Happy Birthday Buddy! 80 Years Young, Still Iceboating, Still Teaching!
26 January 2010
Melges grew up on Lake Geneva racing the boats designed and manufactured by his father - Harry Melges Sr. He eventually took over operation of Melges Performance Sailboats while at the same time building a remarkable resume as a competitive sailor. Melges won Olympic medals in the Soling (Gold, 1972) and Flying Dutchman (Bronze, 1964) classes then captured consecutive Star world championships (1978, 1979). He is also a five-time E-Scow national champion and seven-time Skeeter Ice Boat world champion.
He does not take credit for the enormous success of the Melges 24 and 32 sport boat classes, which have attracted many of the finest sailors in the world. “I didn’t have anything to do with that. That was all due to the work of the kids,” he said, referring to sons Harry III and Hans. “They went to Reichel-Pugh and got the 24 designed. That boat obviously did very well so they went back to Reichel-Pugh and got the 32 designed. Then they added a 17-footer and the 20-footer. All four boats are fun to sail, every damn one of them.”
“I have to congratulate Harry and his staff. They have done a wonderful job of providing service to the fleets,” Melges said. “Harry demands quality and excellence, which is quite clear to me when I come to a big regatta such as this and see what is going on. What impresses me the most is the level of sailing that I am seeing in our classes. It is much improved from the first time we came down here.”
Melges is pretty much retired now and will be celebrating his 80th birthday on January 26th. Melges spends his time duck hunting, ice boating and tinkering in his work shop these days. “Every day is Sunday, but I only go to church one of the seven,” he joked. “I still love the Skeeter class and it’s a development program so I am always trying new things in terms of hardware and equipment.”
-- AN EXCERPT FROM RACE WEEK NEWS (PG 9):