Janet Doyle: The lady behind the legend. 

This year as Doyle Sails celebrates forty years of sailmaking excellence; we look back to the humble Massachusetts beginnings. When Robbie Doyle founded Doyle Sails in 1982 – he couldn’t have done it without his leading lady, Janet. 

Robbie and Janet met as teenagers, racing in their local junior sailing program in Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA – Robbie sailed with his brother, and Janet raced with her sister. At 18, they started dating and married in 1973 when they were 23 years old. Together the pair raced Interclub dinghies (during the cold winters), 470’s, Etchells, and Tempests amongst an array of other boats. 

In 1977, Janet put her competitive sailing aside to focus on their new family and was soon a busy mother of three to Tyler, Ethan and Jen. In the summer of 1982, Robbie decided to leave Hood Sailmakers and begin his journey as ‘Doyle’ Sailmakers. Janet nurtured their young family full time while Robbie nurtured a growing sail making business. Janet’s support allowed Robbie to dedicate his full attention to the company. 

The Doyle’s: August 1983 after finishing the Pan Am Clipper Cup in Hawaii, Janet and Robbie, Taylor is 6 years old, Ethan is 4 years old and Jenny is 6months.

Amid the 1990 economic downturn that swept across America, Janet started working at Doyle Sailmakers. It was the only time Robbie and Janet had ever had to let some of their team go, and Janet was brought in to be not only Robbie’s assistant but take on the several other positions that had been eliminated. 

“I did whatever needed to be done on the administrative end of the business. Robbie and I have different skill sets that have allowed us to work easily with each other for over 30 years. He had the vision, and I was the support system,” says Janet, “I didn’t have or need a title to be a partner in the business.” 

Janet says, “Robbie is a risk taker”, living life on the edge, whereas Janet prefers security and steadiness. They have nurtured children who share Robbie’s thirst for excellence, his love of taking on what hasn’t been done before and his risk-taking nature – whereas their people skills and empathy are a credit to Janet. 

The duo have worked together for nearly forty years, forming a formidable partnership across many incredible projects. True to Robbie’s nature, once a project was complete and finished, there was never any downtime before the next task began. Janet likens their journey to one of the most well recognized Disney quotes “it takes people to make dreams a reality”. Janet and Robbie made people’s dreams a reality through hard work and science, and as a result, we met some incredibly successful, talented and interesting people over many years.”

When asked if there was a defining moment of the company, Janet answers, “I struggle to think of specific defining moments of the company as there were many. With Robbie’s science and engineering background and our oldest son, Tyler’s, degrees in mechanical engineering, Doyle Sailmakers successfully stayed at the forefront of the technology of sailmaking and yacht design. They had many inventions that contributed to improving the evolution of sailmaking and taking it from an art to a science.” 

Robbie Doyle says he didn’t start Doyle Sailmakers because the world needed another sailmaker, but because he honestly believed that the art of designing, producing and servicing sails could be done better, and he was right.

ABOUT DOYLE SAILS // 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 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 and reimagine sailing.

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

THIS IS 40 // Doyle Sails is proud to be ahead of the fleet after 40 years of sailmaking, with the innovation in Structured Luff technology and Stratis developing continually. This year we are highlighting events, people and projects which have led us to the forefront of sailmaking throughout the world, telling stories to inspire the youth and bring memories of races gone by to our long-standing customers.

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