Here are the Melges of the nineteenth century: they were called Sandbagger and they were pulled tight!


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sandWe can say that the Sandbagger represented in the 1800s what the Melges represent to us today. Tightly raced boats on which the world’s best crews compete. That’s right, the Sanbagger was the star boat in the 19th of the New York Bay regattas, and today, one of these hulls is about to be refurbished at the hands of Cantieri Riva of Laglio, on Lake Como (a shipyard that takes care of the cobstruction and restoration of wooden boats since 1771). The Sandbagger was a very popular sloop in the 19th century whose lines were inspired by boats used in New York Bay for lobster fishing in the shallows.



The term Sandbagger refers to the sandbags that were used to shift the boat’s center of gravity and counteract the effect of wind on the sails. These hulls had varying lengths that could range from 20 to 30 feet, a sail area that was absolutely disproportionate to their length (the sail plan was twice as high as the length of the barc), a long bowsprit, a low freeboard: the crew on board consisted of 10 to 15 people.

They were boats that were born to be fast on the water, as at the beginning of their history they were fishing boats that aimed to reach the market first to sell their catch at a higher price. People in the harbor soon began placing bets on which boat would be the first to reach the shore thus transferring the competitive spirit to these hulls. Thus from 1860 to 1890 sandbagger races became very popular in New York Bay and along the Atlantic coast to New Orleans, but also on the West Coast in San Francisco Bay. Crews shed sandbags as the wind diminished, running the risk of being underweight if the air increased again. We now look forward to seeing this beautiful model sail the waters of Lake Como as soon as Cantieri Riva has completed its restoration.




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