AmericaOne Report 11/10/99
24-Hour Sail Loft Team Keeps AmericaOne Race Ready
by Dana Paxton
November 10, 1999 -- Auckland, New Zealand -
Every day of the week, 24 hours per day you can hear the whirring of industrial sewing machines. Six sailmakers scurry across the floor of the AmericaOne sail loft re-cutting the day's sails, building sails, or repairing small tears, rips, or lacerations from the wears of America's Cup sailing.
It takes professionals with all-around sailmaking experience and a sail designer with the patience to sift through ideas, provide feedback, and test ideas to make certain it all comes together for AmericaOne's boats. Our sail team is led by Sail Designer Robert Hook (a.k.a. Hooky), Sail Loft Manager Craig Phillips, and sailmakers Ben Fletcher, Ryan Griswold, Dave Jarvis, and Aaron Jones.
This is the fourth America's Cup that Hook and Phillips have worked in tandem. They started together at North Sails in Sydney. "He got me involved with Kookaburra when I was 17 years old," says Philips. "In fact Walter Kronkite came and we did a demo on the plotter about how high-tech they were. Now I look at them and think 'My God!'"
What's a typical day like for the sail team? If it's race day the loft staff arrives at 7:30 AM and packs the day's sails. Then the trimmers come in and pack the spinnakers, while Terry Hutchinson, the mainsail trimmer, tensions all the battens in the mainsail.
When the sails are ready the sail team coordinates which sails go on USA 49 and then the team's tender, NZ Challenge, gets stocked with the backup inventory. Once the boat is loaded, the day shift gets into production, building sails for the next Round Robin and doing general maintenance.
Hook has a mobile office onboard the tender and during the tow-out, he spends his time designing sails. Once onboard USA 49 he looks at the sails "I talk to the trimmers and make sure we understand each other," says Hook. "That way we can rely on what they see is what I see and what I see is what they're seeing."
The relationship between the sail loft and the trimmers is very important. "It's a tight little unit," says Phillips. "It has to be. As the trimmers come in off the boat we rely on the feedback, whether it's constructive criticism, or a problem with a sail." From those five trimmers, the feedback is translated into work orders for the sail loft. "If they say it's dumping off [wind exiting the sail at a certain point], then we rely on the trimmers to digitize [the sail photos] immediately and we can understand it in our own terms," says Phillips. "Remember, trimmers look at a sail as a flying shape and the sail loft sees it two dimensionally on the floor."
All the sails go straight into the loft and the night shift - who work 6:00 AM -- 6:00 PM -- looks over the inventory that was used. They examine every batten, stitch, webbing, and panel. Then they get on to making sails.
"One of the biggest goals in this program is having us move forward as a team," says Hook. "And achieving that, so those of us who are very experienced -- such as me and Moose ( Dave McClintock) -- so that when he tells me something, I completely understand it. It's really a matter of both being together and looking at the sails time and time again. "It's the same with Morgan (Trubovich) and Terry (Hutchinson). We are getting to a point to where they can say something about a sail and we're thinking the same thing. Our communication is more precise. That makes the sail program better for everyone."
All Photos by Sharon Green
AmericaOne is dedicated to recapturing the America's Cup by applying U.S. technology in aerodynamics, computer equipment, hydrodynamics, naval architecture, sail design and structural engineering to America's Cup sailboat design. Operating since June 1, 1996, AmericaOne is the challenger on behalf of San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club. AmericaOne technology partners and top-level sponsors include Hewlett-Packard Company, Telcordia Technologies/SAIC, Ford Motor Company/Visteon and United Technologies Corp. To learn more about AmericaOne visit: www.americaone.org.
For further information on AmericaOne, please contact: Gina von Esmarch E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / Phone: + 64 9 359 9246/Fax: + 64 9 359 9262 # # #
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