North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Ruaridh Wright


From Dinghy Sailing to Roaring Around The Solent on a GP42

Photo © Paul Wyeth

Fresh from his triple triumph at this year’s Round the Island Race taking Monohull Line Honours, winning IRC Zero and the race overall we caught up with Ian Atkins, owner of GP42 Dark ’N’ Stormy, long standing North Sails customer and sailing enthusiast.

From learning to sail in a Mirror dinghy from Hamble River Sailing Club in the 60’s to roaring around the Solent on GP42 Dark ’N’ Stormy (ex Jean Genie) in 2022; Ian has had quite the sailing career. Born and brought up in Hamble, England, Ian sparked his love for sailing as a kid on the Hamble River with dinghies.  His love for sailing morphed into his career when he joined the North Sails team in the early 80’s. 

After a few years at North and making some great connections, Ian joined and subsequently ran yacht sales company Ancasta. He spent the next 10-15 years in the sales business whilst also sailing professionally both inshore and offshore on various race boats. Ian was also heavily involved with Beneteau race boats as they came onto the scene. 

Off the water, in 2000 Ian was one of the founders of online marketplace, On the water he was campaigning a series of small one design boats. With stints in a 1720, J80 and J70 Ian built up a series of good results with his own teams. Several J80 and J70 Nationals wins and a fourth at the J70 World Championships in 2015 were the highlights for the team. After 2 years out of the game, while selling his business, Ian came back wondering what his next steps were. 

Fast forward to 2019, Ian put his sights towards the new IC37 One-Design. Along with Nick Griffifths and Ancasta, they purchased the first IC37 with the goal of it being promoted as a One Design class. Whilst racing around in the IC37 having a great time, they kept being overtaken by Fast 40s, which sparked the idea of the Fast 40. Ian reflected, “if I’m going to go big boat sailing I need one of those” so he bought Peter Morton’s Jean Genie in October 2021. He renamed her Dark ’N’ Stormy after his team’s favorite post race tipple.

Whilst Ian explained that 2022 is about “getting to know the boat, and learning how to sail it,” the team has already been getting some top results. From literally taking home the chocolates at the Royal Ocean Racing Club Easter Challenge (the prizes being chocolate easter eggs) to being runner up to Niklas Zennström’s Ran at the 2022 IRC National Championships, it’s fair to say that the team has gotten to know the boat pretty well. With the recent Round the Island victory to top it off the only way is up for Ian and his crew.

Dark ‘N’ Stormy crew after their Round the Island Race Victory. North Sails team members Ruaridh Wright (right), Ian Walker (second from left), Jono Macbeth (third from the left). Photo © Paul Wyeth

Ian has accredited the developments behind this success to boat Captain Nick Bonner, Ian Walker and Ruaridh Wright at North Sails, “I’m delighted to have got Ian Walker to come sailing with us and even more delighted that he committed to the whole season with us. Knowing that his new North Sails career will probably take him all over the planet, we’re lucky to have the opportunity whilst it was available. Ruaridh Wright is our upwind trimmer and crew boss – he does a great job of making the boat go fast too. We are lucky in having the North expertise we have on board.”

The next key event for the team is Cowes Week where Ian will be adding two new Helix Jibs and a spinnaker to his current full North Sails inventory. The team also hopes to be on the start line at the IRC Europeans in Holland later this year. 

North Sails is proud to have been a part of both Ian’s career and his sailing campaigns over the years and looks forward to following his progress in the future. 

To speak with Sail Expert Ruaridh Wright about maximizing your sail inventory, get in touch today.

Photo © Paul Wyeth

Story Contributors

Dark ’N’ Stormy’s All Round headshot
Ruaridh Wright

Sail Expert — Gosport, United Kingdom

Ruaridh Wright's passion for sailing began at age seven when he first raced with his dad on a Swan 44 in Largs, Scotland. He has since racked up a host of experiences from Sydney Harbour and San Francisco bay to...

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