Say Hello to the Melges IC37

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A decade ago, using Swan 42s, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) initiated its Invitational Cup, a biennial amateur sailing competition between some of the world’s larger yacht clubs. The 42s worked well to create a level playing field for the Corinthian one-design big-boat competition, but eventually a number of the privately-owned 42s were sold, making it difficult to field a full fleet for the Newport, Rhode Island-based competition.

That left the NYYC with a dilemma, which the club resolved by initiating the creation of an entirely new class, the one-design Melges IC37.This weekend, the New York Yacht Club’s 20 IC37s will make their racing debut in Newport.

The IC37 was designed by Mills Design and built at two factories, Westerly Marine in California and FIBRE Mechanics in the United Kingdom. North Sails supplies the three-sail class inventory, Harken provides the hardware and Melges Performance Sailboats sells and commissions the boats and manages the class. Because the IC37 was designed to be raced and chartered by all-amateur crews, cost, simplicity and easy upkeep were three mandates of the new design.

The New York Yacht Club will own the first 20 boats and lease them out for use by its members and to sailors from other clubs for competitions. Additional boats will be built for private ownership to expand the class beyond Newport and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the NYYC fleet will spend its winters.

The Melges IC37 Class features strict class rules intended to limit expenditures and level the playing field among competitors. The rules require coed amateur crews, limit boats to a single set of one-design sails, provide incentives for youth participation, eliminate costly masthead wind instruments, restrict private regatta coaching, and mandate a simple tuning matrix using mast step shims.

The IC37 is intended to make the racing about tactics and boat handling skills and be simple enough to be raced with a crew of family and friends.

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