HOOD Sails in the Buenos Aires – Rio de Janeiro Race

We are delighted to offer our congratulations to HOOD Argentina client, Fjord VI, for winning the ORC division of the Buenos Aires – Rio de Janeiro Offshore Race. Fjord VI, a 43 foot German Frers Design sloop, is outfitted with sails designed by HOOD Germany and produced by HOOD Sailmakers Argentina. The mainsail is made of 9.4oz Vektron, sails #1-3 are warp drive triradial, sail #4 is crosscut Marblehead Dacron and the spinnakers are Elite Nylon Tristar. After losing their mast off the coast of southern Brazil in the last edition of the race, the Fjord VI team set a modest goal for 2017: to complete the race without shuddering crippling damage. The team put their inventory of HOOD sails to the test, and after battling through 40 knot breeze and huge waves in the Atlantic, Fjord VI came out victorious at the top of the ORC fleet!

Sailors Weekly interviewed Jorge Jauregui, captain and navigator onboard Fjord VI, to get the rundown on the race:

“At the beginning, we had the normal Rio de la Plata conditions with about 20 knots of SW wind, which remained until we turned Punta del Este. We sailed very well with the best conditions for our boat and were leading our fleet when we reached Punta del Este.

As we left Rio de la Plata behind, the sea and wind conditions started to get harder. We had a lot of wind and waves during the first night on the Atlantic, about 35-40 knots, and we tried to sail conservatively in order to avoid any damage. We sailed with 2 reefs on the main and the #4 with a nice heading of 60-70 degrees and 8 knots of speed.

Then the waves became bigger, and we took the main down completely and sailed only with #4 for the next 20 hours. At that point, it was only important for us to keep the boat and crew safe and we didn’t care much about the course.

After we arrived in Rio de Janeiro, we analyzed our track and saw it paid off to have sailed to the east, far away from shore, where the current was pushing us fast towards Rio. The boats that sailed closer to the coast had the current against them the whole way.

We had very good wind until we were 10 miles away from the finish. We were sailing at 6 knots when the wind started to go down, and when we were only 5 miles away, it had almost disappeared. We were floating on the Guanabara Bay in the early morning for more than 2 hours. We knew we were well positioned, but the time was still running and our competitors coming closer!

At dawn, we saw the typical fog on the surrounding mountains and expected a thermal wind to blow soon. We were lucky and were able to sail through the finish line with a little bit of wind and 3 knots of boat speed.”

HOOD Loft Spotlight: Japan

We continue our HOOD Around the World series with a spotlight on HOOD Japan: since his early days in the sailmaking business, Toshio Toya’s dedication and leadership has paved the way for HOOD as a leading sailmaker in Japan. We had the opportunity to speak with Tosh and we are pleased to share his story on how HOOD Japan has evolved.

 Toshio Toya, owner of HOOD Japan (center),
with Mitsuharu Tohara, loft manager (left) and
Noriyuki Kawai, director for the Aichi area (right).

How did you become a sailmaker?  
Until I graduated from Meiji University in March, 1969, I was sailing almost full-time. Once I graduated, I would go sailing every weekend and that’s when I realized that I could make a career in sailmaking. At that time in Japan, there were only four sailmakers, but the quality of those sails were not up to par as those of HOOD Sailmakers from Marblehead, MA, USA. I became interested in bringing a better sailmaking technology to Japan. I wrote a letter to Ted Hood asking him if I would be able to learn the techniques of his sailmaking. In April 1971, Chris Bouzaid began training me in HOOD sailmaking. I spent over a year in New Zealand learning Bouzaid’s skills, then I returned to Japan to start the Japan branch of HOOD New Zealand. By 1974, sales were rapidly increasing, and I created HOOD Japan.

How have you seen sailmaking change through the years?

Traditional Dacron material continues to dominate the market for long-life sails. However, over the years, we’ve seen the laminate sails continue to evolve as a lightweight sail option in both panel sail and membrane sail format. Both of them are evolving, giving us different options to pursue, depending on cost and various conditions of a client’s needs. 


 
Do you own a boat?
I own a small dinghy, a 16 foot Yamaha.

Where do you sail most often?
I sail my own boat out of Tokyo and do a lot of sailing with clients on their own boats out of Tokyo as well.

Do most people belong to Yacht Clubs and sail club boats or is there a lot of private ownership of yachts in Japan?
Most people who work in Tokyo join Yacht Clubs and sail the club owned boats. The Seto Inland Sea is a great spot for leisure sailing, and most people who sail there own their own yachts. 

Tell us about your clients at HOOD Japan:
In Japan, most of our clients are cruising boats and boats that compete in local club racing. Most have been HOOD customers for many years.

Why do you think customers keep coming back to HOOD?
Customers stay with HOOD not only for the high quality, durable sails, but for the service they receive.

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. 

HOOD Loft Spotlight: San Francisco

Robin Sodaro runs the HOOD loft in Sausalito, CA with his wife, Vicki. Robin has been with HOOD since 1975, which makes him one of the longest reigning HOOD sailmakers in the history of the company!

robin-2

How & when did you become associated with HOOD? When did you open the loft in Sausalito?

I started working for HOOD Sails in Costa Mesa, CA in 1975 and worked there until I moved to Marblehead, MA in December 1982 where I worked in the HOOD Sail Design office at HOOD Marblehead. There, I was able to convince Ted Hood and Chris Bouzaid that there should be a HOOD loft in San Francisco, so I only worked at HOOD Marblehead until the early summer of 1983. In July of that year, I raced in the TransPac to Honolulu and put together the deal with Allen Mitchell to take over the Mitchell sail loft and assets.

My wife, Vicki, and I were married October 8, 1983 in Southern California, we had a three-day honeymoon at Lake Tahoe, and then off to start HOOD Sausalito. We merged with Mitchell Sails. Allen Mitchell had been a sailmaker since the late 1950’s and Allen stayed on with us until around 1995.

In 1985, I purchased the HOOD Loft in Costa Mesa. The Costa Mesa loft was getting their sails from HOOD MH, and we started building the Costa Mesa loft sails here in Sausalito. In 1992, we changed the sail loft in Sausalito to a sales office and sail repairs with two sailmakers and a smaller sail loft in Costa Mesa.

 

How did you get involved in sailmaking?

I have been sailing since about age 5 when my parents bought a Snipe. I grew up sailing at Balboa Yacht Club in Newport Beach, CA. I raced a lot all over Southern California and in college. A friend I had sailed with for years, Steve Ross, was working at the HOOD loft in Costa Mesa, and he asked me if I had wanted to join HOOD. So, after college graduation the summer of 1975, I started working for HOOD Costa Mesa at the minimum wage of $1.75/hour.

 

Your loft has been a family run organization since inception, with your wife, Vicki, and children being an integral part of the business. Can you talk about that?

Yes, Vicki and I run the HOOD loft. Vicki worked for Skip Elliott Sails in Newport Beach before I knew her. She also graduated from Cal and worked part time at the North Sails loft in Alameda, CA — she was their first employee, hired by Tom Blackaller.

All three of our kids grew up around the loft. Steve, our son, also works here part-time. He and his wife were runners at UC Berkeley, CA. Steve is one of six runners at Cal to break the four-minute mile and also holds the school’s 3K-steeple chase record. Our daughter, Christine, works for Marin Bikes and races bikes and our other daughter, Leslie, works for an orthodontist.

 

Tell us about your clients and your area, what happens at HOOD Sausalito? 

We have all sorts of clients here in Sausalito and the Bay area: racing, cruising and small boat clients. The average size boat we sell sails to is around 40’. We offer new sails, sail repair and washing, pickup and delivery of sails, canvas work and consulting. I travel all over the Bay area and spend a bit of time racing here and Southern California.

 

How have you seen sailmaking change through the years and what about HOOD do you think keeps customers coming back?

In my 41 years at HOOD, I’ve have seen many changes in the sailmaking industry; but customers come back to HOOD as the sails we sell are very durable, and we give great customer service.

Over the years, sailmaking has become a little more automated and precise but does still require sailmakers to put together the sails. All the larger sail lofts now have centralized manufacturing, this helps make the sails much more consistent in design and finish. Most of the larger sail lofts have manufacturing offshore to save on the cost of labor in a very competitive sailmaking market.

With the development of laminate string sail construction and better laminate roll goods, the laminate sails are getting more and more popular. I like the Vektron Sailcloth that we launched in 1997; its life is as long as HOOD Dacron but holds its shape better.

 

 

Tell us a little about some of your favorite projects and sailing that you’ve been part of or are currently involved with.

There were/are many; most revolve around racing. One of my customers has had a few Swans and currently owns the Swan 53, Katrina. We mainly race Katrina in Southern California but over the years have sailed the boat in Sardinia, Cowes, St. Maarten and Antigua. The same owner purchased a Reichel Pugh 78 last year, so we are racing Zephyrus quite a bit now and sailed the TransPac last year and may well do it again in 2017.

We have made many Swan sails due to my relationship with the Swan dealer that was in Newport Beach, CA. We’ve made sails for the Swan 57, Flyer, and the Swan 46, Kookaburra.

I also race quite often on the 8-meter Yucca, locally here in Sausalito. Yucca is a fun boat to race on as the crew has been together for decades.

 

Do you own a boat? If so, what kind?

We have a J 24 that we dry sail out of San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere. I got a J 24 back in 1979 and raced it a lot in Southern California. We replaced the ‘79 J-24 with a new J 24 in 1981. In fact, I towed it across country when I moved to Marblehead thinking I would be staying there for a while. As you know, that changed when I opened the HOOD loft here in Sausalito! That J 24 came back across country with me and didn’t touch the Atlantic once.

Vicki raced the J 24 quite a bit in the 80’s and 90’s. She towed the J 24 across country to Newport RI to race in the Woman’s Keelboat Championships. Unfortunately, being sailmakers, our J 24 does not get sailed as much as it used to since we have too many clients looking for us to race with them. Vicki does get out on the water quite a bit these days umpiring all around the US.

 

 

Any other stories or memories from the years that you’d like to share about your time with HOOD?

Lots of good HOOD memories. The best of which were in the late 1970 and 80’s when we had the yearly seminar at the HOOD loft in Marblehead. Those were always good parties, with all the lofts worldwide attending.

The Marblehead loft was amazing. They had so much work they added a second shift in the spring and summer. The HOOD compound in those days had the two-story sail loft, sail lab (that manufactured all the one-design sails), Marblehead Manufacturing (made all the HOOD cloth in Marblehead), Ted HOODs Design office, and HOOD Yacht Systems.