Melges 14

Brady Carlson Reviews the Melges 14

Melges 14 sailboat

High school sailor, Brady Carlson, test drives the new Melges 14

Photos by Molly Burns

The exciting Melges 14 is the newest boat available from Shoreline Sailboats and produced by Melges Performance Sailboats in Zenda, Wisconsin. The boat is so new in fact, it’s hard to find unbiased sailors who have first-hand knowledge of how it actually handles in a breeze.

Luckily for us, we found Brady Carlson on Instagram. Brady posted a picture of himself sailing the M14 this past summer at Lake Pewuakee, Wisconsin. We also found out he’s a really nice guy who loves sailing, so we threw a few questions at him to get his impressions of what its like to sail the Melges 14.

So, how did you end up in the Melges 14?

I sailed a Melges X Boat  for 5 years and then I moved up to the C Scow 3 years ago. I like to get on an E Scow whenever I can, so I went to the 50th E Scow Blue Chip  (video). I think there were about 15 Olympic medalist there. The regatta was awarded US Sailing’s One-Design Regatta of the Year. It was an amazing thing to be a part of. So, Melges reps were there and brought an M14 for people to try out.

Melges 14 sailboatDid you get to spend some time in it?

Yeah, my friends and I rotated around using it. First time I got in it, the breeze was about 15 to 18. It was an absolute blast! Hands down the Melges 14 is the best dinghy I’ve ever sailed. My friends literally had to pry me out of that boat!

What are your overall impressions of the M14?

Well, I spent most of the time just reaching around, but also tested it up and downwind. It’s pretty good upwind. Points really well and has good speed without being super overpowered. I’m about 160 lbs. and could keep it flat pretty well. Downwind though, it’s a whole different story! First few times I bore away I pretty much instantly death rolled! It will definitely test your downwind sailing skills. After awhile I got the hang of it.

I also had the chance to use it the next day in lighter breeze of 5 to 10. Its speed in light air was unreal. I have to say my favorite part of the boat is how comfortable it is, especially compared to a Laser. Roll tacks are a dream, along with the boat handling in general. It cuts through waves like butter. All the high-tech hardware really helps get the most out of the boat.

I really hope that a fleet will get going around here because I would totally get one! If you’re a competitive sailor—or not—it’s a must-buy boat for anyone who enjoys sailing!

Slideshow of Brady on the M14:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Off the Melges 14 topic…
What is your background in sailing? How did that start?

My parents were huge water skiers and to them sailing must have seemed kinda lame. So, I started ski racing when I was 6. A lot of people that ski race also sail, so my twin brother Connor and I got an offer to crew on an X Boat in the summer when we were 9. My parents decided to go ahead and start us in Optis, too.

That summer went really well and my parents bought us an X Boat to sail ourself the following summer. We were only 10, and everyone said we couldn’t do it. We were too small and didn’t have the experience, but we did just fine! My brother and I spent the next 5 years sailing that boat together. That’s where I really learned to sail.

My brother and I did pretty well. We won some big regattas. We were super-close to wining an inland with a 17-point lead going into the last day and unfortunately lost it. But, it was a good learning experience—that its never over till it’s over.

Well, we skipped out of X Boats to move to a C Scow because we were too big to sail together and be fast. The C Scow has a serous learning curve and everyone is really good. Sailing against people like Andy Burdick is tough. My first regatta was C nationals with 70 boats on Nagawicka, which is a very small lake. It was pretty funny because everyone’s sitting around drinking beer, and I’m just like, “Yeah, my mom had to drive me here…”

So, anyway it was maybe my fifth time steering the boat and it was blowing 20 to 25. Absolute craziness! We couldn’t find anyone as a third, so we put my mom in the boat. She had only sailed one time in light air. She was screaming the entire time.

But we survived, kept her up right, didn’t hit anyone, and didn’t get last place. Somehow, she still sails with us today after that traumatic experience. But, I have to say, the C Scow has been awesome. I’m really starting to figure the boat out and hold my own and win some races.

Does your brother always sail with you?

Connor is my twin brother and has always been my crew. He is amazing—best crew you could ever ask for! But we sail 420s for high school, and he’s the b skipper. I can’t tell you how much I miss having him on the boat during the high school season. It seems crazy to me how good he is with out much stick time at all. I think it has something to do with the fact that we discuss every move we make. High school sailing is a blast but it’s so different from inland sailing. I struggle with that part sometimes, but at the end of the day it’s all about having fun!

You can catch up on Brady’s sailing and sporting exploits on his Instagram feed

Contact us to get your Melges 14 from the first North American dealer – Shoreline Sailboats

When Bob Perry speaks on boat design, we listen! Find out what Mr. Perry had to say about the Melges 14.