MERIT 25 NEWSLETTER by Paul Kamen, Fleet Measurer NEXT CRUISE: OCTOBER 16-17 NEXT RACE: OCTOBER 30-31 THE GREAT PUMPKIN IS COMING: There's been new activity in the class this fall, with a few boats changing hands and some new sailors joining the fleet. I've already spoken to most of you in the process of getting the mailing list up to date, and at last count ELEVEN boats are planning to race in Richmond YC's GREAT PUMPKIN REGATTA. The format of this event is one of the best: Two short one-design races on Saturday, a great party at RYC (the theme this year is "exotic erotic"), and a somewhat wacky reverse-handicapp round-Angel-Island-in- either-direction (or something like that) race on Sunday. This will be the strongest showing of our class in years, and to make sure we have a spot in the starting sequence, it's important that you get your entry in right away. A copy is included with this mailing. CRUISE TO ANGEL ISLAND: Short notice, but this weekend (October 16-17) is another Angel Island raft-up. Mainly the Cal Sailing Club crowd, but there should be at least a few Merits and we thought we might as well invite everybody. Let's plan another raft-up for later in the fall, maybe in T.I. cove (for better protection during northerlies). NEW FACES IN THE FLEET: Ron Landman, who raced Half Fast in the mid-80s, is back with a yellow boat named Double Agent. Ron's good - and I happen to know that yellow boats are fast! Double Agent is dry-sailed out of Alameda. Meanwhile, Dave and Jeanie Mariscal have just bought Paddy Murphy from Patrick Twohy. Dave and Jeanie are familiar faces at both Cal Sailing Club and Berkeley Yacht Club, and are keeping their boat in Berkeley. They're new to racing, but learning fast. They also should be reliable participants in the cruises and raft-ups. Peppermint Patty has been sold, although at this writing Dennis Fritz was unable to locate the name of the new owner! If you see a white Merit 25 with a green stripe (other than the infamous Chesapeake), sail number 8392, track it down and get the owner's phone or address. Done Deal is on the block for sale, asking price only $5,000! David Henderson's number is in the roster, if you know anybody interested in a Merit at a great price, point them in Dave's direction. Polecat, owned by Jerry and Laurie Summers, is also for sale ($7,250 with a trailer and a new motor), and so is Gayle Vial's Rajin' Cajun, which also has a trailer and some nice kevlar sails. Brent Draney, another Cal Sailing Club member, has bought into Cecil Shaver's Incorrigible. They also sail out of Berkeley, bringing the number of boats in the Berkeley marina up to 10. MIDWINTERS: We should be able to get a one-design start for the Saturday half of the Metropolitan Midwinters on the Olympic Circle. Personally I like doing both days - it seems a shame not to use what you learn on Saturday to help refine your tactics for the PHRF class on Sunday. Several of the Berkeley boats will also be racing in the Encinal Yacht Club "Jack Frost" midwinters. This one is strictly PHRF, though. NEW MASTS AND CLASS RULES: Two of the boats in the fleet, Twilight Zone (mine) and Bruce Koch's Lost in Space, need new masts. Bruce's spreader tip seizing came adrift during the Second Season Opener just before rounding Harding Rock, and the entire mast above the spreader was unsupported for a few seconds before they tacked over and unloaded it. Even though the mast didn't come down, it's got a subtle permanent bend in it now that can't be tuned out. On my boat the problem is (the dreaded) Spreader Root Disease. After 10 years of hard racing (and a couple of salt-water dunkings), the rivets holding one of the spreaders pulled out of the mast, taking some of the mast material with them. A temporary repair might get me through the winter, but this mast also needs to be replaced. Why is this all coming up in the newsletter? Yes, there's a Class Rules issue we need to resolve. Our One-design Class Rules, written 10 years ago when we didn't know what kind of spars would be available for replacements, simply says: "Replacements for damaged spars must be identical to those supplied by the manufacturer." Now, does that mean we can only get masts from Kenyon, the original supplier, or can we use an "identical" mast from another spar-maker? And how "identical" is indentical? It turns out that the Original Kenyon mast (or rather, the "new" mast section used on all boats delivered after sometime around 1982) is still available from Kenyon Marine. Kenyon, however, is now located in North Carolina. They ship once a month to Santa Anna in Southern California, and from there to a local dealer. The result is that lead time for a new mast can be more than two months. Meanwhile, Ballenger Spar Systems in Santa Cruz has a mast section which was designed to be a replacement for the Kenyon section. It's almost the same, but not really "identical." Ballenger, aside from being local, has an excellent reputation and supplies rigs for many of the best ultralights to come out of Santa Cruz. Ballenger's hardware details are probably slightly superior to Kenyon's (things like better chafe guards on halyard exits) and their price is just a little less ($1,950 versus $1,980, including spreaders and hardware). Bruce and I would like to have the option of getting our new masts from Ballenger rather than Kenyon. Not for a performance edge (the Ballenger is a little heavier than the Kenyon) but for quality. We anticipate that as the fleet ages, and more masts need to be replaced, other owners will face the same choices. It's important that the class rules leave no doubt as to what is legal for a one-design Merit 25, and what is not. So I have proposed two alternatives for a change to the class rules (vote for A or B): A) Change the rule to read: "Replacement masts must be the Kenyon section 3350" B) Change the rule to read: "Replacement mast sections must have the following properties: Minimum dimensions: 3.1" x 5.0" Minimum weight: 1.65 lb/ft. Maximum stiffness: 5.0 x 1.96 in.^4 (section inertia) Here are the specifications for the old and new Kenyon sections, and the Ballenger section: Original "old" mast section: Kenyon 3050 (?) (boats built up to about 1982, not available) 3.0" x 5.0" weight and inertias not known. Original "new" mast section: Kenyon 3350 (boats built after about 1982, still available) 3.3" x 5.0" 1.65 lb/ft 4.60 x 1.96 in^4 Ballenger Spars replacement: Ballenger 5031 3.1" x 5.0" 1.70 lb/ft 5.00 x 1.85 in^4 I'd like to go with rule change option B, which will allow the Ballenger mast. This is the route that a number of other out-of-production one-designs have followed - calling out specifications instead of locking the class in to one supplier. However, the most important thing here is that we vote for either one or the other of the proposed rule changes, so it's clear to all of us what we can and can't do in the future. Two other mast-related issues have also come up: Chesapeake has extra reinforcing in its mast in the area of the spinnaker pole track, added as a result of some mast failures several years ago during ocean races. Technically this could be interpreted as an illegal modification to the mast stiffness, but it really should be legal. We should explicitly allow this in the class rules. (Vote yes or no.) The other issue is the location of the jib/spinnaker halyard exits near the bottom of the mast. The modern trend is to put the spinnaker halyard exit about 7 feet off the deck, so that the crew can "jump" the halyard effectively and cleat it on the mast. This has become the standard arrangement on the best J-24s, Express 27s, and even Olson 30s. Right now our rules require that we stay with the original exit port locations, which are only 2 or 3 feet above the deck. Both Kenyon and Ballenger confirm that moving one exit port up to the 7 foot height would not compromise the strength of the mast. The proposal, then, is to "deregulate" the lower halyard exits, so that one or more exits could be raised as desired. (Vote yes or no.) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * B A L L O T Replacement mast section: A (Kenyon only)_____ B (others okay, as per specs.) _____ Mast reinforcing in way of spinnaker track: Yes_____ No_____ Allow higher spinnaker halyard exit: Yes_____ No_____ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Call me at 510-540-7968 to cast your vote on these issues, or to discuss them at greater length (I'm going to make the case for voting B-YES-YES. As soon as I find a fleet member who doesn't want to vote this way, I'll pass along their name and number so you can get an opposing opinion.) FLEET ROSTER: The latest, updated fleet roster is included with this mailing. Check your own listing, and if there are any corrections or updates let me know. It would especially nice to have fax or email numbers for everybody - next time I'd like to do this without stamps. LAST SUMMER AND NEXT SUMMER: For the last three years we've enjoyed a "no burnout" summer series, consisting of only five races selected from the YRA and Singlehanded Sailing Society calendars. All of the races can be entered individually, but it's more economical to simply sign up for the YRA/HDA season, which includes entry in all except the double-handed race. Last season, our one-design series consisted of the following events: Vallejo Weekend (two races) Encinal YC Second Season Opener South Beach double-handed race YRA/HDA Pt. Bonita race. Several of the boats campaigned actively in the full HDA season in addition to the Merit one-design series. Congratulations to Jim Fair and Chesapeake for taking first overall in HDA division L. I won the Merit One- design series with Twilight Zone, thanks to the "South Tower Deamon" reversing the fleet just before the finish of the Bonita race. For next year, if we continue to have only 4-5 boats racing regularly, we should probably stay with this format. We might think about starting the season earlier with the Berkeley Yacht Club Wheeler Regatta (a 3-race weekend in March) or adding more double-handed events. Maybe throw in another up-river race, like the Jazz Cup. Or, if participation in the midwinters climbs back up to the 10-boat level, it might be time to start thinking YRA one-design again. Let me or Fleet Captain Steve Wright know how you feel about all this, and we'll see you out on the Bay on the 31st. Vote early, vote often, and get your Great Pumpkin entry in right away!