Tuesday, October 13, 2015

11 Reasons to Buy the Melges 14

Anyone on the market for a new design 13-14ft hiking, planing, single-hander this year had at least three choices: the RS Aero, the Devoti D-Zero and the Melges 14.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I chose to go the RS Aero route. I placed a deposit on an RS Aero as soon as the order book was opened for North America in March 2014. I was later informed that I had the distinction of placing the first order for an RS Aero in North America. I had an opportunity to try out the RS Aero at Minorca Sailing in October of 2014 and, thanks to Scott Hardy of the Boat Locker, two friends and I were able to borrow a demo RS Aero in March this year so they could try it too. All three of us committed to the RS Aero and took delivery of our boats in May. After a summer of sailing the boat in pursuit races and fleet races, two regattas in Massachusetts, and at the 21 boat North Americans in the Columbia River Gorge, we have no regrets. The RS Aero has totally lived up to and even exceeded our expectations.

2015 RS Aero North Americans

Apparently RS Sailing have sold over 750 RS Aeros worldwide with about 100 delivered in North America. The main concentration of RS Aeros on this continent is in the Pacific North West, but they can also be found in the north-east, Florida, Texas and the Gulf Coast, California, Canada and various inland locations.

Correction 14 Oct 2015 - Apparently I understated the RS Aero sales in North America. There was an RS Sailing North American dealers meeting at the Annapolis Boat Show and one of the dealers posted on Sailing Anarchy today that "close to 120" RS Aeros have been sold.

But what about those other two new-single-handers?

The Devoti D-Zero seems to have done well in the UK. From what I gather some clubs in the UK chose to build D-Zero fleets and others went for the RS Aero. Makes sense. There were 24 D-Zeros at their Inland Championship at Yorkshire Dales SC last weekend. I have not heard of any major marketing activity for the D-Zero in the US but I think a few have been imported by individuals.

2015 Devoti D-Zero UK Inland Championship

And the Melges 14? I hadn't heard much about Melges 14 activity this year until seeing the video below produced by Scuttlebutt at the Annapolis Boat Show.

So why would American sailors want to buy the Melges 14 rather than the Aero or D-Zero? Maybe the video has some answers?

1. It's made in America.  Americans are very patriotic people and many sailors would rather support a boat made in the good old USA than one of those foreign countries.

2. It's made by Melges a very well-respected boat building brand, if not known all that well in the dinghy market yet.

3. It's a Sailing World 2016 Boat of the Year Nominee. I have no idea what that really means but it sounds good.

4. Can be sailed by one or two people.

5. Two different sized rigs so "kids or gals" can race the boat.

6. Mylar sail.

7. Carbon rig.

8. Melges' goal is to create a one design racing circuit so people can race Melges 14s around the country.

9. Over 40 boats sold so far.

10. Melges hope to have their first Melges 14 regatta this winter down in Florida.

11. Melges rocks!

Melges rocks...
Posted by Scuttlebutt Sailing News on Friday, October 9, 2015


Brian said...

Impressive video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p73qeBBhZMc

Bruce Taylor said...

Mmm, interesting but not startling figures. All the while these 3 newbies on the block were going their hardest trying to crack 1000 sales between them, another 4000 Lasers were sold. Just amazing.

Tillerman said...

Good point Bruce. The Laser juggernaut rolls on and on. I don't think the builders of the Laser are quaking in their boots about the competition from these three newbies... at least, not yet.

Unknown said...

I learned not to fight a trend from my experience in the high-tech industry years ago. I think these entries will eventually prevail, even though they represent a small improvement in performance. However, I am covinced in the long run the trend toward performance enhancement using hydrofoils on sailboats will dominate in the dinghy world also. They control America's Cup, speed sailing and some of the cat world now. I hope I am around to see it, but sailing technology evolves very slowly.

Tillerman said...

That's an interesting question Jay. The WASZP promises to be an affordable, durable, one design foiler and I suspect it will do well. Whether a large percentage of dinghy sailors will be skillful enough to sail a boat like that is still an open question in my mind.

Unknown said...

I did not have in mind lifting the boat entirely above the water. There are lots of performance improvements you can do with hydrofoils short of this. Some actually make the boat easier to handle.

Tillerman said...

Oh, that's terrible Jay. I don't think anything that makes sailing easier is ever going to be popular. We want boats that are difficult to sail, that challenge our mental and physical abilities to the limits, that are always on the verge of wiping out, that can be admired in spectacular crash and burn videos. If people wanted something that's easy to sail we would all be sailing Sunfish.

Bruce Taylor said...

I agree with your last comment Tillerman. I came to realise long ago that the success of the Laser is largely due to the fact that it doesn't behave like any other boat and is not an easy boat to sail well. You only have to attend a top level coaching course to realise that the skills required to sail it at the top level are extensive. Modern designs my be faster and easier to sail, but they won't make better sailors like the Laser will.

Tillerman said...

Well said Bruce. One of the reasons I have sailed and raced the Laser for so many years is that there is always so much more to learn, things I need to improve, skills I need to develop. And then I go and buy an RS Aero and I feel like I'm back to square one again.

And because the boat is new to everybody, nobody has worked out all the answers yet. All part of the fun!

Unknown said...

OK, you nailed me.

Tillerman said...

It was an ironic nailing, of course.

Anonymous said...

One reason to don't buy: MONEY!!!

Tillerman said...

LOL Anoonymous 7:54 AM, October 15, 2015, if I may call you that?

Of course, the need to actually find some money and then give it to someone else is often a deterrent to buying anything. Especially boats!

Or are you referring to the price of the Melges 14? There doesn't seem to be an actual list price published anywhere but Wavedance II posted in Dinghy Anarchy that when he inquired at the Annapolis Boat Show he was quoted $8,400 for an Melges 14. It was later pointed out in the same thread (by someone in the business) that new boats are heavily discounted at boat shows so the normal retail price might well be more like $9,900 (implying a 15% boat show discount?) In any case, whether you pay $8400 or $9900, that makes the Melges 14 quite a bit more expensive than an RS Aero or a Laser.

I wonder which of my 11 "reasons" is persuading people to pay that premium for a Melges 14?

Anonymous said...

Tillerman, I'm just saying that I don't have the money to buy one. I would if I have.

Tillerman said...

The price of the Melges 14 seems to be a moving target. Wavedancer II says he was quoted $8,400 at the Annapolis Boat Show. But today on Facebook, Sailing World said the Boat Show price was $8,900. Either way, quite a premium over the RS Aero - current list price $7,499 "with free gear" and before any boat show discount.

Tillerman said...

I wonder what happened to that Melges 14 Regatta in Florida this winter that Melges were supposedly planning?

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