Thursday, November 13, 2008


Fabrizio Prandini / Melges Europe
The new Melges 20 had its eagerly awaited European launch in Italy a few weeks ago and Melges Performance Sailboats CEO, Harry Melges was there to gauge the first hand reaction to the latest addition of an already outstanding family of products. We caught up with him to find out how it felt to launch the Melges 20 in Europe. “It was really incredible introducing the new Melges 20 in Europe and sailing for the first time on Lake Garda. Without a doubt this is one of the most beautiful places in the world to sail and it was just awesome,” said Melges.

It was clearly no accident that Melges Europe chief Federico Michetti chose the Fraglia Vela Malcesine as the base for the first public viewing of the Melges 20 and Harry was particularly impressed with the venue. “The people at the Fraglia Vela Malcesine have been fantastic. And what a location! With twenty-five knots in the morning, and fifteen to eighteen in the afternoon we were able to sail the new Melges 20 in a variety of nice conditions. We were really able to put the new boat through its paces. It was just a blast. Awesome sailing conditions and everyone on board took a turn at the helm. It was great to see all the crews driving and the competition between drivers on each boat was really fun.”

So how does Harry feel about the performance of Melges’s first three-person sportsboat? “The new boat exceeds our expectations in performance both upwind and down and is a pleasure to sail,” he commented, but urged us not to take his word for it. Local sailing hero Daniele Cassinari of North Sails also boasted, “This boat is incredible to sail. I feel young again!”

This sort of comment is typical of those who have sailed the Melges 20. “So far the response has been great. People are impressed with how comfortable the boat is and especially how good the helm feels and how fast it is. It’s really easy to sail and she is very responsive and forgiving.”

Melges was delighted to see such a range of European sailors keen to try the Melges 20. “We're really targeting a very broad market. The boats are easy to sail for both men and women, especially youth. Since the boats are easily driven, the sheets have very little load on them. We are maintaining the ‘category one’ driver status to appeal to Corinthian sailors. We feel this is a great platform for sailors of all ages and genders to learn to sail sportboats at a high level.”

Pleased with the feedback from the sailors after their first taste of the Melges 20, Melges pointed out some key attributes. “The most important aspect of the Melges 20 development is the rig and sail plan. It was great to confirm that the new softer rigs are really sweet in a breeze and further refined sail shapes have improved upwind performance and handling in the higher wind ranges. The message we received in Italy was that these refinements have resulted in the Melges 20 being easy to sail no matter what the conditions.”

The reaction of the European sailing community to the Melges 20 is phenomenal and Melges believes that the new class is in safe hands with Melges Europe. “Federico Michetti, Luisa Bambozzi and Giorgio Tortarolo form an incredible, dedicated team. Their energy level is contagious and most importantly they are passionate about their work. It has been a joy to be with them at the launch of our new twenty-footer.”