North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Katja Sertl Story Contributors: Andrew Wills, Derek Scott


Catch Up With Winner Andrew Wills, Who Sailed With His His 9-Year-Old Son Leo

North Sails Sales Expert Andrew Wills is a 2 time World Maxi title winner and an Etchells class World Champion, in which he has also won North American and European titles. Wills has also claimed over 30 national championships in various classes and has also successfully coached many Youth National and World champions who have become America’s Cup and Olympic winners. All of that is quite impressive, but now Andrew can say he is a National Champion in the Sunburst Class, alongside his 9-year-old son, Leo.

The Sunburst Class was originally designed in the late 1960s in New Zealand, by John Balmain Brooke. It became an extremely popular class, as it was a great vessel to teach beginner sailors, and kids. Intended as a two-person boat, the Sunburst is easily sailed single-handed in light to moderate conditions. The Sunburst is usually rigged with a mainsail, jib, and a small spinnaker. The perfect boat for a parent-child duo…

Leo had only recently completed his first learn to sail course prior to hopping in the 3.5 meter dinghy with his father. According to Yachting New Zealand, the father-son duo had never sailed the Sunburst together before, so Thursday after school, Andrew scooped Leo up for a shake down sail. At the top mark Leo made it absolutely clear to his father that they would not be flying the spinnaker, and Andrew listened to his son’s demand. 

Going into day one of racing, Andrew considered entering the non- spinnaker division, to ease Leo into the boat, but Bruce Yarton, the event organizer, stated that the two fleets would start together, so Andrew should pack the spinnaker, and only hoist it if Leo is ready. Bruce also gave Andrew some winning words of wisdom – “take some lollies, and give him one every time you hoist the spinnaker.” (Yachting NZL). 

Conditions over the three-day event saw light breeze and flat water, the perfect recipe for the Wills team, sailing on Starblaze. Being such a family friendly event, the Sunburst Nationals saw several family teams competing. The seven-race series saw five teams in total winning a race, and eight of the top nine teams were family teams, they also swept the podium. Andrew and Leo Wills won the event by four points.

Andrew told Yachting New Zealand that he “doesn’t really know where his sailing journey will take him as a parent but is keen to do more with his children, even if it means parting with a few more lollies.”

North Sails and the Sunburst Class –

Over the years North Sails has worked with quite a few teams refining our Sunburst designs. Each time just making the design a little better. What we have come up with is a very fast all round set of sails which is very easy to set up and trim. 

We also have the very best team making the sails with over 40 years of experience. Both Derek Scott and Rod Chave have been working for North Sails New Zealand for over 20 years and that proves they love and care about making the fastest sails they can. 


Story Contributors

Father-Son Duo Wins New Zealand Sunburst National Championships headshot
Andrew Wills

Sales Manager — Auckland, New Zealand – Sail Loft

Andrew has worked in sailmaking since he left the University of Auckland, where he studied Marketing and International Business. He has won 2 World Maxi titles and 1 World Championship in the prestigious Etchells class, in which he has also...

Father-Son Duo Wins New Zealand Sunburst National Championships headshot
Derek Scott

One Design Expert, Sail Expert — Auckland, New Zealand – Sail Loft

For young sailors and competitors on the New Zealand dinghy circuit, one design manager Derek Scott is not only a familiar face; he is somebody to look up to. Growing up and starting his sailing in Christchurch, Derek represented New...

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