The S&S 49 HIRO MARU at the start of the 2018 Newport to Bermuda Race flying the same X-Drive No. 1 genoa she used in the Transatlantic race. Notice the partial black taffeta layer on the part the leech that overlaps the mast as well as on the part of foot that comes in contact with the life lines. Click on the picture to enlarge it and you’ll see Hiro driving while smoking his signature pipe.

Hiro Nakajima's HIRO MARU scored an incredible come-from-behind win in IRC Class 3 in the 2,960 NM 2019 West to East Transatlantic Race. Nakajima and crew raced his aluminum S&S 49 that was originally launched in 1971 as SCARAMOUCHE. Nakajima and crew finished the race with an elapsed time of 17:02:21:40 to beat Rives Potts’ venerable CARINA, the grand dame of the fleet by nearly five hours on corrected time.

CARINA had led the class for most of the race, but Nakajima believes the race turned in his favor when they passed to the south of the Isles of Scilly (off the southwestern tip of England) while CARINA passed to the north.

HIRO MARU approaching the finish line off the Royal Yacht Squadron’s castle on the Isle of Wight.

HIRO MARU’s crew celebrating after winning IRC 3 in the 2019 Transatlantic Race.

“We did not go as far north as CARINA. They followed the weather,” said the 62-year-old Nakajima, a retired architect. “We stayed closer to the great circle route. I think we enjoyed slightly better breeze that allowed us to really close the gap. Everyone’s just excited, very ecstatic.”

Hiro driving past Castle Hill after crossing the starting line off Newport, R.I.

When asked what the key was to the win, Hiro shared the following comments: “The race was fantastic. The key moments for us were when we realized that we were chipping away at CARINA's lead every day. Each watch competed against the other to claw back CARINA's lead one mile at a time. We also got some lucky breaks with wind along the way.

“Watches began with, ‘Where's CARINA?‘ or ‘How many miles did we get back during the last watch?’ Our navigator, Mark D'Arcy, was the best and he gave us the best guidance and overview of options available. We could not have done this without him.

“I have to say the UK Sailmakers A3 was one of the best sails ever. We had it up for days on end. It suffered abuse from us and the elements, yet it never faltered. The UK #1 (X-Drive Carbon) was the second most used sail and it performed like a champ as well.

“I never would have believed we would win our class, which has made our win even more rewarding for me and the entire crew.”

Congratulations to Hiro and the whole crew of HIRO MARU from everyone at UK Sailmakers.


Here’s a simple solution to a complex tactical leeward mark situation. We’ve all been there and done that: approaching a leeward mark but your line is too high to do a desired wide-and-tight rounding. You’d love to do a Mexican (left gate, left turn); but you’re too high and sailing lower with an asym is, in a word, slow! What do you do? You really have only two options.

Choice one is to throw in a last-minute gybe. That will get you to the mark with proper VMG; but it will move you down the popularity ladder with your crew...not to mention creating huge opportunities for chaos at the rounding.

Here’s another option: sail wing-on-wing straight downwind towards the mark and be ready for a great left gate rounding. Have someone stand on the leeward rail and hold out the spin sheet while you turn down and someone flops the boom to windward. Downwind you go! Get your jib up and you’re all set for the perfect Mexican port rounding. (note to self: in big winds, you’re probably better doing an early drop and jib reaching into the mark for the final few boat lengths as shifting the boom may be problematic if under load.)

The top photo shows UK Sailmakers Fremantle’s Geoff Bishop’s King 40 CHECKMATE sailing wing-on-wing in order to make a leeward mark in a recent race. Gybing just the main allowed him to sail dead-down-wind. While you will not be sailing at target speed, sailing wing-on-wing for a short distance can be faster than throwing in a gybe or two and getting the crew tied in knots.

Sailing wing-on-wing is also a good tactical move in crowded fleets. You can use this maneuver for a few boat lengths to get away from a wall of bad air from boats behind you.

Like any maneuver, to sail well wing-on-wing with an asymmetrical spinnaker your crew needs to practice keeping the spinnaker full. Once mastered, you'll find it a good tool in your tactical toolbox.


Adam Loory’s custom 40-footer SOULMATES. All photos by

In late June I returned from sailing my ninth Block Island Race Week; this year turned out to be a totally different experience than the preceding eight. Why? Because instead of racing two or three races per day with a full crew, I opted to sail in the Performance Cruising Class. What a difference that made! Let me tell you why I feel this way.

Most people attend Block Island Race Week as their vacation. However, after racing multiple windward/leeward races I would always come off the water exhausted. This year in the Performance Cruising classes, each day we sailed a single long race around government marks. Even so, we finished earlier than the drop-buoy classes, which meant we had more time to enjoy the Island, our families, and friends. For the first time, this really did feel like a real vacation.

Racing into a fog bank off the southwest corner of Block Island.

Also, with a smaller crew aboard, I didn’t have to deal with issues between crewmembers that always seem to develop in a larger crew. An added benefit of a smaller crew is that we all got to do everything on the boat. No one felt like rail meat.

Many sailors snicker at boats sailing the navigator courses; but our races were just as serious. I gave a loud whoop as we crossed the finish line in first place after Thursday’s light and fluky race. We worked hard to sail toward where the sea breeze would fill in and then worked just as hard to get in front of the bulk of the fleet that stayed near the Island, then watched our COG to make sure we didn’t sail extra distance to the mark that was in two knots of current and on the way to the finish we played the shifts to keep away from the island’s bluffs that created wind holes on the rhumbline. Net result for our efforts – a horizon job on the fleet.

My class was made up of fast boats that could have sailed in any of the higher rating classes, but the owners chose not to. Our class included a J/125, a Farr 395, a custom Schumacher 50, a J/44, a J/120 and the scratch boat was a 60-footer that rated -72 PHRF. My custom 40-footer, the Farr 395 and the Schumacher 50 sailed with five people and we were competitive with the fully crewed boats. My only suggestion going forward (being a marketing person by trade) is to rename this style of sailing “Coastal Racing” so that people don’t get the impression that these are just ham ‘n egg sailors. I look forward to more Coastal Racing where boats don’t need to be staffed tons of crew.

SOULMATES getting rolled by the -72 rater in her class on the way to the finish of the Around the Island Race.

Photos by

UK Sailmakers Customers Finish First in Four of Eight Classes

UK Sailmakers customers stood out at the 2019 Sovereigns Cup sailed out of Kinsale Yacht Club in southern Ireland. Of the eight classes, UK customers finished first in four.

• IRC Class 1 was taken by John Murphy and Richard Colwell’s J/109 OUTRAJEOUS.
• The Coastal Class was won by George Sisk’s XP44 WOW
• The White Sails Class 1 went to Shane Statham’s GK34 SLACK ALICE
• The 1720 one-design class was taken by Ross & Aoife McDonald’s ROPE DOCK – ATARA

The J/109 OUTRAJEOUS sailing with her symmetrical spinnaker nearly dead downwind.

The OUTRAJEOUS team held their nerve to claim victory in IRC Class One after bouncing back from a DSQ inflicted by a boat from another class. The nine-boat IRC class consisted of eight J/109s and an X34. Racing was tight; in the last race of the four-day six-race regatta the corrected times for Class 1 varied by only two minutes between first to sixth place.

OUTRAJEOUS is a new boat to the fleet and her owners worked with UK Sailmakers Ireland to optimize the boat’s downwind performance by switching her sail plan from asymmetrical spinnakers flown off of a six-foot sprit to symmetrical spinnakers flown from a traditional spinnaker pole. Look for a story about the trade-offs they considered in our next newsletter.

George Sisk’s XP44 WOW won the IRC Coastal Class. WOW won with a perfect score of three firsts. She beat a fleet of seven other boats including the XP50 FREYA. The Coastal Class is part of a growing demand of offshore sailors who desire to sail one long race per day around navigational marks that offer multiple points of sail instead of multiple windward leeward races each day.

WOW sails with Uni-Titanium Liteskin upwind sails and UK Sailmakers Matrix spinnakers. For reaching she had two deadly weapons that included a Code Zero and a Flying Jib flown from her sprit as part of a double-headsail rig. According to crew member Red Power, “The flying jib was the key on the last reach of the second race. With it we sailed higher and faster than with our zero. WOW had the only flying jib in the fleet and it was noticed.”

The XP44 WOW showing how perfectly smooth her Uni-Titanium sails are.

Third place in the Coastal Class went to Dan Buckley’s J/109 JUSTUS. When the Irish performance-based handicap system, ECHO, was used to score the class, the positions flipped and JUSTUS was first and WOW moved to third. Either way, UK Sailmakers and their customers had a good showing.

SLACK ALICE sailing upwind with her seasons-old Tape-Drive silver main and genoa.

Shane Statham and Trudy O’Leary’s GK34 SLACK ALICE claimed victory in White Sail Class 1 with four wins in the four races. Shane and his crew opted for the white sails class for competitive racing while also being friendly to the flexible crew roster throughout the four-day series.

Aoife and Ross McDonald’s ATARA successfully defended their 1720 European Championship. The class’s European Championship was incorporated within the 2019 Sovereigns Cup. The nine-boat fleet had tight racing, but ATARA manged to score two firsts and three thirds to win the series by three points over LUVLY JUBBLY.

ATARA successfully defended her 1720 European Championship title.


One of the biggest challenges cruising sailors face is how best to sail downwind with only your white up-wind sails set. The jib bangs against the mast and gets beat up and doesn’t provide much power. You turn on the engine and you then must put up with exhaust blowing across the boat. Neither are very attractive options. For years, UK Sailmakers has taught that cruising spinnakers were the solution to this sailing dilemma, but not everyone has come onboard with that philosophy.

Setting a spinnaker with the aid of a dousing sock still requires someone to go forward to raise the dousing sock and some cruising sails feel leaving the cockpit is a real P-I-A! You can’t set it at the beginning of the sail and just have it “set” until you are ready for it.

The EasyFurl Code D’s straight luff is the reason the sail can be rolled easily. Here the Code D is shown on a Berckemeyer LA28. On this boat,the furler is electric and remotely controlled making the Code D “push-button” easy.

The EasyFurl Code D’s straight luff is the reason the sail can be rolled easily. Here the Code D is shown on a Berckemeyer LA28. On this boat,the furler is electric and remotely controlled making the Code D “push-button” easy.

Now there’s a much better alternative!

UK Sailmakers has developed the Easyfurl Code D, a cruising spinnaker that can be pre-set and is easy to release and furl from the safety and comfort of the cockpit. The Easyfurl Code D is a cruising spinnaker with a nearly straight luff that furls from the bottom up, just like a genoa. With a regular, continuous line furler, it’s easier to use than a Stasher system and less expensive than top-down furlers.

X4(3) CodeD and X-DriveLS main.jpg

The Code D gets its name because its shape, a straight luff and round leech, makes it look like the letter "D." However, because this cost-effective cruising spinnaker is so easy to furl and unfurl from the cockpit, maybe we should have named it the Code “E.”

Don’t be afraid of cruising spinnakers any longer! Hoist your Easyfurl Code D before leaving the dock or mooring, and then leave it furled until you are ready to sail downwind. When ready, unroll it and cruise in comfort, safety, with speed.

UK Sailmakers has succeeded in developing an asymmetrical spinnaker that performs well from 80-degrees apparent wind angle to nearly dead downwind. It will even fly well wing-on-wing with or without a whisker pole. Thus it is truly an all-purpose sail for cruisers and daysailors. These all-purpose asymmetrical spinnakers are made out of any nylon, which allows you to be creative with colors. If you want to cruise better this summer, talk to your local UK Sailmakers loft for more information on the Easyfurl Code D.

Shown on the right is an X-Drive Carbon Liteskin main and jib and an Easyfurl Code D on an X-Yachts 4(3).


You win some, you lose some, but when the right opportunity knocks, you have to be ready to pull the trigger and go!

Here’s a couple of minutes of video shot by Stuart Lindow from Texas' Clear Lake Racing Association. It’s funny, you can talk all you want and draw all the diagrams you can think of; but there’s nothing like a real-time video that shows the before, during, and after of a situation.

In this clip is flock of J/22s approaching and rounding a leeward mark to port. Tom Meeh (USA 878) was way to the right of the pack about two minutes before the rounding. Foreseeing the multiple levels of overlapped inside boats that would eventually turn into a “wheel;” Tom gybed onto port, took a few sterns and hoped for an inside position going in. His crew work was pretty spotless as he threw in two quick gybes, but he ended-up deep in the pack. Biting his tongue, Tom was ready to bail out and take his lumps in the rounding...but he kept his options open. You never know, Murphy’s Law doesn’t always work against you.

STOP READING HERE...and watch the video. Watch it again, and then come back to finish this story.

As you’ll see, Tom is set-up towards the back of the fleet and then a few things happened that hurt others but helped him.
1. The lead boat (David Bethancourt's 1271 -- with UK Sailmakers sails) had a late and slow spinnaker douse (stuff happens!)
2. The lead two boats came in on starboard and pushed the wheel further to the right and below the mark, which opened a hole for Tom.
3. The lead boats’ set-ups for wide and tight rounding turned into wide and slow roundings forcing overlapped outside boats to sail deeper or wider.
4. Tom’s boat had excellent crew work dousing the chute quickly and early. Not knowing exactly what situations he would soon face; Tom was now ready for most options as his crew was set-up to trim in the rounding.
5. He was approaching from the inside on a port tack so he could smoothly head up around the mark and not lose any speed during a gybe.
6. The stroke of luck was when the third boat (SVK 665), approaching on starboard and clear astern of the second position boat, made a conservative, safe gybe and rounding leaving...yes...a hole!
7. Tom, set-up for the rounding and with good boat speed, slipped into the hole, trimmed for the next leg...and found himself suddenly in third...having picked up five boats.

Well done Tom. Not that this could have been “planned” for; but by being ready for anything means you’re ready to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves. His bail out plan was always to round outside the mark and try again.

Special thanks to Stuart Lindow and you can visit his Facebook page at:
Stuart also runs White Pelican Productions, which has a Facebook page at:


DUX’s X-Drive mainsail has a lightweight 5X5 Liteskin for extra durability on both sides of the sail since her mainsail is used in winds from next to nothing to over 30 knots. Her No. 1 genoa has no taffeta protective layer to keep it as light as possible.

Here is a better shot of DUX’s mainsail that has Liteskin on both sides of the sail for extra durability. Click to enlarge.

After a testing series with a full range of conditions, Anthony Gore-Grimes' X302 DUX from Howth Yacht Club emerged the overall winner of the 2019 Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) National Championships sailed on Dublin Bay. This another class win and overall title taken by X-Drive sails — the third in three consecutive weekends. DUX bested Class 3, which was the largest fleet with 22 boats. She was crowned the overall winner in the 93-boat fleet made up of boats from 20 sailing clubs around Ireland. After seven races, DUX had four firsts and her worst scores were two thirds, one of which was discarded. DUX added three new sails this year to her full UK Sailmakers inventory: a Titanium Liteskin main, an X-Drive Heavy No. 1 and a new .75 oz Matrix spinnaker. UK Sailmakers Ireland's Graham Curran helped with rig tuning and coaching after the new sails were delivered. A long time UK Sailmakers customer and a consistently good finisher over the years, this is the first time DUX has won a major event since 2013. While Anthony Gore-Grimes is the boat's owner, his daughter Caroline has been campaigning the boat this year. About the new sails she said, "I have to stop taking to people about them so much; I'm practically dreaming about them."

Third place in Class 3 was taken by a UK Sailmakers equipped boat, Brendan Foley's Impala 28 RUNNING WILD as seen above.


Team Pear Shaped Racing’s trimaran DRAGON.

Team Pear Shaped Racing’s trimaran DRAGON.

UK Sailmakers helped put the second and third place finishers on the podium in the 2019 Race to Alaska. The 750-mile course runs from Port Townsend, Washington north to Ketchikan, Alaska, where the first-to-finish prize is $10,000 nailed to a plank and second place earns a set of steak knives. TEAM PEAR SHAPED RACING sailing their custom 34-foot trimaran DRAGON took the steak knives and third was Nathalie Criou’s TEAM SHUT UP AND DRIVE, a Beneteau Figaro 2. Both boats sailed with UK Sailmakers Titanium® upwind sails and UK spinnakers.

Team Pear Shaped Racing: Guy Rittger, Tom Kassberg, Duncan Gladman getting a set of steak knives as the second place trophy.

Team Pear Shaped Racing: Guy Rittger, Tom Kassberg, Duncan Gladman getting a set of steak knives as the second place trophy.

The Pears suffered four collisions with logs on the course in their battle with the elements. The worst log strike was on the last night when they went from nine knots to sudden full stop. It instantly shook everything loose in the cabin. More than the stowables, it made a boxer’s nose out of the bow of an ama and jarred loose what was left of their electronics, leaving them to fly their high twitch bird blind for the last 100 miles. The log was every bit of huge, spanning all three hulls and lifting the boat high and dry before it chose to roll under. This was in Hecate Strait; luckily it wasn’t on their gust-fueled night run that pegged their boat speed record at 27 knots and 15-foot waves.

Team Shut Up and Drive’s Figaro 2. Drew Malcolm photo.

Team Shut Up and Drive’s Figaro 2. Drew Malcolm photo.

TEAM SHUT UP AND DRIVE was locked in a tight battle for third with last year’s race winner SAIL LIKE A GIRL for most of the race. The two women skippers battled it out down the course, both sailing 32-foot monohulls — a Figaro 2 vs the Melges 32 that had won the 2018 R2AK.

Before the race, Criou said she switched to UK Sailmakers’ Titanium sails because she was tired of dealing with sail failures. After the race Criou said, "Thank you for your support. We gave it all we had and the sails did a great job - the main's beautiful and we had a fair bit of upwind, the entire first leg was pretty much one big tack. We finished 3rd at behind a Shock 40 and a fast 10 meter trimaran (both of which we would have beaten had we sailed under a rating system."


By Morten Christensen
This year’s Skagen Race, a 110-mile run south from Oslo, Norway to the town of Skagen at the northern-most point on the mainland of Denmark was sailed in horrific conditions as they were racing in a gale most of the way. Over 200 boats were registered and only 25 boats finished the race. The following is first-hand story was written by the owner of the Barvaria Match 35 BETTY BOOP II, which finished second in class. Her inventory of X-Drive Endure sails and a storm jib got her across the finish line to second in class after surviving 23 hours and 40 minutes on the race course.

Morten’s report:

The weather forecast had called for harsh conditions with winds increasing to gale or more; but since we are planning to attend this year's Shetland Race that goes from Bergen, Norway, across the North Sea to the Shetland Islands and back, we figured we just had to do this one to prepare as the North Sea can be rougher than this course.

While sailing to the start line, the wind instruments stopped working. Even two of the crew below trying to fix the instruments for the start and the first half hour of the race, BETTY BOOP started passing boats while reaching with the No. 3 jib.

Nearer to Færder Lighthouse (at the southern point of the Oslo Fjord), conditions started to get rough. The wind shifted to a beat and the waves started getting closer to the forecasted 2-3 meters. One of the crew got seasick and remained out of action for the rest of the race.

The wind eased a bit while sailing through the night along Sweden’s west coast, but then picked up again, and blew stronger than ever and the waves got bigger. At the farthest checkpoint in Sweden, we were sailing with a reef in the main and switched from the No. 3 genoa to a No.5 , our storm jib. Those making the sail change got soaked battling the two sails on the foredeck.

At this time the chart plotter, a PC below deck, turned off. One of many waves must have found its way down there, leaving the smell of burned transistors, a black screen and a computer that refused to boot.

Having no wind instruments and no regular plotter made us nervous and would have been good reasons for quitting the race; but we decided to use the plotter-app on a tablet for the beat to Denmark. We had run into equally bad conditions about six years ago in this race where we decided to throw in our hand; but this year we knew we were better prepared. We wanted to see what we and the boat could handle. Storm sailing isn't dangerous if done right.

In the Skagerak, the wind and waves got to their worst. We had still no electronic means of knowing the wind speed, but according to the Beaufort scale descriptions of whipping sea spray, it must have been somewhere around a severe gale -- the farthest end of Force 9. The spray from the ocean hit your face and felt like hail, making it painful to keep your eyes open. The average wave size was four meters with five to six meter waves mixed in.

When we were overpowered with two reefs in the main, we dropped the main entirely. Under just the storm jib we were doing seven knots. It now started raining, but that didn't matter much as we had been soaked for hours. We tacked a few times to keep clear of the container ships passing through the course. While trying to raise the boom to make the tacking safe for the crew, the halyard got loose. It flew around in the wind like Indiana Jones’ whip. For safety sake, we decided to pull it to the top of the mast and retrieve it later.

Close to the finish line, the wind eased off some and we figured it would be a good idea to hoist the main. The crew felt too seasick to climb up and get it, so we decided to hoist the main with the spinnaker halyard, which was possible as long as the two reefs were not shaken out. We also hoisted the No. 4 jib and finally crossed the finish line after almost 24 hours of washing machine-like conditions, which were said to be the worst weather in the history of the race. According to the race committee the highest recorded wind speed was 24 meters per second, about 45 knots, in the Skagerak. No sails or crew members were harmed in the race, but the boat needs some TLC, especially regarding to emptying it of sea water.

Editor’s Note: While sailing through a storm can be terrifying, wet, cold and uncomfortable, it is great to find out that we can do it and do it safely as Morten said. The proper equipment, and practice with it, is important. Besides, you get to tell great stories once you are warm and dry!