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Melges 24 Tuning Guide

RIG TUNE

Mast rake in the Melges 24 is critical. Start by setting the rake to 36’6 ½’’ from the tip of the mast to the intersection of the hull and the stern, right next to the rudder. It is my experience that you shouldn’t let the rig go farther aft than that “base” setting, ever. However, in light air, and/or chop, it is important to move the rig forward to power up your sail plan. You can do this in one of two ways. Either change the pin placement on your high-field lever or add turns on to the turn-buckle above the lever. Remember; never go back farther than your base setting. Make sure to take detailed measurements of exactly where you are starting with your rig, and exactly what each change is doing. We have felt faster in chop under 8 knots with our rig forward one hole on the high-field lever. Experiment with it during practice to see what works for you. Remember that changing your mast rake will change the tension on your cap shrouds.

Wind Speed

Uppers / Tension

Lower / Sag

0 - 6

Light

OFF 4 from base
-

7 - 12

Light / Medium

BASE - Loos @ 16
BASE - 3/4" sag

13 - 16

Medium

ON 6 from base
ON 4 - 1/2" sag

17 - 20

Medium / Heavy

ON 12 from base
ON 8 - 1/2" sag

20+

Heavy

ON 18 from base
ON 12+ - no sag

Our base shroud tension starts at 16 on the Loos gauge, then it parallels many other sailmakers tuning guides as you step up and down through the range. A good rule of thumb that we have found to work is, if you start at base and you are thinking of going tighter, wait. These sails have a great range with the control lines so you can afford to leave the rig powered up longer. As far as the lowers, it is important to go sailing before the race to see where your rig sets up. Ideally you want a ½ inch to a full inch of leeward deflection (sag) in your rig almost until you start having to de-power. At that point you want your rig to be in column. Experiment and write down your numbers so you can duplicate your great days. One thing that I always look for when I am setting the boat up is my headstay sag. When you fully trim your main in, you are pulling the rig back and tightening the headstay. When you have the perfect amount of cap shroud tension your headstay should have no sag and almost no bounce when your main is over trimmed. Then I watch as I ease the main-sheet. I look for the headstay to sag about 4 inches. That way I know that if I want to pinch I will have the cap shrouds tight enough to give me the ability to get a tight headstay. If I feel slow, I can ease the main and power up the whole sail plan at the same time.

In conclusion, I start from the tuning guide, and then tweak the rig accordingly. Most conditions don’t fit nicely into the guide. Some call for slightly more, or slightly less power. The guide does a great job of getting you into the ballpark. Nothing beats time in the boat, so go sailing and figure out what works for you.

MAIN TRIM

One thing that I have found about the mainsail is that you can sheet the main quite a bit harder than one would think. Keep sheeting the main until the telltale off the second full batten down is stalling. That is your point mode for the main. Only ease about 2 inches from that for your speed mode. The sail’s draft is far forward, making the leech straight. The leech opens quickly when you ease the main, so be careful not to ease too much.

Doyle Megles 24 MainDoyle Melges 24 Main Leech

JIB TRIM

Because the jib is so draft forward, it is important to ease off on the jib cunningham in light to medium air. Ease the cunningham until scallops just start to occur on the luff of your sail. This moves the draft aft in the sail, making it fuller and rounder in the back. It also creates a very fine entry. This helps you point but also makes your jib harder to drive to. These jibs set up differently than some sails you may have used in the past.

Our jib cars are set up farther forward; try two holes forward of the third screw head from the back for light and lumpy and one hole forward for flat water (see picture to the right for base reference). From there, trim the jib until the upper leech telltale is stalling about 50% of the time. Your clew should be about 1½ inches from your jib block.

Doyle Melges 24 Jib Track

Remember, these high aspect sails are very sensitive to jib sheet tension and much like the main, easing or trimming a ½ inch will have an immediate impact on your speed.

SPINNAKER SELECTION

The Melges 24 Class allows each boat to carry two spinnakers for a regatta. The standard school of thought is that you should carry a Reacher and a Runner. For development purposes we have three A-kites; the A-1 Reacher, the A-2 Runner, and our A-4 Runner. Each spinnaker has different characteristics and it is essential that you choose your inventory for the conditions that you think you will sail in that regatta.

Reacher:

The A-1 is our standard reacher. This kite is designed to be used in the upper and lower end of the wind range. Basically any time your apparent air is close to 90°. We typically use this kite in 0-7 knots and 18+ TWS. In both ranges your apparent air is father forward than normal. In the lower range you need to sail higher to keep your speed up and in the higher range you are always trying to keep the boat planning, causing your apparent to stay forward the whole time.

Runners:

We have developed two different Runners for varying wind conditions. Our A-2 is designed to be sailed in 7-12/15 TWS, and our A-4 is designed to sail from 10/12 – 20 TWS. As you can see there is a large overlap between the two sails. Obviously conditions usually don’t stay consistent all day, so when choosing between the two sails we normally think about what condition we will sail in the MOST during a particular regatta. The A-2 has a deeper head and has more drive in lighter air; especially when you need to put the bow up occasionally. Our A-4 has a much flatter head and sails fastest in conditions where we are trying to soak down more than 75% of the time. If you need to choose between the A-2 and the A-4, I would recommend sailing with the A-2. In my mind the cross-over between the A-1 and whatever Runner you are sailing with is more crucial at the low end of the range rather than the high end. Having the wrong Runner up in light air will hurt you more than having the wrong Runner up in heavy air. So err to the lighter side. That said, the A-4 has proven to be very fast in its designed range.

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