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Thread: The Cosmic Tour Continues : Merlin's Magic Back In The Bay

  1. #1
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    The Cosmic Tour Continues : Merlin's Magic Back In The Bay

    Merlin’s Magical Cosmic Tour Rolls Into SF Bay


    Boat Captain Chris Watts gives Saturdays team a bit of a preview of the day's program


    The finely revamped Bill Lee Custom sailed into San Francisco in the wee hours of Saturday morning one the next leg of her ongoing tour du force. This stop includes some good will rides and viewing opportunities for sailing fans and friends alike with 4 days of racing in the Big Boat Series for only the 2nd time, the last being some 3 decades ago.


    With the cockpit enlarged lengthwise, Merlin's current layout is much cleaner and refined but still much narrower than comparable 70's


    Merlin now sail uphill much better than in the day of yorn, we hit 10 knots easily in 15 knots of wind


    Her latest surgery took place earlier this year at Dennis Choate’s Advanced Composites in Long Beach prior to this year’s Transpac. Essentially, the new owner, Chip Merlin asked Bill Lee what 10 things he would change if he could. Chip then took that list to Brian Malone and that list was performed with the assist of Alan Andrews, Jimmy Slaughter and Trevor Baylis in a concerted effort to make he the best she could be.
    One of the biggest was losing 300 lbs in the standing rigging and mast from Offshore Spars in Michigan:


    “The next chapter for the boat was the replacement of an aging existing spar with an optimized high modulus Offshore Spars carbon spar, EC6 composite rigging and a modern composite boom. The optimizations will include sail plan alterations and weight reductions. The addition of halyard locks will reduce tube compression and line stretch. The new boom will be lighter and designed to complement the spar and the crew sailing style.”



    Offwind, Merlin is just solid, she finds her groove and sticks in it and when she reaches 14 knots, she starts to hum


    “The reduction in weight aloft reduces a lot of the pitching motion” notes Chris Watts, the current skipper driver for the team. “We noticed it from the 1st test sail down in Long Beach prior to the Transpac.” Along with shortening the boom and moving the rudder forward and realigning the deck layout, Merlin now has the upwind capabilities she lacked in prior editions. And being lighter, she surfs faster and gests locked into a very stable mode the faster she goes. They utilize the same rudder built for her at the last retrofit, but made it perpendicular to the hull vs the waterline and added a kelp cutter in the process. The old wooden furniture and bunks below was all swapped out for much lighter carbon units saving space and weight. A new quiver of sails from Brian Malone’s North Sails loft has only increased the 42-year-old girl’s competitiveness to kids a fraction of her age.



    Bill Lee's Rainbow Warrior kite is still part of the quiver and will make Merlin easily visible across the bay over the next week


    In yellow, foredeck James Clappier has developed into quit the team asset, "Our MacGyver/Moriarty" says Chris Watts: "He can break and fix most anything in a moments
    notice, and he does deliveries too!




    Owner Chip Merlin is all in on the project and sharing the legendary vessel’s magic is all part of the game plan. The Big Boat Series on his bucket list, but a scheduling conflict left him out for this year’s regatta, but having her there and represented is high on the priority list. Boat manager Brian Malone has been working his tail off assisting in the recovery of The Bahama’s after Dorian’s destruction, and will also be absent. But the show goes on.


    A place of bliss on the bay


    Merlin makes a pit stop at the CYC on Saturday to give some of the sailors there a nice look see then took on 7 or8 sailors for an impromptu ride out the gate






    “We are sailing with a core group of friends of mine that happen to be really good local sailors. We have sailed together on a lot of different boats over the years and been quite successful.” Chris Watts says:
    “Sailing Merlin in iconic races is Chip’s desire, sharing the boat with as many people as he can. Carrying on the open tradition Bill Lee started long ago.”
    Merlin arrived from her 2019 Transpac delivery to Santa Cruz and completed a ˝ dozen or so excursions and beer can regattas since. “Our goal with this regatta will be to sail fast but safe, winning is nice but not objective” Chris adds.



    Things turned out to be just lovely with a clean kite set at Point Diablo, and the South Tower Demon just watched her sail by in awe



    "Best part of the day" sayd Chris. "Handing the helm over to the youth and inducing some of her magic to the next generation"



    After the BBS, Merlin heads to KKMI were she will get some maintenance before packing her up for another ride across the states to the East Coast. The Miami to Key West Race, then Newport Bermuda will be next before packing up again and heading the Great Lakes for another shot at the Chicago Mackinac Race and the Ugotta Regatta in Harbor Springs. From there its back to the West Coast where hopes are for a full compliment of offshore events, perhaps a Mexican race or two, the Cal Offshore Race Week and the SoCal 300, The Islands Race and ready for the Transpac. The Big Boat Series in 2021 is possible and then the Sydney Hobart, another bucket list item to be checked off. “ We have been pitching the Hamilton Island Race Week real hard too” Chris indicates….




    Merlin will be stationed at the guest dock of the St Francis this week, feel free to have a look see, but things are going to be a bit hectic from Wednesday on and those fingers get a bit crowded during the regatta, so prudence is recommended when timing a dockside chat.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  2. #2
    Nice one! Which day is PD readers day?

  3. #3
    Hope they can avoid the impact of 24 J-125's and 14 J-70's short tacking up the beach at the finish!

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