Melges 17 Tuning Guide


  • We recommend not exceeding 350 lbs total crew weight as this puts excess stress on the mast and the boat.
  • When sailing, the boat performs best with the board all the way down in all conditions upwind. Downwind it is best to pull the board up 8” to 10” on the control line except in light air it will be best to leave the board all the way down.
  • It is important to always keep the ends of the spinnaker halyard tied off. It is difficult to re-lead through the backbone to the transom, so it is important to maintain control of both ends of the spinnaker halyard at all times.
  • The Roller Furler should furl counter clock wise when furling up the jib. So, it is important to roll it up clockwise before putting up the jib.
  • The Spectra outhaul line coming out of the thru-deck pulley on the end of the boom is meant to go through the clew of the sail and through the hole in the side of the boom and then tie a slip knot to make a 2:1 purchase.
  • The bow eye is suitable for tying the boat to the dock or towing the boat itself, but not suitable for towing multiple boats. When towing multiple boats tie off the tow line to the base of the mast, and tie off boats behind off the base of the mast as well.
  • McLube the mast track and the mainsail bolt rope to allow the mainsail to go up and down more easily.
  • You can also Mclube the spinnaker to make it easier to pull in and out of the chute launcher. Keep in mind that the standard spinnaker is made from silicone impregnated material so it is already very slippery.
  • When stepping the mast, tie off the bow sprit so that when tension is pulled on the spinnaker halyard, the bow sprit does not extend.
  • The red boomvang line comes up through the deck in the aft fairlead hole, the Cunningham comes up in the next forward hole in the center of the mast step, and the spinnaker halyard comes up the starboard hole on the side of the mast step.
  • After leading the chute retraction end of the spinnaker halyard through the lower grommet in the spinnaker tie a doubled up knot in the halyard about 12”-18” from the end before putting the end thru the top grommet belly patch and knotting off. This allows the spinnaker to go into the chute tube without a large bunch up of spinnaker cloth at the end of the line. Make sure you tie big enough knots so they don’t pull thru the grommets. If the kite will not pull all the way into the chute launcher the knots are too far apart.
  • When tying the tack line to the tack of the kite, tie a very short loop and keep the knot tight to the sail to prevent the knot from jamming in the block at the end of the pole.
  • Open tank drain plugs after sailing to check for water. Also, open forward inspection ports to check for water and air out when not sailing. Even condensation can add up to a considerable amount of water over time.
  • The diamond shrouds are pre set with 4” of pre bend in the spar. Be sure to keep the turnbuckles tied off.
  • Do not sail the boat with less than 3” of prebend in the mast and sufficient tension on the diamond shrouds. These shrouds support the mast head spinnaker and prebend the mast to fit the mainsail in light air.
  • Make sure that the ties remain on the sidestay turnbuckles as well to prevent the turnbuckles from changing settings or losing turnbuckle parts.
  • Check the spreader angle on the lower spreaders by running a straight edge across the tips resting on the shroud and measuring to the aft side of the mast tunnel. The measurement should be 10”. Also, make sure the tips are extended so there are 3 holes showing in the spreader tips.
  • When launching on a hoist, pay special attention to the mast and spreaders to prevent damage on the hoist. Also, make sure that the lifting bridle is secure and not caught under any deck fittings.
  • Do not walk on the foredeck while on the trailer unless the transom is secured to the trailer. The MELGES 17 is very light and it takes very little weight to have the bow go down and hit the trailer. The trailer bunks are set up to support the boat under the mast bulk.


  1. Untie the mast, untie the upper shrouds off the base of the mast and attach to the aft most hole in the chainplates. Be sure to tighten the shackle with a wrench and it is a good idea to use a plastic wire tie through the shackle hole and around the shackle to prevent the shackle pin from coming loose. The lifting bridle then attaches to the shackle on the upper shroud turnbuckle. Attach the lower shrouds to the forward most hole in the chainplate.
  2. Keep the rear hold down secured to prevent it from tipping over when rigging the mast, and keep the trailer latched to the vehicle.
  3. Slide the mast aft so that you can latch in the mast base to the deck plate, be sure to push the mast forward to hold the base in place and take care not to knock the base out by moving the mast aft or bumping the mast as this could damage the mast and boat if the mast drops to the ground. Be sure the boat is positioned to avoid any electrical wires or trees or other boats when stepping the mast. Also, be sure the boomvang lines (RED) and the Cunningham line (YELLOW) are pulled straight aft to prevent pinching under the mast base. And, the spinnaker halyard goes on the starboard side and you should place the line in the cutout on the starboard side of the mast base before stepping the mast.
  4. Run the spinnaker halyard (yellow/ white fleck, or gray) starting at the deck, go inside the boomvang bail at the base of the mast, up the aft starboard side of the diamond shroud turnbuckles, lead it on the starboard aft side of the starboard spreader, but in front of the spreader turnbuckle adjuster, lead it aft of starboard upper spreader, lead it thru the pivoting eye along side the main halyard cleat, thru the swivel block at the mast head and back down to the base.
  5. Run the Jib halyard, start by attaching the 1/8” spectra line to the becket block at the hounds. Slide the spectra loop thru the block and then the other end of the spectra thru the loop and pull tight. Attach the small 3mm blue jib halyard puller line to the lower end of the spectra line, run the small spectra line thru the becket block from front to back. This forms a 2:1 purchase with the jib halyard, secure both the tail and the loop of the spectra where the blue line is tied to the shock cord or gooseneck area.
  6. Run the main halyard from front to back on the mast head, keeping the snap hook on the front side, pull the halyard thru so the snap hook is at the top, the other end is tied off at the shock cord and the main halyard puller is attached to the snap hook and pulled down and tied off at the base.
  7. Attach any mast head Windex fittings.
  8. Make sure that all halyards and shrouds are run clean and free of tangles and twists. Make sure the turnbuckles are lined up and not kinked.
  9. Making sure the trailer is properly latched to the vehicle, stand in the cockpit just forward of the rear mast hold down and start walking up the mast, be sure to always push forward on the mast and keep the mast centered to make sure the base does not pop out of the mast step deck plate. The mast only weighs 22lbs so it is very easy to step. Once up, take the spinnaker halyard and tie off on the top of the trailer mast stand, make sure the bow sprit is tied in, make sure the other end of the spinnaker halyard is tied off, then cleat the spinnaker halyard and put a safety knot in it to hold up the mast.
  10. Putting up the jib; take the jib out of the bag, pull thru the jib forestay wire if it is not already installed, attach the top furling swivel to the top of the wire, shackle the head of the jib to the shackle on the top furling swivel, install the two jib battens, make sure the roller furling drum on the boat is furled up clockwise enough turns to completely furl the jib when up. Attach the tack of the jib to the roller furling drum, lead the tack line through the pulley on the shackle and up to the cleat on the jib, lead at least one side of the jib sheet system, attach the top swivel to the spectra line above the loop in the bottom end. Note: The Spectra goes right over the pin in the furler, there is no other fitting. Now, raise the jib with the small blue jib halyard puller line, ease the jib halyard adjuster purchase all the way out, snap the end of the jib halyard to the becket block and snug up the jib halyard purchase system. Pull on the jib luff so that it is snug and the jib will furl properly. Furl the jib. Finish leading the continuous jib sheet. Jib sheet starts in the cockpit, lead thru each ratchet, lead down through each pulley on jib clew, lead back to eye strap on jib car and tie a figure 8 knot.
  11. Mast rake and shroud tension; Set up the mast rake at 26’10”.When the shroud tension is set at #25 on the Model A Loos tension gauge. This equates to 210lbs and this is the base setting. Put a mark on the mast rake adjuster line at this setting. This is your reference point.
  12. Once you have the rig tuned at base, you can put the boom on the mast. Slide the boom onto the gooseneck pin, shackle the vang becket to the vang bracket at the base of the mast and shackle the other end to the boomvang bail on the boom. Careful, the boom can slide off the gooseneck pin. If you put the mainsail on, hook up the tack and the outhaul this will help keep the boom on, or, snug the boomvang slightly.
  13. Shackle the 40mm double pulley to the forward mainsheet eye strap; use the locking plate on the top of the pulley to keep the block from spinning, position the block fore and aft.
  14. Shackle the 40mm single on the aft eye strap and let it swivel.
  15. Lead the mainsheet, tie off on the 40mm double becket on the mainsheet bridle and lead thru the blocks appropriately.
  16. Now it is time to set up the asymmetrical spinnaker. Start by gathering the spinnaker on the port side of the port along side the chute launcher opening.
  17. Tie off the spinnaker halyard, look up and ensure there are no bad leads.
  18. Then tie off the tack line to the tack of the kite, make sure the tack is tied to the bow eye, goes up through the bow sprit pulley around the outside of the jib headstay and aft to the tack of the kite.
  19. Next you should lead the end of the spinnaker halyard that comes out of the chute launcher under the foot of the kite up through the lower belly patch grommet, then tie a large knot about 12”-18” from the end of the line. Then lead the line from the inside out on the top grommet and knot off with a large knot.
  20. Then lead the continuous spinnaker sheets starting in the cockpit, going through the 57mm Harken auto-ratchets shackled onto the eye straps just behind the chainplates, make sure that you look at the arrows so the ratchets will ratchet when the sheet is pulled in. Take the port sheet out around the port sidestay and tie off on the clew of the spinnaker. Take the starboard sheet out around the starboard shroud, around the outside of the headstay, stay inside the tack line, and go over the top of the spinnaker retraction line, then tie off on the clew of the spinnaker. Using the spinnaker retraction line, pull the kite into the sock helping it in at the same time, make sure the lines stay free and untangled.
  21. Launch the boat
  22. Pull up the mainsail; it is best to tie a bowline to the head of the mainsail to pull evenly off the top of the sail, keep the loop short and leave a bit of tail on the knot to make sure it does not come untied. Pull the main all the way up until the sail stops at the top of the tunnel, cleat the main in the mast head cleat and pull down on the luff to seat the line in the cleat.
  23. Lead the Cunningham up to and thru the mainsail grommet and back down to the eyestrap at the tack and tie off making a 2:1
  24. Make sure the outhaul is lead with a 2:1 purchase at the end of the boom.




0-10 knots

6-12 knts

10-18 knts

15-25 knts


Loosen 2 full turns from Base



Tighten 6 full turns from base




Base mark

Base mark


Loosen 3 full turns 1/2” of sag at spreader

No sag, lowers will be snug

No Sag

Tighten lowers 4 turns


4 holes showing behind car

4 holes showing

3-4 holes showing

3-4 holes showing



  • Angle of heel; heel the boat to reduce wetted surface in light air, keep the leeward board vertical in medium breeze and heavy air, work to keep the boat flat.
  • Only snug the boomvang unless you need to depower the rig, the vang will blade out the mainsail.
  • Only pull on the Cunningham when you are overpowered.
  • Trim the mainsail with more twist than a lower roached mainsail, the larger roach mainsail likes a bit more twist, watch the leech telltales, keep them flowing.
  • Going fast upwind requires only trimming the mainsail properly and trimming the jib properly with the correct lead. Do not over-tension the boomvang or the Cunningham.
  • If possible the helmperson should help either drop the board or raise the board.
  • If the waves are big, keep the boat flat, keep the jib leads forward and try a soft jib sheet tension.
  • Always pull the wrinkles out of the jib luff.
  • Downwind, sail with pressure, but don’t sail too high in the medium stuff. In light air, sail with weight to leeward, and the apparent wind forward. In medium breeze sail with pressure and weight in and try to get low on the course. In the bigger breeze hike hard and sail with pressure and the mainsail in.
  • Raise the leeward board 8”-10” on the control line downwind in a breeze over 8 knots. Keep it all the way down in light air.
  • Furl the jib after the kite is up.
  • Unfurl the jib before you take the kite down, the headstay will have more sag in it when you are unfurling the jib, uncleat the furler line and pull on the jib sheet a bit to get the jib to unfurl, do not force it, let the wind blow the jib out if possible so as not to damage the jib while unfurling.
  • Take out all of the slack of the kite retraction line before you uncleat the halyard.
  • On a windward take down, trim the windward sheet and clew around to the port side of the boat and strap the foot, hand the sheet to the skipper and retract the kite.
  • On a leeward drop, which is the hardest drop to do safely, you need to head straight down wind, strap the foot of the kite on the port side of the boat, heel the boat to windward(skipper and crew) and retract the kite while keeping the boat heeled to windward.
  • The Mexican takedown is the same as the other take downs, you simply trim the kite tight on the port side and gybe into it and retract it.
  • Skipper may have to tail the halyard down to help prevent the kite from dropping in the water. Speed on the retraction line is key.
  • When gybing, get the board down and go right into it, trimming the kite thru on the gybe as quickly as possible.
  • Practice all take downs, leeward and windward. Both take downs will require bearing away to unload the kite to more easily pull it in.
  • In very heavy air, keep the main trimmed in to help support the rig and to go really fast.
  • If you ever have rudder stalling problems in heavy air, at very high speeds, raise the board slightly.
  • Keeping the front of the boat organized: Try leading the spinnaker halyard over the top of the boom or through a caribbeaner attached to the boom vang bail on the boom. Also, leading the board up line through a caribbeaner on the forward mainsheet bail works well to keep the board line clean and easy to grab.

The MELGES 17 is a brand new, fast, exciting boat to sail. The above information is what we have learned so far about the boat. These are generalizations and will be a good starting point. It is good to experiment outside the range of these numbers slightly to see what works best for your team.

Be sure to take good notes so you can refer back to fast settings.

Sail fast and have a blast!