What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

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realnutter
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What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by realnutter » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:58 pm

I see them pop up from time to time, and always wonder why they didn't do well.... They were from a pedigree designer, and all the sailing reports I've read say they were rather nice, and yet only 1000 odd got made.....

They still look modern.. were they too far ahead of their time? Too lightly built? Or just not quite as good as other 14 footers of the time?
Matt

Int Moth K2992

davidh
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by davidh » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:57 am

Matt,

an interesting perspective that the boat didn't do well - they sold upwards of 700 boats and were - in their time, a buoyant and exciting boat with the backing of a strong class.

I guess the bigger question then becomes "ok - so why aren't we still racing them now" and that is a very different question to ask. Lots of reasons - the Marauder was after all, a performance boat and not all the home building that was the foundation of the class reflected it. The original rig was pretty poor and in time, who wanted bright red sails. Even when released by the Mirror Group in favour of the Miracle, the Marauder class continued to do well BUT..... the days of home build were passing. At the time you could build a Marauder, Fireball or a host of other boats from a kit, but that whole activity would all but dry up apart from a few keen enthusiasts.

We now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that the Bell M14 kits were actually a bit naff in places - you got a huge amount of rot and other deterioration under the crew deck area. What the boat could be like was shown when ace Fireball builder Dennis Trott took on the building of Marauders - this started to show the true potential of what was/is a lovely boat to sail, with great performance off wind with the kite up.

For a while it started to look so good for the Marauder to have a renaissance - there was a hull mould, but it was pretty naff. Two composite boats were built at the Ian Ridge workshop, with both of these being yet another step forward. Plans were in place for a new hull mould when another builder appeared on the scene with the promise of building new wooden boats to a high quality. Sadly, though he could talk the talk, we couldn't walk the walk, let alone put two bits of wood together in a straight line. In a high profile disaster at the Dinghy Show, the wreck of a boat appeared on the stand and pretty much 'did' for the class - it all folded shortly after that!

Sadly, my web site pages that told the whole story of the M14/Marauder are no longer active (though I still have them) - a salutary lesson there to other classes on just how easy it is to go from a strong position to being on the RYA Moribund Class list in a short space of time.

D
David H

davidh
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by davidh » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:33 pm

And on further reflection.......

The demise of the M14/Marauder is yet another case of the dreaded 'curse of the Pocket Rocket'!

It has long been one of my more cherished hopes that we could organize an event and get a m14, Pegasus, Jacksnipe, Typhoon, Lazy E, Zenith even - all together so that I could do an in-depth report on the genre.

I fear that this is unlikely to ever happen, but in the meantime, this is the subject matter of an article that I have 'blocked out' but not written in detail - my intention is that late this year, after Proctor, the Moths and a few other activities (like ME going sailing...) this may well appear in glorious techni-colour. Be patient!

D
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Rupert
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by Rupert » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:26 pm

David, you imply that the Miracle design dates from the same time as the Mirror 14? I've always assumed that the Mirror group asked for it afterwards, when it was clear that the 14 was too much of a step up from the Mirror.
Rupert

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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by davidh » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:32 pm

HI Rupert,

It's all in that one phrase, "Even when released by the Mirror Group in favour of the Miracle,". MGN had been made aware that the Mirror 14 was far, far more than a grown up Mirror - which was what they wanted in the first place.

The Miracle was pure Jack Jolt - a pragmatic solution to a defined problem and is a sweet little boat, I think that they are great. And, although the underlying design philosophies behind the Mirror and Miracle are markedly different, there is enough commonality for the boat to solve the thorny issue that Mirror Group News found on their hands with the M14.

I'm sure that you've sailed the various boats but there is a gap between the Mirror and Miracle, but a gulf between the Miracle and the M14. But no matter, the Miracle and Mirror are both great boats, so to coin the phrase from Meatloaf... two out of three ain't bad!

D
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Rupert
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by Rupert » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:56 pm

Ah, I miss read the sentence. All is as I thought.

I've never sailed the M14, but the Miracle is quite nice to play in. The Mirror is still the best of the bunch, though.
Rupert

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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by davidh » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:58 pm

Rupert,

Last summer I was RO for thee Miracle Nationals and having spent a week (they still do a week long event) watching them, that conviction that this is a great little boat was more than re-inforced! Very similar in many ways to the Mirror, just that bit bigger and a tad quicker. I'd happily recommend them - all the more so on smaller stretches of water or if you want to sail with a lightweight/child crew.

The M14 on the other hand is, without a doubt, a performance boat, every bit as much so as a Fireball, 470 or Hornet :| -but without the overall speed. And I guess that in part defines the problem as highlighted in the OP! All that effort, not to mention outlay - and yet you 're going no faster than a Merlin - or slower!

D
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by Rupert » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:29 am

We have 2 competitive miracles at Whitefriars. They look ok, but I've never been tempted out of the Firefly to join them. The stories the owners come back with from their events certainly reinforce what you are saying about the fleet, though.
Rupert

davidh
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by davidh » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:05 pm

Hi Rupert,

Thinking back, one of your boats might have been at the Nationals last year. If so, then they (hopefully) had a blast. We set them good courses and true start lines then let them get on with it - the racing was close and competitive (close enough for me to read the riot act to a few) yet they enjoyed themselves hugely ashore - that all too frequently missed component of FUN was very, very much to the forefront at this event.

I hope to RO them again, nice people in good boats - what's not to like

D
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Julian
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by Julian » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:44 pm

Hiya all,

Good to see this lovely class being talked about again.

Interesting to hear Davidh's thoughts on the perceived gap between the Mirror and the M14, which I agree was very successfully filled by the Miracle. As a Mirror sailing young teenager in the early 70's, I thought the M14 was absolutely brilliant, because it was an accessible proper raceboat (trapeze and spinnaker) for the likes of me, a skinny young wimp, in a world full of big hairy arsed osprey sailors.

It was the first raceboat that I ever served on, with a contract for the frostbite series at the Steel Company of Wales SC at Margam in about 1973. However, for me it was only a stepping stone towards meatier boats such as the Osprey, Hornetto and FD, so I have to agree again with Davidh about its rather niche role. I will take issue about the speed though, the majority of classes I had sailed before the M14 were like slugs on crutches in comparison, it was still thought to be a good idea in Mumbles in the seventies to go sailing in GP14s and Ents, and the M14 was not at all like being lashed to a half tide rock in a storm. I guess its evolutionary descendants could be seen to be the 29er, the all out mad bastard teen weapon, and novelties shaken out of a cornflakes packet such as the RS500, Vago, and whatever Topper offer for this demographic sector, which are probably rather more user friendly.

When the third glass is most of the way down, I frequently have a dream of getting hold of a M14, and carefully deconstructing and measuring it,before building a new one. However, in the morning, the reality breaks through of the hold that the last GBR wooden FD in full race condition has over me, and the amount of work that that entails.

As regards the Miracle, here in Felinheli, North Wales, home of the UK's largest racing fleet of TOYs, the Miracle does very well for parent and child racing, with what appears to be a really good wider class assn. The speed difference between them and the Mirror is also important here, as the Miracle is much more comfortable getting about the place on the tidal rapids of the Menai Straits.

It would be great if Davidh could shape up and find his work on the M14/Marauder and repost it somewhere!

cheers to all

Julian

Pat
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by Pat » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:53 pm

Hi Dougal - if you want a home for your old web articles I could add them to this site either as a dinghy database entry or as we've done before with articles on the Finn and Mercury. Author credits of course!
(Half Cut and What a Lark Removals Ltd)

mole
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by mole » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:54 pm

Hi
I was lucky enough to sail the Mirror and the Mirror 14 in their hey day.
The 14 was the obvious stepping stone from the Mirror. Similar construction technique and limited progression to inexpensive fittings (no spinnaker, wooden boom and who remembers the tubular traveller?) All these were eventually overcome and a modern high performance dinghy appeared. I sailed with Chris Turner on occasions, an early M14 national champion, and the boat was electric to sail. but it was up against the new Olympic 470 class, an established Fireball class and many others to compete against, but it all comes down to convenience. You had to build it from wood and with limited professional builders.
If Hoare, Claridge or a similar builder had taken it up it may have survived.
However it remains a superb performance 14 ft dinghy, if you get a chance try one. The acceleration alone will leave you breathless.
Cheers
Mark

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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by davidh » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:33 am

Mark,

I'm sorry but the M14 was NOT the logical step up from the Mirror, as the file of correspondence that I hold clearly shows.
Peter Milne had done a superb job of designing a true 'pocket rocket' and everything that you said about the performance of the boat is absolutely spot on. But if you had come into sailing through building a Mirror kit, as so many had done, it was a very big step, in fact too big a step, to go from there up to what was a genuine performance dinghy.

Some of the papers that I hold came from my fronting up the Jack Holt centenary back in 2012; Holt was quietly approached by a concerned Mirror Group for a boat that would be the logical next step for a Mirror sailor and as a result, developed the Miracle, a boat that did everything that it said on the box! Freed up from the Mirror Group, the boat that was now called Marauder did start to attract high quality builders - Dennis Trott, of Fireball building fame made some superb versions but sadly, that whole self build/wooden boat ethos was rapidly diminishing. That was just one factor in the complex story that surrounds the fate of the M14/Marauder - someone on here may have scans of the Dinghy Magazine article that I wrote, featuring the boat but, it is a sad tale. At the end I met with Peter Milne on a number of occasions to see if the M14 concept could be brought up to date and he was certainly amenable. Some of the changes could have been quite radical, bringing the rig aft to allow a 505 style bow spinnaker shute and removing the crew deck to allow a more crew user friendly cockpit. But as I said, it was a complex and sad story.....a lesson to the smaller classes that might be struggling....

D
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by davidh » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:36 am

And now an interesting post script to the comment made yesterday. I spent nearly 3 hours yesterday afternoon out sailing in the Hit - the Peter Milne single hander. If you don't know the boat then just take it that it is a slimmed down single handed M14 hull form.

In sailing characteristics is shares a great deal with the M14 - easy, vice free helming across the full spectrum of wind and wave conditions. I really ought to be more mindful that the boat must now be 40 years old and shows that design pedigree that you would expect from Peter M - if you've sailed a M14/Marauder, you'd be at home in a Hit.

Again, back in the days of Dinghy Mag I did a piece looking at the skiff v scow debate. Now in the conversations with Peter M, he felt that the modern Fireball would carry a lot more in the way of a rig and I can see where he was coming from on this. The original concept for the boat has it's roots in the 1950s when the whole idea of everything above the sheerline was far less well understood than now. Would a more powerful rig revitalise the Fireball.....maybe it might but the signs are that it would be at the detriment to the class as a whole.
Whatever, it is a shame becaus Milne, like Proctor, had a lovely eye for a hull line - Viking, Javelin, M14 and Hit are/were all very pretty boats....

D
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Re: What was wrong with the Mirror 14 / Marauder?

Post by trebor » Sun Jul 22, 2018 4:33 pm

Just read the 'Hit number 5 blog' seems to be a perfect single hander, better than a Finn, faster than a Laser, with a better weight range than either, what went wrong ?
Robert
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