ULLMAN: The evolution of onboard expertise

Published on May 1st, 2013

UllmanDave Ullman grew up sailing in Southern California, started his sailmaking business in 1967 and remains active in running the network of lofts. Now deep into his 60s, with shelves of championship titles to his name, he continues to race and coach at the highest level. Here Dave offers his take on professional sailors…

For as long as I have been competing in keelboat racing, there always has been that value in having onboard expertise. It used to be sailmakers or other industry professionals, and when you used their product they would sail with you for free. Or it could be any local hot shot.

But an environment of professionalism has emerged, and often is the cast now that the onboard expertise is coming from individuals that are getting paid to provide it. No longer do you go to your sailmaker for the racing expertise, because now they are more likely expert sailmakers and not expert racers. Now you go to a professional sailor for your onboard expertise.

In a way this has helped the sailmaking industry. Now we are able to hire people that actually work at making sails, and not have employees that float in and out of the loft and juggle productions responsibilities with their sailing schedule.

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