Melges 20: Best One-Design
Melges 20: Best One-Design
Getting from trailer to water with the Melges 20 is an easy task, too. With a deck-stepped carbon rig and retractable carbon keel (with kelp cutter) it's possible to get the boat fully rigged and sailing in less than an hour.
We sailed the boat in 4 to 6 knots of breeze, but the square-top main and masthead asymmetric spinnaker gave the boat lots of power in the light stuff. "It reacts well to crew weight placement," said Allen, "and the adjustable shrouds make adjusting the rig to different breezes a snap."
McConaghy Boats, which will be building the 20, has a great reputation, and the Melges 20 is a fine example of their operation in China. The hull is a vinylester, resin-infused sandwich laminate with a CoreCell core, ensuring a lightweight, strong, laminate with the weight consistency weight required to uphold a strict one-design standard. The boat comes from the factory faired and ready to sail, and our test boat was finished off superbly, with virtually none of the imperfections one usually finds with early builds.
The non-skid was good, edges were smooth, and the fittings were bedded tight. In fact, Melges had enough confidence in the boats coming out of China that they offer shipping direct from the factory to the client with a promise the boat will be ready to sail, right out of the box.
The Melges 20 has all the makings to establish a strong one-design fleet in short time. Yes, the price tag is significant, but fleet discounts are available, and the support of the Melges operation is there to nurse the fledgling class along. History has proven that any new one-design, no matter how great it is, is only as good as the builder support behind it. With the Melges 20, the judges were confident that in a few years time there will be a whole bunch of these planing around the racecourse in good company.
Pros: A quick little sportboat with firm one-design class rules, legs-in hiking, and great light-air performance. It delivers high-speed sailing and excellent stability in heavy air.
Cons: Spinnaker system, as tested, is still in development. Advanced boathandling skills and athleticism required in heavy air (which is a pro, if that's what you like).
Designer's mission accomplished?
Reichel/Pugh was tasked by Melges to design a next-generation, compact one-design that would be easy to rig and sail. The judges agreed that R/P and Melges attained all these goals, and then some: a lot less technical than the Melges 24, but just as fun.
Melges 20 Specs
DSPL: 992 lbs.
SA (u/d): 296/624 sq. ft.
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