Melges 15

2020 August 1

This new daysailer has performance for all ages

If my buddy calls and invited me for a sail aboard his new daysailer I think I have a pretty good idea what to expect and how to prepare for the day. I’d bring some bottled water, sunscreen, a sandwich and sunglasses. That stuff and my pipe and pouch and I’m set for the day. I’m not figuring on a paid hand and a lunch in three courses with vintage champagne in Lalique glasses that you might find on the Baltic 68 Café Racer. It’s a daysailer. In fact, this new daysailer built by Melges and designed by Reichel/Pugh is close to exactly what I would expect, but probably not quite as nice as this new design.

The promotional material that came with the Melges describes the boat as a “crossover between the young and old, skilled and beginner.” I’ve heard that a few times before. Let’s take a look at what makes the Melges 15 special.

First off the design is by Reichel/Pugh and the company’s list of design accomplishments is beyond reproach. The pedigree is solid. The Melges name is synonymous with high-performance sailing craft. We can just take  for granted that the company builds excellent high-performance boats.

One of the challenges for a design like this is how do you make the boat comfortable for a 65-year-old veteran and at the same time comfy for a 12-year-old beginner. Not easy but the good news is that kids are adaptable. For the older sailer this boat is deep enough so that you can sit comfortably on the side deck and feel reasonably secure, i.e. more “in” the boat rather than “on” the boat. This seated position is much easier on the knees and that is something that has become very important to me. It also helps make it easier to change sides when you tack. The closed transom was chosen over an open transom to give more freedom in the depth of the cockpit sole.

The hull is designed for stability and good manners upwind. The hull shape is narrow but the bottom is quite flat. This helps both stability and planning performance. When my buddy called he didn’t say anything about going swimming. Everyone likes a stable boat.

The sloop rig features a single-pull spinnaker system, which means that one line will pull the halyard up and the bowsprit out and with it the tack line. To douse the chute you release the pull-up line and pull the douser line. This brings the chute down into its bag in the front of the cockpit. Easy peasy. Note the inverted Gnav Vang. This vang holds the boom down while not getting in the way of the cockpit. I like the square-top main. I have long thought that to capture the attention of the younger sailors the new boat should have some of the earmarks of the current winners. The mast is a tapered aluminum stick. The tapered top section allows for more mast bend control to help keep the boat on its feet in a breeze.

The promo material says, “The Melges 15 can be sailed by anyone regardless of age, skill level and weight.” I don’t think you can beat that. This would be a fun boat to race one-design and a great family boat.

LOA 15’; Beam 5’6”; Draft 2’7”; Sail area 133 sq. ft.

Our best estimate of the sailaway price: $12,250

Melges Performance Sailboats

P.O. Box 1, N598 Zenda Road

Zenda, Wisconsin 53195