As North Sails prepares to open a new one-of-a-kind manufacturing loft in Gosport, UK, we go behind the scenes with the people who make the best sails in the world.
This week North Sails will officially open their new UK sail loft based in the maritime south coast hub of Gosport. The loft will incorporate many global departments under one roof: North Sails 3Di and Superyacht finishing, One Design sail production and Certified Service. It is the first loft of it’s kind to specialize in superyacht sails and boasts the largest raised finishing floor in the world at 1,950 square meters. Once again pushing the boundaries of sail technology, innovation, and manufacturing, this will be the North Sails flagship facility in Europe. Here’s what some of our team members have to say:
Rich Bell, Sail Design and Production Coordinator at North Sails Gosport
I have been with North now for coming on 19 years in various roles. I started I the loft floor thinking it would be a short term job to learn a little about my hobby of sailing, and soon enough I found a career in sailmaking! I describe my job as being the link between our sail designers and our team on the One Design loft floor. Working within the design group, my background in production helps me think of all the details our sailmakers will need to keep our operations running efficiently.
While I love to sail I’ve never been a top sailor, just a competent club sailor. Through North Sails I have hugely improved my own sailing and had the chance to work with many Olympic medalists and World champions, and hopefully I have contributed something to their campaigns through my work.
A typical day usually starts by catching up on operations in Sri Lanka and answering any questions they have. Noting the time difference, I like to sort any issues for them first so they don’t have to wait a day. The rest of the day fills quickly with tasks such as writing work tickets or resizing sail designs for class rules. Often I will take time with OD sailors & coaches to understand their needs, and then work with the team on the floor (pictured) to develop a new finishing idea.
Our new facility is already showing benefits simply by having all of our departments in one space. We are able to share ideas easily and understand how our teams work. Just listening to the daily conversations of the superyacht sail designers can be an education in the level of expertise North has in different areas of the sailing world.
Adrienne Fekets, Pre-Fabrication at North Sails Gosport
I have been working with North Sails since 2005. I love everything that is related to sailing and sailmaking. Although sailmaking can be a physical job I relish the challenge. Over the years I have been involved in all areas of sailmaking, from cutting and sticking panels, joining, second laying and finishing.
Today I work in pre-fabrication at the new loft, where I prepare and assemble parts, fittings and accessories to design specification. I am responsible for the details. Organizing and executing the information we have, our team provides all necessary components for the sails on the floor and those coming up.
Investment in the loft and the development of our processes has a positive effect on our total staff from top to bottom. Our new space encourages quality and attention to detail which are paramount at North Sails.
Clym Arnold, paneled sail plotter at North Sails Gosport
I first started at North Sails about 10 years ago. Between now and then I worked as a sail cloth production planner and purchaser at an external company, and was happy to bring that experience back. I really enjoy the atmosphere here, they’re a good bunch to be with and I’m proud of our end product, especially the superyacht sails. It’s nice to be a small part of something so inspiring.
My process is very methodical. I fire up the laser plotter and then go through daily checks. If there is a new sail to start I load up the CMD file onto the plotter, set the designated cloth and start cutting the sail panels. Some cloth cuts easier and quicker than others but usually I can clear the table as the plotter is cutting (pictured). As the panels come free I sort them into relevant sections to make the next job in the production line easier. My set up in the new building provides necessary space to sort materials immediately, where as before this would be done as a separate step entirely and take up a lot of time. The only real set back is the hike over to the next production location. I’ve suggested we all need Segways but I don’t think the budget will stretch to that!
Ever thought of joining the North Team? North Sail is hiring sailmakers for our One Design and Yacht Sails teams at the new loft in Gosport, Hampshire, UK. All the details here: http://goo.gl/0Q3ZFI