It has been great to be able to hop back in to the Merlin in-between Figaro events. The tight, physical racing and a fleet who are always trying new modifications on their boats in an attempt to find that extra little speed makes this a great class that I love racing among.
Two years ago Nick and I decided to take a risk and move away from the standard trend of Winder boat (of which we had been perfectly happy with, winning the 2013 nationals in our boat Stanley). In order to find some more speed (especially in the light winds as we already felt we were fairly strong in the breeze, which may be due to fitness ... and weight!!) we decided to explore the rules of the class and take a fresh look at the design of the boat and the systems.
We decided to embark on a project with John Turner (JT - a man who needs no introduction as his track record in boat building and sailing speaks for its self if you glance back in the history books).
JT built us a lovely boat, working endlessly developing the systems on-board, as well as the shape and layout of the sail plan and foils. I went and spent a couple of weeks down in the workshop with JT, working long hours to build and fit out the boat and discuss many different ideas.
Since then we have spent most of our time figuring out how to use this new machine as it felt completely different from our previous boat. Getting time in the boat between my Figaro-ing and between Nick’s D-One, B14, OK, GP14 and Enterprise sailing proved rather difficult. However, together we managed to figure out some basic settings and started to understand what the boat likes – not just being hiked down really hard upwind!
We approached this year’s Nationals a lot like we did in 2013, with no expectations and open minded looking to learn as much as we could. Needless to say when day 1 was raced in 3- 6 knts of wind, we were absolutely thrilled to have found a speed edge on the fleet - something we have never had before being on the slightly porkier side….
As the week progressed and the legs got weaker, we were very happy to find while playing around with settings we had a variety of modes available to us. The weather threw a large range of sailing conditions at us and our learning curve was vast.
It was a great week, Nick sailed like an absolute demon, starting well and never backing off, whilst I pulled multiple combinations of different coloured strings in the front of the boat (both as an excuse to hike less and make the boat go faster!)
The competition was fantastic and Taxi and Alex were well deserved second place raising the level of the game right up until the end.
Pwllheli laid on cracking conditions to allow use to race more races than ever at a Merlin Rocket Owners Association champs with the extremely professional race committee making great calls on and off the water (many thanks Peter Saxton and team)
I cannot wait till I am next out in the Merlin, but for now it’s time to go back offshore.
Thanks also to Zhik Sealskinz for some great kit keeping me warm, manouverable and dry.