Matthew Sheahan’s video view behind the scenes at North Sails USA on how they build 3Di and why this is a sail making revolution
No one sails in Minden, (USA). The small town of 3,000 people is in the desert in Nevada, the driest state in America. One hundred and seventy miles to the north east of San Francisco, the state is famous for being the first to legalise gambling, but it is not well known for its links to sailing and definitely not where you might expect to find the world’s biggest sail maker.
Yet North Sails owes a large chunk of its market leading position to this remote location and the technology that its staff has developed here.
So what is going on in the desert and why here?
Twenty four years ago the company set up the first factory to build sails on full size, three dimensional moulds. Laying continuous fibres from head to foot over a mould and encasing them in Mylar laminates before vacuum bagging and curing the composite was a big step forward for sail making and 3DL was born.
Today the 80,000ft2 facility is the biggest sail loft in the world, the 3DL brand name and the technology behind it is well known, even if the unusual location of the factory isn’t. Over the years 3DL has become commonplace in yacht racing and has spread through the sport.
Now 3Di looks set to be the next generation of high tech sails.
Here’s how they make them and some clues as to why they may be the next big thing in sail making.
For the full feature on North’s operation in Minden, Nevada, see the October 2014 issue of Yachting World