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Story Contributors: John Bowden


Thoughts on the New Melges 24 3Di Mainsail

The Melges 24 Europeans hosted by Fraglia Vela Riva on Lake Garda gave the seventy-two competitors everything that is to be expected on a typical summer day racing on Lake Garda – light winds in the morning followed by a strong mountain breeze coming in the afternoon. Over the past year North Sails have put in a lot of development to their small boat 3Di sails which has included a new inventory for the Melges 24 class.

We spoke to North Sails expert John Bowden who was onboard third placed USA team Lucky Dog. They used the new North 3Di designs for the Melges 24 class and this is what John had to say about their performance.

What is your role on the boat and what were the things you were looking out for in the big breeze?

I am the trimmer, responsible for the sails for the boat. We were happy with our setup in the breeze and we were very happy with the flexibility of the 3Di sails in the only one light air race of the event.

Which sails were you using? And how did you find them?

We used the 3Di Mi-1 mainsail for the three days leading up to the regatta and the more we used the sail the better it looked. Through our tuning and speed testing with the top boats we were extremely satisfied with the 3Di performance that we decided to measure the Mi-1 mainsail at the very last minute. For the jib, we used the standard J-7K jib. We measured the P-1 and the P-3 Asymmetrics although we raced with the P-1 95% of the time.

What was the trick to go fast upwind in these conditions?

The main setup very well, we stuck to the North Sails tuning guide. The mainsheet was a bit more sensitive than the old sail, but once we got used to it the sails went up and down the range better than expected.

And the same for downwind?

Downwind we used the P-1 spinnaker and were super happy with that sail. It has always been our default.

The big surprise was that there was more sheet load on the mainsail downwind. I think this was a huge factor in our speed downwind. Great layline calls were also critical, but the lack of stretch in the Mi-1 3Di Mainsail gave us more power down low to help us go forward. We were quite surprised at how the sail made that big of a difference off the wind.

Did you use the North Sails tuning guide?

Yes, we stuck with the tuning guide. The Mi-1 3Di Mainsail seemed to react very similarly to the AP-3 Mainsail in all conditions. We were just conscious to not be too loose as the lack of stretch in the mainsail made it quite powerful.

Do you have anything else to add about the sails?

We were very happy with the new mainsail, 3Di is definitely our future. We are looking forward to spending more time with the new jib. I think the durability of the material will be huge for these sails. We are expecting to see almost twice the life out of them over the standard sails!

Are you interested in our Melges 24 3Di products? Get in touch with a class expert today!

Story Contributors