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question Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (rbingham)
Posted: 8:05:25 pm on 8/26/2012 Modified: Never
 
I'm considering replacing the main on my mkIII (which may actually be 1976 vintage OEM and thereby a bit on the baggy side). Plus I'm intrigued by the reports of improved performance with a full-batten sail.

Any suggestions for good sailmakers in the Greater Toronto Area (or a bit further afield) gratefully received. I've had Robert at Hurricane Sails on Cherry St do some repairs for me which were great, but I'd love a few other suggestions. (Cruising, with aspirations to race eventually, if not competitively.)

thanks!
Richard Bingham
Peregrine
553/Mk III 1976
Toronto
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (Steve Reid)
Posted: 8:47:01 pm on 8/28/2012 Modified: Never
 
I'd call Ed Botterell at Doyle, he's the best, there are lots of people around who sell sails but Ed's a sailmaker.416-896-2814

Steve Reid
Still Knt Working MkV #75
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (rbingham)
Posted: 8:43:59 pm on 8/30/2012 Modified: Never
 
Thanks Steve, I'll get in touch with him.

Richard Bingham
Peregrine
553/Mk III 1976
Toronto
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (clanning)
Posted: 3:21:41 pm on 9/1/2012 Modified: Never
 
UK has a good reputation.  Brian and Tristan have sold several sails up here in Ottawa from their loft in Toronto (somewhere around the beaches area).  They do sales and service.  

You should be looking at good pricing this time of year, no matter where you look!

Cheers
Chuck Lanning
NSC, Ottawa
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (davidww1)
Posted: 10:32:40 pm on 9/2/2012 Modified: Never
 
Bay Sails Haarstick in Hamilton. http://www.haarsticksailmakers.com/loftinfo.asp?ID=3

Good on shape, plus Haarstick tests their cloth before they use it. Sailcloth is a highly variable product, roll to roll, and Haarstick selects the best of it.


David Weatherston
Towser, Toronto
C&C 27 Mk IV

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (rbingham)
Posted: 7:22:18 pm on 9/3/2012 Modified: Never
 
Much appreciated, gentlemen.
cheers
Richard Bingham
Peregrine
553/Mk III 1976
Toronto
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (kdickins)
Posted: 7:09:54 pm on 9/6/2012 Modified: Never
 

Dock 16 in the Bronte Inner Harbour has a good deal on sales.  We plan on picking up two over the winter for our CC28 MkIV.  Price for a new main - $1,500 and a funny spinny another $1,200.

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (bosco)
Posted: 11:47:37 am on 9/6/2012 Modified: Never
 
Hey Richard,
  Although not in the GTA, John Clark of Kingston Sail Loft is the sailmaker of choice for me. I currently have all three of my headsails and the main made by KSL for my Mk 111. The main (new this Spring) was an exact copy of the one John made for me back in 2004 and I'm very happy with it. John is a former "Worlds" Shark champion and although his loft (along with his partner Andy Soper) is small, I've found them to be great for service and expertise. John is the only sailmaker that I am aware of who puts an "adjustable" luff rope in the mainsails he builds so as the sail ages, he can adjust this for you to help keep the draft in the right location.

Clare Jordan ARAGORN
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (ALAN FORD)
Posted: 9:25:03 pm on 9/7/2012 Modified: Never
 
A note to say that Dock 16, in Bronte Inner Harbour, closed shop last year, and were never sailmakers.
There is a new 'Dockside Chandlery' there now, helpful and good, but again not a sailmaker.

Alan of SMOKE 1984 Mk V 002

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (carriden)
Posted: 1:08:14 pm on 9/8/2012 Modified: Never
 
Actually Alan, Dockside Chandlery is a sales rep for Lee Sails, which I presume is how kdickins got the quotes that he is planning on following up on.  It is worth giving James at Dockside a call.

Marcus from Carriden

Mk III, Hull #847
Oakville, Ontario

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (ALAN FORD)
Posted: 10:52:55 pm on 9/8/2012 Modified: Never
 
Marcus, looking at Lee Sails Web site it seems that you must complete Lee's printed form, entering the numbers you take yourself, and those details are then sent to Hong Kong, which is the location of their (only?) loft. I feel far happier having a SAILMAKER come to the boat, take all measurements and details of such things as genoa tracks, backstays and roller furling design, and talk to you about how you will be using the sails. The sailmaker then  makes the sails in a loft which is not the other side of the world. If something is not quite right it can and will be corrected locally, and again checked for perfect fit and design. He may even come out with you for a test sail, just to be really sure that all is well.
I buy all sorts of stuff from James at Dockside Chandlery, but when it comes to sails I believe it is probably better to go direct to a sailmaker. But it might cost a bit more!!!!!

Alan of SMOKE 1984 Mk V 002

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (carriden)
Posted: 9:56:41 pm on 9/9/2012 Modified: Never
 
Alan, I will not dispute the virtues of having an actual sailmaker come down and measure, then follow up with a check sail to make sure that things have worked out as expected.  My understanding of Lee Sails is that they work as a value leader by not maintaining an expensive local presence beyond the sales rep and repair facilities, and this is how they offer sails at a much lower cost.  As ever, having a first-class experience providing ultimate service simply costs more. Personally, I have always been happy in dealing with Kevin Piper at Bay Sails in Hamilton.  However, if budget constraints are more important than ultimate performance, then Lee Sails may be a better fit for someone's bank account.  After all, they do market themselves as cruiser-oriented, a market where value and durability outweigh an extra tenth of a knot or pointing two degrees higher.

Marcus from Carriden

Mk III, Hull #847
Oakville, Ontario

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (Steve Reid)
Posted: 1:22:48 pm on 9/9/2012 Modified: Never
 
And if we all shopped at WalMart, because they sell it for less, the local guy on the corner or down the street wold go out of business.
The real difference is the little gut on the corner or down the street cares about YOU and YOUR Business and will service you. To Walmart you are just a number and they send you to the manufacturer for service. I
think Alen has the right approach.
Steve
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (Steve Reid)
Posted: 1:22:49 pm on 9/9/2012 Modified: Never
 
And if we all shopped at WalMart, because they sell it for less, the local guy on the corner or down the street wold go out of business.
The real difference is the little gut on the corner or down the street cares about YOU and YOUR Business and will service you. To Walmart you are just a number and they send you to the manufacturer for service. I
think Alen has the right approach.
Steve
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (TalW)
Posted: 1:45:18 pm on 9/12/2012 Modified: Never
 
Hi Richard,

Full battens offer the sail designer greater opportunity to increase the sail area on the leech and provide good shaping options utlitizing different batten types.  Popular race configurations are one or two full battens at the top and three or two partial battens lower down.  Four full battens are favoured by cruisers because they simplify the task of flaking the sail (especially in conjunction with lazy jacks), and provide increased longetivity because the prevent the sail from fluttering so the the cloth doesn't fatigue as quickly.  However, I don’t think they offer the shaping options of the split batten design.  You’ll find that different sailmakers will recommend different configurations – none are necessarily right or wrong, they just have varying opinions.

I’m not quite sure where to begin regarding sailmakers, so I’ll make the following disclaimer:  I used to work fulltime for a local sail loft that’s no longer in business.  The products we developed are still available from a small independent loft in Nova Scotia (where the owner moved).  As such, I have my own opinions that may or may not be shared by others as to how to choose the best sail value for your use.

Sailmakers typically break down into the following categories:

LOCAL BIGGIES:
These are the lofts you see advertised all the time, offering several quality levels of products, usually manufactured offshore and distributed locally.  Most do service work locally.  Prices are all over the map depending on technology, time of year, and capacity at their offshore manufacturing factories.  This’d be North (Toronto), UK (Toronto), Sobstad (Barrie), Doyle (I think Ed works outta his trunk nowadays!), and Evolution (Toronto, but they’re different because they do design/build many sails locally).

LOCAL INDEPENDENTS:
These typically offer good customer service for the type of customer a 27 buyer is.  Prices and product vary, but don’t fool yourself – there’s no deals out there and you get what you pay for!  Joe Drago (Scarborough), Triton (Port Credit), Sportech (St. Catharines), and KSL (Kingston) design, build, and service their sails locally.

IN BETWEEN:
Bay Sails Haarstick (Hamilton) is sorta in between the two categories above.  It’s a local loft, but most of their sails have been designed and (usually) plotted/cut in the US, then shipped to Hamilton for final assembly.

SAIL BROKERS:
Mail order (Lee, Rolly Tasker, Hyde) and online (FX, Atlantic, etc.) sail suppliers are typically built offshore to heavy specs.  Many people mistake heavy with high quality.  My recommendation would be to choose these products if cost is king, and avoid these products if performance is valuable.

One little-known industry secret is that some lofts source their less expensive and/or low technology sails from a third party subcontractor.  Design and quality should be similar to what they would’ve made themselves, but an outfit called “China Sail Factory” is a shadow manufacturing facility for many biggies and independents.  If the source of your sail is important to you, ask where it will be made and by whom.

My recommendation would be to decide what type of sail you’re looking for, send a request to as many lofts as possible, and see what you hear back.  You’ll receive a whole gamut of responses, from glossy brochures with lotsa glitz and technical info, to simple descriptions of the options available, to a phone call or email with price only!  Don’t be dismayed – just work your way through, ask more questions, and find a sailmaker who you trust and feel comfortable talking to and working with.  I can assure you that unless you’re sailing at a world-class level (and none of us 27 flunkies are!), the person you develop and relationship and choose to work with is more important than the brand label on the sail.

After 15 years of trying sails and sailmakers from Hood, North, Doyle, Sobstad, and US, I finally found a sailmaker who’s personality made me a comfortable and valuable client.  He subsequently became a lifelong friend and even my employer during a few lean years.  THAT’S the kinda guy you want to work with!  So go out there and find him (or her as the case may be!).

Cheers,
Tal Wolf
Critical Path
C&C 27 MkIII #632

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (rbingham)
Posted: 5:03:18 pm on 9/13/2012 Modified: Never
 
Thanks Tal, and indeed all who contributed (yet again) to my C&C education. I bow down to the generosity of the community.

Richard Bingham
Peregrine
553/Mk III 1976
Toronto
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (ALAN FORD)
Posted: 4:51:53 pm on 9/16/2012 Modified: Never
 
Tal, I really like your succinct breakdown of sailmakers and sail sellers, but where does Quantum fit in to that picture please? A few years ago I was directed to their Toronto location...and it turned out to be Evolution' s place!!!!

Alan of SMOKE 1984 Mk V 002

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (TalW)
Posted: 1:16:07 pm on 9/17/2012 Modified: Never
 
Hi Alan,

Evolution Sails Toronto is owned and staffed by (most of) the same folks who previously ran Quantum Sails Toronto until 2009.  Most of the same crew were Hood Sails until sometime in the mid 90's - three brand changes in under 20 years.  They've operated lofts out of a few different GTA locations over that time.

Each change has been promoted for improved quality, better performance, and greater technology but I don't think I woulda been happy to be one of the final customers with their prior labels on my sail.  I believe the reality of the last change was that Quantum corporate changed their pricing structure (to the detriment of the local operators) and they were rumoured to be directing more work offshore.

Evolution's roots came from a small US independent in Maryland called Renegade.  When Quantum changed, some of their lofts went to the newly-founded Evolution, along with a few other lofts that'd been other brands before.

When the changeover began, I remember a guy posting something like this on Sailing Anarchy:

North + greed = Sobstad
Sobstad + greed = Quantum
Quantum + greed = Evolution
winner = North

So back to your original question - Quantum's only presence in Canada at this time is in Nova Scotia, but they're still very active worldwide, just not in the GTA part of the universe!

Cheers,
Tal Wolf
Critical Path
C&C 27 MkIII #632

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (ALAN FORD)
Posted: 9:46:34 pm on 9/17/2012 Modified: Never
 
Tal, that extraordinary and incestuous situation makes me happy to be a customer of one of the local independents in the GTA. I can actually watch my sails being made.
Richard, who sought advise that opened this thread, must be confused and/or amazed!!!!!

Alan of SMOKE 1984 Mk V 002

  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (rbingham)
Posted: 12:19:08 pm on 9/26/2012 Modified: Never
 
Confused, amazed, and also well-informed & well-armed for making a decision.
Not to mention entertained.
It seems there is always a fascinating back-story to businesses that cater to a passionate, eccentric, opinionated, detail-oriented, expert clientele. If I were Calvin Trillin or Adam Gopnik I'd be writing this up for the New Yorker.

Richard Bingham
Peregrine
553/Mk III 1976
Toronto
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (diva27)
Posted: 9:12:08 pm on 9/28/2012 Modified: Never
 
Richard Osborn at Sobstad in Barrie made me two sails this year. (Actually, they were made at the Cleveland loft.) A loose-footed dacron main with two reef points and a single full batten, and a gennaker. I've been very happy with both, in construction, cut, and quality of hardware. I'm not totally sold on the single full batten. Richard thinks I may need a stiffer one. A problem I've had with it is that when reaching in a breeze the compression in the batten pushes the bolt rope sideways at the slider and creates flutter along a foot or two of the bolt rope below, which requires a lot of halyard tensioning to deal with. I'll muck with this next season.Doug Hunter
Diva
C&C 27 Mk1
Midland Bay Sailing Club
www.douglashunter.ca
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (diva27)
Posted: 9:25:54 pm on 9/28/2012 Modified: Never
 
Richard: two other points. I strictly cruise my Mk 1 27 and if you;re using a 1970s vintage main you'll notice a phenomenal difference in performance with a good new main as the breeze comes up. I no longer reef as early as I used to, and my wife noticed the performance difference right away. With the old Raudaschl I ran out of strings to pull and used to have to reef when the breeze got much past 15 apparent going to windward. Now I just let the full main drive the boat and reduce the furling genoa through 18-20 apparent.
Second, Sobstad sells a lot of sails up here in Midland. Richard is known mainly as a racing guy, but service is first-rate and he worked hard to get my business.Doug Hunter
Diva
C&C 27 Mk1
Midland Bay Sailing Club
www.douglashunter.ca
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (rbingham)
Posted: 12:06:05 pm on 9/28/2012 Modified: Never
 
Great stuff, thanks Doug. I get something similar with my old sail as well. I'm guessing the bagginess of the old main makes it harder to get it decently flattened for higher winds, hence the need to reef sooner.

cheers
Richard Bingham
Peregrine
553/Mk III 1976
Toronto
  Re: Favorite sailmakers in the GTA? (diva27)
Posted: 2:56:35 pm on 9/28/2012 Modified: Never
 
Once the draft starts moving aft in those old sails it's all over but the heeling. My 150 genoa will be the next to go. It's vintage and I'm hoping to hold out for another season.Doug Hunter
Diva
C&C 27 Mk1
Midland Bay Sailing Club
www.douglashunter.ca