UK Sailmakers Opens First Loft In New Zealand

Published on September 28th, 2015

For the first time in the company’s 69-year history UK Sailmakers has a loft in New Zealand. Lennart Dalhström, President of UK Sailmakers International, announced that Phil Houghton, with his loft in Whangarei, has joined the group of nearly 50 UK lofts around the world.

“Phil who goes by ‘Phizzle,’ has 33 years of sailmaking experience will add a great deal to the UK group in addition to expanding the groups global footprint,” said Dahlström. As for why he joined the UK Sailmakers group, Houghton said, “I find it a significant business strength that all the lofts in the UK Sailmakers group are independent businesses yet they work together seamlessly to offer sailors around the globe excellent sails at competitive prices.”

The loft in Whangarei is located in the marine hub two hours north of Auckland. Whangarei is the destination for cruisers who cross the Pacific to be out of the cyclone belt for the summer months.

Phil’s vast sailmaking experience goes back to making sails for New Zealand’s first America’s Cup challenger, KZ1, in 1986 as well as for the Whitbread maxi’s STEINLAGER I and II. He was also the shore sailmaker for YAMAHA, which won the Whitbread 60 class in the 1993-1994 Whitbread Round the World Race.

In October 1994 Phil, together with Richard Bouzaid, opened the first New Zealand Doyle Sails loft in Westhaven, Auckland. The company grew to three separate lofts in Auckland. Phil sold his share of the business in 2008.

Working on a contract basis for Doyle Sails, Phil has been busy overseeing their Superyacht services. His final project at Doyle before becoming a UK loft in Whangarei was Head Sailmaker for SANYA 2011, the first Chinese entry in the Volvo Round the World Race.

Phil’s racing experience is vast with thousands of miles of ocean races that include Sydney to Hobart races, races to Fiji and Noumea as well as major international race weeks including Key West and Hamilton Island. And, if that isn’t tough enough, twice he raced double-handed around New Zealand’s North Island.

UK Sailmakers was founded in 1946 as Charles Ulmer, Inc., in New York City. In the 1970s, when computers made sharing sail designs possible, Ulmer Sails branched out with lofts around North America. In 1984 the company changed its name to Ulmer Kolius Sailmakers and in 1987 the name was shortened to UK Sailmakers. The group has grown over the years taking in Horizon Sailmakers as well as Halsey Lidgard. For more information, visit

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