Quantum’s National Service Director Charlie Saville is a veteran of major regattas, both sailing and supporting them. Charlie outlines what it takes to offer service at a major regatta far from home, and offers some tips for providing the best service possible.
Quantum Key West Race Week 2017 was an awesome event for Quantum Sails’ service team. The calmer conditions meant we didn’t see as many repairs as 2016, but that didn’t mean we weren’t busy! We were able to spend more time with our clients discussing their needs and how they could sail faster instead of just focusing on their repairs.
Taking the Show on the Road
Setting up a fully functioning pop-up loft is a big process, starting with a 30-hour drive from our corporate headquarters in northern Michigan. We started on January 4 in Traverse City, Michigan, where we loaded our service van with sewing machines and materials. Two days and fourteen hours of driving though winter weather later, we arrived in Annapolis, where we hitched up a box trailer with more machines and supplies before heading down to Key West.
A few days later, and Key West had a state-of-the-art, fully-functioning sail loft that would rival the capabilities of any other loft in the United States. (Well, we could have used more floor space, but, like the island itself, space is hard to come by!) The service loft opened a full week before racing started to support early arrivals. Quantum Service doesn’t just fix sails – we’re sailors ourselves, and were available to help with all aspects of regatta prep.
And They’re Off
The next 14 days were a blur! Racing, wet kites, quick fixes, and lots of time spent talking with our friends, clients, and competitors as we worked on everything that goes into a regatta. There were some late nights, but all of it was easy to do knowing we were helping get teams back on the water and race-ready for the next start.
We had a lot more time this year to get out to chat with the competitors and catch dock lines as they arrived. That was easily the coolest part of the adventure – being there to proactively assist our clients and all competitors. It was awesome to see so many Quantum clients take home hardware and to be there to support them.
Until Next Year
After the last racer crosses the finish and the docks are clear of celebrants, it was time to head home. We packed all the machines, materials, and supplies into the trailer and van, then say a sad goodbye to the warmth and sunny days of Key West. Back on the road, we logged about 1200 miles, dropped off the trailer in Annapolis, then went another 800 miles to Traverse City. As I write this article on February 2, the van is finally safely back in Traverse City and unpacked, ready for the next challenge.
Need Repairs at a Major Regatta?
Say you’re at Key West Race Week (or another major regatta with overnight repair service), and you need repairs. There are a few things you can do to help us help you.
Dry your sails
When your spinnaker blows up and you drag it back onto the boat, don’t just stuff it in the bag and bring it to us. Instead, if time and space allow, pull the kite up on the lawn or on deck to dry it out before you take it to the van. Not only will turn-around be faster, it’s cheaper to let the sun and the breeze deal with the moisture while you finish putting the boat away than to add the cost of drying to your repair bill.
Take a picture of the damage
Poked the pole through the kite? Ripped out a batten pocket? Take a picture of the damage and send it to us (our contact information is always published at each event). Also, mark it with a piece of masking tape or pull the torn section of the kite to the top of the bag to make it easy-to-find. The more data you can give us about the damage to your sail, the more efficiently we can fix it.
Get it to us early
Don’t wait until the last minute to drop off your sails, and know the locations and hours of drop-off/pick-up spots. The earlier you bring us your sails, the better chance we have at completing the work overnight. If you have a particularly difficult repair, text message us before you’re off the water, in case we need to call in back-up.
Have your credit card ready
Ah, the money. During regatta service, all repairs must be paid for with a credit card. Make sure you have one in your pocket, or give one to your crew when they bring up the sails. All you have to do is fill out a quick form, and your good-as-new sail will be bagged, tagged, and waiting for you at the pick- up location the next morning.
Big regattas are a blast, but they are also stressful for everyone – owners, crew, and servicemen alike. Often our servicemen are sailors too, and they’ll be on the water all day and sewing sails all night. It makes the experience a lot more pleasant for everyone when all parties are ready to work together with a positive attitude.