. I guess It’s written somewhere but I have yet to find it. Any way I had a few thoughts on how to maybe make a few improvements and have been asked to post my thoughts here for the class to have a discussion on what it wants. Thanks john  


1.       Wight a description and explanation on the fixtures / event page at the top explaining what it is and maybe some history.


2.       Create three fleets Bronze silver gold.


3.       Could we create a team element to it were one boat from gold silver and bronze fleet work together, the underline theme here being that the gold boat help’s the silver and bronze get better. This could be drawn out of a hat at the dinghy show say on FB live so you would declare you intention to sail in the series before then, and the class would create the teams at random in a draw.

4. Incentive's bronze and silver fleets. The wining team could win free or discounted entry to the nationals, Salcombe or other prizes with separate prizes for the bronze and silver fleets as well. None of this changes the chance of any one winning overall.


5.       Winter. I personally have no interest in sailing in the snow but could you have a winter Silver tiller as part of the sail juice thing , so in effect a series with in there’s.

11/10/2018 15:01:58
Fixtures Man
Hi John,

The ST and it’s rules are written in the year book.
Briefly it’s 1 event of each discipline to count, plus any two others (sea, Open, restricted).

It just so happens that I’m in the middle of working on a G/S/B series with prizes and if we as class can make this work and how to.

As for the winter, there are so many options for handicap racing including the SailJuice, Snowflake etc that I don’t think there’s want or need for another seperate series.

All in hand, bear with me.

11/10/2018 15:41:39
John Fildes
Sounds good so can we have your thoughts on the team element, and prizes please. Can I point out the year book appears to arrive in the middle of the season re explanation. Can we try and use this thread to help the class decided what it would like everyones opinion is greatly received. 

11/10/2018 18:15:40
Chris Martin
Winter Sailing.
I think we have a problem these days in that there are now far too many events to choose from because lots of clubs have - understandably - jumped on the Shustoke Gauntlett/Blithfield Barrel/Starcross Steamer model and come up with their own event. As a result of this you can now sail somewhere at an open event at least twice a month through the winter.
On the surface this sounds great. However the Winter series used to be the premier club racing series when everyone was there and you had really good racing without having to travel too far. All these events have diluted each other and run the risk of completely killing off club sailing if all the better - keener - sailors decide to travel all year round.
A few weeks ago I realised I was becoming worried about the state of Merlin Rocket club sailing in the midlands which seems to be in decline. These things are cyclical, and I know a few people who are looking for boats so there should be a degree of bounce back in the next few weeks, but the fact I haven't been sailing my Merlin at the club because I get better racing in something else is startling and its the first time i've ever felt this.
Club racing is where we grow the class. Its where we pick up crews. Its where we run training without even realising it - we don't want open event competition in the class to the exclusion of all else. No Winter Tiller please :)

11/10/2018 18:30:23
Fixtures Man
I personally don’t think that a team series would work as nobody can commit to the Silver Tiller events too far ahead of schedule. I think I speak for any of the experienced Merlin sailors that you and anyone could ask me anything in the boatpark or bar, even ring, email or message me. 

I think the yearbook was “late” this year due to the massive work that had to go in to comply with GDPR. This is not a normal occurrence. 

I’m always open to suggestions, as are all of the committee but don’t be offended if we’ve already discussed it at great length. 

11/10/2018 19:53:09
John Fildes
Chris your bang on about the club thing . What I find interesting is the amount of boats that are at clubs we have St at that do not sail in them. Just ask Ben at Parkstone about how many did not come out to play. A lot of what I am suggesting is about getting people to come out and support there local club. Im going to suggest that some of them are not keen to sail around at the back in an St so stay away. Shorly we need to work on enthusing these people to come and  have a go in there local St and have a chance in there own fleet, then they might sail the boat a bit more in club races and as you explained so well has many benefits. FM a team can be optional but a good prize would insensitive it. Strangely instead of the good guys looking at this as a chore you can see that by helping the slower guys get better the whole fleet gets better and it comes back to helping the grass roots. I'm not saying I think a thee person team is going to do all the events . What are your thoughts ? 

11/10/2018 20:40:47
Fixtures Man
I don’t think anyone would see it as a chore as part of a team but why stick to just your G/S/B Team when you can pick the brains of anyone in the bar that evening?
Typically sailmakers and their jockeys are keen to aid and give advice.

I do see the ST as not being broken so don’t try to fix it. Instead, I think we should tweak it. Since taking on the role of Fixtures, I’ve introduced new venues to the circuit and am already organising G/S/B. Without looking to change too much in one go, let’s build it up progressionally.

Separately, Christian Birrel has been assigned as the new Training Representative to reintroduce training weekends. 

12/10/2018 10:13:08
I'm not going to qualify for the silver tiller this year, and don't think I ever have... it is in no way the fault of the silver tiller, but my preference not to sail at restricted events. It will never suit everyone, and even tho I don't qualify I have had some great racing in some wonderful venues.
I also understand why club sailors may not want to compete at open meetings, some people just don't want that kind of competition, and that is fine and not something the MROA should even try and fix. As Chris says, club racing is the heart of the Merlin fleet (in summer and winter) and the perfect opportunity to share experience and advice, test new things and just enjoy sailing for what it is - for those without their own fleets, most clubs will always welcome visitors.
I agree with Olly, in that we have so many knowledgeable people in the fleet that those wanting more from their racing only have to ask. Its great news that Christian has volunteered for the training rep and we would love to get him down to Shoreham for a training day in 2019.
I'm looking forward to seeing the 2019 fixture list, as the 2018 one will be hard to beat - great job Olly and the rest of the MROA committee.

12/10/2018 12:37:40
John Fildes
I I'm not sure I have made my point very well. Imagine your first day at a new school it all looked very daunting but you could not run away and we're stuck there so you were forced to make friends and in the end it was far less scary than you thought it was going to be. Now imagine that you're a grown up and it's your first time that an open event it probably looks quite the similar to that first day at a new School, but this time if you don't do well or don't have a good time you don't have to ever go back again because you're a grown up. My point is not that people in the class are not helpful and forthcoming , we have found they are very much , it's but in my experience most people don't like to ask. So my question was can we do something differently to keep those people and help them have a great time in turn helping to rebuild club level sailing. None of this was about the committee this was about trying to establish if it was possible to do something a little better it might be in might not be! 

12/10/2018 13:19:17
pretty good analogy @john.
i've done two ST's, aldeburgh and parkestone. I have to say that Fran was super welcoming at AYC, different clubs etc. 
I agree that unless you ask then nothing happens, i think that is the same in most fleets. Some fleets have a 'buddy' system where by crews are teamed in the hope of shared knowledge, my experience of this is it is kind of 'forced' social, a good way to introdce newbies to the regulars.
Intersting that maybe dragging your carcass round the back of the fleet leads to a bit more apathy from the mid to top, but an easy "Hey chaps / chapess's ''  "looks like you are sitting to aft or rig too straight" shows a bit of help/willing. 
Some people just won't ask for help. 
it was great to see JT give time to the woodies and show a bit of his knowledge, likewise there were plenty of smiles cruising round waiting...just need to make sure that the tail end charlies are approached to see if we can make them quicker or involve them in the fleet.
In the bar after sailing at AYC, maybe because of the smaller club and long table it was easier to 'take beer' with the regulars. If you want people to become regulars on the ST then they need to feel 'in' how that happens i don't know.
I guess having 'the' kite is a bit of an ice breaker, but if you are new to the Merlin as a boat and then new to the ST then there's a lot to get you head round and a friendly "we do it like this" come and have a look at ours...(which is what JT did).
I'm unlikely to qualify for the ST - a bit choosy, non sailing wife, smalll kids etc. there's the excuses. But i enjoyed the racing and it has encouraged me to do more, but how many introductions did i do at PYC? (and yes i will probably forget them if told)

12/10/2018 13:25:54
Fixtures Man
I do get your point but think the ST isn’t quite the right place for a more one on one or coaching approach. Quite often there just isn’t the time after driving 3 hours to get racing in such a competitive fleet, unless in the bar afterwards.

Instead, I think that club sailing with other Merlins is the best way to learn the ropes. A lot less travelling and far less daunting on the race course.

I think this is more of a training issue and hopefully now that we have Christian onboard we can look to address this with a MROA training weekend and from what Sophie has already requsested; guest coaching weekends at clubs. The committee are looking into this, as ever. 

12/10/2018 13:43:43
I'm a new member this year and attended two ST events. Both very different experiences. Aldeburgh at the start of the year was great, made to feel very welcome, chatted to most people and enjoyed some good racing. Parkstone felt very different. I felt a bit unwelcome I'm my wooden boat and the only person I got talking to that I hadn't met before was John Turner. If that had been my first experience of the fleet I wouldn't be back. 

I can highly recommend some sort of buddy system. Not only does it force introductions but it helps share knowledge and support the back of the fleet. I understand what's been written above and I'm sure I could of asked advice from anyone over the parkstone event but it's not always that easy when everyone is beavering away on their boat and your not really sure who is who. Having a "buddy" to turn to would have been excellent. Even if they didn't know the answer I'm sure they couldn't point you in the direction of someone that did.

With regard to the ST not being the place I have to disagree.....  If you're not going to encourage people at these events what hope do you have of retaining them? I drove 4 hours to get down there because everyone says come to events and everyone will help. That really wasn't the case and like I said earlier, if that had been my first impression of the class my boat would stay at my club with two others and we'd carry on our blind leading the blind learning curve.

12/10/2018 15:03:44
Fixtures Man
Scam/Matt, are you the same person or is this two seperate complaints against Parkstone? What club do you sail at and where are you based? 

Either way, I do appreciate feedback and this can be relayed back to clubs, in the case Parkstone. I’m disappointed if this puts you off of any other events as they are independent events and not how they all are. The large boat park and club house doesn’t actually help Parkstone for this, the smaller clubs are always more intimate and easier to be more welcoming. 

I said “Not quite the right place” and do personally actively encourage people to ask me anything at events. I’ve written this in the class magazines. 

I don’t think a buddy system would work for a one day event and as I said earlier, it’s quite hard to get the same buddies at the same ST’s throughout the year so not great. The Nationals and Salcombe Week however would be great for a buddy system! 

Maybe more “Gold” sailors need to openly say “Ask me anything”. I for one, am one of those. I’d rather it was natural conversation of mutual interest rather than a forced pairing over a very short event. 

12/10/2018 15:51:28
Fixtures Man
I’ve just come off the phone with John after a good discussion as to where we go following these comments. 
I’ll look into putting a spread together for the Winter magazine acting as an “Ice Breaker” which introduces the membership to those “Gold” sailors that are on the circuit and looking to help those that want it. This may also include a contact such as a phone number or email address so that even away from events, these people are contactable and there to help. This also acts as a friendly face to meet at ST’s. 

12/10/2018 15:56:47
Hi Mr Fixtures my name is Simon Scammell (3543) (Scam for short, or have met me in the bar),not the same person and no complaints from me per se about parkstone or the PYC event, it was a little like the 5tonner events of old when semi professsional everyone doing their thang, heads in boats sorting, we have all been there, admittedly we did go to the downstairs bar when the 'band' started so we could talk easier (that was definitley a mistake on our part!), great club great sailing and i'm determined to get to a few more st's next year. family and work aside.
buddy system in the other fleets i sail(ed) i think it was drawn at every event in case 'buddies' didn't show, so it was always mixed up a good way to meet the whole of the fleet. a prize (sometimes just a vino or dodgier) to the best buddied team. 
personally when i was the 'gold' member i can remember thinking i haven't got time to tune someone else's boat, but that's not really what they wanted - training was for that, it was part social and a few quick pointers as i said i spent most of the time with little things - kicker settings - boat trim, encourage them to keep coming, get to training for the big set up list / manouvres etc..
If when i'm sailing (and i'm a lot quicker usually) if i see someone or a junior that can be helped with a quick pointer then i will. If everyone enjoys sailing then passing on what makes you lot so dam quick makes it more competitive.
Brightlingsea is about the closest club to us on the regular ST list....on the ST list missed this year due to work based sailing events. 
AS an aside - i look at the events calendar and i think no way! not possible, how do people make so many events ?lol...i must try harder.
PS. at my club (just 3) that's 3 merlins all looking to me as the most experienced helm to set up, tune, train... an interesting bubble of development? magic or illusion? time will tell but i'm sure we will only get quicker by racing more Merlins and for those 'gold members' (dam that just isn't right on this forum) to to give some pointers or even just a nose in boat and hello?  especially to the newbies at events...they might not have nice shiny winders, they might not even have grp, but one day they might get quick enough to get gold membership...

might have switched to gibberish at some point...
PPS you can read about how the sailing at Parkestone went on my blog.....

12/10/2018 16:08:17
Definitely different people. And in different boats.
And not a complaint about Parkstone. Not really a complaint at all, just discussion about how it felt as a newbie in the fleet. I think Scam sums it up pretty well. 

12/10/2018 18:30:09
Pete Nicholson
Hi Simon, I sail out of Brightlingsea and in the winter from Jan-March do the frostbite series.  2 races every Sunday and really good race officer.  I find it very beneficial and really keeps your boat handling slick. 

12/10/2018 18:30:27
Chris Martin
I think its easy to forget that whilst I think everyone does want to be welcoming and as helpful as they possibly can, when they travel to an event they haven't gone there to work. Its leisure time and they will be looking to spend it on themselves, especially if they've traveled for a few hours that morning to get there, haven't had breakfast etc etc......
That's probably the differance between Aldeburgh and Parkstone, its not a reflection on the clubs or competitors its probably as simple as most people went to Aldeburgh on Friday because its a long way from anywhere whilst Parkestone is feasible to get to quite easily the same day from most places. Knock on effect is a much more sociable morning at Aldeburgh because theres less urgency to get set up and sorted.
I'm not sure a buddy system would work as if you assign people buddies there is no guarantee they'll be at the same events often or even at all. But the message from me and the committee i would hope is that we are all pretty approachable, but maybe a bit less interested in anyone else at 10:00 when we've been held up in traffic and want to get rigged :)

12/10/2018 19:24:17
Hi Chris,
I understand the sentiments off what you said. In terms of this club versus that club, I'm not sure there's much difference in the grand scheme of things.
I felt that Ben and Co from parkstone were approachable (as we anyone else when approached). The difference? Fran made a point of coming over and introducing herself, a great opener to a newbie to the circuit. We were all busy rigging ( we might have got boats there on Friday... But have you tried Adnams?)
Buddy system... The fireflies after registration or the first race draw top half of results and buddy them to lower half. Every event. So always have someone looking to say hello and encourage, which is what opens are about? 
Getting people to join in, if the fleet are encouraged to find their buddy in the dinghy park, minimum you'll take a beer after sailing to talk the days racing through?
The 5tonners had some shit system that meant the buddy system was quickly organised i.e not too onerous .
The point of John's original post was how to keep the newbie coming? How to encourage the newbie at at events to turn up to the next one.


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