North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Manuel Lastra

500th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST CIRCUMNAVIGATION

History Repeats for Another Lap with North Sails

On August 10th, 1519, 239 sailors led by Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan sailed five ships out of Seville, Spain, looking for a trading route to the west. When one of those ships finally returned to Spain three years later, it was the first scientific proof that the earth is a sphere.

Next year, the 500th anniversary of that very first round-the-world voyage will be commemorated with a joint circumnavigation organized by the governments of Spain and Portugal, using their two most famous tall ships: Sagres and Juan Sebastián Elcano. North Sails will supply the sails for both vessels, a total of forty sails and 4,313 square meters of material. Top sails, jibs, and gaff sails have all been produced at North Sails in Cuntis, Spain, one of the only lofts in the world with enough space to handle such an enormous project.

“The Cuntis team has spent countless hours on the loft floor for over two months manufacturing these sails, alongside our racing and other classic sail designs,” says local sales expert Manuel Lastra. “We have extensive experience in the manufacture of Tall Ship sails. But when I see the leather used to reinforce the sail corners, I think about Magellan’s crew. When there were food shortages over the four months it took to cross the Pacific, they had no other option than to eat the leather from the sails.”

Magellan himself never made it home, and only 18 of the original crew completed the circumnavigation, returning under the leadership of Spanish navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano. Though Portugal’s Magellan has received most of the credit for the successful voyage, Spain and Portugal have organized this joint commemoration in part to recognize the important part the Spanish Elcano (and the Spanish king’s original funding) played.

With plans for many events along the way, the voyage may last as long as the original circumnavigation. Already on the schedule are celebrations at the start and finish of the 2019 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. For more information, visit the 5th Centenary website.

Looking for sails for your classic yacht or tall ship? Contact your local experts.

Story Contributors

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Manuel Lastra

Loft Manager —

Cuntis, Spain