Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at your local Quantum Sails service loft? Quantum Sails Annapolis’ Service Manager, Mike Crump, describes a typical day in the life at a sail loft and what you might expect to see when you walk through the door.
Depending on the time of year, the answer to what’s happening at your local sail loft can vary. In terms of the actual work being accomplished, our projects run across the entire spectrum of sailing platforms, from the Optimist to the mega yacht. From repairs to re-cuts, and from modifications to upgrades, we are fully versed in every sort of sail transformation you can imagine. We do everything in our power to avoid what we jokingly refer to as TCF : total cloth replacement. But worst case scenario, you’re in luck, we sell new sails as well!
So what’s happening behind our doors?
Customers come through our doors on a daily basis with different requests and issues and we aim to solve their problems at their root. We not only want to offer a solution, we also want to determine the source of the problem and educate our customers – raising their level of understanding and awareness. A better understanding and awareness of your sails will not only help make you a better sailor, it can also help you mitigate problems and keep them from being major repairs. We love a good challenge, it’s part of the reason we’re sailors and I constantly see our top people emerge from their offices to offer their insights to our customers as we discuss a variety of options and ideas. Problem solving is the name of the game, and the collective experience at each of our lofts and in our network is not only remarkable, but also easily accessible. We are able to consider the strengths and weaknesses of many different solutions, and sometimes we even come up with new ideas altogether.
There are many instances where folks think that their sails need to be replaced, only to discover that we can restore a more efficient sail shape for a fraction of the cost of a new sail. As long as the sailcloth in the body of the sail is still solid and strong, we can reshape and reinforce the sail to get a few more years out of it. Even if we find very few problems with your sails, a thorough and professional inspection of them can provide piece of mind and instill confidence at a very low cost.
If your sails are good to go and free of problems, we can often recommend modifications or upgrade that will improve performance, simplify sail handling, or extend the life of the sails in general. A good example of this are the low friction rings we have recently been installing as an attachment point for reefing lines. They are inexpensive items and easy to install, providing a low cost alternative to blocks which can be expensive and heavy.
On the loft floor
The sails on the loft floor will vary week to week and even hour to hour. This week we are reshaping luff curves on a number of Melges 32 and J/70 jibs based on the latest feedback from the racecourse. We are flattening a roller furling mainsail to facilitate furling and unfurling and on another sail, we are replacing a UV cover to provide protection from the sun. There is a sail getting leech and foot belts to help support the loaded areas, combat fatigue, and extend the life of the sail. New corner webbings and an additional reef are being replaced on a sail for a yacht headed offshore, and we’re installing a Dutchman system for convenient mainsail handling. You’ll also find salesmen pulling out brand new sails to give them a final once over and finishing any final details before delivering them to the customer. During regatta season, the machines are even running through the night with overnight regatta repairs.
Service technicians are often heading out the door to complete sail installations and note the client’s current deck layouts and sail handling systems. We see this as an opportunity to relay helpful information about optimize existing arrangements, or upgrades that will allow them to spend more time enjoying their yachts, and less time wrestling with the sails.
It’s no secret that the people at your local sail loft – sailmakers, salesmen, designers, engineers, and administrators – share your passion for sailing, whether it be cruising or racing. It’s not uncommon to stop in after a weekend and find the team debriefing about a regatta that happened over the weekend or sharing stories from past sailing adventures. Taking the combined knowledge and applying that to the current project at hand.
As you can see, our facilities have a lot going on, but we also have a lot of resources from which to draw. So whether you think your sail is shot, or that it needs nothing at all, it pays to get a candid evaluation from a professional sailmaker. It is a real gift to be able to operate in an environment that fosters such a degree of creative thinking and efficient implementation, and the end result is that we are able to keep people sailing longer, faster, and with more pleasure than ever before.
Quantum Sails Annapolis
Loft Service Manager