North Sails LOFT NEWS


One of North Sails Australia’s Early Leaders

It’s with great sadness that we mourn the loss of one of North Sails Australia’s early leaders, David Forbes. A successful businessman and close friend of North Sails founder Lowell North, David embraced the position of interim manager of the loft in the late 1970s, to find stability and determine the future of the company.

David’s vision to ensure North Sails Australia was a success led him to Michael Coxon, appointing him Manager of the loft in 1982 which was the beginning of a life-long friendship.

Michael Coxon remembers his mentor sharing his vision clearly, “In the beginning, David came into the loft one to two days a week.” Coxon said. “And the other days, had me out to his business where we’d look at everything from business admin, to the production lines. I spent my time learning from David and he gave me confidence and taught me what business was about. On weekends we sailed Etchells and yachts together where my higher level of education continued on the water under Dave’s watchful eye. After a year under Dave’s mentorship Dave recommended I purchase North Sails Australia, at which point I stated that we needed to introduce a big boat specialist to compliment my sailmaking, one design, skiff and dinghy expertise. Dave introduced Grant Simmer, fresh from winning the America’s Cup as navigator on Australia 11. Dave showed great foresight in pairing Grant and I, recognizing our diverse skills complemented one another and over a 17 year partnership we positioned North Sails Australia to be a highly respected business within the North International Group.”

Forbes had great foresight in both business and on the water as an Olympic Gold Medalist in the Star Class from the Munich 1972 Olympics.

Coxon says, “Dave is the most naturally gifted yachtsman I’ve ever sailed with. He had the ability to feel the boat, and know what to tweak. Balance, trim, sail shape, rig tune, Dave could always put his finger on it after a few minutes on the helm. Naturally gifted and always generously investing in me.”

“I became his protégé. I could always call him up and get his advice. If I’ve picked up just a little bit of his skill set, I know I’m better off for it. He’s helped me in both sailing and business and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

“He touched so many people, and there’s no one else in my life who’s helped me more than Dave – though he’d deny it and laugh at me saying that.”

Coxon finished, “Dave Forbes vision positioned North Sails Australia to be where it is today.”

David was a friend to many, and North Sails would like to send our condolences to David’s family and friends.

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