At 9' 6", you can really get your weight out and still be very comfortable. Note use of foot brace.
Don Martin has updated this original sportboat concept by Gary Mull, into the modern, stable and exhilarating high performance Rocket 22.
by Richard Hazelton
We were broad reaching with an asymmetrical chute in the estuary at Strictly Sail in Oakland, California. There was about 8-10 knots of breeze when suddenly the gurgling from behind the boat stopped, all was silent. The wake coming off the transom gurgles when the boat is doing about 7 knots, and you can tell when you're over 12 knots because the "gurgle goes away." grinned designer Don Martin of Vancouver, B.C. The water looked like a smooth extension of the open transom.
The Rocket 22 has been "reborn" in Vancouver B.C. Originally designed by Gary Mull, the original "Pocket Rocket" design has been modified extensively by Don Martin of Martin 242/243 fame. Apart from the radiused sheerline, the hull lines are the same, but pretty much everything else has been updated to take advantage of today's construction techniques and modern materials. Built in their Richmond B.C. plant, all parts are hand laid and vacuum bagged, ensuring rigidity, strength and light weight, with carbon fiber reinforcing used at critical load points. Of course the mast and bow sprit are carbon.
You really need to sail this boat to get an idea of what they've accomplished. The boat feels like a much larger boat and the solid feel belies the fact that it's just 22 feet. Far from being squirrelly, it was quite stable on all points of sail. "It was a concious decision to make a medium displacement boat." says Rocket Boats co-owner Anthony Dutton. "It's not a big dinghy, it's a small keelboat."
Of course it's still a sportboat and you've got to pay attention, but you can really settle into a groove and react smoothly with the boat without having to feel like you're sailing "on the edge" all the time.
The boat is designed to be sailed by four people and once the two of us new to the boat got organized, the huge cockpit was very user friendly. There is a SS structure on the cockpit sole for the maintrimmer to brace his feet against when sitting to windward. The main trimmer has to go around this to get to the other side on a tack which took a little getting used to, but with a little work on our choreography we soon didn't notice it. The deck layout is very clean, with all the lines lead underdeck. The "cleat tray" allows a lot of versatility for the trimmer. The central mainsheet pod carries all the main controls from cunningham to backstay.
You don't realize how wide the boat is (9'6") until you sit on the side of the cockpit. You scoot out, then scoot again. There's about another foot more than you're used to, which really puts your weight out there (and why there's the SS foot support for the main trimmer's feet, so he can get a good purchase on the big main). It's surprisingly very comfortable, thanks to the rolled sheer edge. The lack of any toerail will be much appreciated on a long race.
There's really no reason to go forward as all controls are lead to a console in the cockpit. Pole out/in, spinnaker up/down, can all be handled by the forward cockpit person or persons. We sailed using the bow sprit and an asymmetrical chute (600 sq.ft.), but you can also have the boat rigged for a symetrical spinnaker/pole setup. One or the other, or both. Your choice.
The Rocket 22's low center of gravity, (780 pounds of her 2080 pounds displacement are in the bulb keel) allows it to carry a generous sail plan of 385 square feet upwind. The high-roach main provides good horsepower, while the non-overlapping jib is easily handled. Rocket Boats has teamed with Quantum Sails, using their FUSION technology for their sail package design.
Down below there are four adult sized bunks, a portable toilet and storage space for a no frills overnighter, so you could stay on the boat at Whidbey Island Race Week or a weekend getaway.
At 2080 pounds, the boat pulls easily behind most mid-sized vehicles and can be launched in just three feet of water from a ramp. The lightweight, deck stepped carbon mast makes it easy for two people to raise the rig, with the whole rigging process taking about an hour from trailer to water.
Another interesting feature of the Rocket 22 is a mechanical jack supporting the heel of the mast. In light wind the mast can be dropped to slacken the rigging for light air speed. In heavier air the mast is jacked up to tension the rig. The mast jack also really helps out when droppng the mast; lower the jack, pull the pin on the forestay and let the mast hinge back. No adjusting the shrouds at all, all the turnbuckles just stay hooked to the chainplates on the rail.
There are many other technical features we could cover: vertical carbon reinforced keel foil with lead bulb encased in glass with gel coat finish; transom hung carbon fiber reinforced rudder; installed kelp cutter, and a built-in cockpit cooler putting a snack or beverage within arm's reach; so visit their website at: www.rocketboats.com Under PHRF B.C. the Rocket is currently handicapped at 116 (with both spinnakers). Marin says that he expects the handicap to eventually settle in around 120.
As far as the fun factor goes, it's pretty high. With the performance of a dinghy and the feel of a bigger boat, the Rocket 22 makes sailing fast very comfortable and brings a grin to your face, especially when you hear the "gurgle" go away.
For more information on the Rocket 22 visit: www.rocketboats.com
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