North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Tor Tomlinson


Off the back of their successful 2021 season, longstanding North Sails customer Tom Kneen and his team are heading “Down Under” to take on the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. North Sails have been working with Tom and the team from the start and are proud to be part of the next chapter.

Tom Kneen and his team have been making waves on the international stage recently, winning the Rolex Fastnet Race Overall in 2021, infamously coming second in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2021, and winning their class in the Caribbean 600 in 2022. Their scoreline in the 2021 Royal Ocean Racing Club Championship was unprecedented in its 21-year history. As a result, there is ‘plenty of hype’ already around the first British-based yacht and team to make the trip to compete in the Great Race for over 10 years.

North Sails Expert Mike Henning has been working with Tom since 2014 when he bought his first yacht, a cruiser/racer Elan 350. By his own admission, Kneen’s first Rolex Fastnet Race in 2015 was “a comedy of errors” but a great introduction to yacht racing that left him thirsty for more. Seven years down the line, the team and the boat have evolved quite significantly. Tom’s first move was into a new JPK 1080 before taking delivery of the current Sunrise, JPK 1180 Hull #2, in 2018. 

📸ROLEX | Kurt Arrigo

The JPK 1180 was initially designed with a symmetrical setup. The team at North worked to optimize the sail inventory, with the initial targets being a mix of inshore and offshore racing. After the first season, the team began to focus more on offshore racing, so the next challenge arose. The North Sails design team was tasked with optimizing for offshore by transitioning to a longer bowsprit and a fully asymmetric setup, which the team are still racing with. This setup, along with a new rig and taking some weight out of the boat, has brought Sunrise to where she is today.

We spoke to Tom just before he headed south, “For North – “When I started my sailing journey, I was skeptical and didn’t understand or appreciate the massive value that working with North Sails would bring to the Sunrise project. We have been working with the team at North for almost 6 years and, given our tight budget, have invested time in developing the relationship so designs are optimized. The quality of the product is second to none, and the results speak for themselves. When taking on challenges such as the Sydney Hobart Race, it’s good to have peace of mind that our sails are the best they can possibly be!”

With a full new wardrobe on the way for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, Sunrise will be sporting a new 3Di mainsail, 3Di Helix™ upwind jibs, 3Di Helix Code Zero, and a Full Nylon Inventory including a new design A3. The Gosport team has been working with the Mona Vale loft in Sydney to ensure that Sunrise’s sails are delivered, IRC measured, and ready to race when they touch down in Sydney next week.

Mike Henning said, “We at North Sails have had great pleasure in working with Tom over the years and, more recently, refining and developing his sail inventory in collaboration with the Sunrise crew and our design team. The new sail wardrobe should put them in a great position to challenge in the race, and they will be serious contenders.”

A strong fleet of 115 yachts are entered for the 2022 edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. The renowned 628 nautical mile (1,163 kilometer) offshore race begins with a journey south from Sydney, taking competitors on a challenging racecourse comprising a long passage down the New South Wales coast and then across the easternmost edge of the exposed and infamous Bass Strait.

The race begins at 1300 (GMT+11) on Monday 26th December in Sydney Harbour. 

Rolex Fastnet North Sails
📸Paul Wyeth | RORC
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