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The North Sails Ireland team of Nigel Young, Maurice 'Prof' O'Connell and Shane Hughes (scroll down for sailmaker details below) were busy at three sailing events last weekend, each winning races with clients on the Irish Sea, Howth and Kinsale.

As the sailing season gets into full swing, Shane Hughes was a part of Frank Whelan's ISORA winning team on "Eleuthera" taking victory overall and in Division 0. Shane was trialling a new North Sails 3Di Code 2 jib that day and says 'the boat flew upwind'. Read the report of ISORA's first race of 2018 here.

Grand soleil 44 Frank whelan 0608Shane Hughes is the spinnaker trimmer on the ISORA winner, the Grand Soleil 44, Eleuthera above and below an onboard view of the new J2 medium jib used in the race win

North sails jib ISORA

Howth Yacht Club Spring Warmer

Nigel Young raced on Mike Evans half tonner "The Big Picture" on Saturday. Nigel was trialling a new 3Di mainsail, Code 2 jib and SuperLite Code S1.5 spi and took a 2nd and 3rd in their class.

Big picture Howth half tonnerMike Evans half–tonner, 'The Big Picture' flying their new 3Di upwind sails

Prof was on the water in Howth also providing coaching support from the RIB. Prof's HYC coaching movie is below:-

Kinsale Yacht Club April League

On Sunday, both Prof and Nigel were racing in Kinsale Yacht Club's April Series.

In owner Conor Phelan's absence, Prof steered "Jump Juice" to victory in Race one but a headfoil problem dropped the team down the standings in Race two.

Prof steered Jump JuiceProf steered Jump Juice in Kinsale. Photo: Bob Bateman

Nigel was racing aboard Denis Murphy's Grand Soleil 40 "Neulargo" and they pounced on the "Jump Juice" headfoil issue to win race two, following up on their second in race one.

Grand Soleil 40 Neulargo"Neulargo" flying her new North Sails 3Di Endurance mainsail and Sk75 S2 kite. Photo: Bob Bateman

Read's report of the April League with lots more photos by Bob Bateman here.

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North Sails Ireland sailmakers Shane Hughes and Maurice "Prof" O'Connell were afloat in the coaching RIB at the first day of the Key Capital sponsored Spring Warmer Series in HYC on April 14th.

Also in Howth was NS colleague Nigel Young who was on Mike Evans half-tonner "The Big Picture". They were trialling both new 3Di upwind sails and a magnificent new S4 kite logo'd up by North Graphics.

16–20 knots southerly breeze blew with a short chop kicked up due to the ebb tide. Shane and Prof got around to all boats on the water, offering advice on rig setup, sail trim, helming technique and crew work.

They shot plenty of live video for use in the de-brief afterwards in HYC. Shane's drone took to the sky too for one start which was enthusiastically received!

See below some short video clips of the day:

Start Race 1 

J97 "Lambay Rules" Upwind

Maximus Broach

Corby 27 Kodachi Downwind in 20 Knots TWS

Drone Footage

The North Sails Ireland team will be on the water again in HYC next weekend for Day 2!

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North Sails Ireland's Maurice "Prof" O'Connell had a chilly evening's test sail on Friday April 13th, unlucky 13th for Prof, as he had no foul weather gear!

The occasion was the unveiling of new sails on the Beneteau First 31.7 "Camira" in anticipation of the new DBSC season starting later this month.

Camira's new mainsail and light/medium no.1 genoa were both designed and constructed using North proprietary '3Di' technology.

Camiras new 3Di Light Medium No. 1 GenoaCamira's new 3Di Light Medium No. 1 Genoa on test on Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay Sailing Club skipper Peter Beamish, his team and Prof fitted the sails, set the correct mainsail batten tensions using built-in "wingtip" adjusters and headed out on a light airs Dublin Bay evening.

Camira's new mainsail and light/medium no. 1 genoa were both designed and constructed using North proprietary "3Di" technology

Control systems (halyards, jib car positions, outhaul, cunningham) and rig adjustments (cap shrouds, lower shrouds, forestay) were adjusted with plenty of lively debate onboard.

Commenting after the session on "Camira", skipper Beamish said "Thank you, Prof for a fascinating few hours and see you next Friday" (when a further session with the North Sails man is planned).

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Kinsale sailor and naval architect Jeremy Elliott is heading up North Sails Design Services giving him a key role in making the latest technology available to the North Technology Group companies and their clients. Based in Gosport, he’s worked on everything from dinghies to the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, and super yacht projects. readers will recall Elliott was responsible for the sail programme on Eamon Rohan's Class Zero Blondie campaigns and more recently Elliott looked after Conor Phelan's Jump Juice programme.

Elliott has been involved in many of the North Sails Ireland projects over the years and he was a regular crew member on Rohan's successful Blondie teams.

After completing a Masters in Naval Architecture at the University of Southampton, Elliott worked with the Wolfson Unit for Marine Technology and several America’s Cup teams before joining the North Sails design team in 2005. The bulk of his work is in performance simulation and structural assessment, to ensure North clients get the most from our state-of-the-art research capabilities. His breadth of experience gives him a solid grasp of both the technology and reality of modern yacht design, backed up by as much time on the water as the job allows.

The North Design Services headed up by Elliott is a team of sail design-engineers who specialise in optimising a yacht’s total performance

In his down time, Elliott sails International 14s. He has recently taken to kite-boarding for the days when all other sailing is blown off. 'He is a fantastic asset for North Sails Ireland to use and its always good to work with him and fill him in on the local sailing scene in his home town of Kinsale', says North Sails Ireland's Nigel Young.

Nigel young Jeremy ElliottNigel Young (left) and Jeremy Elliott repairing an A-Zero on a charter First 40 in St Barts in the Caribbean

The North Design Services headed up by Elliott is a team of sail design-engineers who specialise in optimising a yacht’s total performance. 

“We’re getting invitations from yacht designers to help them look at different optimisation options,” says Elliott. “Some underwater, some over the water, some both, our team is tasked with figuring out how to get the most performance out of these boats. It’s a real privilege for us to be trusted by the designers, owners, and teams to help optimise performance of their projects.”

Read more about Jeremy Elliott's role at North Sails here

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2016 Melges 24 World Champion Maurice "Prof" O'Connell & Nigel Young from North Sails Ireland were invited to Bergen in Noway to run a 'Speedcamp' for the Scandinavian fleet last weekend. 

Over 50 sailors took part over the three day event.

The clinic focused on boathandling techniques (tacks, gybes, sets, drops, acceleration and deceleration) and straight line boatspeed (upwind and downwind).

Prof was using his experience from the successful five year 'Embarr' campaign that led to his World Championship win in December 2016. Nigel has been racing at a high level in the class since the mid-90s.

Video footage was shot each day and the de-briefs in Askoy YC were 'packed to the doors', according to Prof.

Practice start video: 

Nigel & Prof Interview in Norway video: 

This weekend the North Sails Ireland team are looking forward to coaching on the water in Howth YC for the Spring Warmer series. Again, video analysis will be used on the day to assist in the de-briefs ashore after sailing and it is expected that sail trim, crew manoeuvres, race strategy and starting techniques will be hot topics! First gun in Howth is at 1057 this Saturday.

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Brendan Coghlan's new Dublin Bay based Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 took to the water recently for her maiden voyage.

North Sails Ireland's Maurice 'Prof' O'Connell and Nigel Young and were afloat with Brendan's team, testing the full inventory of sails that they supplied with the boat.

As reported in March, the Sunfast 3600 was delivered and launched by MGM Boats in time for the 2018 ISORA and Bay season that kicks off later this month.

YoYo Main and Code 2 medium air jibYoYo's Main and Code 2 medium air jib

The session was broken into two sessions - in the morning the mainsail and Code 2 (medium air) jib were checked and tested. The A2 (light medium asymmetric running spinnaker) was also tested with the North Graphics-applied "Coghlan's Artisan Bakers" logo displayed on the 0.75oz sail.

Ross O'Leary and Joss Walsh from MGM boats were aboard for the morning session.

Yoyo Furling Code Zero in North Aramid Laminate Yoyo Furling Code Zero in North Aramid Laminate

At the break, rig tune and control systems adjustments were made before heading back out on the water.

In the afternoon, the Code 1 (light air) jib, Code 3+ (heavy air reefable jib), A4 (heavy runnng asymmetric spinnaker), A5 (very heavy air all-purpose spinnaker) and "Code Zero" (light airs close reaching sail) were all hoisted, checked and tested.

The Upwind sails were manufactured using North proprietary "3Di" technology. The Code Zero was manufactured in North Fabrics aramid laminate. The spinnakers were manufactured in premium Contender Superkote coated nylon. The sails were custom designed specifically for the "YoYo" team usage using North's proprietary design software.

All the sails were photographed for analysis.

Here is a short downwind video from onboard:-

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A North Sails Ireland 'Sail Trim simulator' will be used during post race de–briefings at the ICRA Nationals this August in Galway. The new tool helps to 'make sense of sail trim, fundamentals of sail shape, and understand how these variables impact performance', according to Nigel Young of North Sails in Cork Harbour.

North Sails Designer Max Tringale, based out of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, USA is working on the exciting new project that will help to better educate sailors on sail trim. Max has a very defined background in boat building, marine systems engineering, and yacht design. Along with the North Sails design team, Max is building an easy-to-use application called Sail Trim Simulator. 

The North U. Sail Trim Simulator is being developed to help clients visualise how sails and rig interact together and how that relationship is manipulated by the different sail controls to achieve desired sail shapes. “We currently have two sail models, the TP52 and J/35, loaded into the simulator,” explained Tringale. 

The Sail Trim Simulator is particularly suited for one design sailing, where it can be used as part of North Sails tuning guide to further explain rig set up and tuning. When supplied with various rig settings and tensions, the tool provides a visual aid to show why North recommends particular settings. The app provides targets for rig adjustments and trim settings before even getting on the water.

User optionality for viewing angles to see the slot of the genoa and mainsail and what the leech looks like from the top down view, showing flatness of the sail when the trim is applied.

“We’re looking at seven different control factors; mainsheet, backstay, traveler, cunningham, jib sheet, jib lead, and jib luff tension,” explained Tringale. “For each one of those controls, we are developing optimum sail shapes. We identify the optimum for each control point, understand how it is correlated with the other points, and then define optimum sail shapes for each wind speed. Other controls like rig tension and mast rake are left standard at this time to simplify the tool.”

When the user opens the application they will notice that each control point has a working range. For example, if you want to pull on more backstay tension, you can adjust in millimeter increments and watch as the output numbers change. The app has a function called the Magic Wand, allowing the user to set a desired TWS [true wind speed] and having the app find the optimum upwind boat trim for that wind speed. Also shown is the VMG [velocity made good] and TWA [true wind angle] the boat is sailing at, showing optimum sail trim.

For more on the simulator click here.

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JB Braun is the North Sails Director of Design and Engineering and one of the world’s leading sail designers. His designs have won the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race, as well as Olympic medals.

JB Braun loves making sailboats go faster, and that’s his job as Director of Design and Engineering at North Sails. “There’s a lot that goes into it,” he says. “It’s not only developing a product but developing the tools and software to help create it.”

JB manages the 80-person worldwide design team for North Sails. “I’m trying to develop and bring more communications, more design expertise into it. I want it to be recognised because it’s part of what makes North Sails different.

“We have 80 designers around the world, mostly working independently. In the past few years, we’ve implemented some great systems that help our design team be more efficient, which allows more time for collaboration and creativity. Exploring the design space will provide more performance for our customers.”

J109 andrew craig
North Sails 3Di – Andrew Craig's Dublin Bay J-109 powering upwind with her 3Di RAW Sails

Before taking on his current role, JB was part of the design team for Oracle Team USA, helping to create the revolutionary foiling cats that defended the 2013 America’s Cup. JB was also instrumental in teams adopting 3Di during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. “My job now is to try to take those skills and that type of development and bring that back into North Sails. Our process is the engine above the waterline, which is making boats perform better and increasing the enjoyment for our customers.”

JB’s on-the-water sailing career includes a cabinet full of youth trophies, two Team USA Olympic campaigns in the Flying Dutchman, and a Transatlantic record onboard Nicorette. Educated as a Mechanical Engineer at Northeastern University (Boston, USA), JB combined his passion for sailing with his engineering background to develop software and products that lead to faster sails. Today he is one of the world’s leading sail designers, having served as lead designer for various America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race teams and helping boats like the 100’ Comanche break records.

JB has helped revolutionize upwind/downwind sail design. In 2000 he developed Virtual Wind Tunnel, a program within the North Design Suite that made possible the first accurate simulation of downwind sails in action. Ten years later, he became the project leader for 3Di, developing and integrating sail design and construction techniques into the North Sails production line. “I helped bring 3Di from an idea that was not really a product into a mainstream product,” he explains. “The proof of concept for 3Di was the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. The product proved itself able to stand up to the brutal conditions of that race, and has since gone on to be further proven as the highest performance and most durable sail in the industry.”

Now that 3Di is sought after by both racing and cruising customers, JB is working on several new innovations. “We’ve changed MemBrain™, our finite elements analysis (FEA) tool, to engineer and analyze the winged sail combination that Team New Zealand is trying to apply for the next America’s Cup,” he says. “We’re also working on what we call the Sail App for North U, to help people better understand sail shape. You’re sailing along, you pull on the backstay, and you can see the performance change as you change sail shape. It’s still in the development phases, but I believe it’s the next step in how we communicate, both internally and with our customers.”

Other development projects include new velocity prediction (VPP) tools for the TP52 class. “That’s the premiere racing class right now,” he says. “We have some specific tools we’ve developed in the North Design Suite to help us quantify differences in design.”

What excites JB the most is making sails perform better, and he sees a fantastic opportunity in North’s fully integrated design approach.

“We’re unique in the industry because we design and analyze the sails with our North Design Suite software, and then use those same tools to physically build the 3Di sails. When we go through our analysis process, we have complete confidence that what we’re designing is actually what gets built and delivered to our customers. The design of the sail will have a huge impact on the performance of the boat.”

Industry experts like naval architects, engineers, and project managers now rely on North Design Services for information that will help them design and build faster boats. “From the very concept of a boat,” JB explains, “we’re helping these professionals by providing design software and tools to do a better job in their area of expertise. All these things start off as a concept or idea. North Sails helps grow that into a final product.

“Historically, a naval architect would design the hydrodynamic model, then ask for the aerodynamics,” he continues. “For us to do a really good job with the sail plan, we need to balance the two. It’s a seesaw, with aero on one side and hydro on the other. When the seesaw is balanced, you get the best performance, so if you start off with the seesaw at the beginning, the design loop gets much more refined. Change the hydro to balance with the aero. Design refinement before the boats get made.

“The IC37 by Melges is a perfect example. It went through design revisions and we developed aero models before the boats were even laid up.”

Naval architects and designers are finding this information so valuable, they’re coming back and wanting more.

Based in Marblehead, MA, JB Braun combined an engineering background with a lifelong passion for sailing and fast boats into revolutionary aerodynamic solutions for performance-oriented sailboats. JB got his start working for Ted Hood and Robbie Doyle and twice campaigned for USA Olympic selection. In 2000 he developed Virtual Wind Tunnel, a computer-based coupling of computer codes with Finite Element Analysis that accurately simulates downwind sail designs. Ten years later, he became North’s project leader for 3Di and took responsibility for structural engineering and analysis, as well as integrating design and construction techniques of 3Di technology into the North Sails product line. In 2016, he developed Sail “APP,” the leading edge in advanced sail performance prediction tools. Along the way he helped design sails for winning programs like Comanche, ORACLE Team USA, and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

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North Sails Ireland is giving away one of its famous holdalls in this free to enter competition with 


The new holdall is part of the new North Sails Tech clothing range that celebrates 60 years of original sailmaking expertise.

All you have to do is answer one simple question from an article about North Sails and its leading sail designer. Click here to read the article. 

North sails J109A Dublin Bay J-109 powering upwind with 3Di RAW Sails

To be in with a chance to win the prize, answer the question below.

Question: Who is the director of Design and Engineering at North Sails?

Email your answer, together with your name, age and postal address to [email protected] using 'North Sails Ireland Holdall' in the subject line.


Terms and Conditions

– Closing date for entries is midnight 12th April 2018

– Overall winner will be announced on 13th April 2018

– Upon submitting their entry the entrant acknowledges that their details will be used for ezine and North Sails Ireland updates.

– Entrant must be over 18 years of age.

– Entry to the competition is free. No purchase is necessary.

– The promoter is excluded from liability for any loss, damage or injury which might occur to the winner arising from his or her acceptance of the prize.

– By entering this competition you are agreeing that any submissions made become the property of

– The promoter reserves the right to amend these terms and conditions.

– These terms and conditions shall be governed by the laws of Ireland and subject to the jurisdiction of the Irish Courts. 

– Employees or agents of, any associated group companies, prize sponsor and or agencies associated with this competition and their immediate families are ineligible to enter. Any such entries will be invalid.

– The judges decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.


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Shane Hughes of North Sails Ireland left the cold Irish weather and the Northern hemisphere behind and headed south to Chile to compete in the biennial Regata Chiloe, one of Chile’s biggest and most prestigious regattas based around the beautiful southern island of Chiloe and the protected waters between it and the Chilean mainland. He had been invited by Pablo Anfruns and Rudolf Mijac to race with their team on the Melges 32 Red and here he describes the regatta and how North Sails Ireland developed a sail that led to a well earned win

Remarkably I was not the only Irish crew member. David Kennedy, an Irish expat now living and working in Santiago also hails from Dublin and had sailed with his father in Howth for years before heading south. Aside from being a great addition to the sailing team, David’s fluent Spanish also got me out of a few confused looks as I was giving direction in Spanglish to the Chilean lads, who in fairness to them were being very kind by pretending they knew what I was saying...

For those who have not experienced it, Melges 32 racing is fantastic fun. The boat is very powered up and can easily sail in as little as 4 knots of wind but really comes into her own in 15 knots plus downwind! Having had a break away from sailing the 32 for a few years, it reminded me what a truly special boat it is.

Yacht race startA fleet start from Castro in Leg one of Regata Chiloe, one of Chile’s biggest and most prestigious regattas

With only one other Melges 32 based in Chile right now (the newly acquired ‘Pepe Pato’ owned by Jose Tirado and Patricio Lopez) both boats were entered into the IRC division, not historically the Melges 32’s strong point with its big sail area and light displacement. So expectations were set firmly in pessimistic mode.

However, I underestimated how the format of the regatta along with the traditional winds for this event (light!) would play into the Melges’ strengths rather than its weaknesses. Thankfully Pablo, the helmsman, and co-owner had not overlooked these factors and this had formed his reasoning for purchasing the Melges 32. The regatta format is a mix of coastal races, with some inshore windward-leeward races. While the 32 would struggle a little on some of the inshore races, the longer coastal races actually suited the boat, especially with downwind or light upwind legs. 

Melges light windsShane Hughes onboard the Melges 32 ‘Red’ finishing the final coastal leg from Calbuco into Puerto Montt

One area of concern in the lead up to the regatta was the absence of a Code Sail on the Melges 32. The boat had been almost exclusively raced in One Design configuration, with no need for any code sails, but this regatta format demanded a sail that would work on the reaching and super light wind legs. With the help of Dave Lenz in the North Sails UK design office, we set about designing an A Zero for the race.

With such a long bowsprit the Melges 32 does not offer the option to set a true Code Zero sail, as you can not generate the cable/luff tension required to furl the sail properly thus the choice of an A-Zero which is hoisted, deployed and retrieved the same as any other spinnaker onboard. This in itself presents a challenge because if you build the sail from too stiff a material (laminate or 3Di) the sail will be very difficult to hoist and recover through the fore-hatch but use a softer nylon material and the sail will not have the stability to retain its flying shape, especially as an IRC zero which requires a big mid girth (>75% of foot length).

A Zero sailThe new A Zero made from MaxiKote 200P

The compromise we struck was with Contender’s MaxiKote 200P. A great choice that produced a really stable sail shape that was easy for the crew to handle and work with. We also added North’s Velcro stop tabs which allowed us to roll the head and tack sections to make strong wind hoists easier and safer.

The sail performed superbly and actually won us a coastal race. When trailing our opposition Melges 32, we both sailed into a parking lot under a headland. In the light and tricky conditions they hoisted their biggest A2 Asymmetric and we hoisted our A Zero. From 100 meters behind we ghosted right by them, hit the new breeze first and won the race by some distance. The lesson learned, bigger is not always better especially in very light conditions.

We used a full North Sails inventory, which bar the new A Zero, was from 2011 when the boat competed in its last World Championships in Palma. The Main and J1/Light jib were 3DL, while the J2 and J3 were 3Di Endurance. The 2 Asymmetric we used were both made of AirX nylon. It really was a testament to the durability of both 3DL but especially 3Di that the sails had retained their flying shapes incredibly well. Granted they had not been used extensively in the interim but as you will see in the below pics, you would not guess they were 7-year-old sails.

north sails mainsailOur 7–year–old 3DL mainsail

North sails jibJ1 jib in 8 knots. Flying shape still near its original marks

The 3DL sails were just beginning to show the first signs of de-lamination in high-density fibre areas and while this did not affect the performance of the sail at all, it does highlight what a huge advantage 3Di has over all of the ‘string’ sails from this perspective. The 3Di sails still looked brand new! No ill effects of being sat in the bag for that extended period. Unfortunately, the predominantly light winds meant they mostly remained in their bags, but the J1 held up superbly and ended up being the workhorse headsail for the regatta.

Melges Big BreezeA 30NM downwind race in 25-30 knots saw Red finish ahead of most of the Soto 40’s on the water

At the end of a thoroughly enjoyable weeks racing, both Melges 32’s ended up at the top of the leaderboard with our team taking the win. This surpassed expectations on all fronts for the owners, especially in their first year in the boat and helps promote the future growth of the Melges 32 in Chile. There was quite a lot of interest in the boat, with many observers very surprised with how fast the boat was, especially in the light conditions.

Light air spinnkersLight airs performance on the Melges 32 is pretty impressive. Above, finishing a 35NM coastal race in front of the Swan 68 ‘Sanhattan’ and most of the Soto 40’s.

Shane Hughes Melges prizegivingThe Prizegiving. Red team left to right (Antonio Olavarria, JP Anfruns, Tomas Olavarria, Pablo Anfruns, Sébastien Briceno, Rudolf Mijac, David Kennedy, Shane Hughes)

Find out what we can do to improve your sail inventory or get in touch with one of our experts below!

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