Eight Bells: Brian Chapman

Published on January 24th, 2018

Brian Chapman

Brian Chapman, a sailmaker for over 45, passed away suddenly January 22 in Toronto, Ontario. He had just turned 60 on the first of the year and his absence already has been felt by the people he touched around the globe.

Brian was a dear cherished friend to so many people that were all fortunate to have experienced Brian’s sense of humor, adventure, and fair play. Moreover, those lucky enough to sail with him or have a sail designed by him, had the pleasure of watching his genius in action as well as his meticulous attention to detail.

He was a huge proponent of youth sailing, PHRF racing, and the education of sailors; his vision of sailing was inclusive and accessible and enjoyable.

“Brian Chapman’s rich sailing career began at Port Credit Yacht Club (Mississauga, ON) where he immediately displayed his tremendous passion for sailing and his fantastic talent,” recalled well-known Toronto sailor Mark Searle.

“He fine-tuned his sailing as a junior club member at PCYC winning his share of trophies. His late father Donald Chapman, had several keelboats before his brand new 1970 C&C 35 Mk 1 ROGUE II.

“Brian, still a teenager, not only helped build the sails for this premier racer but also fine-tuned her and was largely responsible for her winning many major events and championships.”

“Brian cut his first sails at Charlie Smith Sailmakers (Toronto) and then joined the team of Horizon Sails in Marblehead. His sail design skills grew tremendously under the tutelage of Bob Barton, Dave Curtis, Norm Cressy and others. It was at this time that he became friends with Professor Jerry Milgram of MIT and learned so much about computer-designed sails as well as marine architecture.

“Brian, Gerry Morris and I founded the Horizon Sails Toronto loft in the late 1970s, which supplied sails to several successful racers such as Admiral’s Cuppers MARAUDER and AMAZING GRACE who represented Canada in the famous 1979 Fastnet Race.”

After working at Horizon, Brian worked for Ulmer Sails, Hood Sailmakers and Quantum Sails in Toronto, all before opening his own loft UK Sailmakers loft in 2005.

His loft became one of the strongest in the Toronto market and he did it with great dedication to customer service, customer education and support of junior sailing. Along with taking great care of his customers, Brian was also UK Sailmakers’ Sail Design Coordinator/Librarian.

“He saw a job that needed to be done and he jumped in to create a sail design and sail plan database in order to make the group stronger,” said UK Sailmakers International’s President John Bennett. “He was ready to help any member of the UK Group. He was a dedicated team player.”

When Brian took on the Design Coordinator’s job he said, “This is a big job and very important position. I’ll be helping coordinate sail designs while ensuring the smooth flow of information between UK Sailmakers personnel worldwide. Fortunately, my loft experiences have exposed me to a variety of computer design programs, starting with UK’s original AccuCut in 1976 when Jerry Milgram created it.”

Brian’s dedication to supporting junior sailing was evident when he volunteered as Race Committee Chairman for the 2016 Optimist Canadians held at Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club. After the regatta he said, “Should these young people remain hooked on sailing, our future is in good hands! It does the heart good to see these young sailors master 26kts with care, confidence and control.”

We miss you Brian, fair winds, with condolences to his extended family.

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