MERIT 25 SPRING 1994 NEWSLETTER by Paul Kamen, Fleet Measurer NEXT RACE: MARCH 26-27, BYC WHEELER REGATTA NEXT RACE AFTER THAT: APRIL 30-MAY 5, VALLEJO RACE WEEKEND NEXT CRUISE: MAY 21-22, SECRET SLOUGH RAFT-UP (near Redwood City) Status of the Fleet Activity in the fleet continues strong, with 7 boats sailing in the Metropolitan Midwinter series this year. Along with regulars Chesapeake, Dr. Who, and Twilight Zone, we also had Paddy Murphy under new management. Redline was back, and Tomboy and Double Agent came out. Not present for the midwinters were Fudge Factor and Lost in Space, taking the winter off. They'll be back in the spring, and Incorrigible is also threatening to join us. A few other boats have made noises about getting involved in racing this year, and there's a good chance we'll have more than 10 boats on the starting line for Vallejo. Don't miss this weekend! Even if you don't consider your boat a competitive racer, the Vallejo raft-up and party is one of the highlights of the season. You can enter the Vallejo Race without entering the entire YRA season for $55 (see entry forms included with this mailing). To enter the entire YRA season costs $135. This includes Vallejo, the Second Half Opener Point Bonita Race (which ends with another party/raft-up at Encinal YC), and nine other races on the YRA schedule. Six of these are also proposed for our one-design series. Make sure you get your entry in by April 8. If you enter these or any other handicap races you'll need a PHRF rating to be scored in the handicap fleet. The application form included has all the numbers filled out for a stock Merit. Cost is $20 for a new certificate, $10 for a renewal. Have You Paid Your Class Association Dues? Not to worry, there aren't any! To keep running the class simple, we're not collecting any money. If you own a Merit 25 that sails in the Bay Area, you're automatically a member in good standing. Our only expense is an occasional roll of stamps for these mailings, and various active fleet members have volunteered to help with this when necessary. Let me know if you don't want to get the newsletter, and we'll take you off the list. Also let me know if you have any corrections or additions to the fleet roster. I'm especially interested in email addresses or fax numbers (provided you don't mind getting sailing-related faxes) so we can experiment with electronic distribution. PROPOSED 1994 SCHEDULE RACES FOR THE OFFICIAL 1994 ONE-DESIGN SEASON (low-point scoring, one throw-out) April 30 VALLEJO RACE (HDA #1) May 1 VALLEJO RACE (HDA #2) May 14 South Bay race (HDA #3) June 25 Cityfront race (HDA #6) July 16 South Beach SSS doublehanded race July 30 EYC 2nd Half Opener Point Bonita race (HDA #7) August 13 Sears Rock, out the Gate past Bonita and back (HDA #9) OTHER EVENTS OF INTEREST March 26-27 BYC Wheeler Regatta - possible Merits one-design class April 2 Doublehanded Farallones April 8 Friday Night Races start at Berkeley (Weekly through Sept.) April 10 Pineapple Sails One-design Race Clinic (Berkeley Yacht Club) May 21-22 Cruise to Redwood City, raft-up in Secret Slough May 28 CSC Ashby Shoal Breakfast (must be seen to be believed) June 4 HDA #4&5 Knox area, 2 races (SYC) June 25 SSS Singlehanded Transpac start July 9-10 Angel Island raft-up July 11-14 Pacific Cup starts July 24 Silver Eagle long distance bay race July 31 HDA #8 (second day of EYC 2nd Half Opener) August 27 HDA #10 North Bay race (TYC) Sept. 2 Windjammer (race to Santa Cruz) Sept. 3 Jazz Cup (race to Benecia) Sept. 10 HDA #11 Cityfront race Sept. 24 HDA #12 Berkeley race (RYC) Sept. 24-25 Angel Island raft-up October 8 Nimitz Level-Sum Team Race at BYC October 29-30 RYC Great Pumpkin Regatta - possible Merit one- design class Here's the proposed schedule for '94. As in previous years, the idea is to keep the official one-design series light, to avoid racer burn-out and to encourage high participation in the selected events. Some of the more ambitious racers will also be competing for the HDA (Handicap Division Association) title, and this schedule is compatible with that program. Of the 12 HDA races, we've chosen six of them to count for the one-design series, plus the doublehanded South Beach race. This schedule includes the long-time favorite Vallejo Race, plus one Cityfront, one South Bay, and two out-the-Gate-and-back courses. By entering HDA you will automatically be entered in all the HDA events. The South Beach race requires a separate entry to Singlehanded Sailing Society. This race starts and finishes off South Beach Marina, and goes up to Red Rock and back. One-design class rules will apply for all of the seven races in the one-design series. CLASS RULES Included with this mailing is a copy of the latest revision of the Merit 25 r than those from Kenyon are now allowed as long as they meet specifications, certain mast reinforcing is allowed, and a higher spinnaker halyard exit is allowed. For several years now the rules have not placed any limits on battens in either mains or jibs, and I've found that battens in jibs, even in the 150 (two battens above the spreaders) have dramatically extended the racing life of the sail. My heavy #1 was winning races for six seasons, including lots of Friday night racing. This has definitely cut into my sailmaker's income! The allowable mainsail roach is also a little larger than for most other classes - so make sure your sailmaker has a copy of these rules when you order new sails. The most important change is the new high location for the spinnaker halyard exit. This is similar to standard practice on the Olson 30 and Express 27. With a cam cleat and a fairlead on the mast, spinnaker sets and drops are controlled by the foredeck crew, and happen about four times as fast as with the standard arrangement. WINTER RACE RESULTS I'll cast modesty aside and announce that Twilight Zone has had an exceptionally good winter racing season. In the Metropolitan Midwinters we finished first in the Saturday One-design series ahead of Double Agent and Tomboy, and also came in first in the Sunday handicap division. The Islander 30 Antares was second, and Double Agent tied with the Cal 29 Grand Slam for third. As of this writing we're also first in our handicap class in the Encinal Yacht Club midwinter series. In 11 years of racing Twilight Zone in the midwinters, this is our first clean sweep! Meanwhile Dr. Who came in first in class in the Three Bridge Fiasco, with Chesapeake second. Dr. Who alo won the January Chowder Race at Berkele Yacht Club. REDWOOD CITY CRUISE We've been invited to share the secrets of a secret slough in the South Bay by an informal group of sailors that calls itself the "South Bay Muddies." They claim it's well worth the trip south. Don't know exact location, so you'll have to check in for instructions a few days before (I suspect it's in or near Westpoint Slough, which is on the chart). This is also the Spring "CyberCruise" for the electronic sailors on the internet. Lots of interesting characters in this crowd! WHEELER REGATTA This is Berkeley Yacht Club's big pre-season event. Unfortunately it conflicts with the Singlehanded Farallones race, so Dr. Who and Chesapeake will be occupied elsewhere. We need seven entries for a one-design start, so get your entry in ASAP. (Bobbie Tossie, 510-939-9885). RACE CLINIC This is the annual one-day intensive course in starts and upwind tactics, sponsored by Pineapple Sails and held at Berkeley Yacht Club. Have your boat and crew at the BYC guest dock by 9:00 AM on Sunday April 10. Guaranteed to make you a better racer in just 7 hours. Call Pineapple Sails (510-444-4321) for details if you didn't get a flyer in the mail. WHICH SAILMAKER MAKES THE BEST SAILS FOR THE MERIT 25? This question comes up all the time, and since right now I can say good things about all four major local lofts, I'll put my opinions in print. Disclaimer: these are just my opinions, based on limited experience. Your mileage my vary. 1) Mainsail: Pineapple has had great success making fast dacron mainsails over the years. My old dacron main, intended to be the "beater" sail for cruising, daysailing and Friday night racing, keeps on moving the boat faster than the newer and carefully preserved North kevlar. This after some six seasons of hard abuse. The North kevlar looked good at first, but somehow didn't age gracefully. It's still fast in heavy air, but doesn't have the range or the easy adjustability of the Pineapple dacron. Bruce Koch (Lost in Space) has a new North kevlar main, built to the maximum girth limits and with 5 battens instead of the usual 4, with the top 2 full-length. It promises to be a very fast sail, but we won't know until he gets his new mast and gets back into competition. (Lost in Space suffered mast damage during the Second Half Opener last year, when a shroud came off the spreader tip. Check your spreader tip lashings!) Meanwhile I have a North "3DL" mainsail on order, also a full-girth, 5-batten design. If it's not an unqualified success, then I'll probably be going back to Pineapple next year for another dacron main. There are also some Sobstad "Genesis" mains in the fleet that seem fast, but there were some quality control problems with at least one of them, and Sobstad seems to be reluctant to customize the design very much. 2) 150% Genoa: The North "3DL" genoa, new this winter, has proven to be a very fast sail. As much as I hate to agree with any advertising hype from a sailmaker, I think North really is on to something with the 3DL process. Conventional North jibs have proven to have a very long competitive life, also. My old heavy kevlar 150 was still winning races after 6 seasons of heavy use, including Friday nights. Part of the longevity is due to the battens in the upper leech, an innovation hat originated in our fleet and has yet to spread very far. It's a minor inconvenience getting the battens to clear the upper shrouds in light air, but it's more than worth it in sail efficiency and long life. The new 3DL is my first 150 built with battens right from the start - all the other batten-equipped genoas that I've used have been retro- fits. Nobody knows if the 3DL sails will be as durable as the old kevlar. It sure looks like fragile stuff, but so far so good. If you're shopping price, the Sobstad "Genesis" line seems to be a cost-effective way to get a high performance, low-stretch jib. This process doesn't avoid major seems like the North 3DL, but the price is right and they seem to perform very well. 3) Spinnaker: I like Marion spinnakers, but the margin here is small. Pineapple is a very close second. My newest spinnaker is an all-white 0.6 ounce dacron chute. Class rules specify conventional 3/4 ounce nylon for the spinnaker, so this is just for PHRF racing. It's proven to be spectacularly fast on a close reach, butmight suffer in sloppy conditions. Marion has recently become a UK loft, but they say that design and construction will still be local. Marion also has the best batten design, in my humble opinion. The battens go in from the front end of the pocket, and are held in place by a long velcro patch so there's no compression on the very flexible forward tip. It would be very interesting to see what they could do for a Merit mainsail. If I had an old short- batten main that I wanted to retro-fit, I'd probably take it there. 4) 100% Jib: My North kevlar is satisfactory, but nothing special. I don't think the North design really takes advantage of the battens in the sail, because it still has the conventional hollow leech. This might also be a good place to economize with a Sobstad Genesis. Again, these are just my opinions, based on far too few data points. We'll be happy to print other comments or rebuttals with the next issue of the newsletter. BOATS FOR SALE! Two boats are on the block that we know of: Bob Vogel is selling FULL OUT, asking $8,000. Lots of equipment, a 1991 rig, and it's had the keel reinforced. The other one for sale is Garrett and Laurie Smith's DOS EQUIS, the first Merit on the Bay, built in 1979. It's advertised for only $5,000, and has a 1992 rig and lots of sails. Their phone numbers are in the roster, let's help them both find buyers who will keep these boats active in the fleet. FRIDAY NIGHT RACES GO TO "SIMPLIFIED" RACING RULES Friday Night Races start on April 8 at Berkeley Yacht Club, and this year they'll be using the new "simplified" racing rules. These rules are much easier for the new racer to understand and observe, so if you've been shying away from entry-level racing because of the complexity of the right-of-way rules, this is a great opportunity. The big secret about these isrules is that they will very likely become the basis of the revised official IYRU rules in 1996. There are some interesting changes over the "full" rules. For example, you are now on a new tack as soon as you cross head-to-wind, not when you fall off to a close-hauled course. There's no such thing as a yacht that is "tacking" under these rules. (Why didn't I think of that?) EQUIPMENT UPGRADES Most Merit 25s don't have a topping lift, and this means that you always have to have someone hold up the boom (or use a backstay hook) when you raise or lower the main. After a lot of shopping around for a solid spring-loaded vang system, I settled on the "Boomkicker," (model 100) which seems to be both the cheapest and the best. It saves a whole crew position when raising, dousing, and reefing the main, and also improves light-air sail shape by supporting the boom. You need to take off the standard vang fittings on both the mast and boom to install it properly, but the result is a much cleaner and more powerful arrangement. TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND TELECONFERENCING Every time I do this newsletter I'm able to add a few more email addresses to the roster. In a year or two I hope to distribute electronically, and save trees and stamps. Meanwhile, a lot of information relevant to theMerit 25 fleet gets tossed around on the "rec.boats" newsgroup, accessible over the internet. A couple of us, and some regular crew, are also active in the sailing conference on The WELL, the Sausalito-based commercial bbs specializing in recreational conferencing. That's where we really plan the cruises, and a few of us even post detailed postmortems of every significant race we sail in. Worth checking out if you have a modem, and if a somewhat complex user interface doesn't scare you off. 415-332-6106 (N-8-1).