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yeah, i did it


The A4 looking good and bow up on another FT and a Melges 32 from last night’s Beercan Series. We moved into second overall after 7 races, but the well-sailed M-32 Warpath is crushing it! Thanks to Da-Woody.
But to the point, yes, I bought a Flying Tiger (as if y’all didn’t already know that), and as a follow-up to my If I did it story, I wanted to share whose sails I bought and why.
Some of you know that I’ve gone through a few boats in the last 12 years – (Flying Tiger 10, Shaw 650, GP 26, Melges 32, Santa Cruz 33, and now have come full circle back to the FT 10). During those times, I have used Quantum, One Sails, Evolution, Doyle, Ullman, and UK sailmakers. Each one has been good, and each with their various strengths and weaknesses.
But there has always been one brand that has been purposely left off the list, every single time: North Sails. Back 30 years ago when I went to work for Sobstad in San Diego, I was the only big boat salesman at Mark Reynold’s loft. Hell, I was the big boat department, as Mark was uber focused on one design sails, and truly achieving greatness in the Star.
North was (and is) The Machine. It was a classic David vs. Goliath, and for a few years, I really did beat their asses in the fairly hot IOR fleet. Most of the boats were Sobstad, and we regularly won with the likes of the N/M 41 Reliance, the Frers 40, Tango Express, the Farr 40 Freefall, Travieso a N/M 44 and Motivation, the N/M 45. So North was always the enemy, and like a Japanese soldier living in the jungle still thinking the war was on when it had ended years ago, I always considered North the enemy. Crazy? Maybe.
When it came time to think sails for the new boat, one of my first considerations was service: who was going to help get the sails and rig dialed in, and be available to sail with us from time to time. Like many of you, I have a favorite person in sailmaking and his name is Brian Janney. Talented, friendly and a terrific sailor, I first met Brian when he was with Quantum. Fast forward a few years and Lo and Behold, Brian is with North San Diego! I asked Brian that if I happened to get an FT 10, would he sail with us? “Does a bear shit in the woods?”, he asked…
So an important part of the equation was solved. But that meant I had to buy North! Really? I let that marinate for a bit (lots and lots of whiskey) and  decided I wanted to look further into North and their technology. Out of the blue I dropped an e-mail to North Technology Group CEO Tom Whidden, which led to a couple of lenthy phone calls. Tom is one of the good ones and it was just great to connect on a couple different levels. Given my frequent criticisms of North – some accurate, some less so – we both agreed that we didn’t want this to be anything other than a positive experience for all concerned.
While pondering this proposition, Tom suggested that  Brian and I  visit their 3Di production facility in Minden, Nevada, so we hopped on a plane and got the tour from R&D guru Bill Pearson.
To say that it was a mind-altering experience would be accurate. I simply could not believe the technology that North has developed to build their 3Di products. Every step of the process is incredibly detailed, processes engineered,  coordinated construction, etc. are the components of the build all come together in ways that I promise you have never seen. The art of building sails has well and truly been replaced by science. Yes, there are skilled sailmakers at the “loft” who finish and detail the sails, but what floored me was how far the 3Di has moved sailmaking to a new level.
As I thought of more about, I decided that by getting 3Di sails, I was getting the benefit of North building, and developing “string” sails for the last 30 years.
So I placed my order with Brian for 3Di main, light#1, heavy #1, class asso and a code zero. Of course, Brian is now indentured to me for life!
Part three of what else we did to get the boat together will come next – with pics! And I will take you through how the sails are to use and race with, and of my overall North experience. Oh yeah, I will tell you what I think about them now that we’ve raced the boat a few times.
– ed