Merit 25 newsletter, October 1988
At the November 6 meeting, three changes to our local Class Rules
will be discussed and voted on.  Of the three, one simply
corrects an error, one is a simplification of equipment-on-board
requirements, and one is a substantive change that I think will
have very little opposition.
Proposal 1:  When we allowed long battens in the mainsail, the
intent was to use current Southern California IOR length limits.
These are 23%, 36%, 40%, and 26% of the "E" measurement (mainsail
foot).  Our Class Rules, however, mistakenly limit both top and
bottom battens to 23%.  The difference is about 3 1/2 inches, but
sailmakers seem to agree that this extra length is important, and
a number of new class sails have already been built to the
intended length.
We need to correct the wording as follows:  From the sentence
that begins "Upper and lower battens ..." delete the words "and
lower."  Add the sentence "Lower batten length shall not exceed
26% of maximum E (=30 7/16")."
Proposal 2:  Class Rules as now written allow all four berth
cushions to be removed for racing, provided they are replaced
with "equivalent weight."  In practice, this means that all you
have to do is put a toolbox on  one berth, a seabag on another
berth, etc., and you are legal.  Since we always seem to be able
to find enough stray equipment to count as "equivalent weight,"
this provision of the rule has very little practical effect.
One approach would be to simply not require cushions period, but
then to be as competitive as possible we'd all have to drag the
cushion off for racing and put them back for daysailing and
cruising.  If our intent remains to promote the Merit 25 as a
multipurpose class, I think this is an undesirable situation.  On
the other hand, some owners have complained that their berth
cushions are useless, and it seems unfair for the Class Rules to
require them to be on board.
The proposal is to require that only two out of the four berth
cushions be on board, with no requirement for equivalent weight.
This would mean that those of us with trashed-out forward
cushions could keep their foredecks empty, while others (myself,
for example) who have removed their main berth cushions would
have to race with the forward cushions in place.
Proposed wording change as follows:  Delete the first two
sentences of section 8 D.  Replace with: "Two of the four berth
cushions must be in place for racing.  Berth cushions must have a
total weight of at least 17.5 Lb."
Proposal 3:  This is a proposal to allow much longer battens in
the working jib.  Our experience with the longer battens in the
mainsail has been so good that I can't see any downside to this
change.  In the case of my old mainsail, for example, after four
seasons of heavy racing and a trip to Hawaii and back, converting
to long battens made the sail as competitive as when it was new.
(Twilight Zone won three races with it this year.  It began to
physically wear out, which is why I finally broke down and
ordered a new one.) Also, the sails with long battens are easier
to trim.  The draft is pushed forward, and changes in mast bend
seem to have a more visible effect.
Long battens should do as much for jibs as they do for mainsails.
This change will make our working jibs faster, easier to trim,
and most important, will probably double the useful racing life
of the sails.  The beauty of this is that even an old non-
competitive sail can be retrofitted and revived back into service
as a good racing sail.  If you can think of any argument against
this change, let me know - because I sure can't come up with one.
Wording change: In section G. 1, replace "Maximum batten length
isz9"." with "Maximum batten length is 25"."
Some of our fleet members have expressed an interest in
eliminating all restrictions on number and length of battens on
all sails.  It would mean we'd be free to experiment with full
batten mains, etc.  The mid-girth limit on the main and the
proportional girth limit for jibs would still limit the maximum
size of the sails.  Personally I think this would be a good idea
- but then again, I tend to be something of a batten freak.  This
will not be a proposal for the upcoming meeting, but we might
want to talk over future possibilities.
Out of 34 YRA one-design classes, only two had 100% of their
entrants qualify: The Islander 28 (6 boats) and the Merit 25 (8
boats).  This means that, even though we are a small YRA class
based on entries, we are about average based on number of boats
on the starting line.  In fact, 20 classes had fewer than 8
qualifiers, 11 classes had more than 8 qualifiers, and 2 classes
tied with us with 8 qualifiers.  Thanks to all of you who turned
out for so many races, even during the late-season burn-out
1988 was the third year in a row with 8 entries in the Merit 25
class, after starting in YRA with 15 entries in 1985.  A
reasonable goal for next season will be ten entries, especially
if we can keep the attendance record so good.  The best way to
keep the class healthy and growing is to make sure the boats that
are for sail get sold to racers.  Always know who has a Merit 25
for sale, and be ready with a name and number when someone asks
about buying one.  In the case of a really hot prospect, lets
make sure they get a good demo sail or a chance to crew in a
midwinter or Friday night race. Ask not what your one-design
class can do for you . . .
The first weekend for the MYCO-Berkeley Midwinters is November 12
and 13.  Traditionally we seem to get even better turn-out for
this event than for the summer YRA series.  But we need all the
entries in as early as possible in order to get a one-design
start.  If you haven't entered yet, do it NOW!  I suggest
requesting one-design on Saturday and PHRF on Sunday (if you race
both days).  If you need an entry form (or a PHRF certificate)
call the YRA office at 771-9500.  Other midwinters of interest:
Berkeley's "Chowder Races," last Saturday of every month.
Encinal Yacht Club "Jack Frost Series," Saturday following the
MYCO weekends.