Melges 24 vs. J80 - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-13-2003 Thread Starter
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Melges 24 vs. J80

Just wondering your opinions regarding the Melges 24 vs. the J80. I currently sail a Kirby 30, which is pretty old (23 years) and am wondering about buying a smaller / newer boat. I mostly do evening/weekend PHRF sailing in Lake Ontario and would like to sail one design, however neither the Melges 24 or J80 appear to have OD fleets.

I''m also getting tired of trying to get 5-7 other people arranged for a race - how many people are really needed on a Melges? Is this a boat that could be sailed with young kids as crew on a quiet evening?

On the same note, how difficult is this boat to dry sail with a small crew (ie: me, wife, 2 kids).

Your thoughts / suggestions would help.
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-28-2003
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Melges 24 vs. J80

I own a Melges 24, and while I cannot compare it to a J80 for you, I can answer a few of your other querstions.

We sail PHRF with it in Portsmouth NH. As there were no suitable facilities to dry sail the boat in our area, we painted the bottom and have left it in the water all summer.

The ideal crew size is four people, although on nights with very light wind we will race with three people. We even did a double-handed race with just two, and that went pretty well. If you are going to fly the spinnaker, at least one of you crew members will need to be pretty strong to handle the chute. There are no winched on a Melges 24, only ratchet blocks.

The claim on the Melges is that you can set it up with practice and have it in the water in 30 minutes. NO WAY! Unless you have a facility where you can leave the boat rigged and just drop it in the water with a crane, plan on AT LEAST an hour to set up and tear down. Also, putting up the mast requires a LOT of muscle, at least three people, and two of them very strong.

That being said, the boat is a real pleasure to sail, and we have been competitive within our fleet. Our rating of 102 puts us in the same group as boats in the 33-44 foot range, so we spend a lot of time looking for clean air. It is also a very comfortable boat to take people out on a nice day sail, with its big, wide cockpit.
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-14-2008
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Setup time

The prior post says it takes 1 hour and three guys to setup a Melges 24 for sailing. Actually, I would say it takes a little more time, and really only one big guy to put up the mast. I can do it myself; drinking a beer all the while. I've setup the boat without my crew in about 2 hours or so. The key on putting up the mast yourself is planning and patience. Obviously you won't be able to do it the first time you ever set up the boat, but after 10 times or so, where you learn where the process gets hung up, then you'll be fine.
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-15-2008
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Dry sailing Melges 24 and J-80 or is facilitated by the single lift point. The J-80 has a fixed keel v. the retractable keel for the Melges. Therefore, the J-80 needs more water at the launch point than the Melges. On the other hand, if you have enough water the J-80 avoids the pain of dealing with the retractable keel on the Melges every time you launch and pull the boat. You’ll get a workout dragging either from your drysail space to the lift and back.

Although I have no experience raising the mast on either, I wouldn’t think they are practical for your intended use unless you can leave the boat rigged and just drop it in the water with a crane

Having crewed on both it is my sense that the Melges requires a more athletic crew and more bodies. J-80’s around here regularly race with a crew of three; you , your wife, and two kids seems eminently doable
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-15-2008
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If you are looking to race with wife and smaller crew I think the J80 is probably a better option especially if leaving in the water. The Melges is a more athletic boat than the J80 and requires more effort to sail fast. However if you take your racing very seriously than the Melges wins hands down as you are racing in a very very competitive national fleet. Just look at the Key West results from this yr. Both are fun boats to sail and both will get up an plane downwind - Melges has more sail area and is lighter so will plane faster.

Have fun

Jon D
SV Sirius
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