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Development = faster?

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: Dinghy classes
Forum Name: Dinghy development
Forum Discription: The latest moves in the dinghy market
Printed Date: 16 Aug 22 at 6:29am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.665y -

Topic: Development = faster?
Posted By: Javelin
Subject: Development = faster?
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 2:56am

So tell me, over the last five or six years the Merlin Rocket has seen the addition of Mylar sails, Carbon masts, Mylar foredecks and even a carbon boat costing over £20k plus god knows how many other developments and how much faster is the Merlin?

Well according to the handicap, it’s made no difference at all.


In 1999 the handicap was 1024 and guess what, it still is. 


There just has to be some money changing hands somewhere…..

Posted By: Adoo
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 9:40am

Handicap of 1024??? Under what system?

PY? Actually PY is not a handicap, its a yardstick - the difference is huge, I'm not being pedantic.

Handicap involves measuring the boat and trying to figure our how fast it sails. Yardstick uses results from previous races, know performance against a set group of regularly sailed dinghys (yardsticks). This varies as boats become faster or slower relative to the other boats they race against.

If the Merlin Rocket's performance has changed, and its PN (Portsmouth Number) has not changed over the last 5 years, it is for the following reasons;

1) There are not enough return forms being sent in from clubs where Merlin Rockets are being sailed, and / or

2) Not enough Merlin Rockets are being raced under PY.

Javelin, talk to your sailing secretary - or whoever sets up the yardstick racing in your club. If you have a gripe, take it to them, they can use the system to give fair racing at your club, and when they return the data to the RYA, this will get noted into the database, and a national trend will occur, presumably resulting in the correct change in PN for the Merlin Rocket.

But remember, the sailing sec needs to remain impartial. They cant give all the prizes to the person who buys them the most beer....

Better to be overpowered in the gusts than underpowered in the lulls!

Posted By: Alex
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 10:30am

Mr Javelin, I feel I have to correct you on some of your figures. The Merlin that I assume you are reffering to did not cost 20k and neither is it made of carbon. No Merlins are 100% made from carbon, only on the decks, bouyancy tank and thwart is carbon allowed to be used. 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.

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.

Finally in respect to our PY I do agree that it is currently loaded in our favour, however, we have recently introduced larger spinnys that have not yet generated a full years results for the RYA to use to readjust our yardstick, no doubt it will go down soon enough.

Posted By: Pierre
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 11:21am
Aha!!! So Mr Javelin does have a point then.

Posted By: Alex
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 12:09pm

Of course Mr Javelin 'Mike' has a point regarding the PY.

It is an inherent problem with any development class that there will be a time lag between the actual PY and realistic PY number. The Int14 has exactly the same problem, for instance this year J Fawcett and D Bosnia won the Bloody Mary, a couple of weeks later they entered another pursuit race Steve Nicholson or Tiger Trophy, can't remember which, but found the Int14 PY had been dropped significantly.

I suppose development classes do not help themselves, specifically Merlins, N12s and Int14s in that the top boats regularly attend their own class traveller series, hence as 'Adoo' pointed out there is not much data for the RYA to use to readjust the PYs. 

Posted By: Ent Man
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 12:13pm
Is that why the Merlins did exceptionally well in the Bloody Mary then? Their starting time not reflecting their actual improved performance.

Campaign for longer weekends and therefore more sailing!

Posted By: Alex
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 12:53pm

Possibly may have had a marginal effect but not much, also the course with the long flukey run helped us compared to asymetricals.

Merlins only appeared to do well because it was the top lot that turned up. Phil King who has been all conquering in the fleet for some years, Dave Winder who knows a thing or two about Merlins, or atleast I hope he does seeing as builds most of them, William Warren who has clearly picked up a few pointers from his father Al Warren over the years and Pat Blake of past FD fame. Think if you put any of these guys in a well sorted boat they would do pretty well.

Posted By: 3600Matrix
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 3:29pm


Firstly I would like to dispell the myth that Mr Javelin Man has fallen pray to that the Merlin is an overexpensive dinghy. I bought my boat second hand a year ago (it was then a year old) for less than a new RS400. Not bad value for money considering for that money you get a full Carbon Raking rig and all the Kit!

Also as Alex has quite rightly said Carbon is not allowed in the hull. All that has happened is as a class we have moved with the times and have embraced new development and as such we are still at the forfront of UK dinghy development and not stuck in a time warp afraid of what the future might hold.

My boat was made by Winder boats who are renound for making boats that are exceedingly quick and great quality. Just look at the fireball fleet. My boat now is about 2.5 years old and in the right hands could easily win the nationals, it is still as fast as any boat out there it is just the helm that is not.

Through controlled development we now have one of the best two man hiking boats on the market, that is one of the most versatile in terms of conditions and locations it can be sailed in. It is because of design changes and kit development that means the merlin can be sailed closer to its maximum potential in all weathers more than many other classes. They are a surprisingly easy boat to sail relative to their performance.

To Sumarise there is a thriving second hand market for boats that are certainly not off the pace and out classed nor are they overexpensive when you consider the equiptment you get and the great class history that comes with it. The Social side is one of the best I have experienced. Some of the finest dinghy sailors in the country have recently started campaigning Merlins e.g Tom Stewart from P&B Sails and N12 fame and Richard Estaugh of Speed Sails and Enterprise fame, this in itself must surely tell you something.

The attendance at events is not bad either with annually over 100 boats turning up fo Merlin Rocket week in Salcombe and are Nationals are going from strength to strength with over 80 expected at Looe this year.

I love my Merlin and Javelin if you ever want to come and have a play in one our very reasonably priced Rocket Ships just turn up to one of the Silver Tiller events and I am sure you will be surprised by how helpfull Merlin Sailors can be.

Good Sailing.

Posted By: Dandy
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 5:11pm


Just a quick note with some thoughts.

1. I completely agree with Mr Javelin on merlin prices. If you wanted to buy my merlin it would cost you no less than 35,000 (I bet I'd sell it for about 6,500 to a normal punter but if you believe everything you hear, get your check book ready). It is a well used but fully functioning Winder ship with all the gear. Please don't forget it's obviously a significant upgrade from a Javelin for example. (Sorry I just couldn't resist!! Just pulling your leg)

2. So what anyway if this merlin in question did cost 20k. I think part of the attraction is that this is a development class. The guy who ownes the boat is clearly a very very very rich man - not the sort of guy seen driving something like a .. Renault!!  As a friend once said "Pioneers are the ones with arrows in front!" It would cost a lot more too if he did decide to use gold instead of lead, but he could do that if he wanted and if his mum didn't need all those fillings.

3. My dad, my uncle, and two fiends each knocked new ones up in their garages for about 4,000. (Don't tell their wifes!) My dad even designed his own special breed of merlin with a pencil whilst on the throne..

4. If you want to remain buying off the shelf merlins, call Winders. If you want to go for super natural ones call Ghostbusters (AKA Linton, Lawrie Smart or Kevin Driver). Whatever you buy you can still tweak anyway. Merlins have recently been chopped in half, modified and stuck back together. You have to find this all interesting..  

5. Lets not quabble about PY's. It's all a bit dull and if you can't beat them, please do join in. My dad will happily lend you his boat design plans as a welcome!!!  





Posted By: Javelin
Date Posted: 01 Apr 04 at 5:23pm

I think I need to clarify my initial point,

I have nothing against the Merlin as a racing dinghy, other than the thought of hiking out fills me with dread compared to having my crew, out of the way on the end of a wire.

My real beef is with the wholly inaccurate yardstick that the Merlin and some other classes sail to.
I fully accept that it depends on returns from the clubs and that the Merlin Class is in no way responsible for the resulting published number.
However the Merlin is a development class.
It therefore is to be expected that developments will be made.
Assuming that many, if not all developments will aid performance it would follow that a development class PY would change more often than a one-design.

The conclusion is that despite all the developments, no significant improvement in speed as been found in the Merlin in the last five years.
Sorry, after sailing at joint events with the Merlin’s over the last few years
”I don’t believe it!”
What has made things worse recently is the manufacturer supplied PY’s like the Stratos whose PY is just a joke.
I understand that the published number is officially a “guideline” and the OOD is encouraged to adapt the number to fit in with local conditions etc but I have heard of very few OOD’s who have had the guts to do this.
Perhaps the solution is to make people more aware that the OOD has this power and for the RYA to develop a location formula to aid in adjusting the PY to meet local conditions.

Example for say the Flying Dutchman;
Sea venue -3 points
Inland Large venue -1point
Inland small venue +1point

River venue +3points  

If this was published as an official guide to PY adjustment it would take the pressure off the OOD and maybe we could sail on a more level basis.    

Posted By: AndrewM
Date 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.

Posted By: SymBoy
Date 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."


Posted By: Steve G
Date 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!


Steve G

Posted By: Lucy
Date 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 mailto:DON@T - 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!

Posted By: Steve G
Date 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.

Steve G

Posted By: Phil eltringham
Date 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. 

Shifts Happen

Posted By: Ent Man
Date 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!

Posted By: DRLee
Date 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 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!

Posted By: jeffers
Date 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


Crew in Fireball 11054 and Helm in Laser 150600

Posted By: redback
Date 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.

Posted By: Javelin
Date Posted: 12 Apr 04 at 12:56am

I dont know whether you have noticed but the Laser 4000 handicap went up one point this year, so did the RS800, now two points better off and the FD is one point worse off. eh???
Take the FD, around 15 boats active in the UK and their PY shifts with no significant change in the boat in years, in fact the FD PY has gone up and down like a yoyo over the past few years, how many Merlins, Stratos, RS400 etc are there? has their PY moved at all?
Something aint right.
My local Club, we'll go out, race, come back, take the boat off the water, buy a cup of tea, roll a fag and watch the second boat cross the line 15 plus minutes after we finished and we still come fourth.
So guess what we don't sail there anymore but niether do a lot of others because its deemed pointless and unless clubs and OODs are given guidance manufacturer supplied handicaps and seeming imovable PY's will kill handicap racing in small clubs for good.

Posted By: Calum_Reid
Date Posted: 12 Apr 04 at 2:00pm
It might just be that the RS400 or Stratos handicaps are righ???

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 12 Apr 04 at 11:02pm
I sail a 4000 and I don't stand an earthly against 400s in my club - but then I sail on a reservoir!  I don't care - I know my boat is better in wide open spaces and strong steady winds.  If you sail a high performance boat you do get a wider grin at the end of the day.

Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 18 May 04 at 1:21pm
Do you actually know how much difference on point or two points of PY make? Dowload a copy of something like sailwave (or make up a spreadsheet), type in results of a handicap race ir two at your club, and play around with different PYs. You'll be amazed at how much the numbers will need to be changed to make much difference to the results...

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 19 May 04 at 3:12pm

I've noticed that too.  We have very close racing with 29ers in our 4000 and they are over 20 points different.  Similarly it is easy to get thrashed boat for boat with a RS400 if the wind is light. 

The biggest shock is against symetrical spinnaker boats.  Boats like Wayfarers, their little kites mean they can go higher than us off the wind in a breeze and downwind they can sail straight down the rhumb line which pays in the light stuff.  We do however have much wider grins than they.

By the way, a golden rule when sailing in mixed fleets, never try to go through a Wayfarer's lee!

Posted By: Garry
Date Posted: 20 May 04 at 8:19pm
Has anyone noticed that the biggest gains can be made by actually sailing every race in the series. Next best is a good start so you do the first beat in clear wind, thirdly not making any major mistakes and playing the shifts / tide / current - by comparison the handicap makes only a marginal difference to the average sailor - you notice the handicap at events like the Bloody Mary because so many 'good' sailors are competing against each other in different classes.

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 20 May 04 at 8:59pm
Garry's right to.  I have literally boxes of trophies in the loft - sounds immodest but I'm afraid I'm just an average sort of bloke who just keeps turning up!

Posted By: Neil
Date Posted: 20 May 04 at 10:12pm

Redback/Gary, I can't agree more...

I come consistently last, but I turn up, and at the moment, about 7 races into a series, I'm 5th overall! 

1 point on handicap is only worth about 3.5 secs in the hour...

and Redback... some of them 29'er's are just too darned fast for their own good...! watch that yardstick start to tumble!

_/) _/)

Posted By: Phil eltringham
Date Posted: 21 May 04 at 10:04am
The 29er yardstick has been all over the shop.  I remember when it first arrived in the UK it was raced at the bloody mary off the same handicap as the 4000's, it then went down to 940 and promtly won every event.  Its been hovering around 924 for a while now.  Personally I can just about sail to that, but my usual partner and I weigh 24 stone all up wheras the top guys are less than 20 I think.  Part of it is that people have now mastered the boat and also the optimum crew weight has dropped.  I reckon a value of about 918-921 is about right now which puts it level with an RS600 which seems right. 

Shifts Happen

Posted By: Ent Man
Date Posted: 21 May 04 at 12:54pm

Handicaps can not account for variations in conditions or the skills of individual sailors.  I don't think enought clubs are completing the returns which would improve the accuracy of the PY's.  There is another issue.  In some classes the better boats hardly ever club race or may be lucky enough to have fleet racing at their club. This means that their performance isn't visable to the RYA.  This will affect the yardsticks. It was mentioned a while back the the Merlins were spending money on improving materials and systems in their boats to make them perform better but there was no impact on the yardsticks.  They had a very good show at the bloddy mary but could those boats be the one traveling to opens etc and not doing club racing on a regualr basis?

Perhaps the yardsticks should be decided by a number of mixed class events where associations are invited to send their best and brightest. Failure to turn out results in their handicap dropping by 1 point.


Campaign for longer weekends and therefore more sailing!

Posted By: Garry
Date Posted: 21 May 04 at 2:20pm

As well as the low return causing problems for achieving better average handicaps.  There is a fundemental problem if the handicap spread is too great.  The fast boats sail a different race in different conditions to the medium and slow.  Not only that summer evening series are often dogged with the wind dying - the fast boats have finished leaving the slower handicaps bobbing about in hardly any breeze.  There are corrections for all these things but they would be too complicated for the average club OOD to manage fairly, after all sometimes just timing the start and getting the flags up in the right order is an achievement.

Class racing is best, but I'd settle for any racing - my current challenge isn't to come first but simply get mine and my son's act together sufficiently to beat a couple of very good Ent sailors at our club on the water (even though my handicap is faster).  I had great satisfaction the other week sailing with one of our girls (who hardly ever goes out) when we beat one of the club's top laser sailors to the windward mark on the first beat (same Hcap under the old numbers).  Of course it all went downhill from there and at a minute or so to hoist the spinnaker we were never going to excel.  But we enjoyed it.

Posted By: ChrisJ
Date Posted: 21 May 04 at 4:42pm

>>summer evening series are often dogged with the wind dying - the fast boats have finished leaving the slower handicaps bobbing about in hardly any breeze


As one of the faster classes at our club (RS400 at Burghfield), I wish that would happen!!

Instead we have a pursuit race: So the slower boats start in a lovely breeze, and we plane up and down near the start line. By the time we start, the wind is dropping and we can't get near them.  But it is much better that way around, than having the younger people sailing the slower boats and getting stranded out on the lake trying to cross the finish line. At least in a pursuit finish the finish line can be motored back through the fleet rather than having to wait.


Posted By: *GM*
Date Posted: 21 May 04 at 6:56pm

Why not try average lap races with shorter laps?  That way the fast boats don't have to be the first to finish and the slow boats the last.  Unless it's really light and you can only get one lap....

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 03 Jun 04 at 6:01pm
We use average lap racing at BBSC.  It works well, at 75 minutes any boat crossing the line is finished (be it fast or slow).  We pump the finish times and number of laps into the computer and bingo we have a list of positions.  All boats therefore will finish on their current lap.  Which means they all sail in much the same wind.

Posted By: ChrisJ
Date Posted: 04 Jun 04 at 1:20pm
Average lap times involves having the same start and finish line (so the laps are all the same length). Some clubs like to set a beating start at the beginning of the beat, and a finish at the end of the beat. Having a finish line that is different to the start line prevents the average lap-timed races.

Posted By: Nick
Date Posted: 06 Jun 04 at 11:18pm

The previous discussion seemed to be mostly around the accuracy of the PY system; one point I didn't see raised was that the PY system does not take into account wind strength or course, instead it relies on a series being long enougth to average the results so a boat is not favoured by these conditions. This does not always happen, particularly on short events.

Its my belief that a computer based program could be developed which could be used to predict a handicap of a boat based on key factors such as sail size, hull weight etc. This should eliminate the inaccuracies with the current returns based system (discussed previously) and could even take into account variable factors such as wind strength, course and helm/crew weight.

Unfortunately, I don't see any evidence that the RYA has sufficient interest in handicap racing to investigate this; if I'm correct in this observation its a great shame as unfair handicaps can kill interest in racing. It must be a common experience to have sailed well only to find out your corrected position is not as good as expected and visa versa (although this doesn't seem to happen as often).


Posted By: Scooby_simon
Date Posted: 07 Jun 04 at 12:20pm

We cat sailors have all but given up on PY as it is a return based system which (we feel) cannot keep up with the rapidly changing cat world).


We uswe measurement based systems :

Texel or SCHRS : - -





Wanna learn to Ski - PM me..

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 07 Jun 04 at 9:46pm

I followed your schrs link.  Nice idea but it doesn't take into account the wind strength, probably not worth the agro. 

I race a Laser 4000 against RS400s.  They are about the same weight, length and sail area.  We have a bigger gennaker and a trapeze and a PY about 4.5% lower.  In strong steady winds we beat them, in light or flukey winds they beat us.  Generally they win more often than we do - but we have more fun.  I wouldn't want to win more often - they might pack up and go home!

Posted By: Scooby_simon
Date Posted: 07 Jun 04 at 10:33pm

so if you are the same sail area, I assume you have a smaller Main ?

That ma explain part of the difference in the 'ffluky stuff' as they have more sail up more of the time, but because it is fluky, you cannot plane or use the Big Kite grunt so much 

Wanna learn to Ski - PM me..

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 07 Jun 04 at 11:20pm

They have a very tiny bit larger main but the real difference is the hull shape.  They have much more rocker giving them better displacement sailing performance.  Whereas the 4000 has much straighter hull, designed for planing at the detriment of low speed performance.

I notice the texel rule gives only a 3% correction for centreboards - that's amazing - you'd think they'd make a bigger difference.

Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 08 Jun 04 at 11:15am
Originally posted by ChrisJ

Average lap times involves having the same start and finish line (so the laps are all the same length). Some clubs like to set a beating start at the beginning of the beat, and a finish at the end of the beat. Having a finish line that is different to the start line prevents the average lap-timed races.

Nope, there are ways round that. Basically you have to time everyone through the finish line on the first lap and you have to make sure there are plenty of laps.

Jim C

Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 08 Jun 04 at 11:22am

so if you are the same sail area, I assume you have a smaller Main ?

Nope, its just that the 400 hull shape means that its got a major [lack of] top speed problem, whereas the 4 Tonner sticks in the light 'cause its got plenty of wetted area.

That sort of thing is why a measurement handicap system can't work for dinghies. Cats are really more linear in performance so its a much simpler problem.

Posted By: Blobby
Date Posted: 06 Dec 04 at 7:44am

Sorry to add to this one so long after the rest of the discussion...but on the original point about development classes PYs being wrong and slow to change...

Look at the merlins, how big is the fleet, how long do the boats last and how often do the rules change?  If you have a lot of old boats sailing because they last a long time, and the rules don't change that frequently, irrespective of how many good people compete on PY or do the Open circuit, you aren't going to see much change in the PY because there just aren't enough new boats around to make a significant difference.  And if most of the class is in older boats, why should they have to try to sail to a new, lower, handicap.

Cherubs would be different - there are far fewer of them, but after a major rule change in 1997, the PY only started dropping significantly in 2001, but it is still dropping as more new rules boats are built and more older boats are converted.  (maybe this is the best guide for the need for an updating inthe rules - once the PY has been stable for 2 years after the last rule change, then it is time to consider the next step...)

I must admit I like helm handicap (or yardstick systems) in parallel with boat handicaps as this takes into account both the skill of the helm and the suitability of the class the water you are sailing on.  It is also good for the newcomers as they then have an aim to improve their personal handicap by 5 points over the season or whatever...

Posted By: Granite
Date Posted: 06 Dec 04 at 1:37pm

In the Cherub because it is a small class development can be slow. The rules changed in 97 it took til 98 for the existing boats to be converted to the new rig plan, then 99 to 2000  for the first new hulls to be built(When building in your spare time it can not be done quickly). It can then take a year or so to get the new boats working properly and actualy sailing to their potential.


Posted By: Blobby
Date Posted: 08 Dec 04 at 12:32am

I agree completely - and that's true in all development classes though. 

My point was how quickly the Cherub PY has changed in comparison to other development classes because getting 4 or 5 new boats out there means that probably 30% of the fleet are bang up to date.  In the Merlins, for example, you would need to have more like 50 new boats built to have the same impact, and as far as I know they aren't building Merlins that fast (partly because the boats last a long time)

Posted By: JimC
Date Posted: 08 Dec 04 at 11:39am
Originally posted by Blobby

In the Merlins, for example, you would need to have more like 50 new boats built to have the same impact

I think its more to the point that the Merlin is in a stable design space. It seems to me that the PY hasn't greatly changed for a very long time because the design within the rule was largely stabilised a long time ago and changes are largely small and incremental. To this outsider Merlins of today don't look obviously different to those of 15 years ago in the way that say Moths do.

Don't forget that 3.6 seconds in an hour improvement in boat speed is plenty for winning races, but its only equivalent to a point on the yardstick.

Posted By: Granite
Date Posted: 08 Dec 04 at 1:43pm

The rule change in 97 for the cherubs made a significant difference in the boat. The increase in sail area moved the point where the boat starts to plane down the wind range. The change in the hull restrictions meant that you could have a much narrower hull on the waterline and you could move the widest point to a more efficient position further back in the boat.

For the old boats with modified rigs you get earlier planing and in a 12ft boat planing is the key to performance. For the new boats you also get a light winds improvement, however they do take some time to learn to sail.

Posted By: martin370
Date Posted: 08 Dec 04 at 5:43pm


Thought I'd join in.  What's your point with the Stratos handicap?  My understanding was that it was originally 1095 but has now come down to 1083.  Are you saying it's too low or too high?



Posted By: Wave Rider
Date Posted: 08 Dec 04 at 7:02pm
Hi sorry not answering ur question bt are laser stratos's fast ??????

Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club
           RS600 933

Posted By: hurricane
Date Posted: 08 Dec 04 at 7:11pm

one word


Posted By: martin370
Date Posted: 08 Dec 04 at 7:38pm

For those that don't know the Strap-Ons well, they are like a modern plastic wayfarer with an assymetric.  So no, they are not fast, as in skiff or RS800 or whatever, but they do go quite well for their size and weight.  I changed from a L2000 and I'm doing much better, eben thought the PY is lower.


Posted By: Wave Rider
Date Posted: 08 Dec 04 at 8:54pm other thing can someone please tell me what kick bars are for cos im thick and have no idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club
           RS600 933

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 09 Dec 04 at 12:05am
As you push your way out on the trapeze its nice to have something on the floor to push against.  The 29er has a tube or "kick bar" along the floor for this purpose.  Similarly the Laser4000 and RS800 has raised ridges in the floor moulding.  The 800 is rather nice since it also has a raised ridge at deck level just in from the gunwhale so that you can trapeze from there (sort of half trapezeing) - terrible for sitting out though, but then you'd never want to.

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