Looking at the search terms used by persons visiting this site I notice that many are looking for comparatives between Jerry Montgomery’s latest design, the Sage 17, and the much older design he and Lyle Hess created back in the early 1970s – the Montgomery 17.
To begin the discussion of the S17 v. M17 I’ll start by stating: I work for Sage Marine, the builder of the Sage 17.
I first sailed the Sage 17 in February of 2011. That Sage 17was the prototype boat, GOSHAWK, owned and built by Jerry Montgomery. Jerry and I sailed GOSHAWK during two races at the annual Lake Havasu Pocket Cruisers Convention at Lake Havasu, AZ. The first race Jerry and I didn’t even have the boom installed on the boat when the race started. We crossed the starting line at least 10 minutes behind our fleet. We caught all the boats in our fleet, including all the Montgomery 17s, before reaching the first weather mark. By the end of the race we had caught all but four of five of the larger boats that started 20 minutes before we started the race. The winds during this race averaged 10 knots and we were underpowered (we chose, conservatively, to fly the ‘lapper’ jib instead of the genoa as this race was the first time a Sage 17 had ever been on the water OR sailed).
The second race was a drifter … if doubt if the wind ever blew above 5 knots. In this race the Sage 17 beat every boat on the course … this includes the 25′ and 26′ boats.
The above racing performance, and success, has continued over the past two years. The most recent race, as of this writing, the two Sage 17s participating finished seconds from each other during the annual Cruiser Challenge at Monterey Bay, CA. The Sage 17s finished more than 10 minutes before the next boat to cross the finish line (the boat happened to be a Montgomery 23).
So is the Sage 17 faster than an M17 – yes a Sage 17 is much faster than a stock M17. As of this writing the only M17s that have sailed close to the S17’s speed are a ‘tall rig’ M17 (late 1970s model with a cast iron centerboard and high-tech sails) and one of the few fixed keel M17s.