North Sails LOFT NEWS
MEET THE WOMEN OF NORTH SAILS TORONTO
Talented & Experienced, Our Teams Focus Is Maximizing Your Sailing
In the sailing industry we’re faced with intense seasonality on the Great Lakes (compared to other areas who can sail year round) which means the season is short and the pressure to maximize results is high and a guessing game of conditions. A shorter season means most racers want to achieve the greatest results they can within the 4 or 5 month span of Summer, which is usually flagged by lack luster wind (sorry Mother Nature, it’s true). Cruisers want to maximize their time on the water, enjoy the sunshine and breeze as well. Everyone’s trying to maximize our short season, so our job at the Toronto loft is vital as we try to keep sailors on the water as much as possible and manage the stress of sails in for repair or delivery of new sails.
Kyann is on the floor majority of the time servicing sails while I spend most of my time upfront working on marketing and interacting with customers. Come Summer we spend more time outside the office than in, helping customers install sails, picking up sails or delivering them, measuring boats or doing sea trials. Last year at the 2018 Susan Hood Trophy Race, we installed a new mainsail on a Perry 57 – with hardware – hours before the skipper meeting and start of the race. Not something you see everyday – both the install or the two women doing it. Not something of the norm yet in the community (yet) which results in a little bit of surprise when we are seen coming down the dock with battens or sails.
It is a great feeling when someone asks who they should talk to for a quote or a new sail and you respond by saying they can talk to you. You can quote them – then delve into questions about what they’re looking for, what type of sailing they do and what the best options are for them and the technology in the sails. This feeling continues when delivering sails; most people are pretty surprised to see a young female lugging sails down the dock or up a mast fixing things. To say we’re used to it would be an understatement however we enjoy surprising customers and helping with all aspects of sailing + sailmaking.
While sailing has historically been a male dominated industry, there are a great numbers of female sailors and athletes who can a) sail and b) help customers with their sailing needs, especially at a company like North Sails. Kyann and I both have the experience. Kyann has been sailing since she was 11 years old, starting in junior sail at Etobicoke Yacht Club, working here way up to racing by the age of 13. She’s also raced down south on Open 60’s in places like Malta and Antigua while also sailing 8 Metre’s, Shark’s, Beneteau’s and Soto 40. I have nine years in the marine industry with lots of experience in event coverage, management and support for sailors. I’ve also sailed Beneteau’s and J/Boats, growing up sailing a Beneteau 36.7. It’s a wonderful thing to work for a company that recognises this experience and work ethic; aiding in the continued growth of our skills and knowledge.
Beyond our office, athletes like Sally Barkow, Marie Riou and Carolijn Brouwer are competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup and World Match Racing Tour. Riou is the only sailor competing in the Sail GP event with the French Sail GP team while Brouwer is looking to be the first female skipper in the America’s Cup and Barkow is trying out for Stars + Stripes Team USA. Additionally, we’ve seen teams like Team SCA from the 2014/2015 Volvo Ocean Race to Team Magenta 32 who competed in the World Match Racing Tour have helped change the stage for women in professionally yachting.
We’re both fortunate to work for a company that supports women in sailing and the marine industry as a whole. North Sails has welcomed our enthusiasm and supported our drive to get out on the water more, supporting customers as much as we can. We love the industry that we both never thought we’d ever be working in and it’s fantastic to witness the growth over the last couple of years for female sailors. Kyann and I are both looking forward to the season ahead with our North Sails team and customers.
Happy International Women’s Day to all!
Check out more leading ladies changing the tides in sailing.