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North Sails UK Superyacht Sails Centre

On a recent visit to the new North Sails complex near Gosport in the South of England I was shown round by North Sails designer Rich Bell.

The One Design loft was relocated from nearby Titchfield to bring all of North Sails Superyacht finishing and sail production for One Design and North Sails 3Di together.

The giant industrial shed combines sail lofts for both the one-design and for superyacht sails, with two raised sail floors, one, the superyacht table at 1,950m2 is the largest ever built.

The size of the superyacht finishing floor with five rotating sewing machines and two traveling sewing machines dominates the building.

Superyacht Floor - Click image for a larger image

Due to the size and weight of superyacht sails it is not possible to manouver the sail material through the sewing machines in the traditional way.

Instead the traveling sewing machines move atop of a belt the length of the 100+ metre finishing floor, stitching the luff or leech without having to handle the sail.

The 101x30 metre space allows for two J-Class headsails and a mainsail to be laid out at the same time. The floor also has an overhead gantry with a 3.2 ton load capacity for managing the sails.

In a neighboring bay there are three plotters and two separate raised floors for One Design and Certified Service, producing sails for most of the major one-design classes, including sails for the British Olympic sailing team members.

Click image for a larger image

The Gosport loft specilises in 3Di™ North's patented sailmaking technology that produces sails that mirror the balanced load bearing and shape holding of a rigid airfoil wing.

The sails are composed of ultra-thin unidirectional spread filament tapes, pre-impregnated with thermoset adhesive, arranged in a complex multiple-axis array, and three-dimensionally molded into a one-piece, flexible composite membrane.

3Di sails to be made from fiber and adhesive only, without the need for Mylar film. This unitary, monolithic construction produces an airfoil that has balanced resistance to distortion in all directions.

There is not only a weight saving with 3Di, but an extended useable life for the giant sails, something that will be well tested in the next Volvo Ocean Race when North Sails will supply all the teams sail wardrobe.

In the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race all sails will be built under North Sails’ 3Di process.

Teams are allowed to purchase two of every sail code for the race plus an additional 6 sails for training prior to race start. Only 2 x mainsails are allowed to be purchased.

The race sails will also be built in batches so that the same mould is used for the production of eight sails of one type, with each sail type then finished in the same loft by the same team consecutively to ensure an identical shape and production quality.