by Richard Crockett
In this country we are starved of modern boats, both dinghies and keelboats, and as a result once a class is established with good numbers there is huge resistance to change and especially change to other classes.
It’s a pity as on occasions a really good new dinghy class comes onto the international market and instantly makes a huge hit. The Melges 14 is one of these, with the good news being that Alex Schon has seen its potential and is importing them into the South African market.
There will be resistance to them locally, especially from established Laser sailors who will argue that they have a big class, that they can race locally against a good fleet, and should they want they can sail internationally at world championship level – even as ‘Masters’ and Grandmasters. Something to remember though is that the Laser is nearly 50 years old!
What many, especially those who are ageing, won’t tell you is that the Laser is a ‘hard’ boat to sail as it’s hard on the knees, it’s hard on the back and it’s a heavier boat all round. Plus, and this is a huge PLUS, is that the Laser is not ergonomically designed to be user-friendly in terms of hiking and general comfort in sailing the boat.
The Melges addresses all the above, and more. It’s a sexy looking boat that has been designed by one of the world’s top designers, namely Reichel Pugh. It exudes innovation and excellence, and has quality, speed, durability, comfort and fun all wrapped into one modern sailing package.
Developed and tested by the Melges Team over a two-year period; the M14 offers exceptional upwind and downwind sailing experience compared to other boats in its size range. It’s perfect for all ages, is simple to sail and features a comfortable and large, wide-open cockpit – so there is NO bailing and NO bailers!
The durable carbon mast and boom add to its performance making it easy and quick to rig. The carbon mast and boom complement its flexible sail plan with three rigs – Gold, Blue and Red to suit all sizes and weights.
The Gold rig covers a full range – it’s big and fast yet easy to de-power.
The Blue rig covers the mid-Range and is ideal for those in the 57–80 kg range.
The Red rig is for smaller sailors and is ideal for those in the 34–57 kg range.
The hull is lightweight enough to even be car-topped instead of being trailed.
Melges’ Andy Burdick says the boat preserves the distinctive Melges look: square knuckle, flat and narrow entry, wide side decks, and a lot of volume aft for controlled planing. “Our focus was on making it feel good upwind,” said Burdick, “to be easy and user-friendly.” To that end, they nailed it.
It’s a boat that is continuing to get rave reviews from around the world – that already has world championship racing, and is possibly in line to become the Olympic singlehanded dinghy class in the not too distant future.
One international reviewer said this: “Seems to me this would a great boat for a couple of young teenagers. There is plenty of room in the cockpit and two 100-pound sailors could make this boat fly”.
So why not book a test sail with Alex Schon – and sail a really sexy looking modern singlehanded dinghy. But be careful – you may just become hooked!