Dave Ullman : The Sportboat Authority
30 January 2009
As published by Scuttlebutt: Dave Ullman knows something about sportboats. He has won the Melges 24 Worlds, he has won the Melges 24 class twice at Key West Race Week, and now he is riding the learning curve of the Melges 32. Here he shares his observations following his trip to Key West, sailing with Alex Jackson on his Melges 32 ‘Leenabarca’:
Scuttlebutt: Compare the sailing characteristics of the Melges 32 to the Melges 24.
Dave Ullman: Proportionally, the Melges 32 is quite a bit heavier, so it goes upwind much better (especially in heavy air), but is slower and, as a result, not as exciting downwind. Upwind, the Melges 32 is more like a Farr 40 -- it's heavier, so the racing is quite close. There isn't a big difference in speed between the boats, so the Melges 32 is quite tactical and the boats go the same speed. Downwind, the Melges 32 planes and is quite lively for a 32-foot boat, but not in the same mode as the Melges 24.
Scuttlebutt: Are the classes attracting the same people?
Dave Ullman: No, they're not. The Melges 24 is attracting a large variety of people. At the upper end, there are full professional teams with some professional owners (some not), but teams that sail at an extraordinarily high caliber. In the middle of the fleet, the Melges 24 is attracting amateur drivers with a small number of pros onboard or all amateurs. And at the bottom of the class, the Melges 24 is attracting relatively experienced sailors, but sailors relatively new to top-level sportboat sailing. Ultimately, the Melges 24 is one of the few classes where you can race against top professionals and fully professional boats. On the Melges 32, you have a Cat 1 owner-driver with three high level pros among 8-9 people onboard. The class is following the same mould as the Mumm/Farr 30 and Farr 40 sailing... quite competitive.
Scuttlebutt: For a new program like yours, where has the learning curve been steepest?
Read on: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/news/09/tt