North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Chelsie Strong, Mike Stark


Service Expert Mike Stark Shares Insight Into The New Class

Chelsie Strong from the North Sails team in Detroit catches up with service expert Mike Stark as he headed into a new class and regatta with the Melges 15.

In anticipation of the first Melges 15 regatta held in Sarasota, FL, I spent some time chatting with Mike Stark, a full time sail maker for North Sails Detroit, who competed in the first winter series regatta. We discussed his sailing background and I found out that he started sailing at a young age, 7, to be exact. Between sailing on his dad’s various boats as a kid and learning to race in the Optimist Class at age 11, Mike became intrigued with the sport. He continues to expand his competitive scope to this day and is now comfortable sailing on big boats, in single-handed events, One Design and Handicapped races. His most recent racing experience being on the Tartan 10 I-Ball program where over the past 4 years they have improved steadily from not placing in the North Americans to placing 3rd in 2018 and 2nd in 2019. 

Mike is one the few people who can say his hobby has turned into a career. This is probably due to his skill on the water and as a service sail maker. I asked Mike if his knowledge as a sail maker translates into competitive sailing. He felt that anyone who wants to can become a great competitive sailor, but being able to think outside the box and having access to more resources is attributable to working as a sail maker.

Mike accepted the invite to race in the Melges 15 regatta from his friend and fellow competitive sailor, George Sipel, in between servicing sails for North Sails Detroit.  With the Melges 15 being a new boat, he went into the event with an open mind, but had heard the boat was supposed to be simple to operate and more comfortable to sail in. 

We talked about Mike’s personal goals, reasons for going and pre-race routine before he set off for the 17 hour drive from Detroit to Sarasota. With winter in full swing here in Michigan, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to compete in southern Florida right now? Although he wasn’t sure about the other competitors, he was aiming to finish top 5. In addition the timing was right with work and family life. Mikes pre-race routine includes checking the weather first thing, arriving early to prep the boat, good music to keep him focused and most importantly, Coffee.

Story Contributors

Melges 15 Winter Series Pre Race Snapshot headshot
Mike Stark

Service Sailmaker — Detroit, Michigan

Mike started sailing when he was seven, going through the Learn to Sail Program out of North Cape Yacht Club in Lasalle, MI. He enjoyed it so much, he moved right into fleet racing in the 420. He raced in...

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