Interview / Melges 14 / Sailing News

Steve Pickel of North Sails Reviews the Melges 14

Shoreline Sailboats talks with Steve Pickel about the new Melges 14.

Steve, how did you get the opportunity to sail the Melges  14?
At the Annapolis Sailboat Show, the Melges 14 won the Sailing World Boat of the Year. The Melges folks sent us one to help get the word out.

Steve and fiance sailing the M14 at Navy Fall Regatta

Sailing the M14 at Navy Fall Regatta

When you first got to sail the boat what did you think?
Once we had it I got a chance to sail it in both light air and then heavy air. My fiancé and I went out on the Melges 14 just blasting around. The picture you see of us was from the Navy Fall Regatta, and the college kids were out there in their Lasers. We decided to just go cruise along on the sidelines and check it out, and we would just crush them upwind and down.

Speaking of the Laser, how does it compare?
It’s a much more responsive rig compared to the Lasers, and naturally everybody has to compare it to the Laser. That’s just the way it is. It is a very forgiving rig to sail with. I have had about eight to ten people go out and sail the boat and everyone comes back and says, “Oh, this is awesome!”

Is that because of the speed of the boat?
Yes! The biggest thing I have noticed with the boat is that you don’t even realize how fast you are going. It’s less of a transition going from displacement mode to planing mode. It’s just very smooth. All of a sudden you just find that – Okay, we’re just rippin’. It’s like sailing a 29er or 49er skiff where you don’t go slow, slow, fast – it just keeps going faster and faster.

[High School Sailor, Brady Carlson Reviews the Melges 14]

Is the boat a handful when the wind kicks up?
In a breeze the boat handles great. I’m  about 175 lbs. and I just pull on some cunningham and pull on some vang. The mast bends and flattens out really nice. The best way to describe it is as light and responsive, and very forgiving.
My fiancé has sailed it too. She light, and with the smaller sail, and the shorter top mast section we could push the rig down and she would be very comfortable with that configuration.

How do you like the set-up of the boat?
I sailed the boat barefoot and it was totally effortless to move around on it. It doesn’t have the little tricks that the Lasers need to set it up. As I said, it is a forgiving boat. Just little things, like the hiking straps are just in a little bit different spot. Just those little things that you need to get used to just like any boat. After sailing it, I wouldn’t change a thing.

How is the boat to sail with two people?

The boat is really good with two people as you can see in the picture of me with my fiancé. Of course it is tighter with two, but is a lot better than two people on a Laser. That would be just awful! Two kids would definitely have fun sailing it together. The rig is high enough too – it doesn’t get in the way. There is a lot of room to move around.

How difficult is rigging the boat?
I can put the rig up by myself in 20 knots of breeze and its a no-brainer. It’s a hundred times better than a Laser sail. I just tuck a water bottle under the front of the hiking strap and go.

Anything else about the Melges?
The thing is, once people go out and sail the M14 they are sold on it. It’s just a matter of getting people a chance to try it out. You just have to get out there, and get on it and then you’ll say, “Ah, I see…” Melges is known for putting out a finished product that’s ready to go, this is no different.

About Steve Pickel  – Steve spent fifteen years as production manager at North Sails One Design in San Diego before recently joining the team at North Sails Annapolis. Steve is an accomplished One Design skipper and crew with extensive experience in J/24s, J70s, Etchells, and Snipes, among many other boats.

Interested in North Sails or a Melges 14 test sail in Annapolis?
Contact Steve Pickel at

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

[Get Your New Melges 14  from Shoreline Sailboats]