75 years of innovation and performance
It has been a remarkable 75 years for UK Sailmakers – starting as a simple, one-man show that went on to become an international force in sailmaking. Come along with us for the ride and view our gallery below.
UK Sailmakers Celebrates our 75th Anniversary
By Adam Loory, January 30, 2021
If you asked any UK customer in 1946 when Charles “Buster” Ulmer opened the first Ulmer Sails loft in City Island, NY, you would have heard our customers crow about our fast cotton sails, our desire to transition into synthetic sails, and the top-notch service Buster and his fellow sailmakers provided their customers.
Fast forward 25 years to 1971 and you’ll find Buster’s son, Butch, running his dad’s business. Dacron had replaced cotton in the 50s, laminates were becoming the new fad, UK was innovative when we introduced the first loadpath sails (Tape-Drive®); and, yes, the customers were still talking about the professional service they were receiving from UK.
Today, another 50 years later, UK Sailmakers celebrates our diamond anniversary. A new generation of sailmakers has grown UK Sailmakers into an international network of nearly 50 lofts. X-Drive® has replaced Tape-Drive®, grand-prix sailors are using UK’s Titanium loadpath sails, and computer aided design and assessment technologies have allowed UK Sailmakers to continue to thrive while other lofts have closed their doors. Oh yeah, the exceptional customer service continues to be one of the foundations of the company.
Not many companies last 75 years, but UK Sailmakers has. You can celebrate our anniversary, too. We’re going to let you join us on a number of walks down Memory Lane. Throughout the year there will be features on the people who made UK Sailmakers what it is today.
We’ll recount how UK transitioned from cotton canvas sails all the way to today’s high-tech membrane carbon-fiber sails. Look for stories about what it was like to make sails pre-computer design and cutters, and we’ll walk you through the pathway from Ulmer Sails to Ulmer/Kolius to UK Sailmakers to UK-Halsey Sailmakers and then back to UK Sailmakers. Finally, there are apt to be a number of, shall we say, amusing tales that will come from our own proprietary archive of sea stores (aka Butch).
Enjoy the stories we’ll share and, if you have an anecdote about UK or one of the many legends that once called UK Sailmakers home, share them with us by emailing us.
Charles “Buster” Ulmer sitting along with Charles “Butch” Ulmer standing left and his brother-in-law Chuck Wiley. This photo was taken in 1967 at the original loft on City Island in New York.
What does it take to become the oldest group of sailmakers in the USA?
First, you need to have always designed and made fast, durable sails. Then, you had to strive to be innovative year-after-year. Finally, the thread that binds it all together, you have had to provide your customers exceptional, professional service.
A look back at some of the milestones, people and events that helped build UK Sailmakers’ international reputation.