North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Drew Mitchell


New Adventure Awaits with XP44 Phoenix 


With almost 40 years sailing under his belt, Gord Wylie is a veteran of the new boat ownership club, having four keelboats so far. His favourite? The J/29. It was his first keelboat and chance to be a skipper while being in charge of crew. He got the boat fixed up over time and turned it into a winning boat. His focus now though is his new XP44, which he sails out of Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. North Sails expert Drew Mitchell caught up with Gord to share details of his new vessel.

Gord, the new XP 44 you have brought to Vancouver is quite the machine. What was the decision maker on this specific boat? Is it turbo’d correct?

Analysis, years of looking at boats. We were looking for a boat that can grow with our family as our children are getting older that has the ability for offshore racing and cruising. This boat is a long term boat for our family, 10 years or more. We wanted this boat for Vic Maui 2020.

You purchased and moved this boat to Vancouver during this pandemic, did you run into any issues and where did the boat come from?

We relied on the knowledge of professionals in our sailing community. Ross MacDonald from North Sails and  Ian Fraser from Fraser Yachts for transport and boat knowledge.The boat came from Southampton to Tacoma, transport from Tacoma to Vancouver was difficult and in the middle of shutdown. Set up the boat when it arrived was also difficult as we were not able to have assistance from many people.

Once you got the boat to Vancouver the pandemic was in full swing, this obviously changed your racing plans to cruising plans. How does the boat set up differently for two different types of sailing?

We initially set up the boat for cruising but did switch to race mode for a bit, the racer in me needed to test out the boat in race mode. We have scratched the surface on testing the race sails, the boat came with a large inventory. Ross MacDonald has been very helpful with boat knowledge and sail inventory.

When the sail inventory came into the loft I could barely get in the front door. With such a large inventory how do you plan to manage it?

We have about 30 sails for the boat and have cleaned out the kid clutter in the basement and built a sail loft. Ross MacDonald and Dennis Lefeaux [from North Sails Vancouver] have been and are being very helpful with sorting through the sail inventory.

I saw you out in the WVYC single/double handed race earlier in the year, how did the boat perform? Was it difficult to run such a large boat with only two sailors on board such a new large boat? 

We really enjoyed the day, it was our first time in any breeze and give a shout out to Drew Mitchell for hopping on board and helping with some stuck cars not adjusting properly.

Obviously with the racing scene shut down in Vancouver you must be enjoying some cruising, where have you headed and does this boat cruise as well as she races? What are some of the features on the boat that make cruising enjoyable? 

We have been cruising in Desolation Sound and Johnson Strait this summer, my favorite stop this year in Desolation Sound was in Wallace Cove. We have some great cruising features on this boat including a cockpit table that recesses into the floor so you can have a wide open cockpit when underway and a dodger that folds down into a garage.

Say that the racing scene comes back in 2021. What events do you plan on attending?

Anything and everything, we are planning on racing offshore and PNW races. 

Any recommendations to future boat owners on purchasing sailboats outside of Canada?

Do not underestimate the value of a broker who understands international shipping, a lot of money can be lost if not done correctly. I was fortunate enough to have an excellent broker.

How did the name Phoenix come to fruition?

We needed to come up with a name during the middle of the lock down and pandemic, Phoenix symbolizes a better future, rising from the ashes and seemed fitting for the times we are in and needing to look into a brighter future.

Story Contributors

Customer Spotlight: Gord Wylie headshot
Drew Mitchell

Sail Expert — Vancouver, British Columbia

Drew Mitchell grew up sailing at the Lunenburg Yacht Club in Nova Scotia. He has raced on and coached high performance one design for nearly 20 years. Drew races in the Melges 24, Farr 30 and the TP 52 PNW...

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