Sailmaker David Parr cheers veteran's victory:
Reprinted from The Northern Advocate : February 21, 2012
Story by Rosemary Roberts
No one was cheering louder than Whangarei sailmaker David Parr when
107-year-old racing yacht Rawhiti took line honours and was first on
handicap in the first race for classic yachts in the 2012 Auckland
Anniversary Regatta - even though he was competing in the same race on
The illustrious Rawhiti was rigged with sails he and co-sailmaker Tom
Barker had completed last year in his Whangarei loft, Calibre Sails Ltd,
and it was the vessel's first big racing weekend following completion
of a meticulous and costly restoration project.
David Parr was aboard Rainbow, which also has sails made at Calibre
Sails, and says it was thrilling to see the famous yacht "win by a
country mile". Rainbow came second to Rawhiti and completed a double
success for Calibre Sails in the next race by repeating Rawhiti's feat -
line honours and first on handicap.
It's rare for the sailmaker to enjoy such notable success here because overseas work is the company's mainstay.
Most product goes overseas indirectly through work done for cruising yachts or directly to Dubai as sails for racing dhows.
The company has made about 18 sails for racing dhows over the past
three years, the largest of which are too big to be fully spread out on
the floor of the loft.
Dhow racing is big business in Dubai and fiercely competitive involving hundreds of vessels, he says.
One performance report that came back to Parr on the sails made in
Whangarei was that they were "scary fast" - but even this wasn't enough
for one owner who commissioned wind tunnel experiments at Auckland
University last year to see how the traditional design could be modified
to make his dhows go faster. Calibre Sails incorporated the findings
into his next set of sails.
The company is currently busy making and repairing sails for cruising
yachts preparing to leave Northland at the end of the hurricane season.
Working on sails for historic yachts presents a different and
fascinating set of challenges, not because of their size but because, as
with both Rawhiti and Rainbow, the sails are made up of dozens of
narrow panels sewn together - "time-consuming but not overly technically
demanding, as modern sails can be".
Rawhiti's mainsail is about 100sq m and the gibs each around 30sq m. He
acknowledges such contracts are likely to be a rare pleasure - "demand
generally is down about 15 per cent around the world and with classic
boats we are in the field of discretionary income."
Blast from past Rawhiti is an 18.89m long (overall) gaff cutter,
designed and built by Logan Brothers in Auckland and launched in
Auckland in October 1905. She was the last of the "big four" flush-deck
Logan racing yachts launched in Auckland from 1898-1905, and said to be
the finest. The quality of the vessel and her extensive transtasman
history have seen her described as the most important racing yacht
historically in Australasia. Rawhiti was raced hard from the outset and
was the undisputed champion of Sydney Harbour and fastest yacht in
Australia for about 30 years following her launch, and she was the
flagship Australian racing yacht used for ceremonial occasions. The
Rawhiti Cup is still sailed for in Sydney to this day. The Marler family
of New Zealand bought Rawhiti in 1946 on condition she was never raced
in Australia again (to maintain her unbeaten record) and returned to
Auckland. She has remained there ever since, winning many more races and
cruising the Hauraki Gulf and beyond. She has had a string of
high-profile owners, including commodores of the Royal New Zealand Yacht
She was extensively modernised around 1970 by the removal of her
original rudder, deck furniture, deck, interior and most of her deck
gear, and the addition of wheel steering, an engine, a new cabin top,
new interior, and Bermudan rig with alloy spars. The current owners
bought the vessel in 2003. Rawhiti was still in the water but far from
being what she was in her heyday. Restoration began in 2005.
David Parr describes the sails made in Whangarei as a mix of classic
and contemporary, designed using 3D computer modelling, drawing on what
the company had learned making the sails for Rainbow. The material was
cream-finished dacron but all the detailing corner patching was done in
the traditional tan-coloured leather. The dacron was imported from
Holland: the leather was sourced in New Zealand. Cotton sales used to be
made up of panels sewn together because this was the width produced by
the looms of the time - unnecessary with dacron but used for both
Rawhiti and Rainbow to preserve a traditional look.
David Parr trained as a sailmaker in Auckland and spent over 20 years
overseas involved in the America's Cup campaigns and Whitbread Around
The World races, before setting up Calibre Sails in 2005.
MASTER SAILS-MAN: Whangarei sailmaker David Parr at work. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
On September 4th at the Viaduct Harbour The 1905 Bermudan Cutter Rawhiti
was re-launched by Greg Lee and partners in a very moving ceremony. A
very large crowd was on hand to watch Rawhiti slip into the water once
more after a six year restoration project headed by Greg with a huge
amount of support from his family and friends.
looks absolutely stunning and the quality of workmanship put into her
restoration lead by Peter Brooks is simply amazing. Many people passed
the comment that Rawhiti should be put into a Glass Case not the water
such is the finish of her.
example of the hours that have gone into Rawhiti is that each clear
coat on the inside of the hull alone took a 120 man-hours to sand and
apply the coating. There are a total of 10 coats!
Sails would like to congratulate Greg, Rachel, Peter and all of the
people who dedicated so much time to the restoration. The team at
Calibre Sails is very humbled and proud to be a part of the Rawhiti
journey by supplying the complete sail inventory for her.
(See Photos of restoration & launch)
Web Link: www.calibresails.com/rawhiti/
Dhow Sails - Development:
past weeks, Calibre Sails has been testing new Dhow sail designs in the
University of Auckland’s Wind Tunnel facility.
for the 40 foot and 60 foot Dhows were tested and some very interesting results
and information was learned from the tests. It is looking likely that new sails
will be ordered in the New Year for Dhows in Dubai. Photos tell the storey
better than words!
models of the yacht and rigs including the amount that the spars bend are required
to replicate the sailing conditions and arrive at design improvements for
future sail designs.
Calibre Sails has completed the sail inventory for Gretel 2, the 12m of considerable fame in racing for the America’s Cup in 1972. In keeping with the era, sails were miter cut Genoa’s and split panels to replicate her when racing.
Concessions for ease of sail handling resulted in a fully battened Mainsail and 2 reefs but Gretel 2 looks absolutely splendid sailing on Sydney Harbour. Gretel 2 sailed from Auckland to Australia after the refit / restoration had been completed.
Rainbow with a full inventory of sails from us is wining a huge number of races and regattas on the Auckland harbour. There is an ever increasing number of the classic yachts being restored and back out on the water. We even have had two classic yachts sail across the ditch from Australia to take part in the local classic regattas which is great to see! The first winter race in Auckland last week saw the 112 year old Rainbow powering up the harbour alongside modern yachts of similar lengths sporting prods, Genniker’s and big roach Mainsails. The Rainbow crew were somewhat amused by the sight!
Calibre sails is pleased to add Jonno Radford to our team. Jonno is a Canvas worker and we can now offer to our customers full marine canvas work and goods supplied and repaired. This includes;
· Spray Dodgers
· Bimini Tops
· Boom Covers
· Stack Packs
· Winch covers
· All domestic and industrial canvas
We have enjoyed very good success with providing Dhow Sails into the Dubai market. Directors
David Parr and Shaun Connolly visited the region and sailed onboard these very exciting yachts. While the concept is hundreds of years old, these are very fast and thrilling to sail on! The photos will tell all. Our customers words to describe the first sails produced as being “scary fast”.
The Dhows are very lightly built and are towed upwind to the starting area. The hulls “pant” while being towed and one can not actually walk on the hull given the lightweight construction. All rigging is on the windward side only and during the process of gibing, all rigging is transferred from one side of the craft to the other. A lot of coordination is required!
Images: Skimming dish type hulls allow for boat speed in excess of 20 knots!
Calibre Sails Voted Top Marine Company In Northland:
In a survey completed by the Northland
Marine Development Group in conjunction with Enterprise Northland of overseas
yachting visitors last season to the Northland area, 100% of interviews
approved of the way that Calibre Sails conducted their business with them. This
information was always volunteered by person being interviewed and not part of
Key points were:
- Turning up to appointments that were made
- Providing written quotations for all work provided
- Final Invoices remained the same or less than the quoted price
- Very professional yet friendly attitude in the Loft and at the yacht displayed by all members of the Calibre team
- Very clean, tidy and very spacious loft space and plant equipment
We are very proud as a team at Calibre Sails to have such nice things said about our services and product; it is something that we strive for. Director David Parr (Waldo to anyone after meeting him) feels that his years spent on the international racing and cruising circuit and in particular living in the United States gives us the upper hand on what people from other countries expect for professional service and advice.
When you arrive in Whangarei, whether it be at the Town Basin, RSDM, or any of the other yards, please do not hesitate to contact us for the best sail making services available!
Customs Clearance Now Available At Marsden Cove:
Custom Clearance can now be completed at Marsden Cove Marine
at the new 250 berth Marina. Marsden Cove Marina is located at the
entrance to Whangarei Harbour and provides a very safe and welcome place in
which to complete your trip to New Zealand. From here it is just a small sail
or motor up to the city of Whangarei where you will find everything you need to
service your yacht and a great stepping stone for all types of adventures in
Please feel free to contact us if you require more information
or contact Marsden Cove direct at email@example.com
(Manager direct e-mail) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Calibre Sails has
vacancies for both Sailmakers and Marine Trimmers / Canvas Workers.
Due to an increasing exposure to the marketplace and
increased sail work as well as constantly having to turn away canvas and marine
trimming work, Calibre Sails would like to add to our current staff levels
The working environment is in extremely neat and tidy
surroundings with a relaxed yet professional atmosphere. We take pride in keeping the loft in a clean manner and this is noted by customers on many occasion.
All of our plant equipment is either near new or completely
rebuilt. This includes two Adler 366 Long Arm sewing machines with full
computer control, Prosail Plotter and machinery suitable for canvas and marine
Successful applicants will be motivated and able to work
unsupervised. For canvas work being able to go out on the job and measure and install product and act in a totally professional manner is essential
So if the Auckland traffic or cold weather getting you down and a change of life style needed, contact David Parr (Waldo) today to discuss the various opportunities in detail.
Phone (09) 430 388 Fax
(09) 430 0399
Email Contact: email@example.com
Beneteau First 45:
Calibre Sails is pleased to announce that we were asked to build the sails for the first Beneteau First 45 brought into Australasia. This yacht commissioned by Mr. Murray Gilbert has been named Zuri. The upwind sail inventory is from Dimension Polyant’s Hydra Net range of fabric. This fabric was selected to provide great performing sails combined with excellent longevity properties.
Zuri’s AP Spinnaker is manufactured from Challenge Sailcloth’s Elite coated Nylons.
During sea trials, Zuri has proven to be very powerful upwind and quick and responsive downwind. The deck layout is very efficient for both performance cruising and racing
Well we arrived in Minerva Reef on Sunday and have just left for Fiji as the weather is changing to Northerlies on the weekend (not an ideal situationfor Minerva!)... we're having a great sail... genoa poled out; main up and staysail out on the port side. We're screaming along hoping to be in Savusavu by 2pm on Friday (they charge overtime after 4pm) so the race is on!
Ken just wants to say a very big THANK YOU for making the best set of sails he's ever had. The genoa is PERFECT... and the main has never looked so good. The staysail just works like a charm and is cut perfectly as well! All hail Waldo! Thank you. Have taken 2 pics and will send to you as soon as we get to an internet connection.
Otherwise hope all is well with you and yours... and that the orders are flooding in! We're certainly going to be spreading your good name around Fiji that's for sure!
Take care and keep in touch!
- Audrey & Ken (Fast Forward)
Rainbow Sailing Shots:
Click on the link below to see some great shots of Rainbow under sail.
Web Link: www.rainbow1898.co.nz/gallery.php?category=Sailing%20shots
The Logan 50 Rainbow was launched at 1:30pm on Friday the 16th
at the Viaduct Basin
in Auckland, New Zealand. A large crowd of dignitaries
and public were on hand to watch her being lowered into the water for the first
time since her 2 year restoration. The current owners of Rainbow, The Dimock
family, David Glen, Brad Butterworth & Hamish Ross are absolutely delighted
with the way that Rainbow is look with full credit to her Boat Builders.
In the reception area, Rainbow's new Mainsail was tied up so
that people could view the sails hand work details completed by Calibre Sails
under the guidance of Master Sailmaker Mr.
Frank Warnock. Frank and the Calibre team spent a month crafting the
new sails consisting of Mainsail, Jib, Staysail and Tops’l.
Web Link: www.rainbow1898.co.nz
The Rainbow sails are now underway at
Calibre Sails loft. Owner David Glen and Frank Warnock have visited the loft a
number of times now to check on progress to date.
Now with all of the sails seamed and the
reef Diamonds sewn down, under Frank’s guidance the next phase will be to
do the 2nd layout (spreading using older terminology) where all of
the patches will be marked on and the tablings cut ready to be sewn on later.
Batten pockets will also be marked and the construction methods discussed with
Then the really interesting and time
consuming part will start and that is all of the handwork detail. Between the 3
reefs, there are 65 hand sewn rings to be completed along with all of the Foot
and Gaff which total a similar number!
Guide to Whangarei:
Calibre Sails has published a "Welcome to Whangarei" CD geared towards visiting yachts and their crews. It contains useful information on local yacht services, shopping, restaurants, lodging and more. If you are planning on cruising into the area, use the link below to request your copy.
Web Link: www.calibresails.co.nz/calibresails_cd_request.shtml
New Sails for Rainbow:
Calibre Sails Ltd has been contracted to build sails for Rainbow, a Logan Bros 50 foot designed and built 1898. Rainbow is currently being fully restored to original specifications by her current owners: David Glen, Brad Butterworth and Hamish Ross. Launching is due in early October.
While Calibre Sails Ltd owner David Parr has experience with this type sail inventory, Frank Warnock will be overseeing the traditional handwork detail and all other aspects of the sail construction here in our loft. Frank sailed onboard Rainbow as a young Sail making apprentice. To overlook what Frank can bring to this project would be supremely arrogant and the opportunity for the Calibre Sails current apprentices to work along side Frank with this project is truly unique.
Web Link: www.rainbow1898.co.nz
Calibre Sails Ltd would like to introduce our new Cruiser's Cover.
The cover is designed and manufactured to sit behind the mast leaving halyards, winches etc. clear so that when lowering or raising your inflatable or using the halyards for other uses, there is no need to undo your cover each time.
It is simple and clean to help make your cruising more fun!
Winning Results with Calibre Sails:
Calibre Sails can help you produce winning results on the race course. Take a look at some recent race results and see how some local boats are doing with our sails.
Web Link: www.calibresails.com/race_results.html
Calibre 50 Yacht Race:
The 2006 Calibre 50 was run on the 25th of November 2006. The results and a short article about the race can be found below:
Web Link: www.northernadvocate.co.nz/storyprint.cfm?storyID=3711981
Here is a look at Calibre Sails's new computer-controlled plotter.
The recently launched Frers 95 sloop "Vesper", a finalist for the 2006 Superyacht Society design award, was outfitted with sails from Calibre Sails.
Web Link: www.ydl.co.nz/pages/vesper.htm
Calibre Sails now authorized agents for Southern Spars and Rig Pro:
Calibre Sails have been appointed authorized agents for Southern Spars and Rig Pro. One of the worlds most highly respected Spar Manufactures and Riggers will now have representation throughout the Northland area through Calibre Sails Ltd.
This is a very exciting phase for both Southern Spars and calibre Sails. Both companies pride themselves on the highest quality and passion for the marine industry. Please contact David Parr (Waldo) for more information and help with your rigging and service requirements.
Web Link: www.southernspars.com
New Loft pics:
Here are some recent pictures of our expanded loft space.