MELGES RACING INTERVIEW WITH USMCA PRESIDENT, TRAVIS WEISLEDER
We are thankful to have Travis Weisleder participate in our Melges Interview this month.
Travis is the new President of the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association.
Melges President, Andy Burdick, touched base with Travis for this month’s interview.
AB: What year was it that you purchased your first new Melges Boat and attracted you to the Melges Brand?
TW: I bought my first Melges 24, #416, in 2001. My first M24 event was a super cold and windy North American Championship in Annapolis — I think we got last place, but I was hooked on the 24 for life.
I subsequently went on to buy my first new boat in 2005 which was number 605. I sold that boat in 2008/9 to take a break to focus on work and family and then in 2015 in anticipation for the Miami Worlds I got back into the class buying 848. I recently sold 848 and have ordered a new one (858) and will take delivery from Melges in the fall. In the meantime I will be sailing the old Full Throttle which won the 2013 Worlds.
To me, Melges means fast and fun. All of their boats I have sailed on (from the Melges E Scow, Melges 17, Melges 20, Melges 24 and Melges 32) all follow that same theme: Easy and fun, just add water. That’s what we need to put back into sailing.
AB: The Melges 24 is still strong. Regattas are well attended. New boats are being built and there is another round of new boat buyers. Melges is gearing up to build a number of new Melges 24s. What keeps people so interested in the Melges 24?
TW: The Melges 24 is a timeless design that is now over 25 years old but is still bar that all "sportboats" try to measure to. Reichel/Pugh Yacht Design and the Melges Team’s design and development of the 24 was way ahead of its time. There is definitely a resurgence of the Melges 24 within in the US. I think that the 2016 Worlds was a catalyst for this. Over the past few years there has been a large number of very good, very affordable used boats sold which is spurring local fleet growth all over the country; right now the used boat market is extremely tight.
AB: North Sails was instrumental in the recent Melges 24 Midwinter Tune-Up event in Miami. North Sails has a Regatta Services division, which is so beneficial to the sport of sailing. Explain the experience please.
TW: At the first meeting of the new US Melges 24 Class Association leadership team, we discussed in detail how we can help get more boats out sailing and what we need to do as a Class to make that happen. The team agreed that we need to help the new local owners as well as the middle–back of the pack guys tune and sail the boat better. The more comfortable they feel, the more they may get out and sail. So our concept of the training camp came to fruition.
The objective was to offer in-race, on-water coaching from M24 experts combined with pre- and post-racing debriefs using drone video as reinforcement.
Talking with many of the attendees, I did not hear one negative comment, and I received lots of great feedback for the future. Our pre- and post-sailing debriefs were standing room only — Almost every sailor showed up for them. Everyone from 2013 World Champ Brian Porter to some of the new teams, all said they learned a ton and want the class to expand the concept.
This could not have been done without the support of North Sails and their team of Brian Janney, Chuck Allen, John Bowden, Andy Burdick and others. Also Lara Dallman-Weiss from Double.Shot.Studios and Felipe Juncadella from UP TOP Media and their awesome drone footage, Randy Draftz and his team for organizing, Gill North America for trophies and Shake-A-Leg Miami for opening up their facility. We are very excited in developing a plan with North Sails on how to expand this concept both regionally as well as more National events.
Lastly, in conjunction with NorthU, Doubleshot and the Class we will be producing Melges 24 boat handling and sail trim videos.
AB: Graduate To Fun – The Melges 24. What does this statement mean to you?
TW: Move from the slow and complicated and get into the fun lane. With the Melges 24 you have a turnkey perfect boat and just need to add water and a smile!
AB: You are in Miami, racing Melges 24s. What’s on your playlist as you walk down to the dock? Give us 5 top Melges 24 songs!
TW: Top 5 songs. I would say Pandora with AC/DC, Dave Matthews or Classic Rock stations. Or pretty much anything other than the smooth Jazz that Wilson Stout has been playing in the mornings!