During the 2005 Melges 24 Worlds in December, the top sailors exposed a newly found speed advantage: hiking (see images below). The class has never had lifelines, but rather the M24 has what they term a hiking line. The class rules have always regulated the hiking line to be rather loose, though its use for hiking has only recently been fully exploited.
The question is whether this is a good thing or not. It is widely agreed that hiking hard on the M24 has proven to be very fast, but it's not easy to do and most sailors use special belly pads to do it well. Since not everyone in the class is willing to make the sacrifice (hiking against the hiking line, even with pads, is not comfortable, and the later part of the fleet is generally not hiking), should the class make a change to keep the fleet together? Tighten the hiking line, and you restrict the hiking. Keep it loose, and you go faster.
Good arguments on either side of this, so click here
to take the poll.
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(photos by Thierry Martinez