Saturday, 25 August 2018 was a significant day for prominent Hobart yachtsmen Stephen ‘Rowdy’ McCullum and Stewart Gray, and for worldwide sail makers, North Sails.
McCullum has joined Gray as principals of 42ºSouth Marine which operates the Hobart loft of North Sales at Cambridge, (above Lewis Marine), combining their vast yachting, sail-making and business experience.
In fact, when it comes to counting up sailing experience and expertise in the marine industry, in particular sail-making, it’s hard to go past ‘Rowdy’ and Stewart.
It’s a combination that seems certain to benefit Tasmanian sailing, bringing the latest technology in making sails for types of boats, off-the-beach dinghies, one-design keelboats, ocean racers and cruising yachts.
North Sails continue to be heavily involved in the America’s Cup, the Volvo Race and international one-design yacht racing and are noted for ground-breaking design and sail construction technology, including the creation of 3Di™ moulded sails, claimed to be the world’s fastest and most durable sails, for racing and cruising.
Both ‘Rowdy’ and Stewart began their working lives as sail-making apprentices in Hobart and soon became involved in International racing campaigns that took them overseas for further design and sail-making projects, as well as expanding their sailing careers, mostly in maxis and America’s Cup contenders.
“As a sailmaker I later worked with Grant Simmer on America’s Cup campaigns and with the late Graeme ‘Frizzle’ Freeman sailing on Windward Passage II,” ‘Rowdy’ said on the eve of their commercial partnership coming into force yesterday,
“The Windward Passage campaign took ‘Frizzle’ and myself to Europe and the USA to work with the Italian America’s Cup challenge before returning to Tasmania to join Bob Clifford with the maxi ketch Tasmania which took line honours in the 50th Sydney Hobart,” Rowdy added.
McCullum, who is vice commodore of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, has competed as a key crew member including watch captain and sailing master, in 22 Sydney Hobarts
Stewart Gray returned to Hobart six years ago after being involved as a professional yachtsman and sailmaker in two America’s Cup campaigns and three Volvo Ocean Races. He also won two World Championships in Maxis and TP52’s.
“And like Rowdy, I did my apprenticeship as a sailmaker, but with Ian Ross at Hood Sails in Sandy Bay,” he said.
“Back in Tasmania, I’ve owned my own business, 42ºSouth Marine, for the past six years, setting up the loft as a North Sails agency where we supply racing or cruising sails for anything from Optimists to maxi yachts.
“However, a big part of our business is making sail covers, canvas’s and powerboat clears,” Gray added.
“By joining forces and combining our sailing and sail-making expertise, we plan to develop the business in line with the expansion of the sport of yachting, both in cruising and racing keelboats and in dinghy classes in Tasmania,” McCullum said.
“We will be in a greater position to not only supply a quality product, but to give an even greater level of advice and customer services to all areas of the marine industry,” said Gray, expressing great confidence in the new partnership.
North Sails, through its Worldwide resources and expertise can provide yacht owners with everything from cross cut dacron sails built from our in-house milled dacrons, through to 3Di™ sails.
“3Di™ is the only sail like it on the market it is stronger, lighter and more resistant to environmental factors than laminate string sails and we couldn’t be more excited to bring it to the local market, ” emphasised said Gray and McCullum
Words: Peter Campbell