Melges 14

2016 March 1

Panache and power come in a speedy dinghy design


I can’t imagine being a sailor and not wanting one of the new Melges 14’s. I can picture myself in this new Reichel/Pugh design rocketing across the bay, just me and my dog. All the cares of the world would be forgotten while the boat demanded 100% concentration. It would be a very visceral kind of fun with only the boat to tell you what to do. Maybe I’d name mine Yes My Dear.

The name Melges means performance and it has earned that after years of pursuing the leading edge of boat speed. Reichel/Pugh is at the same level. I watched the promotional video and it does not take a lot of wind to get the new 14 really moving. The all-up weight is only 120 pounds. Maximum beam is 5 feet 2 inches, but this includes the ergonomically contoured “wings” that are there for hiking power. I do not have a drawing of the underbody but there can’t be much to it. There is a daggerboard and a retracting rudder. The sections aft are gently arced.

The cockpit sole is above the DWL and the transom is open, so the boat is self-bailing. The daggerboard trunk appears to be all below the cockpit sole. The result is a very clean cockpit, only interrupted by hiking straps that are entirely necessary. There is a bridle-type traveler for the mainsheet that leads forward to a block on the sole just aft of the daggerboard trunk. All other sail controls are lead aft to within easy reach of the skipper. 

When I look at a deck layout like this I wonder how much mocking up or prototyping Melges did before finalizing its tooling. Or is it exactly as designed? I notice in the video that in some breeze, off the wind, the crew sits well aft but the boat never shows a tendency to nose dive. With the cockpit being long and well recessed, I think this boat would be a lot more comfortable to sail than a Laser. Clearance under the boom is much greater and there is a lot more room for my size 15 feet.


This is a powerful square-head main. You can choose from two mainsail sizes: the Full-range main with 98 square feet and the Mid-range main with 85 square feet. Normally I don’t do SA/D calculations on dinghies, but just for fun I added my own 225 pounds to the weight of the Melges 14 and came up with a SA/D of 31.87 with the Full-Range sail and 27.64 for the Mid-Range sail. At my age, the Mid-Range sail might be the prudent choice. But presuming they both fit on the same carbon spars I could buy both rigs and pick the right sail for the day’s conditions, like windsurfing.

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.

I wonder what my granddaughter Violet weighs?

LOA 14’; Beam 5’2”; Weight 120 lbs.; Sail area 98 sq. ft. (Full-range), 85 sq. ft. (Mid-range)

Our best estimate of the sailaway price: $9,000

Melges Performance Sailboats

P.O. Box 1, Zenda, WI 53195