THE STORY OF NINIX

Photographer Gerhard Batur captured NiNiX reefed down off her home port of Nieuwpoort, Belgium.

By Alain Ronse, Owner and Skipper

The X-452 yacht NiNiX© is unique for a number of reasons. First, the famous Danish shipyard X-Yachts only constructed twenty of this model worldwide and NiNiX is the only X-452 in Belgium. The design is also unique because of the boat performance and the reputation of its atypical crew.

The six member crew of NiNiX Sailing Adventure (https://www.facebook.com/ninixsailingadventure/) is led by myself, Alain Ronse, a passionate sailor who has been sailing offshore for more than 30 years aboard the various boats I've owned. It was not until I saw an abandoned X-452 that I decided to make my lifework of it.

All photos courtesy Gerhard Batur. www.Batur.be

With the help of the crew, I renovated the boat completely bringing it back to its original state. Respecting both tradition and modernism, I combined the warm wood interior with latest modern navigation technology and state-of-the-art X-Drive®sails. The name NiNiX is a Flemish translation from the expression “It's a hell of a thing,” and indeed she’s a hell of a trustworthy yacht!

The X-Drive sails are made by the hands of well-known sailor-racer Michel Lefebvre from UK Sailmakers Belgium. Based on his many years of sailing experience, Michel recommended the X-Drive sails to the NiNiX team to improve the boat’s performance.

Michel has been a member of the UK Sailmakers group since 2005. His son, Yannick Lefebvre, represented Belgium in 49er class at Olympic Games in Rio and is qualifying for Tokyo in 2020. Michel is long-time provider of UK Sailmakers sails to NiNiX, so she’s in professional hands. Besides the support of UK Sailmakers, NiNiX Sailing Adventure is also supported by CORUM watches matching top-performing watches with top-performing X-Drive sails.

Thanks to the optimal performance of the X-Drive, NiNiX and her crew are successfully competing as an amateur team in local and international regattas. No wind is too heavy or wave too high to stop NiNiX from sailing offshore to different long-distant destinations.

Even reefed, the X-Drive sails set smoothly.

NiNiX Sailing Adventure is the only sailing team in their homeport of Nieuwpoort that can proudly say that for more than 20 years they have sailed every year from Nieuwpoort to St Malo or Isle of Wight and back independent of the weather conditions...and in record time. Of course, safety and reliability always come first so the boat is rigorously maintained by the crew to keep her in optimal shape.

In every port on The English Channel, and recently also on the Mediterranean (thanks to the sister-ships MiNiNiNiX and MiCrONiNiX), the NiNiX crew is known for their good sailing, spirit and fun. We are well-received sailors all year round. Thanks to X-Drive and the crew's comradeship, NINIX Sailing Adventure will maintain its reputation for decades to come.

NINIX with her X-Drive roller/furling genoa partially reefed.

WEAKLEY TAKES TEXAS J/22 CIRCUIT

Doug Weakley and crew with the Heritage Cup awarded to the winners of the Texas J/22 Circuit.

The new UK Sailmakers Radial J/22 Jib.

Texas is a stronghold for the J/22 one-design sailing; areas like Galveston Bay can see 18 boats on the line for Wednesday night racing, which makes for plenty of competitive racing. Sailing his J/22 consistently throughout the seven regattas making-up the Texas J/22 Circuit, Doug Weakley (Corpus Christi, TX) came out on top after winning four events and placing well in the remaining three. Powered by UK Sailmakers Texas’ sails, Weakly and his crew proved fast in all conditions.

One key to his success was Doug’s relentless drive to keep his older boat (hull #24) competitive. Another key was the new radial cut jib from UK Sailmakers that proved fast in heavy air conditions along with his cross-cut UK jib that is still fast in the light stuff. Designing sails that are flexible enough to work in the shifty inland lakes as well as the choppy coastal waters is tough work. UK designed the new radial jib to provide sailors a combination of durability and better efficiencies in the higher wind ranges.

Here’s Doug’s take on the season:

“2018 started out great with Jim Kondziela and Joe Mayfield sailing with me on HNL (#24) at the Houston Yacht Club’s Midwinter regatta. We were really fast throughout the event and starting with a bullet in race one. We were pretty excited about our 6th place finish in the 39-boat fleet, competitive fleet.

“We then sailed using our new radial jib at Austin Yacht Club and took first in a competitive fleet made of locals and traveling boats.

“We got back into the boat in the fall and took back-to-back wins at Corpus Christi and Canyon Lake yacht clubs and the HYC Heritage Cup. At Corpus, we sailed with the cross-cut jib for power through the chop and we used it again at Canyon Lake in the light conditions. Canyon is all about avoiding a really bad race in the shifty conditions there, and we were the boat that did just that.

“At HYC’s Heritage Cup, we went back to the radial jib and we were very fast in all the conditions. Saturday started out in very light air and we were quick in the light stuff, coming back from a terrible start to win the first race. The breeze quickly built and our old boat was set up really well for it. The radial jib was great, the boat just felt really fast. We had great downwind speed also with the new spinnaker design.

“We look forward to more success with UK Texas in 2019 beginning with the midwinters at Ft Walton Beach in March!”

SIBLING RIVALRY IN BIG BREEZE

Minkie and Windswept

In the Indian Ocean of Fremantle, Western Australia, sailors are used to a “bit of breeze.” In this group of photos you can see a close finish in the Ron Warren Trophy Race sailed Dec. 15th. With the breeze in the 20s, the Beneteau First 30 MINKIE sailed by Steve Delfos squeaked out a class win by 1 second over his brother Ernie Delfos sailing WINDSWEPT, a Jeanneau Sun Fast 32. Both boats sail with UK Sailmakers sails; MINKIE with X-Drives and WINDSWEPT with an X-Drive main and Tape-Drive genoa. Post race beverages were well earned by all. Chris Bender photos.

To close out the year, UK Sailmakers asked its loft owners from around the world to share with us, and you, some of their most memorable moments from 2018. Here are four of them and, in each, you will get the sense that the folks at UK Sailmakers live up to the corporate slogan: Sailmaking is what we do, sharing our passion for sailing is why we do it.

We hope you enjoy these sea tales and have a healthy and prosperous New Year.

A LESSON LEARNED WITH A BIT OF LUCK

The 2018 event that stood out for UK Sweden’s Mikael Olesen was the 350-mile AF Offshore Race also known as the Around Gotland Race. Olesen sailed this iconic race aboard the brand new Arcona 465 named FLYT that had had its very first sail just three days before the start. While Olesen and crew acknowledged that sailing a long-distance, offshore race without having had a proper shakedown period was a dicey call; they went after inspecting the boat, gear, and sails the best they could.

The Arcona 465 FLYT showing off her Uni-Titanium sails while sailing out to the Baltic Sea.

The race started right off downtown Stockholm and then weaved through the islands of the Stockholm archipelago. The UK Sailmakers’ Uni-Titanium upwind sails fit and performed perfectly out of their bags as they were immediately put to an extreme test that they passed with flying colors. Eventually the fleet got free of the islands and into the Baltic for a 16-hour downwind sleighride in 30-34 knot winds sailing to Hoburgen at the southern-most point of Gotland Island. At that point in the race, FLYT was fourth in fleet of 237 boats.

Video shot on FLYT speeding down the Baltic Sea to Gotland Island.

Video shot on FLYT speeding down the Baltic Sea to Gotland Island.

Olesen said, “It was an unbelievable ride. We pushed our still “untested” boat to the max and she sailed like a rocket; our speed never dipped below 17 knots with our top speed pegged at 23.2. The video (above) shows us sailing this new boat in 28-30 knots with complete control. The reality is that starting a long-distance race without a proper shakedown was not the best way to prepare, and taking off in conditions like these without knowing if everything would work was nuts; but we were lucky that the boat was built and commissioned well and our sails and gear were more than up to the tasks at hand!”

On the leg north to the finish off Sandhamn Island the wind got lighter and shifted. While the fastest boats had to beat all the way back from Gotland in the dying breeze, the slower boats got lifted to the finish. FLYT ended up 6thin the 50+ boat SRS A division and 13thoverall out of 237 boats. That result is not too shabby for a racer/cruiser with a full interior that had never been fully tested. Great results...and good fortune!

Arcona 465 FLYT Leading.jpg

BRAVEHEART" THE GIANT SLAYER

The 1995 IMX 38 BRAVEHEART sailing with an X-Drive No. 1 genoa and older Tape-Drive main.

During every sailing season it seems like there was always one regatta or race that sticks out in your mind. For UK Norway’s Mehmet Taylan, that regatta was the 2018 Nesodden Høstcup. Taylan was aboard Kim Knudsen’s 1995 IMX 38 BRAVEHEART, clearly a “vintage” yacht amidst a fleet of newer, hotshot racers. Although BRAVEHEART finished second and not first, it was a moral victory that made the Nesodden Høstcup so memorable.

The only boat that beat BRAVEHEART in the two-day event was a right out of the box Club Swan 50, a 2-million Euro 50-footer with a competitor’s top-of-the-line sails flying. That was quite an investment to beat the 23-year-old, 50,000 Euro 38-footer with X-Drive and Tape-Drive sails from UK Sailmakers. Third was an X46 and fourth was a new Grand Soleil 42R.

 
 

2018 Nesodden Høstcup results for half of the fleet.

The regatta consisted of two distance races. On the windy first day, the Swan 50 PROXFLYER legged out on the fleet and BRAVEHEART was fourth. Sunday the wind was light and shifty and BRAVEHEART beat the Swan. It appeared that the Swan’s sails were too rigid and couldn’t be adjusted to fly in the light air while BRAVEHEART’s UK sails were easily trimmed and adjusted to excel in the lighter conditions. BRAVEHEART was truly the warrior that could slay giants.

After the regatta, Kim Knudsen said, “Team BRAVEHEART finished her 2018 season in style with this second place in this Nesodden Høstcup. I want to thank our sponsor, UK Sailmakers Norway, for designing and building some truly amazing sails. There is no doubt in my mind that UK Sailmakers is the technology leaders for sails produced in Norway. We look forward to next year's season and continued great results.”


A FAMILY AFFAIR

Morten Ullmann, owner of UK Sailmakers Denmark has been specializing in one-design sails for years. When his son Jonas became active in the Optimist Dinghy, Morten not only coached Jonas and his friends, he developed race winning sails that are still being used throughout Denmark. When Jonas aged out of the Opti and moved on to the Europe Dinghy, Morten brought his sail design and sailmaking skills to bear on that class. The following was written by Jonas about working with his father to develop a Europe Dinghy sail that in 2018 won the European Championship, the European Masters, was third at the Worlds, took all the podium positions at the Danish Youth Champion as well as all the podium positions at the Danish Championship.

“When I started sailing the Europe Dinghy three years ago, my dad and I decided to develop a high-performance sail for my specific boat and my specific sailing weight and how I sail the boat. It was a long, iterative process which required commitment, focus, and patience; but it was also incredibly interesting from a technical perspective and very educational in terms of refining a research and development process. I learned a lot during the testing, especially when it came to trimming and shaping the sail. Now I really understand the importance of having a sail that fits the mast perfectly and is reflective of the style and skills of the person sailing the dinghy. On our Europe Dinghy ‘Team UK,’ we are sailors in different weight categories, which has given us the opportunity to develop four basic sail designs. The challenge was to fit the sail to the bend characteristics of each individual masts’ distinct curve. To overcome that hurdle, my dad came up with an algorithm that creates the optimal luff curve for each mast. For me, it has been a great experience to be in the middle of this R&D design process and to have benefited from the speed improvements on the race course as well.”

A LITTLE BLACK MAGIC

Light winds dominated the 2018 Newport to Bermuda Race. Shown here is the starboard watch on the Marten 49 SUMMER STORM. From the wheel forward: Andrew Berdon, Alden Winder, Ben Cormack, Walker Potts. Josh Reisberg photo.

For Adam Loory, General Manager of UK Sailmakers International, his funniest memory of the year was an incident that occurred during the 630-mile Newport to Bermuda Race. Adam was sailing on Andrew Berdon’s Marten 49 SUMMER STORM. As Adam tells it:

“This was my eighth race to Bermuda and it was a light air affair. At one point while spending my off-watch sleeping on deck, I was awakened by the frustrated Starboard watch crew who had run out of wind. As if out of a last resort, the owner Andrew Berdon asked me if I had any ideas how to get the boat moving again. I looked around at the sails, the sea and the sky and gave a shrug. Then, I spotted a small puff of wind a boat length to windward that none of the guys on watch had seen. They had become so frustrated that they had given up looking for wind.

“I said “head up,” but Andy said that he couldn’t point that high. I said (somewhat imperially) ‘Don’t look at the sails, just point the boat that way.” Somewhat in disbelief (or was it desperation), Andy turned the boat into the wind. Sure enough, we got to that puff of wind and suddenly we were going 5 knots, which felt fast after being nearly stopped. Everyone on deck looked at me as if they were asking if I could divine the wind. I simply smiled, gave a tip of my hat, and went back to napping on the rail.”

It’s not often that you can make a call that has that dramatic an effect on the boat’s performance, but when you do, make the most of it, accept that you’re the hero, and make it fun. Don’t forget to keep your sense of humor for those calls you’ll eventually make that will not work out.

Left: SUMMER STORM in the 2018 Stamford-Vineyard Race; Kevin Dailey photo. Above: scenes during the 2018 Bermuda Race on SUMMER STORM. Top by Eric Irwin, above by Josh Reisberg.

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL!

When the new sail you’ve ordered is delivered, you expect it to fit your boat properly right out of the bag. Unfortunately, in too many instances this just isn’t the case. To make sure the sail you receive is the sail you ordered, most UK Sailmakers lofts are now using a powerful digital sail-design tool to insure your sail will fit perfectly the first time it is set.

BSG Development’s Sailcom electronic sail order form and project viewer allows your UK sailmaker to input the measurements he’s taken of your boat and rig and digitally display the recommended sail in 3-D. This ensures that the luff and foot will be the right length, that the leech isn’t too long, and that the reef points and spreader/stanchion patches are in the right places. By rotating the 3-D image of your boat and sail plan, you can get an accurate, graphic view of how the new sail will look when set. Even if we don’t get all the boat’s measurements, Sailcom can create an accurate graphic representation of a proposed sail.

In addition to the fit reassurance Sailcom offers, UK’s detailed technical sail construction standards have been programmed into our version of the program whereby we can display our various laminate and tape styles. Patches, battens and reefs are also shown in place.

After capturing and presenting your proposed sail, Sailcom transfers this data seamlessly to SailPack, the industry’s leading sail design program. By combining SailCom with SailPack, your sailmaker, UK’s sail design team, and you the customer have a powerful “all in one” tool at your fingertips that will deliver accurate information about the size, shape, look and fit of the sail before being manufactured. The direct interface between Sailcom and SailPack also prevents the transposing of measurement data as the numbers are delivered to the sail designer.

In the end, UK Sailmakers delivers to you a well-designed, well-made, and properly-fitting sail that will bring you seasons of satisfaction and sailing enjoyment. Isn’t that what it’s all about?