Doyle Sails apprenticeships providing a pathway to sailing success

For those that aspire to be professional sailors an apprenticeship in sailmaking is one of the best points of entry to consider and there are more opportunities than ever at Doyle Sails.

For Doyle Sails International CEO, Mike Sanderson, a sailmaking apprenticeship was the obvious route to reaching his career goals. “My aim in life was to be a professional sailor and I left King’s College early, having been on the shortlist for Head Boy, to start a sailmaking apprenticeship,” he says. “At the time it was quite a drastic move with my peers finishing school and going on to university. But I strongly believed that being 100% entrenched in sailing and sailmaking was the secret to success in the sailing world.”

It was a move that paid off. Sanderson worked as an apprentice until he landed his first pro sailing job on board NZ Endeavour in 1993. “That kick-started everything,” he remembers. The rest, as they say, is history with Sanderson forging a stellar career in sailing, going on to be named the youngest ever skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race and winner of the ISAF World Sailor the Year Award.

Unsurprisingly Sanderson is passionate about the value of sailing apprenticeships. “An apprenticeship sees you immerse yourself in the sailing world and gives you many opportunities to get on boats,” he explains. “Thinking about boats and the speed and handling of sails – which are the biggest singular component of what makes a boat go fast – is key, and sailmaking also gives you deeper insight into the boats, masts and rigging as well.

Tom Maidment part of the commissioning of the Botin 52 “Caro ” in Auckland

Doyle Sails New Zealand has the pleasure of welcoming upwards of ten new apprentices each year, some with the goal of making use of the sailmaking skill set to further their career in sailing as Mike did, others to join a profession of like-minded people, who often share a passion for the water.

For Tom Maidment, the choice to join Doyle Sails as an apprentice in 2019, was a decision that would open up considerable sailing opportunities both locally and internationally. Choosing to immerse himself at Doyle Sails and embrace the steep learning curve and high standards expected of someone working with high-performance sailing campaigns, Tom has worked hard to earn a position on some of Australasia’s most well-known yachts.

Three years on from beginning his apprenticeship with Doyle Sails, Tom is now a certified Sailmaker, working alongside project managers and designers to help deliver the best that Doyle Sails has to offer, while also spending a considerable time sailing in Australia with Doyle Sails expert Justin Ferris onboard Botin 52 Caro and RP69 MoneyPenny.

While overseas Tom has merged his skill set as a sailor and sailmaker, and can often be found on the bow of many race yachts while after racing to offer his services as a sailmaker to the team making running repairs and modifications during events.

“Having the skill set of a sailmaker has helped me a lot with progression as a sailor, and many teams enjoy having a sailmaker to do modifications to sails and repairs if needed during regattas.” says Tom “Doyle’s has many world class sailors working here who have helped me along the way with advice, and how to take my sailing to the next level”


ABOUT DOYLE SAILS // Around the world, Doyle Sails has over 500 sailmakers in 46 different locations, all equally passionate about sailing – living and breathing our ethos ’Global Leaders and Local Experts.’

As sailors, our obsession with sailing connects us to the water. The water is our playground, a sanctuary where we seek enjoyment, a competitive playing field where we race as competitors; it’s sometimes our home and always a place that unlocks our sense of adventure wherever that adventure might take us. Behind every adventure is a Doyle sailor who shares this same obsession as you. We put your journey at the very heart of what we do to deliver the ultimate enjoyment and performance, powering our constant need to push the boundaries in sail design and innovation, to reimagine sailing.

From dinghies, club racers and cruising yachts through to Grand Prix campaigns and Superyachts, we are your experts. Meet our team here.

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