Haarstick Sailmakers: End of an Era

Published on April 28th, 2015

by Steve Haarstick
It’s been almost fifty-one years since I begged for a part time job at Hard Sails in the summer of 1964. Although I was hired to design and build a portable sail testing rig, I realized what Hard Sails really needed was someone to develop an alternative to their current “eye-ball”, “that’s the way they like them” approach to sail design and construction. Being an engineer, I figured how hard could this be? I couldn’t wait to quickly solve this project part time while I started graduate school that fall.

What was supposed to be a brief project became my life’s work! After my move to Ithaca in 1968, I got my fledgling design programmed on a main frame computer, and we began to expand our business from a few one design classes to larger boats. In short, everything that involved sailmaking, sailing, and the business of sailmaking was exciting. There was never a short supply of things to learn, problems to resolve, new products to develop, and, of course, the need to keep a small and rapidly growing company solvent. I don’t think I can remember any time at which I was ever bored!

There have also been many up’s and down’s, as we’ve been through the burden of moving the loft more times than I care to remember, especially in 1983 when my Pattenwood drive loft burned to the ground, and finally to our current site here on Hudson Avenue in 1997. Believe me, none of these moves were easy, or cheap, and with lots of anxiety.

However, after staying in business for so many years, I am especially grateful for the efforts of so many employees, past and present that have contributed to the many innovations in sailmaking that were developed at our loft. From our early computer design programs in 1968, to the world’s first computer cut (Laser) sails in 1974, our custom Computer cut spinnakers in 1975, our still unique “Impact Flutter” testing program from the late 70’s, to our “Quilt-Cut” sails in 1978, and the many other improvements and innovations that we have developed over the years.

In the final analysis, I am proud of the fact that we have always developed our loft solely on the efforts of many hard working, really smart people that have been part of Haarstick Sailmakers. I am most grateful for all the employees, past and present that have made my life quest possible.

But after I had some health problems last year, and actually turned 73 this past January, I realized that a continuity plan was necessary if this loft would have a secure future and be able to provide the same excellent sails and service if and when I retire. Well, retirement time has come!

I am very pleased to announce that a very capable sailor, Kris Werner has agreed to purchase my loft which he will transition to Quantum® Sails Rochester. This will allow Kris to combine the support, expertise, and the technology of the international Sailmaker, with the exceptional level of service and support that our upstate customers have relied upon for so many past seasons.

I am very pleased and fortunate to have found such an excellent solution. I know all our past customers and all those to come will be very pleased with the smooth transition from Haarstick Sailmakers to a member of the Quantum family of Sailmakers.

Thank you all for allowing me to spend all my working years doing what I have loved!

Source: Haarstick Sailmakers; April 28, 2015

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