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
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
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
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!