Merlin PYs...

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JB9
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by JB9 » Sat May 30, 2015 2:10 pm

Rupert, you said

"The National 18 handicap must surely be based on the results from the current crop of boats"

and I just wanted to confirm that is not the case. The PY is based on the new design. I imagine there is a method for doing this in the same way that new design gets a PY.
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Rupert
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by Rupert » Sat May 30, 2015 5:39 pm

The N18 is in the standard list as 936 with 106 returns, not in the EN list. Not that it makes a lot of difference, it is still a crazy number for a clinker Ace, just as the modern Merlin handicap is for Michael.
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JimC
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by JimC » Sat May 30, 2015 6:42 pm

The Merlin handicap was the equivalent of about 1030 right from the introduction of terylene sails in the early 60s right through to about 1990. The issue is that if you take a strict 1961 specification Enterprise and race it against a new one its going to have just as much trouble competing as you would on a handicap of 1030, because with improved sailcloth, ropes, gear and sailing techniques every class has got faster over the decades, and the old boat is nothing like as fast as it was when new.

So, I fear, if your club does not make allowances for old boats of one design classes then the historically correct number for your boat is probably 1030. If they do then that would be another matter, and you ought to get in addition to that whatever allowance they would give to say a Wayfarer of the same age.

Current PY numbers are based on the active fleet out in the clubs, although results from the tail of all fleets don't contribute to the number, be it beginners in Lasers who can't sail very well yet, or foil International Moths in conditions where they can't foil. So it is an issue if a class makes a big jump in performance, but the clubs are unable to distinguish the new boats from the old. In that situation then for a while you can have a number which reflects neither the new boats nor the old ones but is somewhere between the two.

The whole business of class identification is becoming a bit of a problem because the boundaries are getting so blurred. Bad enough with cruising rig or racing rig Enterprises, or Laser Radials and standard rigs, but there are so many variations with things like Topazes that I bet most of the owners don't know what they've got. As for the situation the Aero class have manufactured where an Aero with 7 on the sail might be an Aero 7 or might be an Aero 9 reefed down, well, I really don't know what the average part time club RO is supposed to do about that...

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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by milesj » Sun May 31, 2015 6:01 pm

Main starting point on handicaps within a class, should ideally be , same helm same course, new boat v old boat boat same wind! should with handicap adjustment give same time.

The argument is that handicaps should really enable sailors of old boats (sailed well) to be in with a chance of winning. Else why race?

But the main reason sensible handicapping is required is the fate that awaits these, sometimes beautiful, boats if there is no longer any point in racing them. A viking funeral, or worse a planter.

The merlins age related handicaps are sanctioned by the RYA, but the error was basing them on the current yardstick, they should have stated current yardstick to be defined as 1024.

Failure to address these age related problems in any class is not going to be good the sport as whole.
Miles

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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by Pat » Sun May 31, 2015 7:16 pm

A few years back when we were racing MR2121 at the club, all Merlins pre 1969 (basically max 6ft wide) sailed off 1074 and with Lasers at 1078 we had close racing. Now the Laser handicap has gone up, it would seem right that the older Merlins should be in the 1080's too.
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by JimC » Sun May 31, 2015 8:19 pm

milesj wrote:The merlins age related handicaps are sanctioned by the RYA,
They are? News to me. The general concept of adjusting numbers is sanctioned, but not to my knowledge the actual numbers used, and I would have thought I would know.

No reason why a club shouldn't use numbers, like the Merlin CA ones, which have no relation to the performance of the boats when they were new if they choose, but if you do that for old Merlins you really need to be doing it for old Solos, Enterprises and even Lasers too.

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azimuth
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by azimuth » Sun May 31, 2015 10:24 pm

Merlin age adjustments don't appear on the RYA PY lists, my understanding (as sailing sec of a club which uses them) is they are just class association recommendations. We are currently going through a process of adjusting handicaps to suit our v. restricted river conditions, as part of this we have fixed the base Merlin py @ 1002 (the number when we started using the adjustments) so the age adjusted numbers don't get faster every year in line with modern boats as this seemed bonkers! All a bit academic as we only have one merlin racing - a classic - if someone turned up with a modern boat we might hav to re look at it.
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by milesj » Sun May 31, 2015 11:25 pm

Perhaps sanctioned is the wrong word. Measurement Scheme Coordinater who sits on RYA Advisory Panel can confirm validity.

Either way as azimuth says, it's all academic, as older boats do not get faster as the newer boats' handicaps drop. And the problem is with all 'aged' classes.

The CVRDA system is probably the fairest. Just need a similar set up for old but non classic boats, boats in fine racing fettle but just incapable of sailing off their class PY, what ever the class.
Miles

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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by Rupert » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:30 am

Setting the system up to a single point does seem sensible, with a build date for the point. Any boats newer than that can then sail off the RYA handicap, wherever it may take them. I must check ours. I have a feeling we just wrote down the numbers a few years ago and have left them, which might explain why we find they are still working. Mind, only one Merlin racing now.
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by Michael Brigg » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:22 am

davidh wrote:... the bulk of the club level sailors are still in woodies.

A while back (in fact, quite recently)I did an interview with a boat builder with superb championship credentials - his boats were the ones to be sailed. Yet he'd given it all up. I asked the obvious question "why"? It was simple he said...he couldn't make a wooden boat that could compete at the highest level with the FRP boats. It was as simple as that he said. If we accept that the situation was enough to make an acknowledged winning builder give up an apparently successful business, they we have a far bigger problem.


D
I always have a suspicion at this point that the real problem is cost. There are plenty of ways to re-inforce a boat and certainly in the case of Rowing (or sculling) boats, there are similar perceptions.

I have (as my #1st wife) a carl Douglas Scull. These boats are renowned for the build quality ( a bit like Soutters built i14) and the fact that they are beautifully finished wooden boats.
https://www.carldouglas.co.uk/index-m.html
However I think even the master himself would agree that his boats have a good deal more carbon in them than many plastic boats.

Recently I foolishly participated at the Cam Head of the River Race. I was the only competitor in a wooden boat, and on the way to the start it was jealously, much admired. I had great style in the strong tailwind, but the race on the way back into the teeth of the gale was less impressive! My lowly position had far more to do with lack of match practice than boat construction.

Nevertheless there is within the rowing community, like sailing, a widely held believe that Plastic is better than wood. This is in spite of the fact that most woodies being (successfully) raced are often in excess of 10 years old. My Scull is @ 45 years old. In spite of this, wooden boats are perceived more expensive to maintain, in that they do need occasional varnish, and they are more fragile , though this is mainly because they are older and have more worn, (but replaceable) components than a plastic (newer) boat. This is easily overcome by good discipline on boat "husbandry." (Cleaning and storage etc.) In fact although a modern wooden boat (VIII) might cost @£20,000, it will give 20+ years of service, whereas most Plastic boats (cost @ £12,000) become unuseable after 5 years. The maths is simple.

Yet Wood is still perceived as slower. Carl Douglas (when I visited the boat house) was repairing an elderly CD Double. It was in good condition and he was having it painted White...to hide the wooden veneer...because without this finish the Junior scullers to whom it had been allocated by the club, believed it was the inferior hull.

To make a wooden sailing hull competitive with plastic construction is I suspect significantly more expensive, both in terms of the scource material (increasingly widening margin) and in terms of the construction process and incorporating exotic materials, but I am sure it is possible. However,
one needs lots of careful skilled attention, the other is manufactured mainly on a construction line type process with often relatively unskilled labour, or machined components. Then a wooden boat does need to be stored inside, or at worst with adequate cover. These I think have far more influence than the speed of the boat itself. SO wooden builders are in truth being priced out of the market. Money is the real reason for the demise of wood rather more I think than the material superiority.
Michael Brigg

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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by davidh » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:38 am

Michael,

I cannot speak for the rowing community but with regard to dinghies, I fear that in this case, the cost of the wooden alternative is not the problem. In fact, you might even be able to make a wooden hull cheaper - this is certainly the case if you wished to try something different. It isn't just the case that the frp boats are better when new, they have a far better life span. Currently one of the hottest Merlins on the circuit now qualifies as a 'prime of life' boat.... ie, is more than 10 years old. In some ways this has proved to be something of a mixed blessing, for it means that with boats staying competitive for longer, the churn rate - which releases boats on to the 2nd hand market, is less.

You're seeing this now in Merlins, Solos and F'balls - to show three examples of the same effect. You can buy a Winder Solo, or Merlin, sail it for 4 or 5 years and then sell it at a reasonable price. Yes, they are expensive to start with, but the rate of depreciation is much less than in many of the current SMODS.

But that is another issue and is wandering off topic. With an FRP Merlin costing well in excess of £15k, I do not think that price is the issue. All the research I did for the book, all the interviews, not just with the 'ex-builder', but current builders and designers - they all took the same line. Foam is fast and under the rules that exist in the class (which do contain limitations of things such as variation in plank thickness) it is impossible to build a boat, in wood, that is as competitive as the frp equivalent.

All this was highlighted as far back as the early to mid 1990s - what to do with the existing stock of wooden boats. It is not just an issue with the Merlins, but many other classes too. Let's face it, you don't see woodie 505s any more.... they too are a thing of the past

D
David H

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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by Rupert » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:53 am

The OK class has just bucked the trend, but they do have plenty of weight to play with!
Rupert

Michael4
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by Michael4 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 1:35 pm

When I started this thread I didn't realise quite how many points of view it would cover. The results have been interesting and much food for thought.

The improvement of PY from 1055 to David's 1085 worth having but no way a game changer, at least in the short term. I will ask the club.

I reckon I am a mediocre helm. My crew is a much more experienced dinghy racer than I and is helping improve my skills. As my skills improve so the PY will become more relevant.

The boat is an old, tall, narrow Merlin. This means that although it will turn on a sixpence it takes a bit of effort to get up on the plane and it is not great for tall retired people hiking. One could easily argue that it is the wrong boat for me and Chichester Harbour but I like it. I had thought of new sails since there do not appear to be too many worthwhile sets around for an old tall rig. However, for the price of a new set, I could probably buy a more appropriate and much quicker Merlin...but then I'd have plenty of trouble selling this one...

I could go on. I didn't buy the boat to enter or even win races, I bought it to enjoy, it is a pretty thing and we sail to the pub. Racing has become a fun, non alcoholic alternative.

So yes it does come down to value. As we all know, most old racing dinghies cost next to nothing. (If you want to make money from dinghies buy a Tideway). Any significant purchases (like sails) are likely to cost more than the boat and are unlikely to make it competitive except maybe in a rare set of circumstances.

I think I'd better shut up now and just enjoy 'Desperation' for what she is!

Michael
Tideway 206
11+
Sold the 'Something bigger and plastic', it never got used.

Nigel
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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by Nigel » Mon Jun 01, 2015 2:14 pm

Hi Michael,

I tend to think of starting a PY discussion as akin to lighting the blue touch paper - good fun in November but a bit antisocial the rest of the year and best avoided altogether if you have pets :lol:

Good luck and Let us know how it goes.

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Re: Merlin PYs...

Post by Michael4 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:49 pm

Nigel,

I thought the only topic to avoid on this forum was oxalic acid...

Michael
Tideway 206
11+
Sold the 'Something bigger and plastic', it never got used.

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