North Sails LOFT NEWS
NOTHING BEATS 40 YEARS OF SAILMAKING EXPERIENCE
Bill Lesnek Reputation For Exceptional Work In Sail and Kite Repairs Has Led To His Cult-Like Following For Service Work
Brian Lefeve has worked with Bill Lesnek over the years in the world of kiteboarding repairs and sailmaking, leading to a friendship filled with fond memories and priceless learning moments. He shares what makes Bill the go to guy for kiteboarding repairs and advice.
Tell Us About Your Journey To Where You Are Today and Great Lakes Surf.
Well when I was 10 years old, my parents drove us to California and I tried surfing for the first time and got hooked. When we got back home I was really … I didn’t know about surfing in Michigan, so I got into wind surfing when I was 11. Wind surfing just became addicted and started teaching wind surfing when I worked for a company called The Wind Surf Company, Keego Harbors. I managed that shop for many years. I taught wind surfing and then in 80, or 98-99, that’s when kiting came out and they sent us a kite, we tried it out and we got hooked. I was teaching myself how to kite and then a lot of other people wanted to learn and I pretty much started a school out of that. Out of the necessity of people wanting to try the sport. it just evolved into that and then it got really busy and I started camps and then I rent some space from within North Sails; when we had kite repairs I’d have Billy do the repairs and he did phenomenal job.
I would help prep him a little bit, and then he’d just do the sewing. Then after awhile I had more and more people coming in for repairs and we just gave them to Billy. It was great as that. I mean it worked so well because of course the ripstop materials are all the same, the sewing, everything. It was just such an ideal situation to be in that loft at the start up of kiting because people were learning and ripping their kites.
What Keeps You Coming Back To North Sails?
The quality of the work. Billy does an amazing job and there’s a couple other places that you can send your kite out to, which is called Air Time. They have a facility in Florida and then another one in California, but the expensive of shipping it out. They do a good job, but if you have somebody local that can do just as good a job, if not that better, it makes more sense to keep everything local.
What’s Your Favourite Aspect Of Working With Billy?
I guess, just the relationship we had. Bill’s a really easy going guy, so he’s very friendly. It was easy to work in the same facility as him. Now I didn’t work for North, I just rented the space from them of course, but just the fact that we could joke around and have fun. At the same time though, he taught me a lot too. Just about the ripstop and the materials and how he does his work too. It was easier for me to really help sell him as a repair guy because I saw his work and he taught me a good portion of it. He showed me how to prep tights in the beginning when he was really busy so I could prep them, he could sew them. Just the fact that he was a great teacher too and mentor.
The best thing is the turnaround time is so fast. That’s another thing because if you send your kite out, you’re looking at a week and a half to two weeks sometimes. I just try to ensure people, “Hey man, that’s why I send everyone to Billy and Mike. You want to get it done, get it done quick and get it done right, that’s where you go.”
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