The Merlin Rocket goes High Tech

The latest rig developments in the class provide for multi-adjustment of the normally fixed rig points - and all while sailing
The Merlin Rockets have struggled in recent years to maintain the growth of the class, particularly in attracting new, younger members. The boat has an A1 history, along with the I14, International Canoe and National 12, it is a development class that has a glorious past. Progressing from the original narrow, traditional clinker construction to the wide, lightweight, glued clinker wood and glass boats of today, the class has attracted many top designers, builders and sailors throughout its life. With the difficulty and expense of decent wood supplies and the time to produce the beautiful built hulls that have always been such a feature of the class, glassfibre boats have begun to be produced with considerable success, particularly the latest versions. This has switched much of the recent development to the rigs and controls. The class has moved to carbon masts and recently wing masts (being rethought), and many variations in control systems. At the 2000 Nationals, where the recent surge in new boats provided a welcome boost in numbers, a boat arrived that takes the mast and rig control to its ultimate conclusion. Glen Truswell and Tim Holden have been working for two years to produce After Hours. With its striking silver and black hull paint job, and minimal monofilm clear foredeck, the boat certainly stands out amongst the traditional, immaculate varnish work of the class. The next most striking thing is the number of lines and blocks leading to a half thwart control centre. These rig controls allow the individual or simultaneous adjustment of the jib tack, mast foot, shroud anchorage and centreboard pivot point - by pulling a single line. Glen, a Lotus development engineer, realised that in the move to the deck stepped carbon mast, the extreme adjustment available was still compromised. They needed to be able to