The Melges 40 “Re-Evolution” concept released today. What is it? Well, for starters it’s grand-prix 40-footer for grand-prix exclusive programs. It won’t pretend to be anything less. For Melges, with its roots deep into scows fleets and its upper branches reaching to the high altitudes of professional sailing, its new canting keel one-design sportboat — now in the infancy of construction— is all stuff of DNA. They don’t introduce new boats for the sake of adding another to the line. They’re a small company with big clout, and they’re calculated when launching such projects. The 40, with certainty, will take them a rung higher into the European grand-prix sailing market than they have with the Melges 32 or 20. Top programs from these classes, should they ever upgrade, will feel right at home with the family.
The boat is technical, yes, for it will be all carbon and epoxy, with a canting keel and yards of sail area aloft, but it also comes with a class-management plan that’s founded upon delivering a turnkey experience for owners. That’ll include class management, dedicated race officers, and assistance with logistics. The pay-to-play cost is not yet known, nor is the total cost of the boat (update: Andy Burdick at Melges informs us that the base price is $650,00o. Options, sails, etc., in addition to that), which Premiere Composite Technologies will build in Dubai. PCT also builds the Farr 280, our 2015 Boat of the Year, and its reputation is outstanding. Boats are only a fraction of their production—so there’s no reason to doubt the build will be top shelf.
A cursory look at the Melges 40’s promotional material reveals that class stakeholders—most likely owners and investors—broke ground on the class rules, listing limited days of training, a controlled sail inventory, and a restriction on 20-foot cube container per team. The later simplifies European gear shipping and minimizes the footprint at racing venues, which are reported to be Dubai, France, Italy and Spain—all the regular stops on a Med circuit today. A schedule has the first boat launched in September and the inaugural event in March 2017.
Eight to nine is the given number of pro crew required to race the boat, designed by Botin Partners. The pedestal is at the back of the bus so the hardware and the big-armed grinders are aft when the boat takes off downwind at 17.15 knots (its downwind polar at 20 knots true wind speed). Runners, a big square top main, and a broad-shouldered 200-square-meter spinnaker will keep the trimmers busy, as will the adjustability of the two-piece rig at the forestay and mast butt. Then there’s carbon fin keel that electrically cants to 45 degrees, twin rudders, a big canard, and a retractable bowsprit, all of which is excellent job security for a good boat captain.
“I am certain it will be a great class for private owners and professional sailors,” writes Botin’s Adolfo Carrau. “Everyone will learn new tricks and enjoy racing hard against each other.” There is no pretense here that the Melges 40 is a boat for the Average Joe. With a Melges, there’s always going to be easy access to hard racing and the gathering of knowledge. But what an owner gets is plug-and-play, pay-to-play experience of an all-pro Mediterranean racing circuit. “The Melges 40 racing experience is about lifestyle,” says the sales pitch, “and living it to the maximum possibility.”
Zenda is buzzing today, says Burdick, and a guest appearance for for the sporty forty somewhere in Florida next winter is the goal.
Click over to melges40.com for more.