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5 questions with… Dave Ridley - Hall Spars

5 questions with… Dave Ridley

5 Q DAVE RIDLEY V2Having worked at Hall Spars on and off for over 25 years and with decades of experience sailing professionally, it is fair to say that Managing Director NZ Dave Ridley knows his way around a yacht.

Boats have always been a huge part of Dave’s life, as Dave spent his childhood on his parents yacht as they raced their cruising boat around Auckland. Finally, when he was 18 he was able to forge a sailing path for himself, taking up dinghy sailing and starting on the road to the 2000 Olympics.

Although the Olympics was not meant to be, Dave did not give up on his dream, and headed to America to sail full time for the next five years competing in the Farr 40 and TP52 circuits alongside the world match racing tour. While working mainly as a rig running mainsail trimmer his focus was on optimum boat speed and feel. During this time, long distance off shore racing became a large part of Dave’s life and he made many lifelong friends and had great ocean adventures whilst setting ocean race records. On his return to New Zealand, Dave concentrated on Etchell sailing, where he excelled once again, winning five national championships with his team and achieved 2nd in the Perth World Championships on their first attempt.

Nowadays the Etchell has been replaced with Laser sailing, with Dave competing in the apprentice master’s division. Despite only have been sailing lasers again for 2 years, he already holds many regatta titles including winning the Apprentice Master World Championships of 2019 on his first attempt.

We sit down with Dave to find out a bit more about Hall Spars, the Oceanfurl range and what he thinks of the upcoming 40 year anniversary.

What is it that Hall Spars offers that no other spar maker does?

Our technology is what sets us apart. At Hall Spars, we offer high performance and high-quality seamless carbon products, which have been prepreg autoclaved in our facilities. The Hall Spars seamless technology gives the lightest possible tube for a given weight with no joins or cutting of the off axis fibres. When a customer come to us, they also get a custom spar package designed especially for their boat.

Our dedicated project managers with years of experience, as well as the passionate sailors amongst us, also set us apart from others. Our team is completely committed to creating a client’s wishes and developing an optimized package whether it be the best low maintenance cruising mast or a high performing racing mast.

You have worked closely on the Oceanfurl range in New Zealand, what advantages does this product give to the customer?

The Oceanfurl furling boom range is a premium furling boom range that is made of the highest quality and materials. The booms are made with pre-preg carbon fibre and a honeycomb Nomex core. There are three main products, our legend range which is our newest and aimed at boats in the 50-70ft range depending on loads and sail plan. It is a highly innovative boom with the removal of the solid-state shelf. In the standard Oceanfurl range we offer both open and closed front options where the closed front booms are lighter and protect the luff tape of the sail better but the open front booms have a sleeker look and gives the ability for the sailor to see the sail roll at a glance. The booms are highly customizable to the client’s needs, all take deep reef positions and come in manual, hydraulic and electronic power furling options. Their simplicity is also the key to the client’s long-term enjoyment of using the Oceanfurl boom with little maintenance and ease of use. 

How does having facilities in both New Zealand and Europe help our customer base? 

We are one of the strongest global Spar makers left, with two major manufacturing locations along with support sites in strategic locations, enabling us to serve all of our customers in their local time zone. Both of our major locations share the same engineering and tooling capabilities so we can produce the same products when required. This is great if the clients require a replacement part or even a mast tube if it has been damaged in shipping, allowing us to give greater and faster support when needed and get our customers back on the water as soon as possible.

We have very talented and experienced engineers across the globe and we can cross reference hundreds of projects and use specialized design tools to ensure the designs are right first time. We have composite, structural, layout and systems specialists in our design team as well as naval architects. Such a variety of skill and experience really ensures that the owners get the best possible product.

What does the future hold for Hall Spars over the coming year?

We have a challenging time ahead of us all in the coming year, both at work and at home and I hope as many people are as safe as possible while working together to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. At work we have many great clients with projects in build and soon to be built. One of my joys in the industry is assembling not just the mast but a boat package that has a real synergy. We work together with the owner, the boat yards, sailmakers and the boats crew to put together a piece of art that they are going to really enjoy for a long time. Going sailing with them is an amazing feeling and I am always overjoyed for the clients as they have worked hard to get a boat of their dreams so they can enjoy the sailing life as I do.

What would you attribute to Hall Spars’ 40 years success? 

The support we have received from our customers time and again over the years has really cemented long term relationships and our overall success. We are incredibly grateful to our customers and friends who have looked to us for simplicity, reliability and proven performance. It is an honour to provide a stable, safe solution for their lifestyle investment.

Hall Spars is an inclusive team that includes our customers and we work tirelessly to improve our performance and advance our craft.

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