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Shane Hughes joined the North Sails Ireland team in January 2017, working alongside founder Nigel Young in Crosshaven and Prof O’Connell in Dublin.
Since Young started the business in 2004, North Sails Ireland has grown into a major force in the Irish racing and cruising markets. Young believed the time was right to bring Hughes onboard to help service an ever-growing number of North Sails clients in Ireland.
“Ireland is emerging from the tough economic times of the last few years and I’m delighted that Shane will be joining Prof and myself as we begin 2017. Shane brings an unrivaled level of expertise as a racer and equally importantly is somebody who is highly-respected and well-liked.”
“Shane brings an unrivaled level of expertise as a racer and equally importantly is somebody who is highly-respected and well-liked.”
Hughes was born in Dublin and began his racing career at the age of nine at Howth Yacht Club. He competed nationally and internationally in Mirrors and 420s and began racing keelboats at the age of 15.
When Hughes was 19, Nigel Young invited him to become a member of the famed North Sails “1720 crew”. Soon after Hughes joined North Sails UK as a sailmaker. He went on to run the company’s service loft floor before being recruited to the sales team.
This resulted in many years competing at the highest level in the UK and international regatta circuits but Hughes also found the time to graduate with a business management degree from Southampton Solent University.
Hughes earned a reputation as an expert across a range of high-performance one-design classes. He was selected on several occasions by Oman Sail for the grueling Tour de France a la Voile marathon race around France and similarly won the 2015 Sailing Arabia The Tour event as part of the EFG Bank Monaco crew.
As the project manager and trimmer for several years with prolific British sailing team, ‘Red’, Hughes secured victories at the Melges 32 European Championship and in the Farr 400 and Farr 280 classes at Key West Race Week.
Other notable achievements include a J80 World Championship win as well as 17 UK National Championship titles across multiple classes including IRC Nationals Overall (3 times), Mumm 30 (3 times) Student Yachting (2 times) and 1720 (2 times). Hughes has also picked up 3 Irish National titles since returning home in 2017. 2 RS200 National titles crewing for Neil Spain and the Irish Half-Ton cup in 2019 with Darren and Michael Wright’s Mata. In 2019 Hughes also won the UK IRC Nationals Overall as tactician on Stuart Sawyer’s J122 ‘Black Dog’.
Hughes works with new and existing Ireland-based clients all across Ireland but will have a special focus on developing relationships along the east coast of the country.
From July 2020 Hughes will be taking on the additional duty of North Sails Ireland Service Manager.
Taking over from Richard Marshall who did a magnificent job over many years for North Sails, Hughes has set up a sail loft in Wicklow, providing nationwide service for all North Sails clients with easier access for the big Dublin and East coast market.
Speaking about the new venture Hughes commented ‘This is an exciting opportunity for me and for the entire North Sails Ireland team. After many great years, Richard had decided to take on other ventures so the opportunity to take over the sail service and repair operation seemed like a natural fit. I am very excited about what we can offer North Sails clients with this new set up. Hopefully, this will be a space where they can engage with us and source information as well as keeping their sails in top condition. I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead!’