As published by A Brush With Sail

The first part of our story, ‘The Melges Dynasty,’ introduced readers of ‘A Brush with Sail’ to the five generations of the Melges family who have lived in the United States of America since the mid 1800’s.

Although there cannot be many sailors world wide, who haven’t heard of Buddy Melges, or be aware of the brand ‘Melges’ in one-design yacht production, the amount of mail we have received since the August edition of ‘A Brush with Sail’ was published, has revealed how much Buddy is admired and how many people enjoyed learning of the very early years of the Melges family.

Around the world, on the coasts of continents and islands where sailors play, there is plenty of knowledge of the Melges 24, Melges 32 and the more recent, Audi Melges 20 sport boats. But in many places, far away from the United States of America, you can mention Melges A Scow, Melges E Scow, Melges X Boat and for your trouble, you’ll get a vacant stare.

I know this is true, because I have recently carried out a deliberate conversation amongst some young Kiwi sailors on this very topic. Many of them struggled to tell me where the lakes of the mid-west were, let alone what a Melges C Scow was!

I think that by far, the majority of sailing media stories in the US, are generated from the coastal locations of sailing and on a number of yachts basis, that’s fair enough. But on the other hand, the amount of sailing that takes place on the inland lakes of the mid-west of the US is not known to a lot of sailors outside the US, simply because media on the sport in that area, doesn’t make it internationally.

So, this month, we’ll get you right up to date with century 21 Melges and  the one design classes that bear the famous name and at the same time, for those of you a little mystified by the talk of inland lakes sailing, we’ll open your eyes to lake sailing, mid-west America style.

The President of Melges Performance Sailboats is Andy Burdick, obviously not a member of the Melges family, but definitely a ‘life-long’ member of the Melges business family.

Andy is not a ‘President’ in the popularly held idea, of the US corporate presidential style

Andy Burdick. President of Melges Performance Sailboats.

As well as the day to day responsibilities of heading a thriving and growing business, he can also be found at most regatta’s where Melges Sailboats are racing, either sailing in the crew of a new addition to a Melges fleet, helping the new owner get to grips with the finer points of going faster, or on the water as photographer and reporter for a class regatta that needs help with their media output.

This is a man passionate about his corporate responsibilities and the sport he loves.

I asked Andy about his family and early sailing years:

‘The Burdick family grew up on Pewaukee Lake, Wisconsin (home of Harken, one hour from Melges). My Grandfather raced all scows and raced/ built iceboats back in the early 1900’s. My father still races scows and is a national champion scow sailor and ice-boater. So, it is in our blood for sure.’

‘Pewaukee Yacht Club was my home club growing up and I began racing at age 7. Growing up on the lake is key. Having a strong yacht club is crucial too. We had a tremendous support group at a young age. My parents were full on in the sport. Every Saturday morning we would race with 52 X boats on the start line. That was like a regatta every race day. This was all summer long!’

‘This style of racing at a young age shaped my future in the sport and then my Dad’s coaching taught me how to win at a young age.’

What classes have you moved through during your sailing career and tell me about highlights of that career:

‘Racing X boats to all scows to Melges 20’s, Melges 24’s Melges 32’s. I have been fortunate enough to be successful. It all comes through practice and time on the water and of course having a good team / crew.’

‘None of my success has been achieved by myself.  The surrounding cast has made the difference!’

Has ‘Melges’ been a lifetime career for you, or do you come from another industry or profession?

‘Melges has been a lifetime career. In 1986 I started at Melges Sails. A company that, Harry Melges III was running at the time.’ 

‘It was a summer job for me. Cutting sails, changing sail numbers, sweeping the floors and then going out with customers after hours to help them, tune them up, teach them boat, handling skills.’ 

‘After a month or so the phone would ring for me – I would sell sails, parts and arrange tuning sessions. Pretty soon I was in the office rather than sweeping the floors. This helped me to advance in a hurry.’ 

‘When I graduated from college, I thought I would be choosing another career. Buddy Melges talked me into sticking around for a while after graduation – to get the sailing bug out of my system’. I am still at Melges, I still have the bug and love the company we have put together. It is a passion and a lifestyle at this stage.’

Melges Performance Sailboats is obviously a dynamic and forward thinking operation. What direction, do see the Company moving toward during the next decade?

‘Our overall goal is to promote the sport of sailing. So, we will do whatever it takes to do this. Right now people crave speed, sophisticated yet simple boats that you can trailer, rig and sail / race. They want exciting regattas. So, we work toward these things.’

‘What will happen in the next 5-20 years – not sure, but we will be offering new boats, products and new ideas within the sport all of us at Melges love.  We will make it exciting I am sure.’

Now, lets have a look at Melges Performance Sailboats product:

We’ll start with the Melges X Boat:

©Todd Jerred

Melges X Boat.
It is claimed by Melges to be the most active youth class in performance one design racing and I quote from the sales brochure:

Melges X Boat. ‘The Melges X Boat  makes learning to sail fun, easy and addictive. There is nothing quite like the thrill of that first regatta success. For youth sailors, it is a competitive and rewarding experience that ultimately fosters a deep passion for the sport and generates lifelong friendships.

The Melges X Boat encourages juniors to take it one step further by providing a safe and modern sailboat with technologies enabling them to over achieve at an early age. A breathtaking design, this represents the evolution in X Boat sailing — for the beginner or expert.’

It certainly has all the attributes to give youth sailors the feel that they are sailing the ‘real’ thing. At 16 feet overall, it has sailing lines long enough and horse-power enough, to deliver real-yacht thrills in a breeze.  It can race with one or two crew.

The Melges X Boat:
Length: 16 ft (4.877 m)
Beam: 6ft 1in (1.854 m)
Weight: 470 lbs (213.188 kg)
Mainsail: 85 sq ft (7.89 sq m)
Jib: 24.75 sq ft (2.29 sq m)

The Melges MC Scow:

As one of the largest fleets in North America, the Melges MC Scow is a true Melges original. Designed, engineered and built by Harry C. Melges Sr. and Buddy Melges during the mid-60s, it continues to be a great day sailor whether single- or double-handed.

The Melges MC Scow is modern, offering the latest hardware upgrades as well as improved construction for 2009 — high quality from bow to stern.

From the confident youth sailor to the experienced adult, the Melges MC Scow is a satisfying ride. A busy and exciting regatta schedule each year makes this scow one of the most popular in the sailing world. There are more than 2,500 active boats, over 85 fleets nationwide and as many as 50 or more regattas on the official schedule. More than 50 brand new boats are built and delivered each season! This boat is perfect for all ages, sizes and genders and can be raced with one or two crew.

The Melges MC Scow:
Length: 16 ft (4.877 m)
Beam: 5 ft 8 in (1.727 m)
Weight: 420 lbs (190.509 kg)
Mainsail: 135 sq ft (12.54 sq m)

The Melges 17
The success of the Melges 17 can be attributed to a truly dedicated following of speed entrepreneurs. An alternative, double-handed scow, it has a reputation for being fast and fun in light or heavy air. The rivalry pairings range from husband and wives, to teamed siblings making the Melges 17 the ultimate family racer! Crew of two.

The National Championship held in Crystal Lake, Michigan during 2007 was yet another grand milestone in the young, but overly accomplished history of  the Melges 17 Scow. Thirty teams traveled from all over the country tocompete. Ensuring longevity, the Melges 17 was welcomed by the I.L.Y.A. family and awarded class support in 2007.

And the result — an incredibly successful, Inland Championship in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Due to an instant rise in popularity, the 2008 regatta schedule expanded two-fold and 2009 was a as big and bright. Scow fever is now a national epidemic with events scheduled from Florida, the Midwest and all areas in between. No need to invent a vaccine, the world simply can’t get enough of the Melges 17!

The Melges 17:
Length: 16 ft 7.75 in (5.074 m)
Beam: 5 ft 6.375 in (1.686 m)
Weight: 335 lbs (151.953 kg)
Draft: 3 ft 11.5 in (1.207 m)
Mainsail: 154 sq ft (14.30 sq m)
Asymmetrical Spinnaker: 280 sq ft (26.o1 sq m)

The Melges C Scow:

The Melges C Scow was the first class of scow built by Harry C. Melges, Sr. in 1945 and quickly became an all-time speed favorite.

The 2010 C Scow has come a long way from the days of wooden materials and cotton sails as it is now one of the most revolutionary sailboats on the market today. Inspired by more than 100 years of competitive racing, this cat-rigged, maneuverable sailboat is great fun and a total pleasure to sail with two or three crew.

The 2008 C Scow Nationals were a big success at the Lake Geneva Yacht Club in Fontana, Wisconsin solidifying that scow sailing is serious in the Midwest region of the United States. The Melges C Scow is a very easy tow and has a growing regatta schedule —2010 will be monumental.

In particular, two top-notch events include the 2010 National Championship in Chautauqua, New York and the prestigious, I.L.Y.A. Championship being held on Lake Petenwell in Wisconsin. With longevity comes a well-established, organized and strong class association promoting large attendance, fun venues and great sailing.

The Melges C Scow:
Length: 20 ft (6.096 m)
Beam: 6ft 9in (2.057 m)
Weight: 650 lbs (294.835 kg)
Mainsail: 216 sq ft (20.067 sq m)

The Audi Melges 20:

©Carlo Borlenghi / B-Plan

The Audi Melges 20 fulfills the need for a more compact, yet spacious, fast, well-built sportboat. With its introduction, Melges Performance Sailboats is proud to deliver the next generation in sailboats. An exclusive Reichel/Pugh keelboat design, it is advanced in every respect. It will be simple to sail, made with high quality materials, beautiful and very easy to rig with wide appeal to many skill levels, ages and genders. Crew number from two to four.

The philosophy behind the Audi Melges 20 was to create a sexy boat with beautiful lines, while at the same time providing a unique and sophisticated sailing experience. It is modern, ahead of the curve, featuring the latest technology and prudent in its use of cutting-edge materials and concepts. Already, upon its brief introduction to the sailing world, it is fast becoming the benchmark for small keelboats.

It satisfies the need for more exciting, fun, simplified sailing in the 20-foot sportboat range. Easy to rig, launch and haul, the Audi Melges 20 is a pure joy to sail. Comfortably accommodating 2-4 crew, the spirit of the Audi Melges 20 is custom designed to appeal to the amateur (Category 1) Corinthian driver.

It is the easiest sportboat to sail on the market today. For women and juniors, the Audi Melges 20 has low load sheets making it very simple for individuals of all ages, physique and skill levels to sail.

The Audi Melges 20 possesses a simplicity that exceeds expectation, far beyond what any sailor could possibly imagine, yet maintains a very high standard of performance.

Why the Audi Melges 20? No crew weight restrictions. No sailmaker restrictions, yet has sail purchase limitations. The boat and rig are a strict one design.

The Audi Melges 20:
Length; 20 ft (6.096 m)
Beam: 7 ft (2.133 m)
Draft: 4 ft 6 in (1.374 m)
Weight: 1,146 lbs (520 kg)
Mainsail: 172 sq ft (16 sq m)
Jib: 88 sq ft (8.2 sq m)
Spinnaker: 430 sq ft (40 sq m)

The Melges 24
©JOY | US Melges 24 Class Association

The Melges 24 is by far the most unique one design sportboat in the world. There is no comparison. Since its introduction in 1993, the response and excitement generated by this American’s Cup breed is phenomenal. Typically sailed with a crew of 4, the Melges 24’s comfortable, light-hull displacement design prefers to plane.

Designed by Reichel/Pugh, its professionally engineered, high-tech stance includes a carbon fiber spar, rudder, bowsprit and vertical keel fin. Another key component of the Melges 24 is a 670 sq ft asymmetrical spinnaker that lifts and pulls the boat forward on a downwind sprint. It adds speed, simplicity and ease of handling giving way to a more challenging tactical race. That’s built-in performance!

With a retractable keel designed specifically for traveling, the Melges 24 fits behind any vehicle and hitch on a custom, galvanized-steel Melges Performance Sailboats trailer with fiberglass bunks.

The Melges 24 possesses an easy to rig personality requiring only two sets of hands for a quick set-up. Weighing in at a healthy 1,783 pounds, this streamlined baby is a pleasure to haul from your local club to a World Championship.

Fleets are currently located in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Ukraine and USA with smaller fleets in many other countries.

Melges 24 sailing is a glamorous and photogenic sport, which takes place in a vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Regattas are held in some of the most beautiful and prestigious venues in the world and, despite its pre-eminence in the sailing calendar, the racing at major events is conducted in a spirit of friendly rivalry. Crew can range from two to five, but four is typical.

The Melges 24:
Length: 24 ft 10 in (7.82 m)
Beam: 8 ft 2 in (2.499 m)
Draft: 5 ft (1.52 m)
Weight: 1,783 lbs (809 kg)
Mainsail: 264 sq ft (12.0 sq m)
Jib: 126 sq ft (12.0 sq m)
Spinnaker: 670 sq ft (55.9 sq m)

The Melges E Scow:
©Todd Jerred

For more than 80 years, the elegant and sleek E Scow has founded the tradition of fun and fast sailboat racing all over North America, from lakes and bays to protected ocean harbors. The Melges E Scow sports the all-new, class-approved asymmetrical spinnaker configuration. The Scow is more competitive and faster than ever! It is sailed with three or four crew.

The Melges E Scow reaches deep into the hearts of sailors with its lightening speed and progressive class developments keeping it on the cutting edge of Scow technology. In 2008, the E Scow class celebrated 50 years of National Championships.

The class marked this major milestone with a golden anniversary regatta in Chautauqua, New York. An impressive seventy-one E Scows competed, partied and went faster than ever before!

The E Scow is an ever-growing fleet and it comes complete with innovative, high-tech features that complement a clean deck layout with chainplates and spreaders swept aft, double-ended turnbuckles and s-hooks for fine tuning with no backstays or twings.

The Melges E Scow:
Length: 28 ft (8.534 m)
Beam: 6 ft 9 in (2.057 m)
Weight: 965 lbs (437.71 kg)
Mainsail: 228 sq ft (21.181 sq m)
Jib: 95 sq ft (8.82 sq m)
Spinnaker: 550 sq ft (51.09 sq m)

The Melges 32:
© John Payne Photography

The Melges 32 is one design racing at its very best. It has successfully delivered bigger, better, more simplified sailing that is fun and competitive. It is the culmination of the finest in progressive sailboat engineering and design by Reichel Pugh, the craft and professional talent of Paul Amon at SOCA Sailboats in Trinidad and Melges Performance Sailboats’ incomparable experience and acumen.

The Melges 32, takes fast sailing, to the next level. This fun sportboat possesses a diverse and well-rounded racing calendar. The excitement and simplicity of the Melges 32 is sure to follow as it travels to some of the world’s most prestigious sailing venues.

The Melges 32 features a lean-and-mean, supersonic-sleek hull shape and sports a simple interior, very clean deck layout and rig making it truly the ultimate day racer. It is by far the most comfortable boat in the 30-foot range. If one prefers to race overnight, pipe berths can be added for sleeping comfort.

It boasts a large, powerful sail plan that makes it a cinch to sail and seriously fast. Swept spreaders with a fixed backstay, 105% headsails and masthead asymmetrical spinnakers will remind you of another Melges phenomenon – The Melges 24!

Strict one design class rules govern the Melges 32s amateur owner/driver requirements, professional crew limitations and crew weight maximum to limit the number of crew.

The International Melges 32:
Length: 31 ft 10 in (9.70 m)
Beam: 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
Draft: 7 ft (2.13 m)
Weight: 3,775 lbs (1,712.31 kg)
Mainsail: 445 sq ft (41.3 sq m)
Jib: (105%) 254 sq ft (23.6 sq m)
Asymmetrical Code 1A VMG: 1,113 sq ft (103.4 sq m)
Asymmetrical Code 2A Runner: 1,302 sq ft (121.o sq m)
Asymmetrical Code 0,100 Reacher: 774 sq ft (71.9 sq m)

The Melges A Scow:
With more than 100 years of racing heritage beneath its sheets, the Melges A Scow is a modern master of speed. It’s all in the details — simple, fun, fast sailing — that is The Melges A Scow Experience. A sleek, lean-and-mean sail profile that in the same moment is sophisticated and sexy. You haven’t gone fast, until you’ve gone A Scow fast!

You are at the top of your game when you sail a Melges A Scow.This magnificent scow is impressive to watch, not to mention race. Made with the most technologically advanced materials so that it is fast and sturdy, the A Scow spar, boom and bowsprit are made of carbon fiber, and standard equipped with new, high-end Maffioli lines.

The Melges A Scow is the ultimate racing scow. A powerful sail profile and plenty of built-in performance makes it not only the largest of competitive scows, but also one that delivers an undeniably unique sailing experience.

The Melges A Scow and its bad-to-the-backbone reputation are in high demand. Crew numbers are five to seven.

Supported by an organized and growing class association, the A Scow answered the call of the wild in 2007 with more than 30 teams at the National Championship on Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota. 2008 was equally satisfying with great events, fun and fabulous parties on beautiful Crystal Lake, Michigan.

The Melges A Scow:
Length: 38 ft (11.582 m)
Beam: 8 ft 3 in (2.515 m)
Weight: 1,850 lbs (839.146 kg)
Mainsail: 350 sq ft (32.51 sq m)
Jib: 150 sq ft (13.93 sq m)
Spinnaker: 1,200 sq ft (111.48 sq m)