Sailing a Melges 14 (control lines question)

Sneaky Duck

Anarchist
599
26
Rochester, NY
I may have an opportunity to sail an M14 this weekend in a local regatta.  I've only ever sailed the boat for about 15 minutes and I was wondering something based on how it's rigged.  Outhaul and Cunningham run to the sides, and Vang is at the base of the mast Laser style.  A buddy of mine categorizes the lines in the boat as "Big ropes" and "little ropes."  Mainsheet is a big rope, outhaul is a little rope.  As in... if you mess up mainsheet trim it's going to F you up a LOT more then if the cunningham is not trimmed properly.  On my Thistle, the Vang is a big rope.  We play it all the time and it's a huge factor in boat speed.  With it so much harder to get ahold of in the melges, it leads me to think the guys smarter then me play the cunningham and outhaul more.  Is that true?  Or is it rigged this way because it would be a lot harder to double side the vang compared to running it to the mast like a laser.

Anyone have any tips on how to sail these things fast?  Unless I can bail on work early Friday, my first time really shaking the bugs out will be pre-race Saturday AM.  I need to figure out how to cut down on the learning curve.

 
Controlled similar to a Laser and an RS Aero (which is the better of the two boats for single-handed racing): Vang is in the middle only because it’s more complex to design the rigging to go both ways. (I don’t know why they left the cleat at the base of the mast, which is no improvement on the ancient Laser.) Cunninham then vang are used for depowering. Outhaul adjusted the least, mainly between upwind and downwind. 

 

vox

Member
62
0
I have a M14 and I tie the tail of the vang to the starboard hiking strap eye. This seems to keep the vang in hand's reach most of the time. Maybe because I don't know any better, but I play it almost exactly like I would a Laser. 

 

Sneaky Duck

Anarchist
599
26
Rochester, NY
Um... coming from a big(er) boat into that little rocket was challenging for me.  It wasn't so much the wind that was a challenge but rather the waves.  i'm guessing they were 4-5 ft.  Up wind I felt fast. Down wind however was a real challenge.  I'm sure it's all technique and I'll get a lot more time in the boat to perfect that.  I've never raced lasers so the round bottom small boat that hops up onto a plane like it was it's job gave me issues.  I flipped 4 times in the first race (2 of which were rather spectacular) and said F it i'm tired and headed in.  Frustrating part was, it took flipping twice in the last leg for the 3rd place boat to finally catch me and he hadn't flipped at all I don't think.  (Heading in was not my proudest moment, but my shins were bloody from kneeling on the underside of the rail when it went turtle, and I had a bruise across my stomach from the centerboard so I stand by my decision.)  Sunday, the wind calmed down and the waves laid down quite a bit to 1-2ft.  The boat was very manageable (though I'm sure it's just time in it that was adding to my comfort level).  It's super comfortable to hike in, the rig is very responsive and easy to depower, and the bow did a good job cutting through the waves.  There's technique to going down wind however.  I never felt fast off the wind compared to the top 2 boats though up wind I was normally fast enough that the 3rd place boat would have his work cut out to outrun me when we turned at the top.  I ended up spending a good deal of time on my knees down wind facing forward and I'm not sure that's really how you do it, though everyone was.  Either way it was AWESOME fun.  I'm looking for any opportunity I can find to get back in the boat.  It's well built, the sail was a dream, it's easy to rig, and once I figure out how to keep it pointy end up off the wind in waves... It's a LOAD of fun.  I'm not used to outrunning waves as quickly as I was surfing in the Melges.  It keeps you on your toes that's for sure.  I know that even though I was fast upwind, there was still speed to gain.  I never felt 100% comfortable really stringing myself out there, so I found myself always hiking off the far strap.  With time, I'll get the balls to get hiked out further, and maybe leave the cunningham off a bit longer.  Good times for sure!

 
I’ll add my comparison of the Melges 14 and the RS Aero, the other recent addition to the single-sail small dinghy class.

A big difference is that the Melges is designed for 1 or 2 people, the Aero for one. If used mainly as a racing boat, therefore, the added size of the Melges is no bonus, and racing a Melges with two people would not be a winning strategy (unless perhaps a small child in a casual race). The Aero also works as a cruising boat for one — someone has just sailed it along the entire coast of Norway.

So...if racing is the main use, the Aero is by far the better boat. If cruising with a friend or a child is a common use, the Melges makes more sense (particularly a non-sailor, as the second person doesn’t have much to do). If cruising solo is the main use, it might depend on whether or not you want the extra space of a Melges.

P.S. The 3rd new dinghy in this category, the D-zero, is mainly a racing boat and anyway is not being imported into the US.

 




Top