When Melges Performance Sailboats launched the Melges 24 in 1993 the Melges team, led by Buddy, Harry and Hans Melges and Andy Burdick, initially coordinated the promotion and organisation of the class. Their clever marketing and hard worked ensured the Melges 24 got off to a flying start and gave the class the impetus it needed to become the world’s premiere grand-prix one design sports boat.
By the mid 1990's a European distributor and builder had been appointed and just as MPS had led the way in the USA so the European distributor initially handled administration and promotion of the class across Europe. A sponsorship agreement with Scotch whisky distiller Glenfiddich helped promote the embryo European regatta circuit and attendance at leading boat shows.
By the mid 1990s more than 300 boats had been delivered and the owners were becoming increasingly involved in managing the class. National Melges 24 Class Associations had been formed in the USA, several Europe countries and Japan with new nations joining each year. The growth of the class meant it was time to develop an international management structure. In addition the Melges 24 was now eligible to apply for ISAF International Keelboat Class Status.
At the first IMCA World Council AGM, attended by representatives of the National Classes and builders, an Executive Committee was appointed to take on day-to-day responsibility for class management. That first IMCA Executive Committee comprised Chairman Tom Freytag (USA), Vice Chairman Europe Henri Samuel (FRA), Vice Chairman North America Ed O’Sullivan (USA) and Secretary/Treasurer Keith Musto (GBR), all long-standing and dedicated Melges 24 owners. This team undertook the vital tasks of formulating essential class management and communications procedures, formalising agreements with the builders and designers to protect owners’ interests, liaising with ISAF to ensure the successful acquisition and maintenance of International status and appointing part time professional staff to assist with technical, administration and marketing matters.
The granting of ISAF International status not only helped to protect the class and encourage greater international ownership, but also enabled the first Melges 24 World Championship to be organised. Held in Torquay, England in September 1998, 98 Boats came to the starting line from 14 Nations for this first World Championship – an amazing feat for a keelboat class less than a decade old.
The firm foundations laid by that first IMCA Executive Committee have stood the class in excellent stead and the International Melges 24 Class Association has gone from strength to strength with some 800 boats now located across the globe, major championships regularly attracting in excess of 100 boats and class builders in North America, Europe and Australasia. The Class continues to be managed by the owners for the owners with the IMCA World Council meeting annually to agree overall policy decisions and the IMCA Executive Committee and its professional staff handling day-to-day business. For more information about how the IMCA is managed please see the IMCA Constitution (PDF), the IMCA Class Rules and details of the current members of the IMCA Executive Committee.