North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Marie Fabre Story Contributors: Paul Westlake

FIRST, FIRST AND FIRST

A North Sails Bingo at the 2021 Nations Trophy

Nations Trophy
📸 Ottavia Raggio / Rocket Performance

What is one thing the Swan One Design Nations Trophy winners had in common last weekend in Palma de Mallorca? Niramo, Natalia and Vitamin all carried North Sails. A complete success, but for North Sails Executive Vice President Paul ‘Flipper’ Westlake, “you can never stop pushing.”

Calling in from Palma, Westlake has plenty of reasons to celebrate. “We’ve worked heavily with Nautor’s Swan in the early days, from the very first event onwards, so getting together after the grips of this pandemic, with 29 high-level teams competing at the Nations Trophy was very, very impressive.” It’s clear this year’s results reflect the long-term collaboration between North Sails and the ClubSwan classes. 

“North Sails updates the sail designs at the end of every season for these one-design classes. The 2021 package got released in 2020, when there wasn’t much sailing, but we continued to develop. Our individual conversations with all our customers, our work with the trimmers and the owners, have set the baseline for what we believe is a race-winning package.”

“We see that in the ClubSwan 50 class in particular,” says Westlake, “because it’s quite highly developed now, and each of the sailors has their own input.” No doubt Sonke Meier Sawatzki’s Niramo, the ClubSwan 50 winner in Palma, had his own. 

Natalia Brailoiu’s ClubSwan 42 Natalia took the honours in a class “that has been around for many years now but continues to push,” adds Westlake. “For us, it’s a matter of fine-tuning, adapting to people’s style and to the events that are on the circuit.” 

The ClubSwan 36 class however is still going through what he calls “the evolutionary phase,” explaining that “the boats were launched in 2019 and everyone is starting to race now. Obviously, we missed a lot of racing and learning last year so the top teams are still pushing hard to understand how to get the maximum performance out of the boat. The likes of Andrea Lacorte’s Vitamin, who won this year in Palma, was  really dominating.”  

Nations Trophy
📸 Ottavia Raggio / Rocket Performance

That ClubSwan 36 is still going through some modifications, and its sail plans will evolve again in 2022. “One of our jobs is making sure that we’re always working very closely with the ClubSwan 36 class in the background,” adds Westlake. “We put a lot of effort  into supporting them on the aerodynamics side.” 

Having not even left Palma yet, Westlake had already turned his focus to the next milestone. “All of our clients are talking about the 2021 Swan One Design Worlds in St. Tropez from October 13 to 17. You can never stop pushing. The Nations Trophy work has finished, but now the work begins for Worlds. I’m just looking at my calendar – it’s only three weeks away!” 

The same teams will face each other in Southern France and the fleet size will be very similar – “everybody wants to win the World Championships!” 

Conditions in St. Tropez are variable, making for a very open event. Westlake enthuses: “Palma Bay can be relatively predictable, although it was quite tricky this time around, with unstable winds and velocity. You can get anything in St. Tropez in October, from 5 to 30 knots, from flat to bumpy waters. It’s going to be an exciting event for sure.” 

That’s Westlake for you – focusing on what’s next rather than enjoying that Spanish (then French) sunshine. 

Nations Trophy
📸 Ottavia Raggio / Rocket Performance
Earlybird
📸 Ottavia Raggio / Rocket Performance

Story Contributors

A North Sails Bingo at the Nations Trophy headshot
Paul Westlake

Sail Expert — Sydney, Australia

After 14 years of experience with sailcloth manufacturer Bainbridge International, Paul “Flipper” Westlake joined North Sails in 2001, subsequently becoming President of North Sails Cloth. A deciding factor in making the move was North’s dedication to technology and willingness to...