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Home / The Club / What we sail / Merlin Rocket

Merlin Rocket


3 sails - main, jib and a spinnaker. Unusual shape of mainsail with long top batten to give sail area high up useful for rivers. Moderate sized conventional spinnaker, and sophisticated rig controls for the string fetishist.


Helm + Crew with high suitability for mixed crews

Suitable for children:

Yes in the lighter winds: 1 child as crew, 1 adult as helm

For the National Merlin Rocket Association website: Merlin Rocket Owners Association (MROA)

For the Yachts & Yachting page on Merlin Rocket: Y&Y Merlin Rockets

Sailing a Merlin at Tamesis Club

Members looking to crew in a Merlin or helms looking for a crew can join the Whatsapp group.

If you'd like to join please do so on this link from your mobile phone:

For more information please contact the club: Contact form or email

Jump to Who's Who then scroll down for Merlin Class Captain

About the Merlin class...

The Merlin Rocket is a fast 14ft dinghy that was developed after the end of the second world war as a rival to the International 14. It is a restricted development class that has evolved from the original Kate and Wizard designs produced by Jack Holt for a syndicate in 1946. "Kate" is sail number 0001 and is still found racing competitively on the Thames in almost original condition.

Nationally the Merlin Rocket is a very popular dinghy and perhaps the most popular at Tamesis. The first Merlin arrived at Tamesis in 1949 and Merlins gradually displaced the more expensive International 14s to become the club's largest class. There are currently 35 Merlins in the Tamesis fleet, the largest in the UK, with regular turnouts of between 10 and 15 boats in club races and up to 25 racing at Open meetings.

The class insignia in the shape of a wizard's hat derives from the name of the second boat built, "Wizard", when the class name was changed to Merlin, after King Arthur's wizard. The Merlin made its racing debut at Ranelagh's Easter Regatta in 1946 and gradually spread to other Thames river clubs. As explained further below, there remains a strong Merlin circuit on the Thames.

A rival design called Rocket was produced by Dick Wyche as a larger, faster version of the National 12 and built by Wyche and Coppock in Nottingham. The Merlins grew in number in the south of England while the Rockets were stronger in the north. In 1950 the Rocket design was altered to comply with the Merlin rules and in 1951 the Yacht Racing Association (predecessor of the RYA) brought the two classes together with the promise of national status if they merged.

A full history of the class can be read in The Merlin Rocket Book written by Jim Park, Ian Holt and Jim Lowden and published by Jim Lowden in association with the Merlin Rocket Owners Association in 1986 (ISBN 0 9511186 0 9). Unfortunately this book is out of print although occasionally copies appear on Ebay. However, in 2015 Doug Henshall published a new and more comprehensive book called Real Magic (ISBN 978 1784622 862).

Overview of Merlins at Tamesis Club

There are different ways to join in racing a Merlin. The range spans from a club race in a vintage wooden Merlin (available at very reasonable prices - ) all the way up to the Class Nationals, which is split into Platinum, Gold, Sliver and Bronze fleets based on experience and results. As guidance, the Platinum standard contains ex-Olympic medallists. Boats at the sharp end are modern builds with carbon masts and incredible control systems. A modern Merlin is often front and centre at the RYA Dinghy Show.

On the whole members at Tamesis race at Tamesis, with decades of experience building up local knowledge of the often fickle winds and challenging stream in the winter series. We race Blue and White series in winter and summer series and use a back-rated basis to even the field in Handicap Series.

Overall there is a strong interest in sailing Merlins because they are fun and fast development boats. The fleet at Tamesis Club is mainly in the Vintage category. These are beautiful boats, loving looked after and proudly raced regularly. For a video click here: 20220521_143259.mp4

There is a strong local race circuit, which was won in 2023 by a Tamesis boat. Travelling to local clubs to race is a great way of seeing more of the river, meeting up with other sailors and enjoying the summer weather. In particular the long upriver and downriver races at Ranelagh S.C. are a real treat. Other local venues on the river include Minima Y.C., Thames S.C., Upper Thames S.C., Hampton S.C. There are events at Fishers Green S.C. and Wembley S.C. also.

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Last updated 20:35 on 11 June 2024

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