The hills are alive with the sound of sailboats in Austria's Salzkammergut resort region or "Lake District" where the Doyle Sails Austria loft calls home.
Situated within the state of Salzburg, a region whose beauty was made universally famous in the 1965-film "The Sound of Music," the Salzburg region in its entirety has both the gorgeous scenery and anchorages that draw recreational sailors to it, but it is also renowned for its very active regatta circuit that includes European and Austrian championship events each year.
Located on the shores of Lake Wolfgansee, where the Raudaschl family has been for generations, the Doyle Austria loft services the more than 30 lakes including the Atter, Traun, Mond, Wolfgangsee (Aber), and Hallstätter. The Raudaschl family is a big part of its stellar sailing reputation and continued growth as a top sailing region.
Hubert Raudaschl is a ten-time Olympian sailor whose illustrious career includes a silver medal both in the 1980 and 1996 Summer Olympics. A Finn world champion as well, competitive sailing runs in the family. Hubert competed in the 1976 Summer Olympics with his brother Walter while son Florian is a European and National champion in different one design classes and 2012 Olympian who competed in the London Olympics against top competitors including Sir Ben Ainslie of Great Britain who took the gold medal.
"We are well-known here and although my father, Hubert founded the sail loft in St. Wolfgang, my grandfather before him was building boats for the fishing and sailing fleets in this region," says Florian Raudaschl, 41 who runs the Doyle Austria loft. "We are able to really excel here in the lakes regions and that is in part because of my family's reputation in sailing and sailmaking. I not only apprenticed here as a young person and have now taken over the loft from my father, but many of our employees have grown up in this region and have worked here for a long time. We have a small but highly-skilled staff."
With over 50 years of experience in sailmaking, Doyle Austria is not only the leading sailmaker in Austria but serves as the main partner when it comes to fitting out whether it is sails, ropework or rigging.
"As a small country with no direct access to an ocean, our Austrian market is unique. We focus on one design markets, small lake cruisers and day sailors. But, all of our sailors, whether competing or cruising, have very high standards and want fast, cutting-edge sails to race and cruise with. We are able to really excel here in the lakes regions and that is in part because of my family's reputation in sailing and sailmaking."
The Austrian market has its peculiarities because of its location in what is referred to here as middle Europe. The output of sails for bigger yachts is part of the business but does not really reach the same level of the one design market here and the number of small lake cruisers and day sailors. The expertise here for small boat sailors is incomparable.
"We have a rather big range of one design products with a very good track record," Florian says. "Also, our in-house sailing school offers a wide range of sail boats, from our foiling dinghy Skeeta to smaller keel boats for beginners to racing keelboats with gennakers for race training."
With the sailing season now in full swing in Europe, for the fifth year in a row, the Austrian Sailing League is fully equipped with Doyle sails this season. It is also notable that the Doyle Austria Finn sail and its team won the 2018 Masters Worlds where almost 400 boats competed. Most recently, Doyle teams placed 2nd and 3rd at the Shark 24 European championships. The 2019 season marks the 60th anniversary of this highly competitive class with Florian competing with owner Peter Schaefer and Nikolaus Lehner at the World Championships in Robel, Germany in October.
For cruising sailors, according to Florian, "our customers still want high performance sails. It is an interesting region here in the lakes and speed, performance and innovation are appreciated and are expected of us." Additionally, Florian notes that the sails are not only designed for relaxing day trips but are also fast enough to win the Friday afternoon club-regatta thanks to the excellent handling and exceptional build quality.
As the main supplier of Sails for Sunbeam, Doyle Austria is also working closely with them to build sails so that the boat might achieve both the luxury and performance a cruising sailboat. "We are proud to say that the new Sunbeam 46.1 is European's Yacht of the Year in the Category Luxury Cruiser. The Jury found the outstanding sailing qualities were beyond the competing boats."
Further, this year Doyle Austria is working together with the upper Austrian sailing federation to provide all optimists of the upper Austrian clubs (approx. 100 boats). "We think the new Doyle training sails will assure that the aspiring Austrian sailors have good quality to maybe start their new passion," say Florian. Doyle Austria also operates a sailing school that also offers customers the opportunity to analyze their set up on the water, as well as video to help with improvements.
For Florian, the summer is full of both sailmaking and competitive sailing but a particular favorite is Doyle Austria's partnership with the Classic Wooden boat regatta on Lake Wofgansee. "This is a classic event on our home lake," Florian said. "I look forward to sailing on the over 100-year old Sonderklasse "Cima"."
Further Doyle Austria will take part in the long distance Ufo 22 races which is part of a large club 'long distance' racing that is quite popular and is comparable to the famous Bol d'Or race.
"Although we do focus primarily on these lakes around us, there is an incredible amount of sailing going on here and it remains highly popular. We would of course like to be doing more on the ocean and offshore, but logistically and geographically, we do focus more on our lake sailors. We are in a region where we have so much going on that we feel we can excel here and see our sport grow and we are proud to be a part of that."