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Sell Up and Sail

  Herding Tigers: The North Sails Story  
  by Michael Levitt  

Reviewed in SAILING April 2010 :

The story of North Sails closely mirrors that of professional sailing in the modern era - many of the most famous names in the sport, both in South Africa and internationally, spent at least part of their careers at North. The title of the book comes from the name Lowell North, the company founder, gave to his sailmakers. His philosophy was that the best sailors would be good at making fast sails and he set out to recruit the best in the world - especially those who had good academic credentials. Some of the North alumni that should be familiar to South Africans include John Bertrand (skipper of Australia II, the first non-American boat to win the America’s Cup), Paul Cayard (winner of the Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup finalist), Tom Schnackenberg (sail designer to Australia II, Team New Zealand and Alinghi) and more recently, Ken Read (skipper of Puma in the last VOR) and many others. The North sailmaking process is heavily based on technology and the origins of modern cloth, vertical cut, radial cut, 3DL and 3Di are all explained. The book also describes some of the design and manufacturing tools - these range from simply tying a piece of cloth onto a car aerial to check how well it stood up to flutter, to the computer programmes used to predict load paths, to the programmes used to control the moulds and lay the fibers in3DL / 3Di sails. Herding Tigers is a must-read for anyone interested in the very top end of our sport. It is unashamedly pro-North Sails, but the flip side is that the company has a lot to be proud of. The explanations of the technology are interesting and the detail about some of the great sailors that have worked for the company makes them more real than just a name on a results sheet.

Price:   - available on request -

Book ID (for ordering):   2609


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