Merlin Rocket Advances - From the Feedback

madforsailing's article on the advanced rig control system fitted to After Hours caused some soul searching by the 'keep-it-simple-faction'
Glen Truswell and Tim Holden certainly opened up the development versus one-design debate with their high-tech Merlin Rocket, After Hours. While some of the writers to our Feedback saw the attraction of the challenge, many felt that keeping the boats simple and cost effective was the way forward. Glen and Tim have chosen to take a radical view of rig control and equipped their new Merlin Rocket with a comprehensive system. At the same time they completed the boat in a striking paint scheme, that only emphasizes the difference to the high gloss woodwork of the traditional Merlin. The concept was to be able to adjust all the fixed points to keep the boat and rig balanced while sailing, and to take full advantage of the deck-stepped carbon masts now used in the class. In order to provide the adjustment envisaged, a complex rigging exercise was necessary, involving mounting all the major - and normally fixed or minimally adjustable rig points - so as to be easily adjustable underway. For this the forestay, mast foot, shroud and jib sheeting points are mounted on tracks with ball bearing slider cars. Adjustment can be made to individual controls as normal, but the system allows the whole rig set-up achieved to be moved within the hull to obtain optimal balance. Mast and shroud anchorages move 200 mm fore and aft, jib halyard 250 mm, jib tack 300 mm and centreboard pivot 150 mm. Six months was spent fitting and refitting the systems to obtain free running routes and interaction of controls. This complexity left some of our Feedback writers somewhat aghast at the work and cost involved, and their reactions seemed to indicate a liking for a more off-the-shelf solution. The problem for the older development classes has been not just the