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Sailing industry expanding into China

by Julie Sharpe on 28 Feb 2007
Doyle Sails Qingdao Doyle Sailmakers
For the last two years the Doyle Sail Making group has been working quietly to expand into China. In March 2007 Doyle Australia is opening its new Doyle loft in China in Qingdao, the site of the 2008 Olympic regatta.

China has more than 20 million millionaires, and already has one of the fastest growing building boat industries in the world. The powerboat industry is booming and although sailing will be much smaller, the giant population still means that China could become the largest sailing country in the world.

The 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean race looks set to have two stopovers in China and this reinforces what the sailing industry already knows... China offers enormous potential for growth in the sport of sailing.

Within China the interest in China Team’s first steps towards the America’s Cup, and in fact all Chinese sailing on the international scene, has been huge. The Chinese interest in Ellen MacArthur’s whistle stop tour, in the Clipper event, China’s Olympic team for Qingdao and in the future in the Volvo Ocean race, will continue to expand the general population’s interest in the sport.

Obviously China is the manufacturing power house and major marine industry companies have been investing there. New Zealander Neil Pryde was a pioneer and now McConaghy International, the Australian high tech race boat builder, is building winning boats in China. Many international marine companies are preparing to follow these pioneers footsteps in the Schezen industrial area in southern China, near Hong Kong. However Doyle Sails are locating in Qingdao, an obvious centre of sailing activity now and in the future.

New Zealand born Mark Fullerton was 11 years with the Doyle Fraser group and was heavily involved with the development of the D4 sailing making system, now owned by Dimension Polyant.

Fullerton, along with Service Loft manager John Hearne and Steve Hewitt, the DF production manager, purchased the Doyle Australia sail loft in 2004, in a management buy out.

Fullerton commented ‘We’ve been looking at the China scene since 2004. It’s a natural step. Australia and New Zealand has a population of 25 million between them, Asia has more than two and half billion and sailing is rapidly increasing its profile.

‘We recognised that with the heavy investment from the seaport city of Qingdao ahead of the 2008 Olympic regatta, it was a logical place for Doyle to set up a major sail-making facility.

Fullerton is leading the Qingdao team.

‘John Hearne rode point for us. We set up a service facility for the 2005 Clipper Ventures stop-over in Qingdao and the 2006 Olympic Test event and we will be in the Olympic Village as the service loft in 2007 and 2008. Now I’m in Qingdao at our new facility.

‘Our Qingdao facility is a brand new building with an area of 2,220 square meters (24,000 sq feet) out of which 1500 Sq Meters (16,100 sq feet) is solely for production. The rest is made up of offices, living areas and a dining hall. We have completed the loft floor and we are installing the machinery.

‘High volume offshore manufacturing is not a new idea to the Sailing Making industry.

‘Around the world, the same trend is occurring. The lofts in the sailing areas are outsourcing their manufacturing to high volume lofts in China, Thailand and Sri Lanka. This allows the myriad of small lofts to get their people out on the water and they end up selling more new sails than they would have been able to otherwise.

‘We will be very competitive against the current Asian produced products but we have the advantage of being a one hundred percent Doyle Product.

‘Because the Doyle group lofts are all using SailPack design software, we can deliver sails from Qingdao to other Doyle lofts around the world.

‘The design work for our Asian loft is going to be done here in Australia, by the same team who design all our racing sails. The technology and design filters down.

‘Using our designs and our production standards and importing the same cloths we do here, as we will do there, we pick up the advantage and produce the better workmanship.’

Steve Hewitt runs the Doyle Australia production. ‘With two major production facilities, this will be a major expansion for us overall and that provides major opportunities.

‘In Australia the employment rate is at a record high and we are struggling to find sail makers and machinist and that has been blocking our growth. One of the big advantages we will have in Qingdao is the large pool of experienced textile machinists.

‘This expansion of the Doyle Australia network will allow us to customise our 1000 sq Meter (10,800 sq feet) loft in Somersby towards larger sails, very much specialising in Grand Prix sails. We have the option of the Doyle Stratis product or the well known D4 Product, because we are just up the road from the Dimension Polyant D4 facility.

‘Recently we have completed three sails for the 100 foot super maxi 'Skandia', including a Square top main with a massive four-meter head, three sails for a Dubois 106 and numerous sails for 70 and 80 footers. The Skandia sails are a very distinctive blue colour which looks outstanding on the water.

‘This, along with the service loft in Rushcutters Bay across the road from the CYCA, will give Doyle Australia three lofts totaling 3700 Sq Meters (40,000 Sq Feet) in strategic locations, to service any requirements.

Fullerton summarises. ‘‘For us, our Grandprix and other large boat sails will come out of Somersby and our One Design sails, Club sails and international Doyle Sails will come out of Qingdao.

Contact details-.

Sydney Loft: +612-93614836 john.hearne@doyleaustralia.com

Somersby Loft: +61243404766 steve.hewitt@doyleaustralia.com

Doyle Sails Qingdao: +86 532 8658 6126
mark.fullerton@doyleaustralia.com

www.doyleaustralia.com
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