The Melges 15 / Future of American Double Handed Classes

FlyingCircus2

Member
122
77
I think sailing in general is due for a comeback. There's a huge demand amongst "kids these days" for real experiences. It's common for the cell phone addicted to feel like they are spectators in their own lives, and that nothing they do has any impact on the world around them.

It's true that a lot of you boomers are total douches (I can say that. I have a boomer friend) but as you die off, there will be a glut of luxury items on the market.

Young people will pick them up for pennies on the dollar and go "touch grass".

The biggest hurdle is not the boat itself, but access to the water.
 
.... and that's why there are so few of us Americans at the top of the sport..... because we argue that slow boats are "The Future" - dont get me wrong, the sport needs slow boats as a gateway and to serve as a less demanding platform for recreation - but we need to stop pretending that skiffs and multihulls don't exist just cause Americans prefer slower rides. Top sailing nations love boats like the Melges 15 - but they also love fast boats and the fast fleets produce their top talent. Best double-handed fleet on Narragansett Bay - without lead - is the NAASA F18 Fleet.
Couldn't of said it better myself. Look who's driving the majority of the AC/Volvo/GP. That's right - Skiff Sailors, MH, and Mothies.
 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
46,638
10,868
Eastern NC
I think sailing in general is due for a comeback. There's a huge demand amongst "kids these days" for real experiences. It's common for the cell phone addicted to feel like they are spectators in their own lives, and that nothing they do has any impact on the world around them.

It's true that a lot of you boomers are total douches (I can say that. I have a boomer friend) but as you die off, there will be a glut of luxury items on the market.

Young people will pick them up for pennies on the dollar and go "touch grass".

The biggest hurdle is not the boat itself, but access to the water.

Access to the water and for newbies, learning how.

Just sailing the boat is not difficult, although it is very non-intuitive for most people. Anybody who approaches it half-seriously can learn the points of sail and the basics of boat handling from a library book in an hour or so. But making it all happen takes good bit of practical hands-on training (experience is not a good teacher IMHO because people who "just learn by doing" themselves tend to learn all kinds of bad habits and things that are not really true), and then there is all the other stuff... handling lines, rigging the boat, idiosyncrasies of various hardware, backing up a trailer, etc etc. All this stuff can lead to frustration and hazard and failure as the PITA factor can overtake the pleasure of sailing.
 

TJSoCal

Super Anarchist
I think sailing in general is due for a comeback.
Maybe, but I'm not sure that will mean a return to traditional keelboats & dinghies. Again look where the Olympics are going, it's mostly kites, boards, foiling. Cheaper, more convenient and more adrenaline. No keelboats at all and I wouldn't be surprised if the remaining dinghy classes (ILCA and 470) have to fight to stay in after Paris.
 

'Bacco

Member
264
158
Lake Ontario
I think sailing in general is due for a comeback. There's a huge demand amongst "kids these days" for real experiences.
Totally agree. I am active with our club's jr program. We launch registration on February 1st and last year we sold out our pram program in 23 minutes. For prams, we typically have 13-14 kids in each of the 7 one-week sessions (91-98 sellable roster spots). Our Opti program sold out in a little over an hour. Our entire summer was sold out in a day or two which consists of Prams, Opti Learn to Race, Opti Race, Adventure Sail (Ideal 18's), 420, and 420 Race Team.

The demand is a great thing for the sport. My 7-year-old and his jr sailing friends even look forward to getting out on the big boats on weeknights. He quickly becoming a top-shelf cooler jockey and "jib holder outer." The moral of the story is, we need more access to water not less. Limiting the number of boats people sail just limits the opportunity to get out there.

IMG_0467.jpg
 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
46,638
10,868
Eastern NC
Protesting an excited 7-year-old for not having his whisker pole attached to the mast on a Tuesday night main and jib fun race isn't the way to grow the sport.

Looks like a great experience, but may I suggest shoes. The only injury I have to deal with in ~15 years teaching youth sailing is bashed/gashed feet/toes. Look at all the sharp-edged metals stuff just waiting to take a bite...
 

TJSoCal

Super Anarchist
Protesting an excited 7-year-old for not having his whisker pole attached to the mast on a Tuesday night main and jib fun race isn't the way to grow the sport.
I certainly agree that someone would have to be an extreme dickhead to protest or even to complain. And I can see the "he's a kid, just let him do it" pespective.

Just pointing out, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that there is a rule. Didn't mean to make anyone upset.
 

Looper

Anarchist
So as far as the future of American double handed sailing, where will be in 5 years? 10 years?

If all forms of FJ / 420 / misc one-off double handed fleets coalesced behind the Melges 15 (or some other class?) over the next 3-7 years, I think that would be a very positive development for the sport in the states. How likely is that to happen? hopefully it is realistic, but this is sailing, we're still in the Opti, Laser, etc.

More generally, its amazing how stratified this tier of the sport is in this class. We've got lots of different 2-3 man boats all over the country, can you imagine how fun racing in this country would be if we shortened this list to 5 boats?


4.45
I'd like to see videos of the Melges 15 sailing in the same big water that a Laser and Opti can handle. Rumor has it, it can't handle it.



 

Curious2

Anarchist
881
489
Couldn't of said it better myself. Look who's driving the majority of the AC/Volvo/GP. That's right - Skiff Sailors, MH, and Mothies.

Paul Goodison, Ben Ainslie,Tom Slingsby did Lasers, Burling 420s (youngest ever world champ) and 470s; Outteridge 420s (multiple world champ) and Radials as well as 29ers; Arnold Psaroghis (sp) was a match racer; Boris Hermann of the VOR a 505 sailor.

So the vast majority of those sailors seem to have learned their trade and become stars in the mainstream popular classes. Sure, they also sail foilers but then Tom, Glen, Nathan Outteridge and others also windsurfers and wings. Calling them "skiff sailors" is about as accurate as calling them "windsurfers"; they sail everything.


.... and that's why there are so few of us Americans at the top of the sport..... because we argue that slow boats are "The Future" - dont get me wrong, the sport needs slow boats as a gateway and to serve as a less demanding platform for recreation - but we need to stop pretending that skiffs and multihulls don't exist just cause Americans prefer slower rides. Top sailing nations love boats like the Melges 15 - but they also love fast boats and the fast fleets produce their top talent. Best double-handed fleet on Narragansett Bay - without lead - is the NAASA F18 Fleet.

Agree with much of that, but the "fast fleets" don't produce all of the top talent - Optimists, Lasers and 420s are probably the most popular class in their CVs. Slingsby earned his spurs in Lasers, as did Goodison and Ainslie. Burling started out in Optis, Starlings and 420s where he became the youngest-ever world champ before moving into 470s. Nathan Outteridge won the Youth Worlds in 29ers but also won them in 420s the next year, and won an Australian Laser Radial championships.

By the way, outside of 29ers skiffs almost don't exist in most of the top sailing countries like NZ and Australia either. The most widespread and popular big fast dinghy in Australia is nothing like a skiff in any way. On the other hand, when I see that "the best 2H fleet" in an area with the population of Narragansett Bay has only 9 boats, it does underline how weak some areas of US sailing seem to be.
 

Curious2

Anarchist
881
489
Maybe, but I'm not sure that will mean a return to traditional keelboats & dinghies. Again look where the Olympics are going, it's mostly kites, boards, foiling. Cheaper, more convenient and more adrenaline. No keelboats at all and I wouldn't be surprised if the remaining dinghy classes (ILCA and 470) have to fight to stay in after Paris.

The foiling classes are certainly not cheaper or more convenient. Performance foils are inherently expensive objects that need moderate winds and better launching facilities than equivalent non-foilers.

Look where the numbers in the classes are. The foiling Olympic Nacra cat is probably the least popular Olympic class since well before the Tempest, with just 12 new boats per annum and minute fleets. The foiling kite racing fleets are very small; exactly what is going to happen to the foiling board fleet now that everyone has found out the ideal weight is going to be interesting, but now that it turns out you need to be 90kg+ we may well see lots of kids dropping out of junior windsurfing even before their parents face the expense of buying a foiler.

The ILCA is the biggest class by miles and the ILCA is the only Olympic class that offers true worldwide competition. If we're going to keep the sport strong we need to look at what is selling, and it's certainly not foiling boats. Even foiling kites are losing many of their fans to the more convenient but slower wings. Things like having to swim out to neck deep water to get enough depth over the weeds to sail a foiler get pretty old.

One interesting thing is that the vast majority of the people who claim that foilers will take over don't own one and therefore don't see that while they are great in some ways, they are also PITAs in other ways.
 
Last edited:


Latest posts





Top