One Design Spotlight: Harry Melges IV's Melges 24 Zenda Express

Melges 24 Zenda Express
Photo by Lexi Pline

Name: Harry Melges IV
Boat name: Zenda Express
Class: Melges 24
Crew names: Ripley Shelley, Malcolm Lamphere, Harry Melges III, Elizabeth Whitener, Jeremy Wilmot, and Chloe Hudgins
Years in class: 5
Hometown/yacht club: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Why did you choose this class and what do you like most about it?

I really love how the Melges 24 class tailors to a lot of different levels of sailors. You can, as a weekend warrior, participate in most Melges 24 events and be racing against some of the best sailors in the world. For me, that makes the racing really fun. The Zenda Express team is all about having fun and enjoying the racing. The boats are really a blast to sail, and we enjoy every second of it.

What is the biggest challenge your team has faced? How did you overcome it?

Before Charleston Race Week and the Gold Cup, we had never sailed with each other as a team. We seemed to be able to work through the kinks of learning how to sail the boat with each other quickly, mainly because we were having so much fun on the water.

What is currently your biggest challenge or most ambitious goal?

Our biggest goal is to win a World Championship, and, with the help of Quantum sails, I believe it is achievable for any team.

Will you be competing in this class more this season? If so, what are you most looking forward to?

We hope to be competing with everyone later on in the year. We are really looking forward to seeing all of our friends in the class!

You sailed with Quantum sails for the first time at Charleston Race Week and the Melges 24 Gold Cup. How did they perform?

We really loved sailing with the Quantum Melges 24 setup! The last sails that I sailed with on the Melges 24 were the North 3Di’s. After sailing two events with Quantum's I am very impressed. The biggest thing I can say for the sails is that they make it easy to go fast. They can be manipulated very well with controls and mast setup, but the material still holds up under high load. This combination makes Quantum the best sail throughout the entire wind range. We ended up using the A2.5 spinnaker across the varying conditions we saw in Charleston and felt very quick downwind. We were impressed with how low we could push this kite on the runs but also get up on the step and be the first boat planing on the course.

How did you and your team prepare for the challenging venue and competitive fleet in Charleston?

We really did not prepare that much. All of the crew members are really good sailors, so we just got our boat settled in, communication sorted out, and went racing. 

What were the most important lessons you learned in your recent regattas?

With Quantum sails, we found that it seems better to be tighter on the rig than you think when you start de-powering with backstay. And in Charleston, it was important to know what the current was doing throughout the day as we were sailing during tide switches.

What are you most proud of about your team or program?

We managed to have a great attitude and a lot of fun even though we were being challenged by hard-racing conditions in Charleston.

What is the funniest (or most embarrassing) thing that has happened to your team?

We wrapped a crab pot three times around our keel while we were leading a race during Charleston Race Week.

What is your advice to a new team in the class or to other teams trying to succeed?

My best advice to anyone trying to get into the class is to sail as much as you can and ask the “class veterans” lots of questions. Most of them are nice enough to share their knowledge.

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