North Sails LOFT NEWS
HENRY BOSSETT RETIRES AFTER 42 YEARS OF SAILMAKING
Owner Henry Bossett retires from North Sails, leaving New Jersey region in the very capable hands of long-time partner, Ron LaNeve
On the eve of owner Henry Bossett’s retirement, the North Sails team in New Jersey embraces changing times after 42 years in business. While the loft location is closing its doors, Ron LaNeve will become our traveling sails-man, providing expert sail advice and North’s signature Certified Service to our New Jersey customers.
North Sails would like to thank Henry for over two decades of fantastic service. After opening his doors in 1975 (then operating out of his garage as Bossett Sailmakers), Henry established the loft in New Jersey in 1982 as Shore Sails and converted to North in 1995. Sailors throughout the country sought service and guidance from Henry and the small New Jersey team, for activities ranging from offshore sailing to speed races on ice.
“Henry is very methodical in everything he does. He checked and double checked to make sure everything was right before cutting for a new sail. He’d measure not twice but three times. I was lucky enough to learn from him and adopt these practices,” said Ron, who began working with Henry out of the New Jersey loft in 1987.
It didn’t take long for their network to grow far past Henry’s haven on the Jersey Shore. By specializing in one design sail production – from design to finishing touches – Henry was able to leverage his experience in the field while building sails on the loft floor. From small boat one-design classes like the E Scow, M16 Scow and the International 210, to the Prindle, A-Class Catamaran, and Tornado multihulls, Henry’s customer base spread across the U.S. and abroad to parts of Europe. In the Tornado, Henry qualified for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow with crew Jeff Kent – unfortunately, the same event President Carter boycotted due to Russia’s occupation of Afghanistan. Nonetheless, the pair continued racing the Tornado and were consistently ranked top five in the world. Of course, his passion for sailing bridged onto hard water where Henry became known as a top ice boat sailor and sailmaker, namely in the DN and Skeeter classes. He earned his reputation on the race course by winning three World Championships in the DN (1977, 1981, 1983) and four North American Championships (1982, 1983, 1990, and 1993).
Henry’s customers appreciated his keen eye for design and strict attention to detail. As Deb Whitehorse wrote for iceboat.org,
“I’ll never forget the day Skeeter skipper Tom Hyslop talked about getting a “new Henry” which was the way that Skeeter and Renegade sailors referred to any sail from Henry Bossett.”
Ron continued, “We thought jobs through from beginning to end. Henry is bright; he forced me to think ahead and think creatively for the best result. In 31 years – I can track the mistakes we made on one hand. Being thorough and detail oriented kept us on track and paid off. It was an honor and a pleasure working with Henry.”
So what’s next for Henry? Still plenty of sailing, but now he’ll be carrying his camera instead of a measuring tape.
“I’m looking forward to spending more time exploring the beauty and history of the East coast with my wife, who has supported me from the beginning, and with my children and grandchildren who have been there for me every step of this journey also,” he said. “Sailing is something that’s in my blood, my passion doesn’t disappear just because I put away my sewing machine. Now I’ll have my camera along with me instead of my measuring tape.”
“I’d just love to thank all of my friends, supporters, and customers throughout the years. It’s been one heck of a ride, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Lastly, the reality of this change is as our wedding invitations said all those years ago, in a quote by Gwen Frostic – “In a continuous living cycle each end becomes a beginning and life is becoming, always becoming…“
To honor Henry’s retirement, we’ll offer this 1986 advertisement from Chapstick, in which he proves looking good is still possible while sailing over ice at 40 knots! Thanks again to Henry for a fantastic tenure with North Sails.