Most people's first thoughts on racing a Merlin Rocket follow a similar pattern:
Final comment back on-shore:
- My, these Merlins go well to windward.
- Downwind, they're great.
- They are so comfortable and everything works.
- They are wicked fighting machines.
- Oops, the competition is a bit hot. One mistake and a pile of boats pass you.
What a great crowd, these Merlin sailors sure know how to party!
The Merlin Rocket sits at the centre of the dinghy-racing scene. It combines the boat handling and tactical racing of the traditional designs with the thrills and excitement of the modern "fast in a straight line" designs.
Upwind, the high aspect rig means that in light and medium wind conditions, the Merlin Rocket is one of the highest pointing dinghies around. It is the bane of the trapeze boat sailor. The power to weight ratio and the controllability of the rig means that planing to windward is common in strong winds, without much loss of pointing ability.
On the reaches, the long spinnaker pole and new 10m2 spinnaker are a powerful combination. The long pole keeps the spinnaker away from the mainsail, so close reaching under spinnaker remains one of the strengths and thrills of Merlin Rocket sailing.
The conventional symmetrical spinnaker remains effective at all sailing angles and so the downwind strategy has to be carefully considered. Do you plug straight downwind or gybe from broad reach to broad reach? It depends! It's your call on the day.
Merlin Rocket - the boat for all courses.