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What better way to get excited for what 2021 has in store by taking a look back at our favourite articles from 2020.

The top five articles from Quantum Sails sites are listed below. They cover a range of useful topics including solo sailing, with our own Yannick Lemonnier from Quantum Sails Ireland.

Other articles cover sail recuts, custom graphics, family sailing and Code 0 use.

For all your sail needs for 2021, be sure to contact us for some advice or a quote. Contact details below for Mark Mansfield and Yannick Lemonnier from Quantum Sails Ireland


Short-handed sailing played a big role in many adventures this year, from cruising with a partner to racing single-handed around the world. Quantum's Yannick Lemonnier shares his expertise, tips, and tricks. Getting started with your short-handed sailing here.


Are you having a hard time pointing? Overpowered due to stretched or bagged out sails? Precision recuts extend the life of your sails, and now is the perfect time to learn about the process or schedule service.
What You Need to Know About Recuts here


Make a statement in 2021! Custom sail graphics can be applied to any new or old, upwind or downwind sail, no matter if they're Dacron, nylon, or Quantum Fusion M. Check out the article below to learn how simple the process is and for some inspiration when creating your own design! Custom Sail Graphics are Easier & Cheaper than you think here


Now is the perfect time to plan your 2021 adventures. Here are some reminders to help keep it fun and create lasting memories while sailing with your family. Sailing as a Family here


Code Zeros are all the rave, and for good reason. They're easy to control, extremely useful, practical, and available for both racers and cruisers. Quantum's Dave Flynn gives insight and details why these sails should be part of your sail plan. Code Zero: Light-Air, Close-Reaching Powerhouse Sail here 

For further information contact:

Mark Mansfield [email protected] ph 00 353 87 250 6838
Yannick Lemonnier [email protected] Ph 00 353 87 628 9854

Published in Quantum Sails
6th February 2020

Why Quantum Sails?

Mark Mansfield, four-time Olympian, professional sailor/coach and J Boats and Grand Soleil agent for Ireland, outlines why he has decided to link up as an agent for Quantum Sails.

I was recently appointed the Irish agent for J Boats and Grand Soleil Yachts in Ireland so adding a sailmaker agency to my armoury was a natural addition. I looked at various options and in the end, I went with Quantum because:



I am a little biased, in that I chose Quantum sails in three of my four Olympic campaigns, but these were Dacron one-design sails. Quantum has also been one of the major big boat sailmakers for many years.

Their Top range Fusion Technology can be seen in such boats as:

  • Quantum TP 52—Consistently the top Tp 52 in the Ultra competitive TP52 circuit.
  • American Magic—Foiling US Americas Cup Challenger from the New York Yacht Club 
  • Swan 36—Chose Quantum to design the first sails for this new exciting class, as did the Dehler 30 one-design class.

American MagicAmerican Magic—Foiling US Americas Cup Challenger

Dehler 30Swan 36

Swan 36Dehler 30 OD

They all use Fusion MR Technology product, which are membrane sails designed and built specifically for a particular boat. This product can be had with, Carbon Strengthening Threads—Fusion 7000 series—generally used at the top racing level and needed for boats over about 33 feet to keep the sails from stretching.

Aramid (Kevlar) Strengthening Threads—Fusion 5000 series—Generally used at a top level for racing and needed for boats between about 28 to 33 feet to keep the sails from Stretching.

We then also have our Tri Radial product, which uses laminated sailcloth with various Strengths (some Carbon, some Aramid, some Polyester), constructed in load-bearing tri-radial designs. These sails are perfect for the club racing level sailor, who wants a quality product, which will last, at a more affordable price level.


I priced sails with other sailmaking brands in the 30 foot, 35 foot and 40-foot range and consistently Quantum came out the most competitive for both their Top range Grand Prix Fusion MR products and also their Step down Club racing sails.

I believe in Ireland Owners are generally unhappy about the high pricing levels for sails, which have seemed to increase right through the recession at a level not seen in any other products.

Clients should remember if they are getting quotes for sails, that the quotes they receive have the same base structural strengthening material (Carbon/Aramid/Polyester) as the other sailmaker. Just because a sail has a fancy badge, has a fancy brand name and is black, that doesn’t mean it is the correct sail for the boat and is strong enough. Often sailmakers, especially if they are in competition with another sailmaker, will quote on a sail that looks fancy, but the internal load-bearing material (maybe Polyester instead of Carbon) is not going to stop stretch and so will have a much shorter competitive life.

TP52A top TP 52 using Fusion MR Main and headsail


This is always important and Yannick Lemonnier has been servicing sails in his Galway Loft for over 10 years. Yannick was the Quantum Sails Agent for a number of years and is now back into the Quantum family. Yannick has a 250 Sq. metre Loft with three Machines, which can repair and recut any size sail. They can also manufacture Covers and other canvas products like Dodgers, Biminis etc.

Yannick will cover the West Of Ireland, I will be covering the South and between us, we will cover the East, Midlands and Northern Ireland. Should a client go with us, he will get significant backup, which will include rig tuning and other go-fast requirements.

Ireland now has another proper option for the purchasing of sails, with the arrival of this World Class Quantum brand to Ireland. Come and ask Yannick or me for a quote. You won't be disappointed.

Download the Quantum brochure below

Mark Mansfield [email protected] 087 2506838

Yannick Lemonnier-- [email protected] Tel: 087 628 9854

Published in Quantum Sails

Quantum Sails International has announced that a new agent for Ireland has been agreed. Four times Olympian, Mark Mansfield will join forces as a sales agent for Quantum Sails, with Yannick Lemonnier from West Sails in Galway.

Mansfield is also J Boats and Grand Soleil agent for Ireland and is well known In Irish sailing through his Olympic and other International sailing campaigns. He is also a Professional sailor and Coach and contributor to Afloat. He was previously an agent for another Irish sailmaker.

Yannick Has been based in Galway as a sailmaker for ten years and has recently moved his loft to a new state-of-the-art 250 sq. metre premises in Oranmore in County Galway. Well known for having competed in five Figaro events and more recently he has been competing in his own Mini Transat yacht in events such as Round Ireland and Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Races.

Mark Chellis, Marketing Global Director, Quantum Sails, was delighted to be on hand at the Dusseldorf boat show when details were announced of the new arrangement.  He comments “ We have known Yannick for some years as he previously was our agent, and are now delighted to see him team up with someone of Mark Mansfield’s pedigree. Mark has competed in 3 Olympics using Quantum Sails and understands the standard of Design and expertise that our worldwide team brings. Our TP 52 has consistently been the top performer on the Med Circuit for the last number of Years, winning overall on four occasions. Our sails compete in the Top events worldwide with great results. we are also tightly aligned with Dehler 30 OD, the ClubSwan36 & foilers like American Magic.

Club Swan 36Club Swan 36Delher 30 ODDelher 30 OD

Mark Mansfield helmingMark Mansfield

Mark Mansfield comments—“ I am really looking forward to the challenge of helping Quantum Sails become a major player in the Irish market, and now is a good time to bring such a worldwide brand back to the notice of Irish customers. Before going with Quantum, I did an in-depth study on the other available brands and Quantum came out on top for providing quality sails at a competitive pricing structure that will compete very well in Ireland. Yannick is a great offshore and shorthanded sailor and is a proven sailmaker, operating from his new West Sails sail making Loft in Galway. We have the technology and design from The Quantum Group, the service back-up from our own Galway Loft and now the proper, on the ground personnel, to take care of clients all over the country”.

Yannick Lemonnier MiniYannick Lemonnier

Yannick Comments—” I am delighted to be back in the Quantum family after a years break with another Sailmaker. It is a new start with 10 years of experience in the background and now look forward to working with Mark, who is well known in Ireland. This is why I decided to work again with Quantum sails which I like very much for its consistent quality, performance and price. It is very easy to work with their top-level designers, other lofts and Class specialist. Joining forces with Mark is giving another dimension to the business, giving access to the East and Southern coasts where Mark is well known.

west sails loftNew 250 square metre Quantum Sail Loft premises in Galway
Quantum Sails Have a range of brands to suit any sailor, from Top Grand Prix level Fusion membrane sails found on TP 52s right down to Club racing and cruising sails. The range of products can suit any requirement and can adapt to fit the price level of most owners.

Mark and Yannick can be contacted for quotes or other information at:

[email protected] or [email protected] Tel: 087 628 9854

Mark—[email protected] Tel: 087 2506838

Quantum 2

Published in Quantum Sails

Key Yachting Ltd has announced that four-time Olympian Mark Mansfield, has been appointed the representative in Ireland for their four ranges; J Boats, Grand Soleil, Nautitech Catamarans, and Tofinou.

Key Yachting is the sole agents for these performance brands in the UK and Ireland and has not had a specific Irish agent for a number of years. 

New Grand Soleil 48 PerformanceNew Grand Soleil 48 Performance

Marie-Claude Heys, MD of Key Yachting said “We are really excited to have Mark join the Key Yachting family. Mark already knows and sails with many of our owners in Ireland, so is perfectly placed to assist them with any technical issues, and of course, help them upgrade their boat when the time comes! Mark is a top sailor and we are hopeful that he will help to sustain the fantastic reputation our J Boats, in particular, have in Ireland.”

J Boats

The premium cruiser-racer range that includes the IRC top-level winner J/112e, the newly launched J/99, and the fastest-growing One Design keelboat in the world, the J/70.

J112e Davanti TyresJ112e Davanti Tyres

Grand Soleil

A very well known range of top quality Italian produced cruiser-racer and cruising yachts. Recent successes in Ireland on the racing front have come from Frank Whelan’s Grand Soleil 44, Eleuthera which has won nearly everything she has competed in, Nieulargo, the Grand Soleil 40 Owned by Denis Murphy from Royal Cork has also been a top performer, winning both the April and Autumn leagues this year. A number of years ago, the Grand Soleil 43, Quokka, featured on the Winning Irish Commodores Cup Team in 2010. This range combines fast easily driven hulls, with very comfortable cruising interiors.

Grand Soleil Long Cruise 42 Grand Soleil Long Cruise 42


The French premium catamaran builder which has recently introduced the Nautitech 46 Flybridge model, which will be exhibited at the January Dusseldorf boat show.

Nautitech 46 FlybridgeNew Nautitech 46 Flybridge


Tofinou Yachts are a brand of top of the range Day sailors and cruiser racers and will also be showing at the Dusseldorf show.

Mark Mansfield

Mark Mansfield is well known in the Irish sailing and marine market. Following 30 years working in the banking sector, he turned sailing professional/sailing coach/consultant five years ago and has had considerable success in that area. Mark is also an agent for UK Sails Ireland.

Mark has completed in four Olympics and has won at virtually every level in sailing, from numerous 1720 titles to European wins in the Star and IRC Europeans, and Irish Champion of Champions. Mark has achieved success at virtually every IRC Regatta around the UK and Ireland including the Scottish Series, UK IRC Champs, Irish IRC Champs, Spi Ouest Regatta, and Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

Mark is a contributor to Afloat and written on many performances and race orientated subjects here

More to follow, but Mark will be on the J Boats and Grand Soleil stands at the Dusseldorf Boat Show from the 18th to the 26th of January. J Boats will be exhibiting the J/70 sportsboat, the J/99 Short Handed IRC Cruiser racer, and the J/112e Cruiser Racer, which is likely the most successful IRC boat over the last number of years in Europe.

Grand Soleil will be exhibiting the new Grand Soleil Long Cruise 42 Cruiser and the 48 Performance, only launched in 2019.

Mark can be contacted at [email protected] and by phone at 00 353 87 2506838.

Published in J Boats & Grand Soleil
Tagged under

Afloat correspondent Mark Mansfield who provided some sailor-focused thoughts for Race Officers on race management in his recent article here has had one of his tips rebutted by the editor of American website, Scuttlebutt.

Scuttlebutt's Craig Leweck who picked up the story rejects Mansfield’s fourth tip covering the recent requirement for race boats to 'ping the line' to set up onboard computers. 

"With all due respect to the esteemed 4-time Irish Olympian, I oppose his advice with regard to adjusting start lines says Leweck. "Mansfield states that if a race officer decides to move either the Committee boat or the pin prior to the start, they should allow 5 minutes or so before going into a sequence, as many boats will need to enter the new location into their startline GPS aids like Racegeek or Velocitek pro starts. I say phooey to that, as anything that slows down the running of races is a negative, particularly if it promotes the use of costly tools instead of sailing skill", Leweck argues.

Read Mansfield's full article here.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

Olympic sailor Mark Mansfield who is an agent for UK Sailmakers Ireland offers his five top tips for those looking at buying new sails this year.

1. Correct Size Sails

Make sure the new sails are the correct size. IRC rule changes are happening all the time and good advantages can be had from optimising the sail sizing, sometimes by just a small amount. Make sure you get advice from your sailmakers about what is best. We had one Class One boat this year that ended up with the same size sails as before but dropped two points by changing the shape of their sails a small amount.

black velvetBlack Velvet Beneteau 34.7 with her Uni Titanium Main and Headsail. Black Velvet recently converted to non-overlapping headsails

2. Seasonal Discounts

Make sure you take advantage of any discounts that might be available. Autumn is traditionally a quiet time for production facilities and so discounts are offered for orders at that time. At UK Sailmakers, we have just introduced a new discount arrangement. More details here

3. Sailmaker's Knowledge

Make the best use of your Sailmakers. People working with sailmakers have a wealth of knowledge about what makes boats go fast. Whether it is helping you with your rating optimisation, helping you tune your rig or other areas, make use of them. Sometimes this can be added as an included extra in a sails purchase deal.

4.  Loft Facilities

Ensure the sailmakers you are thinking of has a proper loft to be able to service and adjust your sails. Ordering from a sailmaker with no proper loft facilities means adjustments or repairs are extremely difficult to organise. We recently had a customer who twisted his Code 0 cable and was unable to untwist it himself. It went down to our loft in Crosshaven where the 17-metre sail was hung up, untangled and refitted. This would be very difficult to achieve without proper facilities.

5. Sails to Suit Requirements

Make sure you are being quoted the material in the sails that suit your requirements and not some lower-tech and cheaper material that looks fancy but actually will stretch very quickly and not last long. For racing boats over 30 foot or even a bit smaller, the go-to material for quite a few years for low stretch is Carbon. The problem with not having Carbon in high load sails is if you exceed their normal wind range, they will eventually stretch, and once that has happened, you end up with turned in leeches and baggy sails. They will not last competitively for the same number of years as Carbon-reinforced sails.

WOW XP 44George Sisk's new X Yachts XP 44 Wow on way to winning the 2019 Sovereign's Cup with her Carbon Uni Titanium Main and Headsail Photo: Bob Bateman

So, Why Carbon?

A quick history lesson on sail materials.

Up to the ’70s, nearly all sails were made from Dacron (Polyester) and were 'crosscut'. Fairly cheap, stretchy material, but lasted a long time.

In the late ’70s, new materials such as Mylar emerged with much less stretch and were used for quite a few years.

In the early ’80s, Kevlar became the go-to material. Originally used for bulletproof vests, it had good stretch resistance but was more expensive. The first Kevlar sail I ever sailed with was on Moonduster in 1981, her first year, when she did the Admiral's cup. Kevlar sails in those days were still crosscut.

In about 1982, tri-radial sails, using a combination of Mylar in the low stretch areas and Kevlar in the high stretch areas(such as the leech) changed the way sails were made forever. Kevlar, however, has low UV protection and stretches after a lot of flogging and wear.

In the early 2000s, Carbon was introduced to sails and this was another game-changer. Much less resistant to UV damage and significantly less stretch. It has become the option of choice for the racing community. It is more expensive, however, which is why some sailmakers when in a competitive situation, sell sails without Carbon.

At UK Sailmakers, our Race sails (X drive Carbon, Titanium and Uni Titanium) are all Carbon-reinforced sails. The latter two options are moulded sails.

The graph below shows the strength differences 


If you are buying new sails, here is what you should be looking at:

  • Fully Cruising - Dacron is fine
  • Cruising and occasional races on Echo - Dacron is still fine
  • Racing mainly and occasional cruising - Carbon-reinforced sails such as UK Sailmakers 'X drive Carbon'
  • Racing mainly, club level - Carbon-reinforced sails such as 'X drive Carbon'
Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

#ICRA - All three boats on the podium at Cork Week last month demonstrate the benefits of not only rig tuning but also focused coaching, according to Mark Mansfield.

The UK Sailmakers racing consultant and four-time Olympian, who shared a series of ‘how to’ articles on earlier this year, was responsible for tuning the rigs of all three boats on the podium in the 2018 Beaufort Cup.

Two of the top three also has coaching sessions with Mansfield — including the Beaufort Cup winning J109, Joker II, which spent a day at his Cork base before the Defence Forces crew under July’s Sailor of the Month Barry Byrne sailed to second place in the Round Ireland.

mark mansfield16Mark Mansfield is coaching Irish cruiser racer campaigns Photo: W M Nixon

A typical tune-up and coaching day, Mansfield says, begins with tuning the rig onshore, then fine-tuning on the water before a helm and crew coaching session that typically involves straight-line speed practice and changing gear in varying wind conditions, as well as sail-handling techniques.

What might seem fairly straight forward for the experienced helm or crew member is the kind of revision that makes the difference between a respectable showing and a place on the podium.

Class 3 at Cork Week was another testament to that, as Mansfield had input into all three podium finishers. In particular, Ronan Downing’s half tonner Miss Whiplash outperformed Johnny Swann’s Harmony despite arriving in Ireland only a week before Cork Week — thanks, suggests Mansfield, to a focused coaching evening in the run-up to the regatta.

More recently, Mansfield brought his expertise to Cowes Week in the Etchells 22 Class, and this week he will join John Maybury’s Joker II at the ICRA Cruiser Nationals in Galway.

Mansfield is available for professional rig tuning, coaching or sailing on any boat. For more details contact [email protected]

Published in Cork Week
Tagged under
29th January 2018

Tuning a Fractional Mast & Rig

People seem to think that tuning a fractional rig is very difficult. In reality, it is not that hard as Mark MansfieldProfessional sailor and racing consultant/agent for UK sails Ireland, describes below in the first part of a series of 'How To' articles.

There are four fairly straightforward areas to do and once you go through these is a systematic manner it normally works out fairly well first time. These four areas are:

  • Make sure the rig is in the centre of the boat
  • Make sure the rake is correct
  • Get the prebend right
  • Tighten the shrouds to the correct level

Mark Mansfield 1180Article author Mark Mansfield, Professional sailor and racing consultant/agent for UK sailmakers Ireland Photo:

I will go through these four in detail in a moment, but whether it is a single spreader, double spreader or triple spreader mast, the system to get it right is the same, just a bit more work with the extra spreaders and shrouds. Also, it is the same whether it is a one design mast like a 1720, Etchells etc. or whether it is a one off custom boat. Most one design classes will have a tuning guide prepared often by a sailmaker and these are certainly a good base point. However, even if you have one of these tuning guides, much of what I will be going through still it very relevant. Over the years I have tuned everything from Admirals cup 45 footers, to Olympic Stars, to Figaro offshore boats to 1720’s, Etchells, Commodores Cup Boats, J109’s and a host of others and though there are small differences between them, the basics remain the same. So let’s go through the four headings above.


It sounds a very basic and simple thing but it is amazing how many masts are over to one side more than the other. I am taking it that the mast step and the mast gate are in the center (as most are) but if you find having done all the items I mention, that the mast is still not setting up straight, then these should be measured and checked. OK, first thing is to loosen off all the shrouds a good bit until they are relatively loose. Then get a heavyish weight, like a large bucket of water, or a full diesel can and attach it to the Jib halyard. We will be using this to measure from side to side. It is important that you do not use the main halyard as if there is a bit of a bend in the tip, the main halyard will end up over to one side. The jib halyard is where the hounds are and if you can get that point in the center, all the remaining parts of the mast will line up.

Hang the heavy can (attached to the jib halyard) over the side of the boat ensuring that it is not being deflected by the stanchions or guard wires. Mark on this halyard with tape near the shrouds where the rope disappears over the deck. Then bring the halyard around to the other side and see if this tape mark is in the same place, when measured at a similar point. If it is not then you need to loosen the outer shroud on one side and tighten the outer shroud on the other until they are equal. You may need to do this a few times but it is worth the effort.

Now temporarily tighten the outer shrouds nearly back to where they were before you started. Looking up the mast track from behind the mast, tighten up the diagonal shrouds on both sides to ensure the sideways bend in eliminated. Start at the upper diagonal shrouds first, if you have more that one set of spreaders, them move downwards to the lower diagonal shrouds. Once you have the mast looking fairly straight, now we turn our attention to getting the correct mast rake.

cap shroudLooking up the mast track from behind the mast, tighten up the diagonal shrouds on both sides to ensure the sideways bend in eliminated


Most modern boats are best set up to about 2.5 to 3 degrees of rake. There are exceptions with some boats only needing one degree and others wanting as much as five degrees. However, the vast majority of boats favor around 2.5 degrees and their keel positions and rig plans are designed around this figure. To measure and adjust your rake, again you will need the bucket of water or other heavy weight. This time hang it from the main halyard until it hangs just below the boom. Ensure the weight aboard the boat is in its normal racing position and get all the crew off the boat. Tighten the backstay to a just taut position. Wait for the bucket to settle and mark where the halyard hits the side of the boom. If the rig is at 2.5 degrees of rake the distance from the back of the mast, measured just above the gooseneck should be circa 4.5% of your P measurement which you will get from your IRC cert. So take a J 109 with an approx. P measurement of 13 metres, 4.5% of this would be 585mm. If your bucket is hanging back further than this, then you need to bring the mast forward by tightening your forestay bottlescrew. If your bucket is hanging closer to the mast than that, then the forestay bottlescrew will need to be loosened. Always ensure you adjust the figures if the main halyard exits to the top of the mast further aft than the main track.


OK, So we have the mast now in the middle with the correct rake. Next step is to tighten the shrouds to the correct levels, which should in turn put prebend into the mast. Most sails are cut for a slightly prebent mast with about 1% of P as a decent guide. So, with a J109 with an approx. 13-metre P measurement that means about 130mm of prebend. To measure this, again take your main halyard, attach it to your gooseneck and tighten it hard. Push the halyard against the mast track and look up to see what is the max this halyard is positioned behind the middle of the mast. In the above J109 mast, that should be circa 130mm. If it is more then the diagonal shrouds need to be tightened more to straighten the mast. If it is less then the diagonal shrouds need to be eased. Always remember this is based on your outer (cap) shroud being up to full tension. As you tighten the outer shroud, the mast will likely compress and this will cause bend.

Yacht_J109_Dublin_BayMost modern boats are best set up to about 2.5 to 3 degrees of rake Photo:

Final tuning of a mast always needs to be done out on the water, preferably with about 12 to 15 knots of wind, with a few bodies on the side. As a general rule the correct tension of the shrouds would be when they just come slack to leeward. If when you go out the leeward shrouds are still bar tight, then you need to ease them a little on both sides. If, as is more likely, the shrouds are too loose, then they need to be tightened, a little on both sides. As the breeze gets stronger it will be difficult to get the shrouds so tight that the leeward shrouds are always hard, especially with an aluminum mast. What happens is as you increase the tension in stronger winds, the mast compresses accordingly and the leeward shrouds stay a bit slack. With a carbon mast, it may be possible however to get the leeward shrouds snug as carbon masts generally bend less from side to side. Getting each individual shroud at the correct tightness level will require quite a few runs side to side, looking up the mast track, trying to see which area is not straight and then adjusting an individual shroud and trying again. Even when the mast is straight, you my find then that there is too much prebend which might necessitate further adjustments to the mast, or may even signal that a small luffround adjustment is needed.

I will be doing a follow-on article on this in a few weeks, which will deal with changing gears on the race course from light winds, right up to very strong winds. For many, finding one decent setting may be what they are looking for, say a medium setting, and then prefer to lock everything off at that stage. Others will want to adjust the rig every couple of knots to try and get that last fraction of speed out of it.

Mark Mansfield—Professional Sailor and racing Consultant/Agent for UK sails Ireland.

e mail[email protected]

UK Sailmakers, in conjunction with the Irish Cruiser Racing Association and, will be publishing a series of knowledge sharing and how-to articles for the 2018 season.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

Mark Mansfied of Cork has been a major presence in Irish and international sailing for decades. With his considerable height and presence, and air of being intensely focused on the task in hand, he is at the core of any sailing crew and campaign with which he becomes involved, all with his usual 100% dedication. W M Nixon catches up with a continuing stellar sailing career as Mansfield’s renowned expertise in rig tuning and sail optimisation sees an extra aspect added to his life with racing boats.

Mark “Mono” Mansfield is a Force of Nature. It could not be otherwise. Of impressive height (6ft 5ins), and with an intensely and intelligently focused look to his face when the topic is of interest to him, the fact that he is at his most alive when racing a sailing boat defines his life.

As for his considerable presence, many of us can remember when, at a very youthful age, he was effectively the skipper of Turkish Delight, the “big boat” of the Irish Admirals Cup team of 1987. The boat was welcomed into the squad to comply with the required size range for the three boat team, and she came complete with a colourful and decidedly characterful Turkish owner who was determined to be part of the action, and could have dominated the on-board setup.

mark mansfield2Mark Mansfield, aged 37 in 1999. He had sailed his first Admirals Cup aged 19 in 1981, and skippered his first Admirals Cup boat in 1985. Photo Robert Bateman

But Mansfied – youthful and all as he was, being barely 25 – was well able to keep up his end of the deal for Ireland . And as much of the preliminary action had a strong Cork flavour, with wives, mothers and girfriends keeping an eye on developments as only the Cork sailing women can, I found myself talking to his mother about how Mark’s sailing ability and power of personality were far beyond what you’d expect of someone of his age.

“He has always been like that” she said. “As an infant he was of course a large baby, he developed very fast, and by the time he was eight months, it was all we could do to keep him in his cot. He’d haul himself upright by hanging onto the rails, and dominate the entire household just by sheer power of will, personality and determination. Looking back, I think that childhood cot was his first boat…..”

In the Cork way, Mark’s first boat was a present from his Godfather. It was a well-used International Cadet, but as his Godfather happened to be Harold Cudmore Senr, that Cadet had originally belonged to Harold Cudmore Jnr, one of the very first boats of his internationally stellar career.

But the problem with being Mark Mansfield was that he was always a big lad. He outgrew junior dinghies almost as soon as he’d acquired them, and so he felt more comfortable on larger craft, and soon was Number One man to his father Stafford Manfield, a classic Cork sailor who steadily worked his way up through boat sizes until in the 1970s he was the first owner of the Rob Holland-designed, Cork-built 30ft Club Shamrock Demelza, a winner in a very keen class.

shamrock demelza3The Club Shamrock Demelza’s first owners were Stafford Mansfield and his son Mark. Now owned by Steph Ennis and Windsor Laudan, the 40-yearold Demelza continues to win races, and is seen here doing so at the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale

This made the Mansfields – for the father and son sailed on equal terms – the first of a succession of successful Demelza owners. In time, to acquire the db2 Luv Is, they sold the boat on to Neville Maguire of Howth, who won both the Irish Sea Championship and his class in the Round Ireland race with her, as well as many inshore championships. Then Neville in turn sold her to Steph Ennis and Windsor Laudan, who continue Demelza’s winning ways, even with the boat now hovering around 40 years of age.

But being part of Irish sailing history, through Demelza and other noted craft, is only of very incidental interest to Mark Mansfield today. His focus is on the current challenge, and the ones after that. He may be 55, but he lives in the present and looks to the future with a refreshing intensity, and this has been the hallmark of his entire sailing career.

Thus, even as he was increasingly involved in his father’s keelboat sailing with the balance of on-board command inevitably moving in Mark’s favour, for two or three years he was Mirror Dinghy racing in Cork Harbour despite being almost immediately too large for the boat.

But then the Laser made her debut in Ireland in the early 1970s, and this was the ideal boat for his already considerable (and athletic) size on the cusp of his teens. There were few enough topline Crosshaven sailors in Lasers in those early days before Mark had the freedom of his own driving licence, but somehow he got himself to major events and found his skills being sharpened by the Irish elite, a Who’s Who of subsequent stars in many sailing areas, with Gordon Maguire at their peak.

By this stage, the young Mark Mansfield was so totally immersed in sailing in so many different boats that academic pursuits took second place – or indeed no place at all – unless they were academic pursuits with a boat racing element, in which case they were given the total attention of a fiercely concentrated and considerable intelligence. But it wasn’t a formula for academic success in the orthodox sense, so after leaving school, college was set aside and he got a job in one of the main banks which, in those more easygoing times in the workplace, could be arranged to maximize serious sailing time.

It may have been “serious sailing time”, yet when Mark Mansfield is undertaking serious sailing with a crew who match his own enthusiasm, he is at his happiest, different indeed from the brooding and sometimes sharp-tongued presence which can manifest itself when he feels someone is not up to the job, or worse still, not giving of their best.

But then, his sailing career in his most formative years could only turn out someone like this. When he and his father moved on to the all-conquering db2 Luv Is, they set standards in inshore and offshore racing which few other boats could match, winning more trophies and major championships than he can quickly recall.

moonduster mansfield4“Men in White” – the new Moonduster’s crew in distinctive gear at her debut in 1981. Youngest crewmember was the 19-year-old Mark Mansfield. He was occasionally given the helm and found a special interest in the sails and rig

In that era, in 1981 he was also one of the “Men in White” aboard Denis Doyle’s new Crosshaven-built Frers 51 Moonduster, a total Crosshaven product as all the sails came from the McWilliam loft just up the road. By this stage, in addition to his skippering and helming skills, Mark Mansfield found himself increasingly absorbed by the special demands of rig-tuning and sail shape, and thus he found himself at age 19 – the youngest in the Moonduster crew  – with an interest which has developed over the years until now it is central to his sailing.

He didn’t totally move out of dinghies, as the early 1980s also saw him with an already well-used 505 which was certainly enough of a boat to be a really satisfying challenge for him. But even though he qualified for the 505 Worlds in Australia, it was a woefully under-funded campaign – a learning experience in itself – and it was little short of miraculous that they finished half way up an very competitive fleet.

Back home, he married Alethea in 1984, and they have two daughters, but sailing soon came centre stage again for Mark, and he was helm/skipper for Ireland in the 1985, 1987 and 1989 Admirals Cup, as well as hitting the big time international glamour with helming roles in the 1986 and 1988 Sardinia Cups.

For their own boat, after many successes with the db2 Luv Is, he and his father secured an X-Yachts Agency for Ireland, and this brought them the X-372 X-Cavator, which Mark raced with success in the 1988 Round Ireland race, and in which he perfected the famed “Mansfield controlled broach”.

X372 mansfield5An X-372 of the 1980s. With a sister-ship in the Round Ireland Race (though not in weather like this), Mark Mansfield perfected the art of the “controlled-flat-down-broach” to slither over mile-long salmon drift nets

In those distant days, parts of the Round Ireland Course were crossed by many almost-invisible salmon drift nets, some of them a mile long, and they were a special menace for fin and skeg boats.

Spending time finding your way round them could lose you the race, but in heavy spinnaker running approaching northwest Donegal – where the nets were thickest - Mark worked out a cunning plan. He went straight at the net flat out, and then in the last three or even less seconds, he threw X-Cavator into a spectacular broach which carried her sideways, right over on her ear with the rudder out of the water, clean over the net.

“If you saw this coming up” quips Mark, “it was good manners to to tell the crew below what was about to happen….”

The 1990s and the early 2000s saw his sailing take in extra areas while continuing with those in which he was already established.

The Olympic Star called, a challenging and often brutal boat to sail, and he was selected as Ireland’s Olympic Star Class helm four times – in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.

mansfield star6“A mighty monster to sail”. The Olympic Star had a mainsail larger than many Half Tonners, but with only half the mainsheet tackle. Mark Mansfield and David O’Brien show that racing a Star is not for the faint-hearted

mansfield star7Mark Mansfield sailing the Olympic Star. “A monument to discomfort, an ergonomic disaster zone….” – yet people loved them, and still do

The shortage of resources to see the campaign right through to the end at peak performance told in the Olympic results, for although he managed a 3rd, 5th and 8th in the Star Worlds, and won the Star Europeans in 2004, an Olympic Medal eluded him.

In fact, during this period – when he also found time to be overall winner of the 1997 Spi Ouest Regatta in France - the boat you feel he was happiest with was the 1994 Crosshaven-developed 1720. These days, it’s difficult to remember the excitement this then-novel Sportstboat class developed at home and abroad. Entries for the World Championships – particularly if they were held at Crosshaven or Kinsale - pushed towards the hundred level, and Mark won the Euros in 1998, 1999, 2010 and 2011.

1720s mansfield8God be with the days… the late 1990s, the 1720 Sportsboat class could muster nearly a hundred boats at their Euros at Crosshaven or Kinsale Photo: Robert Bateman

mansfield hynes9Mark Mansfield and James Hynes about to celebrate after winning the All Ireland Sailing title. Photo: Robert Bateman

As the 21st Century progressed, honours descended on a sailor who was ever more diverse in his involvements afloat. Such was the demand to race other people’s boats that it has made sense to downsize his own personal boat to a handy 6 Metre RIB, but he was and is sailing more than ever, and became Ireland’s Sailor of the Year twice, and also twice won the All-Ireland Helmsman’s Championship.

1720 mansfield10Mark Mansfield revelling in the racing in the 1720s class in their prime. Photo: Robert Bateman

Although still sailing very much as an amateur, he brought the highest professional levels to so many campaigns that he can count no less than five overall wins in Cork Week, wins too at the Scottish Series and the British IRC Nationals with Conor Phelan’s 2006-built Ker 36 Jump Juice, and Commodore’s Cup success as well.

jump juice11Conor Phelan’s Ker 36 Jump Juice, on her way to winning the British IRC Championship, Mark Mansfield at stern in white cap Photo: RORC

So what’s it like to crew with such a powerhouse of sailing success? Sources with extensive experience of the Mono Mansfield phenomenon have put it pithily:

“He's a percentages sailor and conservative. He’s never a man to go out hard on either side of a first beat. Instead, he plays the fleet well to make sure he has leverage on the bulk of them. Consequently, he might not be first round a weather mark, but you can count on him in big fleets to be consistently in the top ten race after race.

Technically, very quick to set up rigs and understand sail shape and what makes a boat go quick.

A super steerer – he can really get the most out of a boat, sometimes by feel of the rudder alone.

A formidable animal when the breeze is up, but he also cuts it across the wind range

Doesn't suffer fools or crews ('trained monkeys') gladly.

Huge ability to concentrate for long periods, to a level which could be called hyper-focus".

Three years ago, Dublin Bay J/109 owner John Maybury asked Maurice “Prof” O’Connell of North Sails if he knew of someone who could sail with him and his crew to beef up their performance. The Prof suggested Mark Mansfield, and so began a remarkable relationship in which the Cork star was willing to travel the long road to Dublin many times in order to be given carte blanche to bring Joker 2 and her crew up to their full potential.

j109 joker13John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2, which Mark Mansfield has assisted to conspicuous and consistent success Photo:

A good boat was made into a great boat. Joker 2 with Mark Mansfield on board has been a stellar J/109 for those three years, with top honours in many areas. But after a year or so, Mark’s personal circumstances changed. After working for several years in a major mainline bank in Cork, and rising in the management ranks, twenty years ago he was offered the position of manager of the Cork office of one of the leading Dublin-based Building Societies.  

It was a demanding role, and being Cork, there was a strong personal element to it. Not everyone could have stayed the course, but Mark did. However, after twenty years of it, following on his time already spent in the mainline bank, he felt he had done his duty and more by the financial services sector. There was the option of taking early retirement at the age of 55, and he’d been developing interesting ideas about how he might spend the remainder of his working life. The opportunity of taking that early retirement at 55 was too good to resist. 

So at much more than twice the age at which most sailors go professional, Mark Mansfield quietly let it be known that he is now a fulltime sailor.

It proved to be a remarkably painless transition process. All the owners with whom he sailed knew that he already brought a level of commitment which was away ahead of many known professionals. Seen in the context of the overall cost of keeping a frontline boat in full contender condition, a fee for Mark Mansfield’s presence was only a small part of the overall budget, and extremely good value.

It was with John Maybury and Joker 2 that the new arrangement was first tested last year. In terms of the mood on board and success achieved, nothing fundamental had changed at an operational level. If anything, as John comments, while Mark was even more intense and concentrated during racing, he was more relaxed otherwise. After all, following a weekend’s racing in Dublin Bay, he was no longer facing the prospect of a long Sunday night drive home to Cork knowing that Monday would bring another morning of misery in the office.

So as far as sailing is concerned, Mark is as good and concentrated at it as ever, but is more relaxed when the day’s racing is done. For sure, he now has people to talk to who may be interested in using his services, but that old boyish enthusiasm has never left him, as Dave Cullen discovered when he set up the Euro Car Parks Challenge in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 with the chartering of the Kelly family’s J/109 Storm.

He really did hit the jackpot, as he got both Mark Mansfield and Prof O’Connell in his crew. But at the halfway stage of the race, it looked as if Paul O’Higgins’ new JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI - likewise racing with a rockstar crew – had the class all stitched up.

But Euro Car Parks crew really did sail like pros. They simply never gave up. Any setbacks for Rockabill VI, and they were ready to pounce. And pounce they did, though it was murderous hanging on to their newly-acquired and slender handicap lead coming down the Irish Sea to become the only Irish class winner in the entire race.

Dave cullen Howth yacht club 0235Dave Cullen of Howth Yacht Club (pictured here on the tiller of Checkmate) sought Mark Mansfield for his 2016 Round Ireland campaign

Dave Cullen was so inspired by the vivid memories that, late on Thursday night this week, he leapt to the keyboard to give us the definitive picture of Mark Mansfield:

“Once I decided to embark on a Round Ireland Race campaign after an 18 year gap, and had identified the J/109 as a contender if it was to be a light airs race, next task was to assemble the best crew possible.

Without even thinking about it, my next phone call was to Mark “Mono” Mansfield. It was a natural decision having watched him conjure some fantastic results up on other J/109s, and watching him in action at the previous ICRAs in Kinsale, as he started before our class.

Immediately, Mark was really interested and having gotten ground clearance from the home office, all systems were go. Given the closeness of the ICRA Nationals at Howth and his busy schedule, his first sail with us on Euro Car Parks was out towards the start line in Wicklow.

Many will have heard Mark bellow his way around a race course from other boats, but quite the opposite was the case with us. Even putting us OCS at the start didn’t faze him, and we quickly settled into a pattern very comfortably as Mark rapidly displayed his huge skills in eking extra speed out of our J/109.

euro car parks14The big man on the wheel. Mark Mansfield on the helm of the J/109 Euro Car Parks (Dave Cullen) at the start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016, in which she was the only Irish class winner. Photo

Day Two turned out to be a horror show weather-wise, and Mark remained calm and positive as we pounded our way along the South Coast, taking miles out of our opposition. Mark’s imposing stature was at its most obvious when four of us jammed into the aft double cabin off watch, but nobody minded too much.

I have known Mark for many years and remember our first sail together on Infinity in Calves Week, when I was a little intimidated by his fearsome reputation. That soon dispersed when we had pre-race pints in Newman’s of Schull, and I realised what a fun guy lies behind that cool exterior.

What is most noticeable about Mark is that he is at his happiest when at sea. Our five days bashing around Ireland were what can be described as just good craic with Mark, where he mixed steely determination, great care for those less experienced, and a nice mix of fun and slagging.

It nearly feels as though Mark is uncomfortable ashore, as if he yearns to cast off again as soon as possible. Having raced against Mark in 1720s and Half Tonners, and then adding in our Round Ireland campaign (where we won Class, and were first Irish boat), there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of Ireland’s most talented sailors ever to emerge.

Leaving professional sailing to his later years is perhaps a waste of such a talent. But love him or leave him, you cannot but respect this huge talent on the race course”.

Even at 55, were Mark Mansfield to base himself on the Solent, he could make a fortune. As it is, his professional visits there recently have brought success. But Ireland is his place and his stage, and Cork is his home. So he has been looking at ways of adding an extra income dimension to his new role as a full-time sailor.

The changeover at UK Sailmakers Ireland in Crosshaven has provided an opportunity, and Mark is now an agent for UK Sailmakers, fascinated by the access to their hyper-computerised sailmaking facility in the Hong Kong (the largest in the world), while they still retain a complete frontline service in Crosshaven.

Mansfield Curran UKSails"Men in Black" – Mark Mansfield (left) and Graham Curran in the UK Sailmakers loft in Crosshaven

But while his first advice would be to use UK, he emphasises that he’s an agent, and not an employee. Thus his skills and status as a fulltime sailor, rigging specialist and rating expert can be accessed by boats kitted out by other sailmakers.

He is if anything keener than ever. And Monday morning is no longer something to be dreaded. This is the new Mark Mansfield. But if you’re thinking your boat’s performance could be much improved by having Mark Mansfield on board, you’d better get a move on. Paul O’Higgins has already signed him up on Rockabill VI for the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018.

mark mansfield16Mark Mansfield seen recently at Howth in his new role. Having been racing the previous day in the Howth Autumn League, he has just given an hour’s interview for this blog, and is now about to go sailing with clients. Photo: W M Nixon

Mark Mansfield is contactable on telephone: +353 87 250 6838

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

Mark Mansfield, the recently appointed UK Sailmakers Ireland Racing Consultant, reviews last week's Quarter Ton Cup in Cowes in which he sailed as tactician on Ireland's fourth placed Anchor Challenge skippered by Paul Gibbons

This year's Coutts Quarter Ton Cup event was reduced to two days after the first day was blown out with gusts of close to 30 knots. But the two following days provided great sailing and very testing conditions in the Hill Head Plateau off Cowes, Isle of Wight. In the end, it was Sam Laidlaw's Aguila which was the deserving winner, with Ian Southworth's Whiskers taking second, Mark Richmond taking third on the Chartered Cote, and Paul Gibbons from Royal Cork Yacht Club taking fouth on Anchor Challenge. Paul's crew for the Event were all from Cork, myself, Mark Mansfield, Killian Collins, Joe Bruen and Grattan Roberts.

Quarter ton classReady for racing - the 23–boat fleet lined up in Cowes Yacht Haven included on Irish entry, Anchor Challenge from Cork

Aguila has been the form Quarter–Tonner this year and has won most of this year's events. They have tried a number of times to win this event, but failed in the past at the final hurdle, often to Louise Morton's Bullit. This year they left no stone unturned and prepared the Boat immaculately and spent up to ten weekends practicing and competing in Quarter Ton class events in Cowes in preparation for the Quarter Ton Cup. They were worthy winners and took all three races on the final day to win easily in the end. They did, however, have a disqualification due to a protest Lodged by Anchor Challenge for an on–the–water incident on day one and so had to be very careful not to have a bad race or an OCS as they had already used their discard.

pinquin playboyClose racing at the Cup Photo: Paul Wyeth

The first day of racing was cancelled so four races were scheduled and completed on day two in brisk 20 to 25 knot winds that witnessed some spectacular broaches. Two race wins from Ian Southworth's Whiskers took him to the top of the leaderboard, just ahead of the Paul Lees steered Black Fun, with the Mark Richmond steered Cote next and Anchor Challenge, with one race win, in fourth Place. Sam Laidlaw had dropped to fifth overall but counted a DSQ, which he would be looking to discard.

Day two had very different condition with a light seven knot breeze out of the Northwest. Four races were scheduled but this would always be an ask as the final race had to start by 14.30. Sam Laidlaw made no mistakes and from the off was the one to beat, finding very good speed in these lighter conditions. Ian Southworth tried to stay in contention and was only two points back going into the third race of the day. A tenth in that race scuppered his chances and with the wind dying and the 14.30 timelimit approaching the OOD, Rob Lamb, signaled an end to the Day and the Regatta. Paul Lees, 2nd going into the day overall had a 16th and a 14th to drop him to fifth overall. Cote had solid results as did Anchor Challenge.

cote quarter tonnerMark Richmond's Cote approaching the windward mark on day two of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2017 with Land Rover BAR sailor Nick Hutton on board as bowman Photo: Paul Wyeth

Anchor Challenge could possibly have taken a third overall as she had to divert behind a ship coming in the North Channel in race six which took her from third to tenth in that race and in the end she missed out on the podium by three points. She had very good speed in the breeze and was solid in the light and was definitely one of the fastest boats in the fleet. However the level of time put in by San Laidlaw seems to have taken him up a notch and he was the deserving winner this year.

Going into the event, other favourites were class President, Louise Morton's Bullit which had won the three previous Quarter Ton Cups, but unfortunately Louise did not find any form this year and had to contend with 10th overall, three places ahead of her husband Peter Morton on Innuendo who finished in 13th Position. Peter is the current Fast 40 One Ton Cup Champion on Girls on Film.

Boat Changes

3 newly updated Quarter tonners were in evidence this year, Oliver Orphaus has a beautifully prepared job done On Bullet, a Near Sistership to Buttit. Oliver finished in 9th Position. Tom Hill had John Corby prepare his Belinda and she was looking immaculate and clearly was one that everyone wanted to see do well. The stronger winds on Thursday were not to his liking but the boat performed very well in the lighter conditions to finish in 12th overall. Finally Barry Arts from Holland had the Beautiful Stephen Jones Designed Wings in immaculate condition, however he could not find much speed and finished down the fleet.

Belinda quarter tonnerTom Hill's John Corby prepared Belinda Photo: Mark Mansfield

Wings quarter tonnerBarry Arts from Holland brought the Beautiful Stephen Jones Designed Wings to Cowes Photo: Mark Mansfield


Clearly the event is going from strength to strength with 23 entries and nearly all of these are now fully restored with new rigs and new keels. Of the 23 competitors, 16 had at least one professional and some had up to four pros on board. The class has an owner driver rule with no limit on professionals. Some eyebrows were raised when a driver in the fleet was allowed to compete who was not an owner and in the past such applications had been declined. Going forward the class will need to keep an eye on the way this rule is observed if it wants to attract owner–drivers.

So how do Quarter Tons compare to Half Tons?

Having finished fourth in this year's Half Ton Cup with Michael and Richard Evans, The Big Picture, it is easy to see that the Quarter Ton class is still more competitive than the Half Ton class, but not by much, and the gap is closing. The Quarter Ton class favours no limit on professionals whereas the Half Ton class is likely going to set a limit on professionals.

I would say there are likely more Quarter Tonners that can win races whereas in the Half Ton Class, it is only about six at the moment at the top level. The Quarter Tonners behave more like a dinghy whereas the Half Tonners are more cruiser like. This can be seen downwind where the top Quarter Tonners will reach much higher speeds in a breeze than the Half Tonners.

Much of this is due to the weight of the boat with the Halfs having inboard diesel engines, whereas the Quarters only have small outboards. The rigs would be set up similarly in each case, though most Quarter–Tonners have just one set of spreaders, whereas the Half–Tonners have two sets of spreaders, requiring a bit more care in the set up.

The sails are quite similar except that the Quarter Ton rigs are much more flexible and so the rigs on these need to be adjusted all the time. Extra turns on the forestay and upper and lower shrouds in the breeze to straighten the forestay while still allowing a decent amount of backstay to be used before the mainsail runs out of luff round and no further backstay can be used.

Tuning mast quarter tonnerTuning and calibration on the White family's Joker

The Half Tonners, with their stiffer masts allow a lot of backstay use and rarely run out of luff–round.

Next year, The Quarter Ton Cup will return to its normal June slot and up to four events are planned in advance of this June event, to allow competitors to prepare for the event. Clearly Sam Laidlaw has set a marker on what level of time and preparation is needed if you want to win the Quarter Ton Cup.

Mark Mansfield is a four time Olympian in the Star Class and a Racing Consultant with UK Sailmakers Ireland

Published in Racing
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