The Flight Sails Story
The Flight Sails story, written by Motion Windsurf Magazine
The headquarters of Flight Sails are located in an industrial area in the south of Tenerife, about fifteen minutes away from the windsurfing capital of El Médano.
Next to a Nissan dealer and opposite ‘Discoteca XITIO’ is the loft where Bart David, Bjørn De Vos and designer José Fernandez work on their sails. Half of the space in the loft is taken up by a huge table with three sewing machines on it. On the floor sits a plotter, in the corner a desk with two computer screens.
As designer José enthusiastically shows his equipment, Bart talks – in his thick Flemish accent – about how Flight Sails came about two years ago ‘after a few pints at the beach’. ‘Flight Sails is actually a hobby project that got out of control. We were chatting and I asked José if he could make a windsurfing sail. A month later he called me in to check the first prototype on the computer.’
From there the development went on.
Using a highly sophisticated computer program also used for the design of America’s Cup yachting sails, José designed the first sail. The three of them then had the first prototype built in China. Bjørn: ‘We agreed that if the prototype would be half as good or better than we expected, we’d continue with the project.’ Even though the first sail was completely red – no window, through a communication error with the factory – it worked pretty good. Bart: ‘It was perhaps a little antisocial on the water because you couldn’t really see what was happening in front of you, but it felt good. And besides that we just had so much fun making it, so we decided to carry on.’
Pretty soon after that a second prototype was made, this time manufactured in Sri Lanka. Bjørn: ‘That second proto was unbelievably good. The sail worked, it looked good, why wouldn’t people be interested in this, we thought.’ On the computer screen the 3D design of the Zorro, Flight’s four batten wave sail pops up. Bjørn continues: ‘At the start of 2015 things began to get a bit more serious. We saw that we had a product that is sellable. The question now was how to commercialize it.’
The philosophy of Flight Sails is simple: the best design, with the best materials at an affordable price. Bjørn: ‘We use a very strong and lightweight sailcloth, carbon stabilizer strips and square battens, making the sails very stable.’ Bart: ‘And strong too eh! That’s the first thing I said, I don’t want the mast sleeve to tear when I go on the rocks.’ To ensure this price/quality ratio the brand has chosen to sell direct via their own website.
With Dany Bruch on the team – partly paid for in kind – the development of the sails as well as the promotion will be taken to a higher level. The range will soon be complemented by both a three batten and a five batten wave sail, and other types of sails may well be introduced in the future. Bjørn: ‘We will definitely grow the business, but it is certainly not the intention to become the next NeilPryde or Severne. The idea is to have fun, design good sails and make customers happy. And, of course, we’d like to see some money coming in.’ Bart: ‘The most important thing is that people try the sails. We have a complete set of Flights at the TWS windsurf centre in Médano, and the response we get from their clients is very positive, that gives us confidence. Oh well, we’ll see what happens. First we’re going to install a new kitchen in Dany’s home, team riders don’t come for free!’