The Merlin Rocket was initially the essence
of the Boatyard at Beer. Kevin Driver's first commission, a Merlin for top helmsman
Phil King, went on to win a total of six national championships.
This partnership continued to flourish with Kevin not only providing
the boats but also crewing for Phil. Their results, which include
multiple victories of the prestigious Salcombe Week, are unsurpassed.
The 'Let It Ride' Merlin Rocket took several years to develop. By integrating new ideas and principles from the earlier wooden designs,
Kevin felt his latest model "had the edge".
The earlier wooden-modified Canterbury Tales design was particularly fast on flat water however Kevin felt the all-round performance
of the boat could be improved significantly. The following points
summarise his modifications:
For starters, he decided to tweak the shape by
giving it a much finer transom. This results in much better downwind
performance particularly on sea. The rocker, however, was left unchanged
so that the bow remained above the waterline even when the going
Kevin has also kept the boat's weight to a minimum.
The outside hull was made of glass fibre sandwich while carbon fibre
was used extensively within. 20kg of lead correctors were fitted
as standard to administer any future decline in the class' minimum
The control systems had also been reassessed to
make it as user friendly as possible for the crew. Kevin's staggered
control system permitted all major control lines were firstly fed
to the top of the thwart, and then led outboard to a takeaway system
under the inwales. These included the kicking strap, shrouds, lowers,
jib halyard and cunningham. The advantage being that crew and helm
may now easily carry out rig adjustments even whilst hiking.
Finally, to perfect this hi-tech boat, Kevin elected the circuit
proven Alan Jackson's carbon fibre rig with Frank Rowsell's new
radial, lightweight Mylar mainsail for extra power. Harken fittings