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North Sails hosts Pro Sailor Summit in Minden, Nevada

Published on February 2nd, 2015

Twenty-five of sailing’s key opinion leaders descended into Minden, Nevada for the first North Sails Pro Sailor Summit. The event was the brainchild of Cameron Appleton and Chris Larson, the new guard who oversee North’s Class Sail Development (CSD) division.

“We came up with the idea during a brainstorming session about six months ago after visiting the North 3D facility,” said Appleton. “I’ve been an end user of our products for years but didn’t fully appreciate how unique the 3D process was until I saw it in person. I got back to Newport and thought ‘how cool would it be if we could show everyone what I just experienced?'”

The Pro Sailor Summit spanned two days and allowed the attendees to observe the entire process of building a North 3D sail, from computer modeling to hand worked finishing. VP Head of Design, Per Andersson and Technical Director of North Materials, Bill Pearson guided the group through a detailed tour of the two 3D buildings before heading into materials presentation with Pearson.

A major topic was the unique construction process of North 3DL and 3Di sails. Developed over 25 years ago, North sails 3D sail manufacturing originated with 3DL and evolved to 3Di and now 3Di called RAW, a stripped down, lighter version of 3Di. Originally developed for use in CSD classes, RAW is exceeding durability expectations and proving a valuable weight saving option for offshore programs such as Spindrift Racing and Jim Clark’s Comanche.

“At North, we define what the end product will do and then find or develop materials to get the result we want,” said Pearson. “This approach keeps us from being confined by what traditionally is considered sail making material. We were able to show the group the the process of making 3Di filament tapes all the way through sails curing on our patented 3D mold system.”

The group also spent time with Burns Fallow, one of North Sails highly experienced sail designers who also serves as Aerodynamics Specialist for Emirates Team New Zealand. Fallow’s presentation provided the group with a deeper understanding of the North Design SuiteTM, an integrated family of specialized software programs that allows analysis of sail, rig, hull and appendages together or in any combination. North sail designers and engineers have the unprecedented ability to virtually sail and test a boat in an infinite variety of wind and sea conditions before it has even been built.

“We’re very aware that North Sails is sometimes perceived as big black box,” said Ken Read, president of North Sails Group. “I have tasked our entire organization to create a kinder, more approachable and open North Sails. Hosting this group of opinion leaders provided a chance to open people’s minds and show them the wealth of resources available to help win regattas. Further development of our sails depends on feedback from the best in the business, and we’re listening. The Summit provided our guests with an open book of how we operate and who to contact if you need if you have questions.”

With the first Pro Sailor Summit complete, North is hoping to carry the concept across different areas of the business. “Last week left all of us energized, and we’re already discussing plans for the next event,” said Paul Westlake, North’s Global Head of Sales. “The discussion and feedback from the sailors was invaluable and will help shape future programs and support offerings from North Sails. Look for an announcement on our next Summit in the coming weeks.”

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