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In 1957, decorated American sailor Lowell North started a small sailmaking company in a room at San Diego’s B Street Pier.
“It was a little dusty and dirty,” he recalled, “but big enough to build a Star boat mainsail.”
Sixty years later, North Sails has grown into the world’s leading sailmaker, with seven wholly owned manufacturing sites in six different countries, 1,500 employees worldwide, and tens of thousands of sails hoisted on harbors and oceans around the globe each year. Founded in a decidedly scientific approach to sailmaking, North Sails remains rooted in the core values that led Lowell North to success: in-house analysis and development of materials, performance-led design, quality craftsmanship and customer service. Dive into 60 Years of Sailmaking with a series celebrating North’s instinct to push the limits of nature, sails, and self. Stories that bring back memories and inspire the next generation of innovators to Go Beyond.
1945 – THE FIRST OF FIVE
1957 – THE PURSUIT OF BETTER SAILS
1968 – Olympic Sailing Success
1977 – North Sails Introduces Digital Sail Design
1983 – A ‘Wing’ for the Books
1986 – 12 Metre Worlds
1987 – North Sails Design Suite expands with Flow™ and Membrain™
1988 – North Sails and the America’s Cup
Winning the Star Class World Championship is the holy grail of one-design keelboat racing. The classic 23-foot one-design class was launched in 1911, and has since attracted generations of highly… Read More
That’s what Lowell North asked his friend John Shoemaker, one afternoon in 1957, while seated at the bar of San Diego Yacht Club. John replied, “Yes, I would,” which surprised… Read More
In the original North Sails loft in San Diego, Lowell North initiated in-house testing of sail cloth and design shape. With a focus on the Star class, it was in… Read More
Lowell North diverged from the traditional, artistic approach to sailmaking by closing his eyes. Lowell listened to the numbers. Historically, sailmaking depended on the eye of the craftsman, who drew… Read More
One of the most dramatic events in modern sailing occurred in 1983. Australia II, with its famous winged keel, defeated US defender Liberty and took the America’s Cup abroad for… Read More
In early 1986, a series of races were held off of Fremantle as a precursor to the 1987 America’s Cup. Dubbed the 12 Metre World Championship, a dozen syndicates competed… Read More
Among the tools most commonly used by North Sails designers are the Membrain and Flow modules, which apply wind pressure to a sail’s surface and calculate the load forces created…. Read More
North Sails has a long history with the America’s Cup, supplying every America’s Cup Defender and Challenger since 1988. Our shared story is one of innovation, often resulting in breakthrough… Read More
In 1997, North Sails designers and software engineers were given a mandate: to create a package that could model the forces of sailing, specifically those above the deck. What ensued… Read More
“As a management team, we had to decide if we wanted to invest in the technology or not. The bet was about a 20 million dollar bet,” said North Sails… Read More