Melges 24: On the Upswing

Published on January 21st, 2016

It’s not the biggest class at Key West Race Week, but with winds in the teens and twenties, there are ten teams tearing it up, riding the wave of a class on the upswing. Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck caught up with US Class president Steven Boho for an update…

Steven BohoThe US class appears to be enjoying a resurgence of activity. Is this correct?

Absolutely. The class has gotten better organized, and with strong leadership in place, we are seeing renewed enthusiasm among the sailors. A lot of this is coming from the Corinthian teams, plus the boat is living up to its promise with older models proving to be very competitive.

It has all resulted in people getting boats back on the water, and in some cases getting reminded how good the Melges 24 continues to be. In my opinion, even after over 20 years since it was launched, the Melges 24 is the best sportboat on the water.

What were some of the elements that had led to the down cycle?

There had been people putting in a lot of effort in the class, with many needing either a break or choosing to try something else. And there had been some complacency in class leadership, perhaps due to how successful the class had been.

There had also been some criticism that the boat was not very comfortable to sail, which was a result of the aggressive hiking by the crew over the lifelines. So the class shortened the stanchion height, and that change went a long way to improving the sail-ability of the boat.

This change occurred about two years ago and now we really don’t hear much griping about hiking anymore. Additionally, we now believe that the boat has a better righting moment in this configuration. With improvements in performance and sailing pleasure, this change was a huge win-win.

As a result of all of this, many of these people are now coming back to the class and recognizing how great the boat is.

The entry count for the 2016 Worlds in Miami has over 100 teams, and some feel it will break the 127-boat record set at the 2012 Worlds in Lake Garda, Italy. Why is this event so red hot?

The popularity is due to the strong leadership in the class. There has been great promotion for the event… it has been relentless. Plus Miami is such a known venue in both the US and among our international class members.

Everybody likes Miami, and with the races being held on the ocean, it will offer the kind of conditions that the boat is made for. It will highlight the boats capabilities, allowing the boats to really light it up. Shoreside will be great too. Miami is an exciting city with plenty of activity to pursue.

What’s also neat to see that within the entry numbers are family teams and youth teams that bolster the Corinthian contingent. Plus the international support has been tremendous.

Can the US class leverage the interest from the Worlds?

Definitely… this resurgence doesn’t end with the Worlds. The plan from the class leadership is that this is just one step. There will be an annual winter series in the southeast US along with an annual North American regatta tour. These will be events that the class members can count on year after year.

What has assisted this process is that the fleet level in many areas had still existed. We had some grassroots to start with, and now getting the enthusiasm back in the class, we can help bolster that level. We also recognize how fleets in Canada are enjoying growth.

All this growth occurs because people can buy an old used boat and know that without a lot of effort, they can be as competitive as the newer boats. The molds have always been good and the construction is strong.

Overall, we really like where we are. The Worlds is just a stepping stone of bigger things to come. There is a lot of fun coming our way.

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