The Merlin Rocket combines the boat handling and tactical racing of the traditional designs with the thrills and excitement of the modern ‘fast in a straight line’ ones.
Upwind, the high aspect rig means that in light and medium wind conditions, the Merlin is one of the highest pointing dinghies around (and 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.
On the reaches, the long spinnaker pole and 10m2 spinnaker are a powerful combination. Close three-sail reaching is one of the strengths and thrills of Merlin Rocket sailing.
The 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.
The fleet are a diverse crowd in terms of age, ability and gender, with many family combinations crossing the generations. The systems that have been developed make it manageable for wide range of physical strengths, builds and heights, whether male or female, at the front or the back of the boat.
Merlin Rockets are sailed throughout the country from clubs based on rivers, lakes and reservoirs, estuaries and on the open sea. With a well-attended series of open meetings there are opportunities to race at a variety of tidal and non-tidal venues around the UK.
Most people's first thoughts on racing a Merlin Rocket follow a similar pattern:
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.