History

A Brief History

Dilly by Beken, Cowes

The Class was launched in January 1946 after an eight man syndicate from Ranelagh Sailing Club, on the Thames in London, had the previous year commissioned Jack Holt to design a lightweight 14ft., clinker hull with a 100sq.ft., sail plan and a moderate sized spinnaker.

The prototype was called 'Kate' after the last few letters in 'syndicate' and with the lessons learnt from her construction 'Merlin' was built - the first of the new Class.

The Class Association was formed in 1947, the first of its kind, which has been used as a pattern by many other classes.   The rules were devised to allow for the development of hull and rig rather than be of a 'one-design' nature.
  Dilly, circa 1949. photo Beken Cowes.

The 'Rocket' class was formed in 1949 when a group of Tynemouth sailors commissioned Wyche & Coppock of Nottingham to design a half deck 14ft., dinghy. This boat had more sail area, narrower decks and was lighter.   After much debate the Classes merged in April, 1951 to form the 'Merlin Rocket Class'.

Wyche & Coppock introduced glued plywood construction in 1953 which replaced the solid planked, ash ribbed, nailed clinker hulls which up until then were the only means of construction.   Terylene sails were adopted in 1959 replacing cotton sails, at the same time aluminium masts were being experimented with which produced a far more powerful rig.   This coupled with the development of transom flaps lead to the development of wider and wider hulls - flaring out to over well over 7ft 6ins. to increase sitting out power.


wideIn 1969 a maximum beam of 7ft 2ins. was introduced to allow the boats to be towed and not break the maximum width rules!!
   4ft-7ins Sealgh and 6ft-8ins Krakawot.
The next most significant development was the spinnaker chute which allowed the spinnaker to be raised and lowered very much more easily than the conventional launching 'out of the bag'.   In 1972 an experimental four plank boat was built with the objective of reducing costs however it was not well received by the Class and was not pursued.

 

Rowsell Bros WorkshopIn 1980, following research, foam sandwich hulls were allowed linked with a change in the construction rules to lower the front buoyancy tank and improve the structural bulkheads around the shrouds.   The development of materials and designs has resulted in light strong and durable hulls..
  Merlins in build at Rowsell Bros. Spud inspects a new GRP hull.

A feature of the Class has been the high standard of craftsmanship and finish that the various builders have maintained over the years.   To give an idea of how designs have changed the class, in 1966 the championships were won by a Proctor Mark IX with a beam of 5ft., whereas two years later the winning boat was a 6ft. 8in., wide 'Wotnot' design.

A number of prominent designers have associations with the Class e.g. Phil Morrison, Ian Proctor, David Thomas, Keith Callaghan, Ian Holt and so on.   Whilst the Morrison designs dominated the seventies and eighties, the nineties have been dominated by the Holt designed 'Canterbury Tales' - or derivatives thereof.

The spinnaker size and pole length was increased in 1979 and in 1996 the pole length was increased to 2300mm to allow spinnakers to be made to their maximum size within the existing rules.   Carbon fibre is being used more frequently in the construction of mast, boom and spinnaker poles.

Class Championships have been held on the sea every year since 1946, with over 15 venues used over the years.   Traditionally the Championship was sailed over a week with six races sailed and five to count.   In 1999 the same six race series is to be sailed over a long weekend at Weymouth in August.

The Silver Tiller Series was devised in 1950 and sought to find the helmsman who could win consistently sailing on a whole range of waters.   To that end the series runs over a whole season with competitors having to count their best five results having sailed on restricted water, open water and the sea.   Consequently competitors get to sail on rivers, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea.   Additional to this national event there are 'local' circuits such as the Midland Circuit and the recently established 'Thames Circuit'.

As the nineties draw to a close the Class and its builders are examining ways to maintain the character of the class yet at the same time take advantage of new materials and techniques.


To be continued...
TopicAuthorLatest PostViewsPosts
Website login
Rousey16/10/2019 18:51:22 - Rousey4493
New sails
Martin Rouse14/10/2019 20:12:37 - Martin Rouse105611
2019 Silver Tiller Dinner
Chairman 14/10/2019 13:22:57 - Ross11299
Chew Valley ST
Fixtures Man10/10/2019 10:59:22 - Matt129814
Hampton Merlin Open 12-13 October
John09/10/2019 23:08:13 - 3741
Trent Valley Open Meeting Postponed
Martin Smith28/09/2019 10:59:12 - 35693582
Tamesis - De May & Thames Series opens - 28th & 29th September
Joe McL27/09/2019 07:54:47 - Joe McL4852
Grand Slam places with 2 ST events to go
Ross26/09/2019 10:44:58 - Ross5371
Trent Valley Open Meeting
Guy Browne24/09/2019 12:43:54 - Ian Mackenzie4262
North Sales Kite
Barnsie23/09/2019 13:48:14 - Barnsie4562
ST scores updated post UTSC
Ross23/09/2019 12:44:33 - Ross3461
Nautilus Inland Championships 2019
Chris Martin23/09/2019 12:22:16 - Dave C15099
Great British Sailing Challenge
Gareth Griffiths20/09/2019 23:46:26 - Gareth Griffiths NHRC4272
Sails for Sale, Poole
JonCG20/09/2019 13:39:11 - martin rouse4632
UTSC Open De May (14th) and Silver Tiller (15th) September
Jeremy Stein17/09/2019 14:12:43 - Ross7065
Free sails on offer
John Meadowcroft16/09/2019 12:40:27 - Martin Rouse7104
Sails for Sale at Salcombe
HM15/09/2019 14:11:32 - HM125310
Uphauls
Alan357113/09/2019 08:14:29 - Andrew Mills5485
Spinny Poles needed
356911/09/2019 09:06:13 - 35693712
Feeling unlucky
Piers09/09/2019 11:18:19 - Blaise Pascal128813
Lymington Silver Tiller 7 - 8 September 2019
Louise Johnson06/09/2019 09:58:41 - Lou Johnson6925
Felucca cancelled
Steve Crook 04/09/2019 22:19:57 - 4341
Buoyancy bag bags...
Scallywag04/09/2019 21:47:55 - Chris Martin4282
Ask a silly question....
Derik Palmer03/09/2019 12:16:53 - Fatrat6544
Boat cover wanted
John Donoghue02/09/2019 19:49:10 - Andrew Mills6472
Boat cover wanted
John Donoghue01/09/2019 22:05:05 - 2541
Crew available for Lymington
Anna Aylward01/09/2019 20:00:06 - Nigel B3962
Lost blue spinnaker with two white stripes
sophie29/08/2019 18:23:04 - 4161
Aspire 2019 - Looe Videos
Ian Mackenzie26/08/2019 16:34:37 - Pete Slack4582
Aspire 2019 National Champs - Looe
Ian Mackenzie24/08/2019 19:01:25 - Ian Mackenzie457735
Merlin Rockets on Instagram
17/02/2014 06:50:59 - Social Media Team12141
MR3571 @ £3450
Alan 357121/08/2019 18:26:41 - Alan35717522
Aldenham Sailing Club
Paul Dean18/08/2019 09:07:44 - Mike Liggett7173
Wanted Launching trolley.
Ben376713/08/2019 19:02:45 - Chris Martin4462
What a wonderful class
Logan13/08/2019 13:50:21 - Logan7573
Crew available for Looe
John Donoghue12/08/2019 22:58:06 - 3991
Tubes/pipes for running control lines
Mark10/08/2019 23:29:22 - Mark5593
De May Event - Saturday 10 August - Wroxham - CANCELLED
Stuart Jenkins09/08/2019 16:37:58 - Mike Liggett4272
New to Rockets and need some help
Jonathan Purssell05/08/2019 19:36:11 - Martin Smith7032
Re-decking my Rocket
John Keeling04/08/2019 10:46:24 - Miles12706
Well Done Judith and Sophie
Richard03/08/2019 17:21:57 - 5301
Shoreham open
William Warren 02/08/2019 10:22:04 - William Warren 9783
Merlin Week 2020
Salcombe Yacht Club02/08/2019 08:52:08 - 5691
Wooden decks
17/11/2018 12:39:10 - Rod & Jo407059
AGM minutes
Scam01/08/2019 07:13:06 - Scam5583
Four Merlins
Sally31/07/2019 21:34:09 - David Greening 19746
Wanted - Tall rig Dacron main for club racing
Ben May27/07/2019 12:26:15 - Stuart J7515
Used Carbon Boom Wanted
Paul Kelley26/07/2019 21:18:17 - 4091
Boat for Salcombe
David Hall26/07/2019 15:49:24 - David Hall4862
Merlin Week photos appeal
Salcombe Yacht Club26/07/2019 10:46:09 - 4221
Carbon mast for sale.
Derik Palmer23/07/2019 08:25:44 - Gareth Griffiths NHRC5502
Merlin Week 2019 and 2020
Salcombe Yacht Club21/07/2019 16:48:02 - 7161
Mill bay - anyone lost water proof camera equipment
Eddy Atkins21/07/2019 13:07:16 - Diane Evans4502
2021 Nationals - North Berwick
Ian Mackenzie20/07/2019 10:36:33 - Ian Mackenzie4831
Merlin Week 2020
Salcombe Yacht Club19/07/2019 20:59:59 - John Meadowcroft10666
The Harken Grand Slam Supporters Award
Ian Mackenzie19/07/2019 12:33:49 - Ian Mackenzie3721
Restringing from scratch
Derik Palmer17/07/2019 13:36:19 - Gareth Griffiths NHRC6025
Salcombe reports
Mike Liggett13/07/2019 22:36:27 - Mark7242
How fast can you get the kicker off and the puller on?
Mags09/07/2019 11:07:44 - Stuart Bates7163
Sails and kit clear out
Alex09/07/2019 08:54:23 - Martin Rouse7134
Page
1 2 3 4 >5< 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124