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Development = faster?

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AndrewM View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote AndrewM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Apr 04 at 11:19am
To be fair the only thing that has changed on the Merlin in the last 5 years is the spinnaker, which has finally changed to a good formula for restricting actual measured area instead of the old one which restricted the length of the edges and half-height width.  All the other developments occured longer ago.  The idea of a restricted class (as opposed to development classes like the Moth) is that the changes are controlled and incremental.  Modern Merlins are definitely a lot faster on open water but the flatter rocker and sections make them more difficult on rivers.  I think the OOD's should be prepared to change handicaps for local conditions, but another problem may well be that the returns come from clubs with only a few Merlins sailing in a handicap fleet.  These boats may well be over 20 years old and a handicap of 1024 will not be appropriate.  Most of the recent boats are out and about on the very strong open meeting circuit, not competing in handicap events.
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SymBoy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SymBoy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Apr 04 at 6:59pm

I think the point of Javelin's arguement is that the PY system doesn't appear to be working. Whether it is because there are too few returns from clubs or simply not enough boats of certain classes taking part in handicap racing is almost immaterial. Unless the organising clubs modifiy the PY's for their particular conditions it is unlikely to work.

This is especially apparent when you attend the bigger handicap events (Bloody Mary, Grafham GP, etc) where it is very much horses for courses. Andy Rice even wrote an article about handicap racing which could have been re-titled as "How to abuse the PY system"

If these bigger clubs can't be bothered to modified the numbers, do you think the smaller club with its menagerie of boats will bother?

Perhaps the classes should re-evaluate their positions in the PY debate. For example, it appears to be acknowledged that most of the top Merlin sailors don't take part in handicap racing, and nor does their contribution to the Merlin's PY. Is it fair to other competitors to allow them to race? Or should the class suggest that fairer and more competative racing will be enjoyed by all if they provided another PY for the high achievers?

One interesting point from these exchanges was that someone actually believes that the Merlin's haven't gone forward in the last 6 years. Very strange for a development class....

"The advantage of this is that we are at a stage in the class where you can buy a 6 year old second hand plastic boat and have exactly the same boat speed as a brand new one. This has resulted in seriously close racing in the fleet where it is very difficult to split the top 20 sailors."

 

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Steve G View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Steve G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 04 at 7:45am

 "The cost of the boats themselves have not increased, it is the introduction of higher technology and quality kit that goes on them such as carbon rig, carbon foils countless fittings and kevlar/mylar sails that push the perceived cost up. "

 

I am sorry, so the cost of boat now only includes the hull ? The rest of the fitting out is some kind of percieved operation that some how pushes the price up, but one shoulkdn't take this into consideration when buying the boat.

 

Sorry ?

 

Thats like going to Jaguar and saying I want the latest super awd estate erm but I only want to pay for the shell, I want everything else chucked in by perception displacement!

 

Come on if you need the kit to sail it that is part of the boat, and therefore part of the price!

 

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Lucy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Lucy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 04 at 9:19am

I think at the end of the day we are trying to pick holes in a class that is extremely successful. Their annual 100 + turnout at Salcombe and good past champs attendance is down to not only a good boat that has progressed steadily to appeal to other class sailors, it is also down to the fact that the Merlin fleet are a really good bunch of people who are always keen to help. I used to sail one and admittedly I don't now because I have commitments elsewhere, but I know for a fact that I will always return to the fleet. That is where their strength lies - people want to go back for more!

At the end of the day, Winder boats can produce a competitive Merlin and have in fact been mass producing the damn things for the past couple of years - for a good price! The Merlin is a better looking boat and more appealing to sailors than they used to be. They are also much easier to look after now too! If you have the money then you can opt to have a hand built custom Merlin - the ones who win and go fast are because the helms and crews are very good! not because of the amount of money they have thrown at it.... Some of these top 20 sailors have been doing the circuit for 20 years + so please don't expect to jump in one and win. And DON'T blame the boat for being old/ not expensive enough/ the wrong design!!! 

Stop trying to find floors because a fleet is not all about the boat, it is the kindness and atmosphere generated by the sailors too!

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Steve G View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Steve G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 04 at 12:08pm

I agree Lucy, for the record I love merlins and used to sail them twenty years ago in a wide superstition, I agree that it is the helm, and that Phil King or whoever else could prolly jump into an old Proctor MK10 or a winder box or a ghost rider any of them and after a morning on the beach with his tape measure, and still be top 10.

 

The point I was responding to is that the bare hull price is hardly any yardstick to completed boat price.

The point being made by Javelin, and it is in my opinion a well grounded point , with no axe grinding,  is that for ALL that development, the boats are still where they appear to have been on the water 5 years ago.and it would appear from the outside, that the new materials are being incoorporated into the design almost for the sake of it, without any real design benefit in mind.

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Phil eltringham View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Phil eltringham Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 04 at 12:34pm
I guess it is something of a paradox, on one side you can de-restric the class almost completely that way there is more room to make large improvements, the problem with this is that you have the other side, if there is a constant stream of large improvements in performance then boats become obselete very quickly, and you end up needing a new boat more requently and no-one can sell the old ones because they are so far off the pace (the wonderfull world of chequebook sport).  To allow boats to remain competative, you have to sacrifice some of the scope for development, to allow people to get the most out of ech boat. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Ent Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 04 at 12:36pm

Why don't the RYA include the results of events like the Bartley Burnout, Bloody Mary and Grafham Grand Prix etc.  in the PY handicap returns process.  Surely with the Bloody mary ellapsed times could be recorded.  This may encourage sailors from more classes to enter knowing that it could effect the handicap racing at their clubs. Everyone knows that the handicap system gives an average handicap for the class so it will never be perfect.

At Frampton we give spinnaker classes a handicap boost of 20 points to allow them to compete on fair terms with the non spinnaker classes.

Campaign for longer weekends and therefore more sailing!
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DRLee View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DRLee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 04 at 9:31pm

OK, to pick up on a couple of points above......

Originally posted by SymBoy

For example, it appears to be acknowledged that most of the top Merlin sailors don't take part in handicap racing, and nor does their contribution to the Merlin's PY.

But this is true for the top sailors in almost every seriously competitive class.  How much handicap racing do you think the top Laser / 49er / Fireball / whatever crews do?  The PY is merely reflects the performance of the average sailor in any particular class.  For example, I'm sure Ben Ainslie can consistently sail his Finn below the recognised PY for that class, but does that mean the Finn PY is wrong?

There are other flaws with the PY system.  Take the fact that certain boats perform much better in certain conditions, eg the National 12 in a drifter, or the 420 in a blow.  If you have one PY for all conditions, how can the racing be totally fair for all competitors?

Originally posted by SymBoy

One interesting point from these exchanges was that someone actually believes that the Merlin's haven't gone forward in the last 6 years. Very strange for a development class....

The Merlin is a restricted class rather than a development class.  As such, the rules are framed to encourage gradual development whilst preventing older boats becoming outclassed overnight - evolution rather than revolution.  The most popular design at the front of the Merlin fleet is the Canterbury Tales, a design which actually dates back to 1988.  Since then the class has adopted carbon rigs and the materials used for the hulls may have moved on from wood to FRP. 

It is fair to say that the latest generation of Merlins are a touch quicker than those of ten years ago, but it is not a huge difference in performance.  In fact I managed to sail my ten year old Merlin into the top third of the championship fleet last year.  Not quick enough to win the champs, but not totally off the pace either (just like ten year old boats in most other classes!), and surely demonstrating that things haven't really moved on that much.

Also, how many other classes are undergoing 'development'?  Many so called one designs allow builders to tweak hull shape within the tolerances, Fireball, Enterprise and Hornet to name a few.  The materials and techniques which have recently transformed building within the Merlin fleet were developed by Winder boats in their very successful Fireballs.  And lots of one design classes are experimenting with carbon rigs and kevlar sails.  Even strict one designs such as the Laser see development - consider the new rig controls which make the boat easier to sail, hence faster around the course.  Of course, developments in these other classes will eventually be reflected with revised PYs.....as will changes in the Merlin Rocket.

To finish this rant, just remember that PY handicap racing can never be completely fair, so don't take it too seriously.  The answer is to buy an example of a popular class at your club and get out fleet racing.  Better still, rather than moaning about the Merlin PY number, why not come and try sailing one yourself and see what a superb boat it is with such a friendly and highly competitive circuit!

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jeffers View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jeffers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 04 at 11:14pm

Just to chuck my 2p worth in. I sail at Hunts Sailing Club. We are a small gravel pit, the sailing area is about 50 Acres.

We sail all year round and have 2 handicap races on a Sunday from November to March, 1 handicap and 2 class races from April to October and a Wednesday night Handicap that runs from mid April to September.

We are by no means a big club compared to say Grafham which is only some 10 miles away but we do contribute one of the biggest PY returns in the country. Now when you consider we only have some 15 differnt classes of boat it becomes difficult for the RYA to give an accurate yardstick for any class.

Some people I know would say the Fireball has got a very favourable handicap, I say I would tend to agree but when you think the yardstick is based on club racers and not open circuit racers it is easy to see why. Most club racers are sailing the older narrow bow, deeper rockers hulls (boats older than around 13,000) as opposed to the wider bowed and shallower rocker 'Winder' type hulls.

It is easy to see the comparison when you put my boat (11054) up against a modern boat which is superior in every way.....

Just my 2p for the melting pot

Paul

Crew in Fireball 11054 and Helm in Laser 150600

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redback View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote redback Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 04 at 7:12pm

I've never sailed a Merlin but I recognise a class which has contirbuted greatly to the developement of dinghy racing.  I have sailed a RS 400 and love it and I'm usually beaten by one of these each weekend at my reservoir.  I don't care thougn because I sail a Laser 4000.  This boat is so much fun, I'd rather lose the racing and sail this boat than win in something slower and more competitive.

Yes the PY numbers are a poor guide but they are the best we have.  We don't change ours since we wouldn't get that glow when we win.  If we win in the 4000 we know we really have sailed well, if we lose we don't care we have a bigger grin than anybody else on the pond.

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