MERIT 25 NEWSLETTER written (this time) by Paul Kamen, Fleet Measurer Yes, there will be a 1991 season! Most of you are probably aware that we no longer qualify as a one- design class in the ODCA division of YRA. Last season, despite eight boats entered, we failed to field five boats on the line for more than half of the scheduled races. Under YRA by-laws we could have opted for another year under "provisional" status, but this seemed to be inconsistent with the direction the class is going. So as a one-design, we're out of YRA. This doesn't mean we're not still a class, though. What we're planning is a non-YRA season, consisting of one event a month from May through September. We'll still have some tight one-design racing, a class champ, and a page in the PICYA yearbook. The lighter schedule should be much more in keeping with a lighter level of commitment to racing in our fleet. The kinds of events will also be more in keeping with the race formats that we think are more fun. More on this later. One of the more positive developments in the last year is the concentration of Merit 25's in the Berkeley Marina. Chesapeake, Rajin' Cajun, and Twilight Zone have been among the most active racers over the last few years. Add two new Berkeley boats, Steve Wright's Fudge Factor (ex Equity) and Patrick Twohy's Paddy Murphy (name unchanged). (Steve and Patrick had both been crewing for me on Twilight Zone. People will do almost anything to avoid crewing for me for another season.) Garret Smith's Dos Equis, another Berkeley boat, is an occasional racer, and Postmark is a frequent daysailer that we think we can talk into racing once in a while. This makes seven active boats in the Berkeley Marina. New class rules: Once again I've overhauled the class rules, making them better organized and more in line with what the racers seem to want to do with their boats. The major substantive change is battens: no restrictions at all on number or length of battens in all sails except the spinnaker. Long battens have proved to be so valuable for keeping old mainsails competitive through a much longer racing life, we think the same benefits will apply to jibs. Battens are also easy to retrofit, so you don't need new sails to take advantage of longer battens. I've even experimented with battens in an old dacron 150, with excellent results. This sail now has one full batten near the head, and one partial batten a few feet above the spreaders. The effect was to flatten out the badly hooked leach and move the draft back to the front of the sail where it belongs, making an old "garbage bag" a competitive sail again, at least for Friday nights and winter racing. New class rules also allow a more generous mid-girth, and for the first time specify a maximum quarter-girth for the mainsail. This will allow your sailmaker to take advantage of the longer battens when designing the main. (Note that since both Chesapeake and Twilight Zone have relatively new mainsails built to the old girth limit, it seemed like a good time to make a speed-enhancing change. Newer sails will have a slight edge. But we're not afraid!) The new rules are, of course, provisional until we can have a meeting and actually vote them in. They were, however, developed in close consultation with most of the active racers in Berkeley, and I don't expect any significant changes. Here's my proposal for the 1991 season: MAY 4&5: Vallejo Race. This is traditionally one of the most looked- forward-to events of the year. Certainly the best party. Individual entries cost $50, or enter YRA HDA for the season. JUNE 22: Berkeley Long Course. This is actually an ODCA event, but it's run by BYC and because of all the Merit 25 owners active in this club we can reasonably expect to be given a start and finish if we ask for it. Start is on the Olympic Circle, probably goes to Harding or Yellow Bluff and back. JULY 20: Silver Eagle. This is the 75 mile bay race that starts on the Cityfront, goes almost to the San Mateo bridge, then to the Carquinez bridge, then back to the city. A real marathon, but I like it, and last year I noticed a couple of the Merits from the Estuary out there. There are other events we could choose instead for our July race (Singlehanded Sailing Society South Bay Fun Race, Encinal Yacht Club "Gracie and George" mixed doublehanded, or St. Francis IMS Invitational, if they let us in. We need feedback on the preferred choice here. AUGUST 3: Second Season Opener. This was a big success last year, and may eventually rival Vallejo in the party department. Start near Treasure Island, round the buoy off Pt. Bonita, finish in front of Encinal Yacht Club. It's the best windward-leeward course on the bay. Like Vallejo, it's a YRA event with $50 individual entry fee if you're not in already entered in HDA. SEPTEMBER 21: Berkeley One-design. Another ODCA race run by BYC, onto which we could piggy-back. Conventional Berkeley courses. And that's the season. Five events, six races (Vallejo is two) and one throw-out for scoring. This schedule obviously reflects my own preference for long point-to- point courses rather than round-the-buoys courses. I think this preference is shared by most of our fleet, but if it's not, make your feelings known. Because we're a small fleet, it's important to keep the number of events in our schedule very low so we get the maximum participation on each date. One event a month seems about right to avoid mid-season burn-out and keep the number of boats on the starting line high enough for some good racing at all levels. Meeting! We need to have a meeting for fairly obvious reasons: finalize the schedule, the class rules, collect class association dues (remember dues?) and possibly even elect new officers (wishful thinking). Let's say Friday March 22 at BYC, upstairs committee room. Call me at (415) 540-7968 if you can't make it. Meanwhile, if you are going to enter YRA, I suggest entering under HDA for $130. The entry form is included with this mailing. True, this is $30 more than if you enter Vallejo and Second Season Opener separately, but it also signs you up for the entire YRA handicap season (13 races total) and keeps you on the YRA mailing list. A PHRF application is also included, with the "hard" items already filled in for a stock Merit 25. This isn't strictly necessary for the one-design series, but since we'll be racing in a handicap class for at least three of the events, we might as well be scored by YRA on PHRF corrected times also. (But note that class rules will still apply for our fleet.) Other upcoming events of interest: March 16-17: Angel Island raft-up. I'll be there late after the last race in EYC Midwinters. March 23-24: Wheeler Regatta at BYC. Call Bobbi Tosse at (415) 939-9885 for an entry form. April 12: Friday Night Races and post-race barbecues begin at BYC. Every Friday through September. Even if you can't get out of work in time to race, come over and watch the finish, spend money at the bar, and have a burger. Check the updated fleet roster carefully, and send in any corrections you might like to make. Note that there are boats for sale, and also note that a few boats seemed to have disappeared from the list. If you know the whereabouts of any Merit 25 that's not on the roster, help us track down the owner so we can get them on the mailing list.