The Merlin Rocket Book

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Stephen Hawkins
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The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:23 pm

Just got a copy from the local library in Swindon.

Nice to some good bedtime reading...
:D
..Still have to give it back though in 3 weeks....
:cry:

Steve Hawkins
Steve Hawkins

1967 National 12 2383 "Sparkle"

chris
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by chris » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:50 pm

They are now fetching a small fortune on ebay £60-70 or more.
Very interesting book though and there's a rumour it will be updated available in a new form one day.

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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by davidh » Wed Jun 30, 2010 4:25 pm

Chris,

indeed so.............

Lunchtime today caught me playing hookey from the writing and instead drafting out some further reseach elements for various sections of the book.

The problem with the first MR book, excellent though it is (my copy is on pride of place on the book shelf) is that it is quite selective, with many large and puzzling 'black holes'. For example, there is no mention of Graham Edwards, the ever famous 'Big G'!

Without wanting to reignite old comments about South V East (or North for that matter) one would have to say that the book is also tending to be South/ South West centric! The more research I do, the more I find that there are huge chunks of history up on the east coast that, like Big G, never got a mention. Then there is the North....one could argue that this too was a region 'sold short' in the first book.

I found a picture of me just the other day (in response to another topic on the forum) about Proctor XIIs, in particular, the Chippendale XII. On and off, I've now been sailing in Merlins for close to 40 years (never mind the boats, does that make ME legal in cvrda terms?) so a book that is inclusive, informative and a real celebration of one of the best boats ever made would be a 'crowning glory' for me.

The question is - can all this be done and at a price that people will be pepared to pay? I've already had some thought provoking and insightful help from 'Mags' (another Merlin Sailor) but the message at this point has to be - if it can be done, it will be!

D
David H

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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by Ancient Geek » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:21 pm

DH,
You would expect me have a view on this wouldn’t you!
When Jim Park (Now sadly minus a leg!) wrote the book which is a good read, if deficient, the class was indeed South / South West/ Midlands centric with enclaves in the Industrial North West, A tiny fleet at Alnmouth and an equally small if very talented fleet at Oulton Broad/Lowestoft.
It is I think fair to say Jim relied far too much on anecdote rather than hard fact and was trying to emulate Robin Stevenson’s excellent book on the National 12’s and thus wrote as though he was part of the “scene” like Robin, which unlike Robin he was not. He never interviewed anyone but relied on boat park chat! He emerged blinking in the daylight from the diesel gloom of the Welsh Harp Dinghy park into the real world of bright light and dinghy racing. Everyone is entitled to their account of things, but they can be one sided. The bad bits like the Adur mk6 Scandal were just ignored, he was writing to be one of the lads.
Robert Harris wrote an excellent factual piece for the MROA Magazine covering the early years and I know was embarking on the same for 1959-1970.
The majority builders were Chippendale, Wyche and Coppock and Bob Hoare though by the time Jim was writing Wyche & Coppock and Chippendale were no more in existence in terms of Merlin Rocket building, the minority builders were Rowsell or Rowsell & Morrison, Nick Truman & Richard Debenham (A D Truman.) and then Aln Boatyard, Richard Debenham (Alone.) and Nick Truman (Alone.) and yes Graham Edwards, Laurie smart and the beginnings of Winders and others. The class has stagnated in terms of new build so much that whilst there has only recently been one builder in real terms it is hard to call anyone a majority builder. (Thank heavens for the CVRDA and the MROA Vintage wing.) And whilst last years champion undertook a very expensive hull shape and rig development programme it’s fair to say there has been no progress in the past 15 years.
As to the price of The Merlin Rocket Book, I am pretty certain the inflated price one sees is the same book coming up on e-bay time after time, (Four years ago when I took Garry R to Wyche Marine for a punt through their “scran boxes” we acquired a copy for Garry unopened in its polythene wrapping for nothing!)I wish you luck with this project, it needs doing before we all die or suffer from alzheimers, and not just for the Merlin Rocket class though it’s the best place to start being as you say simply the best two person centreboard dinghy there is. That is it’s problem in a way, everything else is such a blunt tool after sailing it. It spoils you.
Simples.

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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by davidh » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:58 pm

Ag,

Nothing - without exception - got past my 'two source' rule for the contender book! There were some wonderful stories but unless I had that collaboration factor assured, I left it oon the cutting room floor!

Nessa, who with Nikki did such an excellent job of editing, woul dbe horrified to think that there could have been another 25% more to the book BUT - as AG rightly says, some of the stories are probably best kept to the original participants!!

And therein lays one of the big problems with the MR book. The nature of the fleet has resulted in a very close knit community of dinghy sailors - but these are the active 'pinnacle' of sailors - there are a much larger number of people who will look at a Merlin with warm memories and think "I used to sai one of those". These people MUST be catered for in any book, if ever there was a case for the term 'broad church', this is it!

D
David H

chris
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by chris » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:58 pm

Thanks David for explaining the rumour! I didn't want to say more. I do await the results though.

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jon711
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by jon711 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:17 pm

Ancient Geek wrote:DH,
]I wish you luck with this project, it needs doing before we all die or suffer from alzheimers, and not just for the Merlin Rocket class though it’s the best place to start being as you say simply the best two person centreboard dinghy there is. That is it’s problem in a way, everything else is such a blunt tool after sailing it. It spoils you.
Quite right AG, there is nothing absolutly nothing better than a Merlin Rocket. They slice through the water/waves upwind, and lift their skirts downwind, - but, I suppose that is the beauty of a development class, It develops to the point where it is perfect..

Jon

Stephen Hawkins
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:31 am

On a personal note, perhaps we can get a mention of all the Proctor Mks as well. The only information I have gleaned about the mk VIII is what has been stated here on this forum.

A Mk6 with a bit more Rocker? I.e. A boat designed for restricted water. Not campaigned by any of the leading crews. Not much to do with the failed MkVII?

It is interesting to note that 950 seems to have been built quite late (1959) for a Mk VIII, the Mk IX seems to have been in existance for some years. The deck layout on my Mk VIII is very similar to the picture of a mk IX (684) on page 18 of the Merlin Rocket Book as opposed to a MkVI. Still, no doubt, down to the preferences of the original owner.

I picked this snippet up from the Merlin Rocket forum, dated 2005:

"According to the 1962 Year Book 950 was called Desperation and was owned by
S.W.Cox, Nailzee, Dukes Wood Avenue, Gerrards Cross..
She is an Ian Proctor designed Mk V111 and you're right she was built by Chippendale, probably in 1959.
She may be quite rare as there were probably only 6 boats built to this design, 4 by Wyche and Coppock and 2 by Chippendale. 950 may have been the last one. Her sister ship was 870 Wahwi also at Upper Thames S.C. in those days.
The 1978 Y.B. records the next owner as T. Broughton, 21 Wheeler Ave, Penn, Bucks of Broad S.C. Later Y.Bs show the owners name as Boughton and the club as Broadwater S.C.
In 1983 she was owned by J. Cambourne-Paynter, 10 Maxwell Close, Rickmansworth also at Broadwater S.C. I think this was the last recorded owner in the class records.
Hope this info. helps."


After this she was in Pembrokshire, the effectively in a barn in Devon for the past 4 years or so.

I should also add that it is likely that she was originally specified with the current hog stepped aluminium mast and boom and Teryleen sails. I only say this as the sails I have are appropriately numbered and have a manufactures mark and date of 1959 - same year as as the boat was apparently manufactured.

I have two spinnaker poles as well, one long aluminium one (6ft), and one much shorter wooden one - or is it a whisker pole?

Hopefully I will be ghosting round the lake a South Cerney Sailing Club this weekend. :) Refitting the bags tonight and re-assembleing the rudder amongst other things.

Cheers

Steve Hawkins
Last edited by Stephen Hawkins on Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Steve Hawkins

1967 National 12 2383 "Sparkle"

chris
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by chris » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:58 am

Enjoy your sail, Steve. They can take a bit of getting used the first few times, but patience is definately rewarded.

davidh
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by davidh » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:02 am

Steve,

absolutely! In a development class, the story has to be as much about the boats as about the sailors (in a one design class, the boot was on the other foot: you'd not have much of a story to tell if you only talked about the development of the boat.... though one design does not always mean that!!).

That said, if you go to the Merlin Rocket Year Book, mine is open on the desk at present. I'm supposed to be writing but keep finding that I get distracted back to the Merlins - it is all classed as research!!) but.... there are currently 73 designers listed, with many of them, including Proctor, Jackson, debenham, Callaghan, Morrison and Holt all having many designs to their name. Thus the potential spread of designs is huge Even if there was time (and space) in any book to chart these in detail, much of it has already been lost For instance, PJ Coles had a design called Baz! What was it, where was it.....who knows!

But this was the beauty of the merlin, the vast majority of those 73 designers had a single boat to their name that soon was lost into obscurity. Space therefore has to be made for the real gems - boats that moved the class forward, from the Mike Jackson Sugar Plum (help, I'm on a run, how long before we capsize!!), the Jones Xpectant, the mike Noakes Star Rocket, the Debenham boats, Hugh Welbournes King Louis....not to mention.....yes, Shaft (now there is a boat that had it, or Space Oddity survive, I would have done a hog up restoration just for the perverse pleasure of having a boat different to everything else in the dinghy pound!)

The trouble is, so much of the story is now just that.... even pictures are few and far between. As one gets closer to today, the task gets easier, yet at the same time, more difficult. Capturing the difference between a Winder 3 and a 4 in a picture will be hard....whereas you could look at a IXb and a XII and the difference is obvious!

So - a task...... as I said before...watch this space!

D
David H

Stephen Hawkins
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:47 am

Well,

It must be difficult to write a book with every other person telling what needs to be in it! :wink:

Look forward to seeing it.

Cheers

Steve H
Steve Hawkins

1967 National 12 2383 "Sparkle"

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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by Ancient Geek » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:15 am

DH
BAZ was a very odd boat she was however the very first Merlin Rocket spinnaker shute in 1969 it was an alloy thing over deck! She was at the the 1969 Championships as was Hugh's King Louise. Neither shone!
Simples.

davidh
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by davidh » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:37 am

Oh dear AG.... I may have to beg to differ on this one.

I've details of an over deck chute fitting that David Thomas trialled down at Hamble in advance of Baz. Looked horrible but by all accounts - it worked!

From there, Baz took up the idea, then David Robinson drew up a revised sail plan (with the tack moved aft) and the first boat was built with an integral chute. Rodney P had an FD built by Bob Hoare at the same time that also used a chute - a Canadian boat claimed to have thought of the idea first BUT.... if you really dig down, it may well have been first trialled (albeit in over deck form) at Hamble.

D
David H

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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by Ancient Geek » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:51 am

Lets get picky!
David proposed a chute for "Unit"! Article Yachting World 1966 if he ever built it you know better than me, he share a house with us for the 1967 MR Champs at Poole and he had unit there as well I do not recall seeing either it or evidence of it being there!
I was refering to Merlin Rocket Chutes (Rules were changed regarding reinforcing that allowed the patch just before 1969 champs.) I think it was a Canadian even maybe Bruce Kirby who first fitted chutes to FD's I'll look up my One Design and Offshore Yachtsman back numbers when i get amoment!
Simples.

davidh
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Re: The Merlin Rocket Book

Post by davidh » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:14 pm

We have an honourable draw here!

yes, the canadian was no lesser man than Bruce Kirby (he of Laser fame) who spent time wth David T at La Baule in 1966 when David was sailing Unit (Peter H: Unit 7 was there in the hands of Richard C-O - have a picture of it ono the beach there complete with tractor seat sitting out aid) in the second series of IYRU single handed trials.


David had either written or was in the process of writing the article for Yachting World on spinnaker launchers, I have a feeling that this was proposed for a Tim Hockin boat. Once I get into the book proper, both Tim and David T are on my list of people who should be interviewed (as is David Robinson) so I hope to get to the bottom of the story then!

It is funny that you should mention King Louis, as a Hgh Welbourne design, Enchantment, is sailing on the Hamble now in the hands of Tim Powell. I recall an early version of the dinghy show, where King Louis was on display, stood up on it's transom. Jack Knights reckon it was just a bigger version of the Sentry Boxes that one finds outside of Buckingham Palace!!

So, Hugh Welbourne is another on the list of people to interview..... this will be some task!

D
David H

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