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This is not another sportboat designed to do nothing but scream downwind. The Rocket 22 is an update of the Gary Mull–designed Pocket Rocket that has commanded a loyal following in the Pacific Northwest since the 1980s. Don Martin’s design brief was to use cutting-edge materials and insight to turn out a modern performance boat that does not demand expert crew—a boat that will go upwind, will be stable when you move around the deck, and can even take you boat-camping. And still scream downwind.
In a mild breeze on flat water in the channel between Oakland and Alameda, California, I couldn’t test the outer limits of the boat’s performance. I could, however, assess the ergonomics of its large cockpit, designed for easy sail trimming, with double-ended control lines led out of sight to a central pod (for mainsheet controls) or to a pair of cleat trays on either side of the companionway.
- The transom-hung rudder talked to me just right, and the boat sailed upwind at just a freckle under 6 knots in 8 knots of breeze.
- The boat’s low center of gravity and high form stability make it feel larger than its size. It also allows for lots of sail to be carried, so the boat feels eager even in light stuff.
- Downwind, the spinnaker made us faster than anything else in sight and had me wishing for more wind. Lots more wind. The boat can be ordered with either an asymmetric or a symmetric spinnaker.
- Annapolis, Maryland–based Gale Force Sailing uses Rockets for its sportboat clinics.
- Attention is paid to shifting gears. There is no backstay, but a mast jack controlled by the boat’s multi-purpose running-rigging system adjusts rig tension, and the furling jib can be adjusted for luff tension.
- The tails of the double-ended control lines stow in hard pockets in the bulkhead, rather than in cloth bags hanging on the bulkhead.
- Side decks are angled for comfort. They put your weight well out there, and throughout the cockpit there are good foot braces.
- A built-in cockpit cooler keeps drinks and snacks handy.
- The rig is carbon fiber, which improves stability and makes it easy to step and unstep the mast. There is a winch for retracting the keel.
- You go there when you have to. Below you will find bunk space for four, a portable toilet, and enough beam to make it work. The forward V-berth is almost 7 feet long and 6 feet across at the main bulkhead.
- Lightweight foam-sandwich interior horizontal surfaces are finished in gelcoat; they’re stiff, attractive, and easy to clean.
- Twelve-volt lighting is an option.
Stable and manageable in a way that some small, fast boats are not, the Rocket 22 will appeal to class racers and handicap racers who want to sail with their friends, and perhaps invite hardier friends along for some fast gunkholing.
Price: $34,950 (base, FOB Vancouver, B.C.)
Contact: Rocket Boats Inc., 866-379-7245; www.rocketboats.com
Design: Tom Martin, Gary Mull
LOA – 22'
LWL – 21'6"
Beam – 9'6"
Draft – 5'10" (keel down), 20' (keel up)
Displacement – 1,870 lbs
Ballast – 780 lbs
Sail Area (main and jib) – 392 sq ft
Power – Optional Johnson 4-hp outboard
Displacement-Length ratio – 85
Sail Area-Displacement ratio – 39