Conversations Within The Sport of Sailing — Andy Burdick

Conversations Within The Sport of Sailing — Andy Burdick Andy Burdick Related topics:

16 January 2009

As published by Scuttlebutt

It is often said how sailing is unique as a sport, where the opportunity is readiliy available to compete against the very best in the sport. Occassionally we get the chance to chat with them too.

(January 14, 2009) Andy Burdick, President of Melges Performance Sailboats, provides some insight into their sportboat class rules

The Melges 24 class does not restrict Group 3 (professional) sailors or restrict advertising beyond the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) rules. Was this a decision to create a semi-pro league?

First, I think that a wide range of sailors are attracted to the Melges 24. The hot shot pro sailors love the speed and performance and the weekend racer loves the simplicity, the ability to tow it anywhere and have it rigged in a short period of time and then of course they too love the exhilaration of a sportboat.

To be honest, I know of just a few boats that pay their entire crew. The class is still made up of primarily Corinthian sailors. Sure, there are some crew that are paid on boats but if you look at the numbers, the larger amount of sailors are the weekend sailors that love the sport. The pros that are attracted to the class love the performance and the makeup of the Melges 24. When you love to sail like these people do, you want to race on fun and exciting boats. The Melges 24 offers that.

How has the class rules regarding sailor classification and advertising affected Melges 24 class growth?

Allowing sponsorship has probably allowed the class to grow overall. People get sponsors and it helps them to afford regattas, sails, etc. The Melges 24 class is high profile so it helps the sponsors in return. While Europe seems to have more sponsorship opportunities, the classification of sailors has been helpful for both continents. However, having a Corinthian division in our class rules has probably helped even more so though. Again, that is the focus.

Were there lessons learned in the Melges 24 class regarding advertising and sailor classification that were used in setting up the Melges 32 rules?

When we set up the Melges 32 class rules we wanted to develop something totally different from the Melges 24. We wanted to have Group 1 (Corinthian) drivers in this class and indeed this has made the Melges 32 class successful. It was more of having something different rather than "learning" from the Melges 24 class. (Class Rule C.9.4. - For sanctioned One Design class events, the crew shall be composed of Group 1 competitors except that up to three (3) crew members may be Group 2 or 3 competitors, but, not more than three (3) may be a Group 3.)

What will the class rules be like for the new Melges 20?

The Melges 20 class rules are near completion and again we have developed something different for this class. We are really excited about the Melges 20 and what this boat will bring to the sport of sailing. The skipper will need to be Group 1 (Corinthian) and the crew can be professional although you certainly will not need an all pro crew to compete. This boat is simple yet sophisticated. Anyone can sail it and race it. We want the Melges 20 to be attractive to all sailors.