2010, end of Oct., Sri Lanka: Kai Hopf (NorthSails sail designer) and Raoul Joa (NorthSails product manager) are traveling to Sri Lanka to visit the NorthSails Windsurfing sail manufacture. During this time they are also invited to visit the North Sails Yachting factory where the 3DL and 3Di Yachting sails are manufactured. There they get in depth information about the process, advatanges and possibilities 3Di offers. Being blown away by the technology and its advatages they take the opportunity to discuss the possibility of producing Windsurfing sails using 3Di technology with the North Sails Yachting top managers. Since the technology is so new unfortunately there is not enough capacity for Windsurfing yet.


2012, end of Feb., Minden, USA: On his way back from Maui Raoul is visiting the North Sails Yachting factory in Minden, Nevada where the 3DL and 3Di technologies are developed.

Here are some impressions to understand this insane technology:

5_tpt_tapes_are_being_put_onto_hydrolic_mould_b_multiple_tpt_layers_applied_by_cnc_machine_onto_flat_mould.jpg 6_full_sail_body_on_flat_mould_incl_vacuum_bag_before_hydrolic_generating_its_final_3d_shape.jpg 7_heating_up_the_3d_mould_to_activate_resin.jpg 8_mould_after_hydrocil_generating_3d_shape1.jpg 8_mould_after_hydrocil_generating_3d_shape2.jpg
multiple TPT layers are applied by a CNC-machine onto a flat table the finished sail body is put on a flat mould (incl. vacuum-bag) before the hydrolics generate the final 3D-shape heating up the 3D-mould to activate the resin mould after the pneumatics have generated the 3D-flying-shape

Also have a look at these videos 



2013 to 2015: Kai, Raoul and the North Yachting guys are continuing to discuss the 3Di Windsurf project.


2015, Dec.: Finally we get the go to get the project started. 


2016, Jan. to May, Maui: Since North Sails Yachting has developed their own (code based) software to design the 3Di sails, Kai has to learn this software from scratch.


2016, mid of May, Maui: the first 3Di body proto arrives at Kai’s sail loft. Kai puts a window in (since in contrary to Yachting sails visibility is essential for a Windsurfing sail:-). Since even the batten pockets and all reinforcements are laminated into the body the only thing left is to attach a mast sleeve, tack roller and clew eyelet. Finally on May 20 the first 3Di Windsurfing sail is born. 



2016, June 20, Klitmoeller, Denmark: first test session and report from Klaas Voget on the first 3Di proto.



2016, June 29, Tarifa, Spain: Raoul presents the 3Di technology to the NorthSails importers.



2016, end of June to end of July, Maui >> Minden >> Maui: Kai shuttles back and forth between Maui and Minden to coordinate with the 3Di specialists.


2016, Aug. 01 to Sept. 15, Le Morne, Mauritius: the first 3Di proto sail gets a first “long-term” test for 6 weeks to see durability in waves and against abrasion and UV. After 6 weeks of daily use the sail looks as if it would be new. This is no surprise to the North 3Di guys though: "If you look at the sails used for the Volvo Ocean race for instance. The main-sail had 3.500h of use. If you use your Windsurf sail 8h a week for 6 months of the year it would take you 16 years to put as many hours on your sail..."



2016, mid of Sept., Lake Garda, Italy: Kai and the complete NorthSails R&D and test team spend a week in Garda to test new race sails and the two latest 3Di protos. 

3di_lake_garda1.jpg 3di_lake_garda2.jpg 3di_lake_garda3.jpg 3di_lake_garda4.jpg


2016, end of Sept., Lausanne, Switzerland: On their way back from Garda Kai and Raoul are visiting the North TPT factory in Lausanne, where the raw materials for the 3Di sails are developed.


2016, beg. of Oct., Munich, Germany: the optic design briefing gets send out to the graphic agency. The goal is to create a completely outstanding and unique look to match this unparalleled technology.


2016, Oct. 25, Minden: Raoul receives an email from Gautier Sergent (North Sails 3D General Manager) explaining the difference between 2D and 3D sails.



2016, Oct. 26-28: Raoul and Alex Hasch (NorthSails Sales and Marketing) are visiting the World Cup in La Tourche. Since Klaas and Victor are there with latest 3Di protos everyone is hammering them for interviews about this revolutionary technology. Have a look:





2016, beg. of Nov., Maui: Victor and Klaas are testing the latest 3Di protos on Maui against our production Hero with some unbelievable results:

"Victor:... was very impressed how light both felt, how easy they load in light wind to get onto the wave and how responsive it is from one turn to another... I was able to hold the sail longer when the wind got stronger than on production sail and it was so easy to get on the wave too."

"Klaas:... One thing is sure, you can really feel the weight difference when riding the wave. Everything feels just more free, light and responsive...It's a pleasure to ride in light winds, it's good for floating around and catching waves. On the wave the sail is super responsive and light."

3di_testing_maui_nov_16_1.jpg 3di_testing_maui_nov_16_2.jpg 3di_testing_maui_nov_16_3.jpg 3di_testing_maui_nov_16_4.jpg
photo credit: Sofie Louca

2017, mid of March: New proto tested by Victor @ Hookipa (filmed by K. Pritchard)

Slow Mo - Hookipa from Víctor Fernández on Vimeo.


Built to last?

Since we are missing long-term durability experiences with 3Di in Windsurfing yet we need to rely on the experiences from the Yachting world.

There is a very interesting article on sailingworld.com. Here are some excerpts:

"With much discussion of late regarding equipment and hull failures in the Volvo Ocean Race’s fleet of VO70s, one point of discussion not making the rounds is the sails. Whereas in the previous edition it seemed sewing machines were clattering away across the fleet the entire race, mending delaminating mainsails and piecing together shredded reaching sails. For the most part, onboard sail lofts have been quiet this time around."

"This is a story that needs to be told. With my North Sails hat off, speaking strictly from a sailor and customer’s point of view, 3Di is a bigger breakthrough than when 3DL came along. It’s unbelievable how solid these things are. It’s incredible."

"Going the 3Di route was a bit of a flyer, but last time with the film sails, the films broke down too quickly. With only 17 sails allowed for the entire race, we felt we had to take the chance that durability would play a bigger role in this race"

"Our first mainsail has so many high-load, upwind miles, and it’s been swimming in the middle of the North Atlantic, but we’re still perfectly happy to use it. There are no signs of major shape changes or manufacturing issues."

"Re-cutting is a big part getting a sail through an entire race, and especially important with the limited inventory; are these sails easy to nip and tuck? 

Unlike film sails, you can put a band-aid over any re-cut, sew the edges, and you’re ready to go. Our first main has had three re-cuts—minor shape changes and tweaks, and has not had any more than a half-millimeter of shape creep. The material lends itself to keep making the sail better. That’s long-term durability. For the average sailor I could see it almost like your car—how you bring it in at a certain mileage for service. With these sails, a winter nip and tuck is all you’ll need to get another season out of it."

"But isn’t that a bad thing for North . . . forced obsolescence and all?

No doubt about it. This could make North Sails less money. I’m their biggest customer in North America, and as their best customer I see 3Di as the biggest value we’ve ever had. We didn’t even build our pre-race sails that we could have built; we just ran out of things to try because the sails simply lasted too long."

"Easy to repair at sea?

We bring 300-millimeter-wide bands of the stuff. After the J2 split in half it was up and flying 24 hours later with a massive band across the split."

"And what about chafe?

One interesting part of the 3Di process is that the patches and batten pockets are internal, and as long as the [Dyneema] chafe patches are lined up correctly, we’ve had no problems."

"It boils down to one simple thing: value. It’s probably not good for North Sails that the sails last as long as they do, but the irony is that sailmaking companies have always harped durability, when in fact, sails have never been close to being durable enough. Sails are expensive, and they should last longer. It’s been a real eye opener for all of us. We all kind of wished for something like this, and sure enough, it’s been a very pleasant surprise."

All in all this sounds very promising.