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"Why is a little loft making all those big-name sailmakers so uneasy?".

That was the title of an article in a 1983 issue of Sail magazine published barely a year after Doyle Sails was established in the small town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, by Robbie Doyle. Nearly 35 years on, Bliss Neagle writes, Doyle Sails are still shaking up the industry.

Avid sailor and applied physics graduate from Harvard University, Robbie Doyle's love of wind, waves and water propelled him into the sailmaking realm where he would transform it into a science. By studying the shapes and loads on sails, and determining which was the most effective from an engineering approach, he created computer renderings of the process and started laser cutting sails, rather than hand cutting them.

Doyle pushed on to develop new sail technologies were exciting for the time --inventions such as The StackPak' (the first complete mainsail furling system), and the 'Quicksilver' (a roller reefing genoa that claimed to be the strongest sail construction on the market in the early 80s).

Arguably, Doyle's scientific innovations set into motion a series of events that would make Doyle Sails one of the fastest growing sailmaking companies in the world. As a brand and organisation that prides itself on the ability to provide the best in quality and technology, they also believe in the importance of a personal customer experience. Their tagline from the 80s, "Small enough to make a large commitment" still rings true, with one significant difference: the company is no longer small. And with over 80 sail lofts spread throughout the world, there's no sign of slowing down.


By continually innovating, and leading research and development, one loft in particular has dared to take on similar philosophies to the company's founder. As the inventors of the revolutionary Stratis membrane technology, Doyle Sails New Zealand have gone from underdog to unstoppable in their determination to push the boundaries.

Most recognised for their ongoing involvement in Vendee Globe's Alex Thomson-Hugo Boss campaign, the Doyle Sails New Zealand team's list of high-performing clientele is on the rise. One project in the works is providing the sails for Jack and Bill Macartney for the Super-Foiler Grand Prix--a journey that has taken their team over three years to design and test what will become a new breed of extreme racers.

And let's not forget Doyle Sails New Zealand's latest breakthrough in sail technology--the Cableless Code Zero--which is all the rage for Maxi 72s like Bella Mente, Momo and Proteus. This innovative sail offers an uninterrupted lens of uni-directional fibres designed in the luff of the sail to take the load from the tack all the way to the head. This advancement means the tack can be eased up effortlessly, while getting more luff projection for deeper angles--increased range and lighter weight, for less cost.

The Cableless Code Zero is the perfect application for the racing and cruising markets as it alleviates the hassle of torsional cables.


The leadership team of the New Zealand facility, headed by Mike Sanderson and supported by David Duff and Richard Bouzaid, have recently announced that they will take over from Robbie Doyle, as well as a controlling interest in the Doyle Salem (USA) loft and the Doyle Sails Europe (UK) loft.

Known as the movers and shakers in the industry, the new owners have seen a golden opportunity to drive the business to new heights. In a press release regarding the change in ownership Sanderson remarked, "Today's announcement marks the start of a new era. We are all very excited about the potential ahead of us," he said.

Mike Sanderson, now CEO of Doyle International, is a two-time Volvo Ocean Race winner, veteran of three America's Cup campaigns, and was ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2006. Having been involved in the technical side of sail programs and as part of the design and build teams, Sanderson has brought a wealth of knowledge to Doyle Sails.

With help from Doyle himself, the team plan to unleash the true potential of the brand going forward. Sanderson explained, "Our sport and marketplace is going through exciting and fast-paced changes. We are in a perfect position to build on the strong foundation of the Doyle brand, while moving forward in a new direction to meet the changing needs of our customers."

A direction that is fully supported by Doyle: "I have been working closely with Mike Sanderson and the team at Doyle Sails New Zealand for some years now, and I am certain that we have the right team to grow and develop the Doyle brand.

"Design and performance have always been our strengths, but above all, it is the people behind the brand that have made it a success. The future is exciting!"

And with past performance a strong indicator of future success, the team at Doyle Sails leave us in no doubt that they will remain trailblazers in the industry.

Caption: Right: WINNING EDGE

Maxi 72s sporting their cableless Code Zeros. A wider wind range with less weight--every tactican's dream.

Caption: Bottom left: KNOWLEDGE BASE Sailmaking royalty Robbie Doyle and Mike Sanderson. Bottom right: LOFTY AMBITIONS The high-tech Stratis plant where the cad fibre laying machines travel 150,000 metres per week.
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Title Annotation:SPOTLIGHT
Author:Neagle, Bliss
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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