HOOD Loft Spotlight: Australia

HOOD Sails Australia is currently owned and run by Ian Linsday, Ian Broad and Ben DeCoster. Throughout its history, HOOD Sails Australia has led the way in Australia for sailors seeking the highest value sails, whether the need be for cruising or competing in some of the sport’s most recognized events. With a commitment to unmatched quality and service, Broad, Lindsay and DeCoster have carried on the tradition of HOOD being the most trusted name in sailmaking.

How did you get involved in sailmaking?
I started working at HOOD as a sailmaker in 1968, when I was 18. I used to sail on an 18-footer from the park where the original loft was and I met the guys at the loft. My girlfriend at the time said I should get a proper job, so I became an apprentice sailmaker!
Tell us about your clients in Sydney:
Our business here is built on quality service and the trust of the customers. I think our service has been the thing that’s kept us going for many years. The typical boat here in Australia is somewhere between 35-50 feet, but we make sails for small boats such as J24s and for maxi boats. We’ve always had a different mix of people for whom we make sails, from little baby boats– dinghies that people build in their backyard– to 100’+ maxi boats. We don’t have one niche market, we do the whole thing.

How have you seen sailmaking change through the years?
The sailcloth itself has changed dramatically from old-fashioned stretchy Dacron to modern day membranes. The design side of things has also changed, with advances such as 3D modeling. We used to draw everything with a stick! And, nowadays, everything is done in 3D and with programming. You can do an analysis of the whole lot so you know exactly what the sail is going be like when it comes off the computer.

Were there any HOOD clients racing in the Sydney Hobart this year?
We’ve had heaps of boats in the race over the years. This year, The Goat, owned by Sebastian Bohm & Bruce Foye, finished 5th in their division.

What was one of your favorite projects to work on?
Over all the years, some of the most interesting projects are the one’s that don’t have to do with boats! We get asked to do lots of different jobs other than making sails for yachts. Once, we made a dome for an observatory. They needed screen to project a 3D image on that had no seams, and they turned to the sailmaking industry to get that made.

What sort of sailing have you done yourself over the years? 
I’ve been all around the world sailing. I got hurt in the ’98 Hobart race so I had 10 years off, but all together I’ve done 23 Hobart races. We have heaps of races here, and I’ve done just about all of them. Here [in Sydney], you can sail any day of the week all summer, and we even have two days of sailing a week in the winter!

What makes the HOOD Australia loft unique?
Of the major sail lofts in Australia, we’re the only one who actually makes the sails here in the country. Some years ago we made a Volvo 70 mainsail in 4 days, just before the Hobart race. One of the reasons we got that business is because no other loft would’ve been able to turn that around so quickly.

Why do you think customers keep coming back to HOOD?
I think it’s the longevity of the sails and the service they get from our loft. I actually taught a few clients how to sail years ago and I’m still friends with them now. We have long-term relationships with a lot of our customers, and I think that has always been the case. Personalized service here goes a long way to keep business.

Any other stories or memories from the years that you’d like to share about your time with HOOD?
You wouldn’t have enough room to put them all! After all these years it’s hard to put a finger on one particular memory. But being first across the line in the Sydney-Hobart race is definitely one of the highlights for me.