An unflattering review: North Sails U

I attended my first North Sails U sail trim seminar back in February at the invitation of a couple sailing buddies, which seemed like a good opportunity to do something different in the midst of winter, learn some new skills, and spend some time with a few crew members from last summer’s Mac race. Indeed, the best part of the event was spending the day in Chicago and hanging out with the guys. For the most part, the seminar bordered on a grand disappointment.

North Sails is one of the largest sail lofts in the world, so naturally I figured that any presenter endorsed by the North name would likely blow my mind with insight into sail management and trim. Not so. The presentation certainly had some interesting nuggets, but focused primarily on basic sail trim and lacked the depth, organization, and polish I expected from the North name. Too bad, especially when you do a little math and figure out that approximately 60 attendees paid (at least) $99 each for the seminar, which amounts to a cool six grand for less than 8 hours of instruction. Yes, a complimentary North Sails U CD-ROM is included for the price, but it has all the pizzaz of an outdated PowerPoint presentation – you know, the one with lousy graphics, monotonous narration, and uninspiring presentation. It’s way past time for North to invest some of the 6k per seminar in an update. (If the sport of sailing is dying – as our presenter suggested during the seminar – part of it could be blamed on such outdated presentation materials).

So, if you’re thinking you might drop $99+ on a North Sails U seminar, I say spend that money on a lesson that keeps on giving: buy a book! I’ve learned far more from a few good books on the subject of sail trim. Take a gander at these if you’re interested:

Sail Trim: Theory and Practice

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Sail Performance

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Maximum Sail Power

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That’s about $99 worth of books and, frankly, a gift that keeps right on giving.

I also have these in my library and have found them informative and useful:

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And if you’re not interested in those books, I suspect you’d get plenty out of the North Sails book (which they’ll sell at the seminar for an additional $25.00 or so).

At any rate, they’ll be no more North U Sails seminars for this sailor.

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