When the two separate classes, the Thames designed Merlin and Nottingham designed Rocket had the foresight to merge, few would have predicted the longevity and success that the MROA has enjoyed.  

Still at the forefront of development and design the class has endured while others have struggled to compete with the ever increasing expectations of the modern dinghy racer and club sailor. Whether competing on the sea or open water in the latest new builds or racing in the equally competitive 60s designs on the river or inland there is something for everyone and the class is flourishing.  

The quality of racing is testament to the success of the class. The 2015 Championships were won by Ben Saxton (Olympic GBR Nacra 17 hopeful) who had to compete against the likes of Stuart Bithell (2012 Silver medallist in the 470s), Nick Craig and Roger Gilbert (multiple Endeavour Champions), Andy Davis, David Hayes, Sam Pascoe and Tim Fells to name but a few.  

The 2016 Selden sponsored Championships are being hosted by Penzance SC, with entries opening at this year’s Dinghy Show. 50% discounts are available for youth sailors, classic Merlin’s over 15 years old (3600) and also first time competitors for helms who have never before competed at our Nationals. A boat chartering service is also available, for further details contact Tim on timharridge@hotmail.com, alternatively beg, steal (with permission) or borrow from your generous fellow club sailors.  

It is with great pleasure we confirm Selden’s continued support of the Merlin class. Following from the huge success their new high modulus rig in 2015, they have generously donated a new S1 mast.  

Last year’s auction winner, Piers Lambert, commented about the mast: “I was over the moon when I won the auction, not quite believing my luck. From the first time I used the new mast I noticed an immediate jump in boat speed, the rig just seemed to work with me rather than against. It’s easier to control in the gusts and when you do get a little puff the boat eases forwards against whoever’s next to you, nosing out in front rather than knocking you sideways. We’re definitely more competitive against the other Merlin’s at Brightlingsea and are mixing it up at the front of the fleet, it’s a great feeling.”  

Auction winner

The winner of this year’s auction will be announced 12 noon, Sunday 06 March at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show, stand number, B16, in the main hall.  

The auction goes live on Saturday 27 February via sealed bids to be submitted to seldenmastauction2016@gmail.com   For more information about the auction contact MROA.  

On the RYA stand this year will be the latest offering from Winder Boats, with a new sail plan in a move away from the traditional 21 foot 6 rigs that the class has almost exclusively adopted for the past 3 decades.  

Lining up next to this will be Jon Turners own Genii 2 design. The original concept was launched in 2012 and showed immediate potential; the design, rig and internals have been tweaked from one season to the next and this latest offering is right at the front of the fleet competing with the immensely successful Winder boats. To reflect the history of our class we will also be showing ‘Gently’ Merlin number 16 and Jack Holts very own multiple championship winning boat. Loving restored by Chris Barlow and now actively sailed on the vintage circuits she reflects a time gone by of home builds, wooden rigs and even spinnakers flown inside the jib as per her original design.  

Salcombe Week is another key event in the Merlin calendar, this year it broke all records by selling out in 3 days flat, 120 entrants all signed and paid for. If ever there was proof needed of the events popularity and significance within the UK sailing scene then this was it. Regularly seen as the must do event for any keen sailor I couldn’t recommend it more highly.  

Over the weekend of 10-11 September the class are officially celebrating their 70th Birthday with a party at Upper Thames SC. A ‘race of champions’ Saturday afternoon will be great for spectators being able to watch the likes of Alan Warren, Phil King, Patrick Blake, as well as Stuart Bithell, Andy Davis and William Warren battle it out in their Championship, Salcombe Week or Silver Tiller winning craft. With food, gin and entertainment running in to the small hours of the morning this will be a party not to miss. Silver Tiller racing is scheduled for Sunday making the most of the weekend.  

For further information visit www.merlinrocket.co.uk