Sourcing the right gear for your team and your boat can be tricky business. Proper experience can dictate the difference between an excellent choice and a poor finish on a racecourse or a lackluster cruising experience. Therefore, choosing the right chandlery quickly becomes as important as the equipment itself. But what happens if you’re foggy about what you need, if English isn’t your strongest language, or if you simply need a bit of hand holding through a tough decision? Thankfully, Mauri Pro Sailing, the Dallas, Texas-based brainchild chandlery started by South American sailing legend Juan Mauri, is there to help.
Mauri Pro Sailing is comprised of dedicated and passionate multi-national sailors who can assist you in finding the right crew gear, arranging your deck hardware for all types of sailing, and virtually anything in between. You can even talk online with the consultants to help them understand your needs so that they may provide you with the correct solution, at guaranteed best prices. And all in five—soon to be six—languages, no less!
Just how the online chandlery came in to being and why it's based in Texas is an interesting story.
Juan is Peruvian by birth, which is not a country that most people necessarily connect with sailing, but, as Juan says, 'We must have done something right because our Optimist team is really strong. We just won the Worlds and finished second in the Team Racing. It was a Peruvian youngster [Sinclair Jones] who won the last World Championships.' By way of reference, Peru has just 150 Opti sailors. Juan moved to the United States in 1999 to work for Doyle Sails as a consultant , first in Tampa, and then in their new Buffalo loft, which he managed. 'So Peru was not always big in racing and team racing, but it has become an important sport now. I started in the late 70's sailing Sunfish. From there, we used to have a class in Peru called the Windmill, which is similar to a Snipe, and we sailed these off the coast of Lima. It rolled into J/24s in the early '80s and IMS keelboats, as there were no Lasers in Peru until the mid '90s. That's when I started racing the Laser and definitely had a lot of fun,' he added.
After learning about online sales, both from his work with Doyle and from his cottage industry job of importing Peruvian handicrafts to the U.S., which he ran with his wife, the wheels began to turn. Why not open an Internet sailing business? After an experience outfitting a 35-footer, he also realized that helping people properly set up their boat—already a passion of his—could also be good business. In October of 2003 he opened Mauri Pro Sailing in Dallas, Texas.
By basing his company in Dallas, he and his employees could sail year round and easily travel to regattas throughout North and South America. Plus, being based in Dallas means that Juan gets to sail on the giant Texoma Lake, north of Dallas, one of the country’s biggest man-made reservoirs. 'Lake Texoma is big enough for overnight cruises and there is an active racing program, with windward-leeward races and Point A to Point B regattas,' says Mauri. And thanks to easy access to the Dallas Forth Worth International Airport, Juan and his sailing team (his friends and employees) are just two hours from any North American sailing destination, and just six hours from most of South America’s sailing locales. 'As a sailing team, each year we travel at least 10 times outside our area (within the USA or overseas) to race or cruise; each [trip] is a new opportunity to meet customers, share experiences and to test products,' reports Juan.
Intimately understanding the products they sell is vital to their business plan, explains Juan. ‘The main difference between our online business and other operations is that we actively work with both racers and cruisers. What we did from Day One was to appeal to mostly the small-to-medium-size keelboat owner, from a J/22 up to a Beneteau 40 or 45 footer.' The Mauri Pro Sailing team is keen to talk with other sailors about sail trim, deck layouts, racing techniques and more and this all stems from Juan's passion for sailing and his background in industrial design.
Any good organization is more than just one person, and Mauri has created a multi-national team that has years of experience with trimming systems, sail and rig tune, deck layouts, managing racing campaigns and plotting sensational cruising adventures. Plus, they are now also building their own line of sails, which Juan Mauri and his crew used to win this year’s Hobie 33 Nationals. They also use and test the gear they sell on the boats they sail, and they sail on waters that are no doubt similar to your own. In short, these guys are experts who are constantly out there, refining, testing, refining some more and pushing the limits of racing and cruising gear. If a piece of a gear has a weak spot, they know about it; conversely, if there’s a piece of gear that will advance a customer’s sailing game, they’re happy to offer advice. 'If you have a problem selecting items, we will [even] select them for you. That service has always been free,' says Mauri.
'We have a number of boats (within our crew and staff) that we use to test products at different levels,' says Juan with a smile. 'We have a Farr 39 ML (IMS/PHRF/IRC racing), a Henderson 30 (Sportsboat and PHRF racing), a Hobie 33 (One Design and PHRF mid-size boat), a J/24 (One Design Racing / Small keelboat gear testing platform) and three Hobie 18’s, which are great for testing multihull gear. We have two Sunfish for dinghy racing and dinghy gear, and at the opposite end [of the spectrum we have] two Hunter 35.5's — we use these to test cruising gear, furlers and coastal cruise gear.'
The Mauri Pro Sailing team are available for their clients throughout the buying process to provide information on any and every aspect of the equipment that they sell, allowing you to buy with confidence and receive support as you set about achieving your sailing goals and dreams, no matter where the location of scale of your ambition. 'Right now we’re working on getting a Viper 640 to be able to stay on top of the new small sportboat trend.'
The sailing team also competes regularly and has racked up many wins and podium finishes in the kind of boats they help their clients modify and maintain. 'Weekend or occasional racers and coastal cruisers comprise the largest number of vessels in the U.S., and what we tried to do from the beginning was to be their source of information. We found that everybody was having trouble trying to decide which was the best part for his or her boat,' says Juan. 'We've focused on building a website that provides an easy-to-use selection guide. What we have set up is a team that will provide technical information to anybody, regardless of if you’re buying from us or not,' he proudly added.
Expansion and development of technology has allowed this passionate group of international sailors to use their experience to provide the most germane information to help all kinds of sailors select the right sailing equipment and hardware for their boat and needs, anywhere in entire world, all with the highest standard of customer service. 'We live by the motto that ‘we share your passion for sailing,’' says Mauri. At Mauri Pro Sailing, customer service isn’t just a pat line that’s easily rattled off at opportune moments, but rather a genuine core value that reflects what this company is all about. For example, Juan Mauri himself is available to his customers via email (juanmauri(at)mauriprosailing.com) or by phone (1-817-224 -2209). 'Better still,' advises Juani, is to 'contact us through the live chat on the website. More and more customers are using [this] system.'
For non-English speakers, Mauri Pro Sailing offers something that few chandleries can boast: multilingual communications. 'If you talk to me slowly in Portuguese, I will understand,' jokes Mauri, 'but we also have within our group Spanish, English, Italian and French speakers. One of our members is continuing his German studies, so that will eventually make six languages that our helpful team can speak. If you go to the Mauri Pro Sailing website contacts page (www.mauriprosailing.com/contactus.htm
), it indicates all the languages spoken. Plus, you can always email them in your own language and you will get a prompt reply from a savvy sailor who speaks your language.
It’s not just North and South American customers who have benefited from this multi-lingual organization’s pursuit of customer satisfaction. 'Our customers come from everywhere — the Americas, Britain and Continental Europe to Australia and New Zealand. We’re finding that customers in Asia are using English to make contact with us. I think language really is the key to establishing a great relationship with our customers', says Mauri, adding that, 'the live chat is one of the main ways [that] we help our global customers, because it allows us to extend our ‘opening' hours. We then work 14 hours [a day] but it’s all part of our customer-service promise.'
Global interactions are what Mauri Pro Sailing is all about. 'A typical example of one of these global interactions will be a client who has a Beneteau 36.7 and wants to upgrade their general lead guards, or a client who buys a 36-footer that was a cruising boat but they want to do something with it, so that they can also race the boat,' said Juan. 'We’ll work with them, trying to put together a proper mainsheet system, or [maybe] we fit a spinnaker pole and gybing system. We were never going to be a store that just sells parts, but rather really become a source of information and assistance to help our clients pick up the right parts [to] solve their issues.'
Thanks to the powers of the Internet, geography quickly becomes an academic concern. 'Even if we’re on the opposite sides of the planet, we can still help you. We’ll be there [to help you]. If you can send us an image of your boat we can say, ‘this is what needs to be upgraded’,' says Juani. Even better, apply a little technology to the problem, via Mauri Sailing Pro’s live chat function on their website. This technology is particularly valuable to Mauri Pro Sailing’s commitment to world-class customer service. 'Our chat [program] has a ‘share-screen facility’ that allows both parties to have the 'same hymn sheet' [in front of them], so to speak,' says Mauri. 'Furthermore, we can even highlight the information or the item on a screen, during a chat session, if you can't find what you're looking for in the technical section. [And] we can of course also email detailed graphics.'
Websites, like any tool, take a lot of planning and maintenance. If you are going to be committed to your customers and effectively have a 24/7 operating-hours policy, then the management of the technology, which provides that service, becomes of paramount importance. 'I don't know why people still think setting up your own website is easy — it's a nightmare!' says Juan. But once it’s properly organized, as Mauri Pro Sailing always is, it becomes a tool that allows business to happen at any hour of any day, irrespective of time zones or currencies. 'On the next version of the website, which we’re going to launch by the end of the year, you’ll be able to easily search for things on your computer or your iPhone. Also we’re improving our search [engine] within the website. We’ve always insisted that the website [must be] user friendly, as it’s frustrating for any boat owner when they cannot find the [right] parts, [just] because the website isn’t clear. I think these latest developments are really going to help our valued customers and new prospective clients alike.'
So, the next time you need sailing gear — or just sage council on how to set up that Genoa lead or how to best dip gybe your pole, try contacting Mauri Pro Sailing. Chances are spot-on that they have encountered your query before, either from their impressive list of past customers, or through their own on-the-water trial and error. And if English isn’t your thing, there’s no better chandlery in the U.S. — or the world — to turn to. Add up Mauri Pro Sailing’s impressive win list, their busy regatta schedule, their years of customer service, their language skills and their inventory of some of the best sailing products on Planet Earth and it quickly becomes obvious that this business is in a class of their own.
You can also reach and follow Mauri Pro Sailing via Facebook, Twitter and their blogsite, all of which are accessible from their website, http://www.mauriprosailing.com
The final word from Juan. ‘Mauri Pro Sailing is not just selling parts - we are providing solutions.’