Merit 23

The reason that page is here because - information on this particular boat isn't easy to find online and people like me were looking for it.  I wanted to share what little I had.  And because (you know) we are all passionate about our hobbies and sports teams (Go Cowboys!). I love the rush of a regatta...

Okay, so when I bought the Merit 23 SPRINT it was WAY more of a project than I intended with not much information.  They were only made from 1984-1986. (Just before the boat market crash according to a dealer I know.) Mine is a 1985. I have a torn copy of of the original ordering bill that has some bits of information I haven't found elsewhere:   


"The first planing wing keel design from the drawing boards of Merit Marine. A sailboat engineered to provide more lift going to weather and greater stability for sail carrying speed than any other boat on the market. State of the art resins, gel coats and fiberglass employed for lightness, strength and speed. Merit "SPRINT" is designed from the boards that brought the Merit 25 to three international Championships (including 1984).

$12,950 Sailaway. price includes trailer and sails. A racing yacht to make other boats of its size obsolete and a boat with proven race winning records. Thousands of Merit sailboats are sailing today. Deck hardware is mounted in the same location as the Merit International Champion. Full foam flotation allows the boat to sail with crew aboard even when the interior is opened to the water, thus giving offshore sailing capability and safety. Designed by Paul Yates, winner of the Yacht acing Magazine's Designer of the year Award."

Displacement (lbs) 1700
Ballast (lbs)             500
Draft                        4'8"
Draft - retracted      2'0"
LWL                       19'0"
Beam                       8'2"
LOA                       22'6"
Sail Area sq. ft.       230


The story I heard about the birth of it older brother Merit 25, is that a J24 went into Paul's garage and was never seen again. but that subsequently the Merit 25 came out.  And that the Merit 23 was build with lessons learned from the Merit 25. Whether that is true or not, I think its pretty obvious that they meant for both the Merit 25 and Merit 23 sprint to be "J-boat killers"  - as J's were the most popular racing design of the day - and are still.

Kinda makes me happy to try and see if the M23 can still pull that off.  :) There are top J24 sailors at most sailing clubs. Its the sort of thing that I could see my Dad and GrandDad grinning about - and since I inherited some of their ornerinesss...   

There is a lot that I love about the J24, but I don't love its reputation for sinking occasionally after a broach.  The "full foam floatation" of the M23 is therefore appealing.  Especially with the M23's "revolutionary two piece sliding hatch. design" which essentially means that a good bit of the cabin roof comes totally off.  I'm not completely sure how I feel about that, but it does make the M23 cabin a lot more usable especially as compared to the tiny opening and no windows of the J24. 

A local club has a few Merit 25's but I haven't seen ANY 23's around - so I'm not concerned with remaining true to "one design" class rules.  So we can do things like replace the usual lead acid heavy monster battery with a small/ lightweight 7 amp Gell cell.   (There's not much on the boat to power except the nav lights and VHF)  We've a tiny 1.5 hp outboard with a tiny tank. We keep as much weight/junk off the boat as possible. Though I did make small folding a table between the dinette seating - not more than a couple of pounds - because being able to go out with my MacBook and a thermos of coffee is healing to my creative soul. :) 

We keep the interior cushions on board because I'm not twenty anymore.  Another bit of weight I though was worth adding was a permanent swim ladder on the back - for pretty much the same reason.  In point of fact, my mother-in-law completely did the cushions which to me is an astounding example of her sewing and interior design skill. It was a very sweet gift.  

When I got the boat, the running rigging was like getting the pieces to one of the wooden puzzles in a plastic bag with no idea how they originally went together.  I ended up with want I THINK is the original configuration.   I have the spinnaker halyard, pole uphaul and pole downhaul run to the starboard cabin top winch. I have the spinnaker pole stored on the starboard side too, so that I can tell the crew "Everything for the Spinnaker is on the starboard side, Everything for the Genoa/Jib is to Port.   (Except for the sheets & guy of course). So yah, the Genoa/Jib halyard goes to the Port cabin top winch and the Genoa whisker pole for wing-and-wing is stored on the Port side.  

The halyard for the mainsail is cleated on the mast.  I though about running the main back to the cockpit, but I think I like the current layout for racing - you aren't going to release the wrong halyard.  Unlike the J, I've got two more winches on each side of the cockpit for sheeting the Genoa, and the Spinnaker sheet/guys run to blocks near the aft corners of the boat on the toe rail.  There is another set of blocks on the toe rail that I think are for twings - at least that's what I intend to use them for.  I'm very happy to hear about other peoples experience. 

The boom is weird to me.  It's got THREE shives on the outboard end plus a connector for a topping lift.  So one for the outhaul fine, but the other two? I think it is meant to be a reefing system - and no, it pulls the wrong way to somehow be part of a Cunningham which the boat doesn't seem to have.

I wish that the retractable keel retracted a few inches more. The trailer tongue extension is NOT long enough, so launching with a tow strap or crane is required for me - I don't ever want to be on one of those YouTube boat launch fails videos.

If I could afford to upgrade/replace everything, then I might have purchased a different boat that didn't NEED upgrades/replacing. And I know that the skipper is the weakest link of this particular boat anyway. By the time HE gets HIS racing act together we can worry about the rest. :) 

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