North Sails LOFT NEWS


Worth The Wait For North Sails 3Di Technology

Give us a little background to your sailing career. When did you start? How long have you been sailing? How long have you owned Restless? What led you to racing?

I vaguely remember sailing on a homemade raft with a mast and a square bedsheet sail on Lake Winnipeg when I was about 7. The first race I was ever in was in 1959, when I was 12. It was at Queen City Yacht Club on a Lightning. As an indication of the craziness of that time, the rules were that the boats were at the dock, with the sails up. The crew (me) stayed on the boat, while the skippers had to run up to the bar, chugalug a pint of beer, run down, jump onboard, and then sail around the island. Either direction was allowed. On return, they had to run back up to the bar and down a second pint of beer. Nuts.

In 1975, I wrote and directed a film for CBC starring Gordon Pinsent about round-the-world sailor/charlatan Donald Crowhurst. While we were sailing out to film it one day, a little catamaran screamed past us, with the skipper and crew on trapezes. I asked our skipper what it was, and he told me it was a new boat called a Hobie Cat. I determined I’d have to try one. I found a really good Hobie skipper who needed a good crew for racing. In both 1977 and ’78 we won the Canadian Championships.

Tiring of getting wet on the cats, I began chartering small keelboats in the 1000 Islands. In 1981 I bought my first sailboat, a Scirocco 24, and within a month began sailing it south, making it as far as Staniel Cay in the Bahamas, then sailing it singlehanded back to Florida and trucking it home.

My next boat, bought with my wife Carolyn, was a Mirage 35, Blade Runner, which we trucked to California, sailed and raced there, then sailed in Mexico with it, shipped it back to Fort Lauderdale, sailed with it in the Florida Keys, then back up the Atlantic to New York and then to Port Credit. It lived at PCYC for over 20 years. I raced it (and sometimes other boats) in the Lake Ontario 300 and lots of other singlehanded and crewed races.

From 2007 to 2014 I made a TV series called Angry Planet. On one episode I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of sailing around Cape Horn (in a 50-foot steel expedition sailboat). But, as I wasn’t using Blade Runner, I sold it and began sailing a little Hobie Island Adventure trimaran, and then replaced it with a MacGregor 26M, which I used to trailer up to the North Channel and Lake Muskoka. Sold that, moved to a CS-33 that I named Santana after Humphry Bogart’s boat, then a year ago bought my latest, a 1988 C&C 35 Mark 3 called Restless. It is my 23rd boat. Almost always, the first things I have done when buying boats has been to change the name and buy new sails. Restless is the first to not to get a name-change, but I did get new sails for it…

You mentioned Hugh’s presentation on the Science of Sailmaking at Mimico Cruising Club (MCC) a couple years ago helped nudge you towards 3Di. Can you elaborate on this? What were the leading factors in your decision to go with North Sails?

Yes, I was wowed by the presentation on 3Di Raw sails. I have always been interested in sail technology and in the past. But after learning about the 3Di sails I determined to get the very best for my new Restless

Can you share what the process was like in working with Hugh and the North team? 

Hugh and Daniel came around to the club, measured the mast and I put the order in in November, 2021. The gang at North Sails in Sri Lanka must have got to work right away, because by February, the sails arrived. They fit beautifully and I love sailing with them. Hugh has been down to the boat twice to tweak them a bit and actually took the main back to the loft to re-cut the head slightly. Daniel brought it back in two days, in time for the next race. Great sails, great service. I just wish I had one of those two sitting in the cockpit for our races. Man, they know a lot!

Did the sails meet your expectations? Share your initial reaction or assessments of the sails.  

Absolutely! My choice, on which Hugh concurred, was to go with a 135% Genoa. I think that was the right decision. I don’t think a full 155% Genoa is necessary. It slows down the tacks, increases the rating and I think only helps in a very limited wind range. In really, really light air, I even furl the Genoa to about half size, so that it becomes a kind of quasi-wind seeker. The 3Di sails are so good that we have occasionally been able to stay even, on downwind runs, with spinnaker boats. 

You’ve had quite the successful season this past year with MCC Racing, LOOR (Lake Ontario Offshore Racing) events and Race to Kingston. Can you share your top three tips or factors that have contributed to this success?

First, My C&C 35. I’ve lusted after owning a C&C since the 1960s. Now I finally have one, and it has exceeded my expectations. It is a great design that just wants to go fast. Second would be my main and genoa from North Sails. I call them my secret weapon, but they are obviously not secret, since the black sails are visible to all. They are packed away now for the winter, but I can’t wait to unfurl them next spring. Lastly, my terrific crew. Most of them are fairly new to racing but are loyal and have learned fast. 

What are you most looking forward to for the 2023 sailing season?

We’ll definitely be back for more. We might fly off and charter a boat for the St. Thomas International Regatta in March. We’ll certainly do the MCC races, the AHMEN races, the EYC (Etobicoke Yacht Club) Night Race, and will try to defend our Freeman Cup win in the Race to Kingston. Since LYRA 2023 will be in Kingston this year, immediately following the R2K, we might do it. It’s the oldest freshwater sailing regatta in the world, so it has quite a history. 

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