Merlin Rocket Design Guide
Part 1 - IntroductionRewritten in 2007 by Chris Martin
This guide first covers the most modern designs (up to 2007); those we have come to consider almost an ‘industry standard’, despite the changing nature of this restricted class. 70s and 80s designs are then dealt with, and we conclude with a glossary of the relevant boatbuilding terms. Rig design is not covered in this guide. Vintage boats from the 40s to 60s are the subject of separate document (see the original design guide).
The Merlin is a restricted class built to a set of rules rather than a plan. Thus the hulls and rigs of individual boats vary within given limits, enabling you to tailor your boat to suit your weight, sailing water and temperament. If you and your crew weigh 18 stone combined, there is a Merlin for you. Similarly, if you weigh 28 stone there is a Merlin for you. No other dinghy is as tolerant of as wide a range of crew weights. Merlin Rockets recognise that WE are not one-design people!
Husbands and wives sail Merlins (and can win championships), so do fit youngsters, hefty blokes, and wily grandads. Modern rig controls have made female crews more competitive than ever before.
If you want to race at your local club, there is a wide range of suitable designs. One of the things you will notice as you walk round the dinghy park is that Merlins are wider than other boats. This gives an efficient base for today's powerful rigs, and gives tremendous sitting-out power so you can drive the boat hard in a blow.
For these reasons, we would not recommend an older, narrow hull, unless you sail on rivers such as the Thames or the Trent where low wetted area and the ability to tack on a sixpence keeps it competitive. However, you will not need the latest speed machine. Plenty of people pick up club trophies sailing twenty year old Satisfactions, Ghost Riders or Phantom Kippers - to give but three examples of designs that have kept their competitive edge because they were so well designed in the first place.
If you want to get amongst the prizes on the Silver Tiller circuit (undoubtedly the most competitive open series in the country), or at the National/Inland Championships, you will need a stiff hull, sound foils and good sails. If you only travel for the scenery, the beer and the camaraderie, you will be welcome whatever you sail.
Part 2 - Modern Merlins
Part 3 - Older Designs
Part 4 - Glossary